Dark Times in Pop Culture

As we gird ourselves for the return of Game of Thrones, recover from the joyless collisions of Batman and Superman, and persevere through the deaths of pretty much every lesbian on television, it’s time to pause and ask ourselves—why is pop culture so dark right now? And more importantly, is there any value in this unending dash toward being the Darkest and the Edgiest of all?

supermanisad

“I… sad.”

The easy answer is, of course, to lay the blame at George R. R. Martin and the copious bloodletting which reverberates throughout A Song of Ice and Fire. HBO generated a hit with his story when they put it on TV, and everyone else is trying to imitate him. If they got ratings with Ned Stark’s head on a pike, then goddamn it, the rest of us are going to keep putting heads on pikes until we get an Entertainment Weekly cover of our own.

Violence, death, and despair add a level of gravitas, which is clearly being craved in the newly-prestigious realms of television and superhero movies. But it’s increasingly little more than meaningless trend-following, with story and character sacrificed to appeal to some marketing executive’s belief of what audiences want. It’s destructive and it needs to end.

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