Why the Supernatural is So Popular During Hard Times?
by Stephanie Draven
Let’s face it, times are hard. Money is tight. We’re fighting god-knows-how-many wars overseas. The country is politically polarized and religious tensions are actually rising. Given the dark, gritty reality, it seems startling that readers would flock to fiction that’s even darker and grittier...but that’s exactly what has happened.
Historically, the trend probably has much in common with the Golden Age of Superhero Fiction during World War II. Then, as now, the country was facing financial difficulties and fighting a war on two fronts. The reality of life was already filled with pain and stress, but people turned to comic books about troubled heroes who operated outside of societies norms and faced enemies even more dangerous than Hitler.
We think of escapism in terms of things we’d like to see happen; comedy and wish-fulfillment fiction has long been a part of the emotional arsenal in relieving social tensions. But it seems that people also seek out escapism that puts their own life into perspective and makes it seem not quite as bad as it could be. Sure, my house might be foreclosed upon, but at least I’m only being pursued by figurative blood-suckers like the banks, not actual vampires.
The Supernatural affords us with villains we’ll never have to actually face, with powers we’ll never have to fight, and with situations that are outside of the political conflicts we have with our fellow citizens. In short, speculative fiction has always allowed us to confront contemporary issues without the baggage of contemporary talking points and propaganda slogans. It gets us out of our world, and also out of our lives, so that we can think about problems in a new and different way.
That’s powerful stuff and its a trend that’s likely to stay with us for a while, yet.
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