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The Sciences

The Merits of Escapism

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Via social media, I've just come across this 2007 cartoon by Clay Bennett. As a commentary on the human tendency to avoid unpleasant realities, it works. But the cartoon also seems to misunderstand why we go to the movies.

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For that, let's go to the legendary Pauline Kael:

Movie audiences will take a lot of garbage, but it's pretty hard to make us queue up for pedagogy. At the movies we want a different kind of truth, something that surprises us and registers with us as funny or accurate or maybe amazing, maybe even amazingly beautiful...Maybe you just want to look at people on the screen and know they're not looking back at you, that they're not going to turn on you and criticise you...Perhaps the single most intense pleasure of moviegoing is this non-aesthetic one of escaping from the responsibilities of having the proper responses required of us in our official (school) culture.

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