Does anyone else feel really sad when you leave the cinema after watching a movie? Like you’ve just been hollowed out? Even if the film wasn’t sad?
Because I do. Like, crushingly sad. And I have no fucking idea why.
This happened to me most recently after seeing Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 for the first time. And, actually, it happened to me after seeing it for the second time… and the third time… and the fourth time.
It’s the same feeling I got after I finished Death Note, and the Hunger Games, and even after finishing the first season of Attack on Titan.
Not even a week after my previous post ‘Fictional Characters are Taking Over My Life‘ I had finished season one of Attack on Titan and felt compelled to write this – a part two, in which I over-analyse everything I already said in order to arrive at some unnecessarily deep and poignant conclusion.
I was just sitting outside my house, getting some much needed fresh air after binge-watching the final twelve episodes of AOT S1 and my head was still so wrapped up in the show and the characters and their lives and moral dilemmas and I just felt so attached to them that the realisation that they weren’t real and that I would one day have to live without them hit me. And I was so sad.
The second blow came when I realised how stupid it was to feel an actual sense of loss over a TV show coming to an end. Because these characters are not real and they never were and that is kind of the whole point.
But regardless, I could not help the profound sense of loss and emptiness I felt. It was like I had become so attached to and invested in those characters that they had become my friends, and then they had suddenly all decided to move away together and leave me on my own.
And this happens to me all the time. It’s the reason I have seen GOTG vol 2 four times in the space of a week. Every time I leave the movie theatre and Star-Lord and Gamora and Rocket and Drax and Groot and everyone behind I feel so sad that all I can think about is going back and experiencing it all over again.
It’s a problem. Especially when you’re as poor as I am. I can’t afford to be going to the movies this much, let alone feeling the need to purchase ridiculous memorabilia just so that I have some kind of physical tether to the fantasy I have become so involved in.
Like I said, it’s a problem.
In an attempt to make myself feel a little less weird, I once again turned to the internet for some kind of consolation. So after a couple of embarrassingly pathetic Google searches and trawling through Reddit forums I came to a profound conclusion: our generation is depressed as fuck.
But at the very least, I knew it wasn’t just me. Loads of people were saying they felt really shit about having to return to reality after reading or watching something. Several people mentioned the final Harry Potter book being particularly sad. And apparently it was an actual phenomena after the release of Avatar.
I said in my previous post that it didn’t make sense to be envious of these characters or to want to be part of their dystopian worlds because their lives are pretty shit in comparison to my own cushty, relatively problem-free life. But maybe it does make sense in a way.
Maybe I’m getting too deep and straying from the boundaries of relatable here, but I think a lot of it is to do with feeling alone. Humans are, although very sociable, a really isolated species. We spend a lot of time in our own heads. And sometimes I feel so trapped within myself that it seems like I will never not be totally alone. Like I am so withdrawn and internal, and there are so many barriers between me and the rest of the human race that I can never truly connect with anyone. Like, even when someone is holding my hand I still feel a million miles away from them.
I don’t know if this is one of those relatable existential crises all human beings have over their own existence or whether this is really weird and something I should probably take up with a therapist…
But the point is, people are generally pretty alone in their every day lives. And then you read a book or watch a movie or a TV show about a group of people that go around saving the world together and I mean, who doesn’t wish they had friends like that? Who doesn’t want to be part of something like that?
I think, especially with my generation, so much of our communication is online that we just never really got to form the kinds of connections and relationships we see in these worlds. I mean, Peter Quill and gang go on kick-ass adventures and break each other out of jail and save each others’ lives and what do we do? We work boring jobs, we pay our taxes and then we socialise by meeting up with other sad, bored people and get drunk in order to distract ourselves from how freaking unhappy we actually are.
Maybe that’s just really cynical, but it makes sense, right? It also brings me to my second theory.
One of our biggest struggles as human beings is the idea of purpose. We question our own purpose, and the purpose of humanity and life in general, all the time. And – speaking entirely from the privileged point of view of a millennial, white, Western girl – we live in a world so entirely focused on instant gratification that there really isn’t much sense of a wider purpose in our daily lives. At least there isn’t in the sense that we are not trained in combat in a war against titans, or attempting to rise up against The Capitol.
This isn’t to say we don’t have anything to fight against, of course. There are wars and famine and hate crimes occurring across the world and so many of us have to fight for the most basic of human rights.
But the kind of warfare and battles and adventures we see in these fantasy fictions are not like the horrors of real life, and so it’s easy to escape into them. And there is something undeniably captivating about a fictional situation in which people are forced to unite and fight together for a wider purpose.
And I guess that’s something that we all want – to not only be a part of something, but to be a part of something with meaning.
So, yeah the lives of these characters are tough and there is generally a lot of death and fighting and anguish. But who doesn’t want to feel that their life has a solid purpose? Who doesn’t want to be a part of a group of friends, united against evil? Who doesn’t want to escape the monotony of the system and be a hero and know that their life meant something bigger?
I realise that this has been a pretty cynical post and I haven’t even got a positive or hopeful message to end on, so like, sorry about that.
I guess lets just carry on getting too involved in fantasy worlds and using them to escape this shitty real world and hope we don’t ruin our own lives in the process.
And if you haven’t seen GOTG Vol 2 yet, do it, it’s amazing. And if you have seen it – let me know what you think! I’m having to force myself from not seeing it a fifth time. My bank account would probably just crumble if I did.
Till next time,