Thursday, January 20, 2011

When Bad Things Happen to People: Living the Fairy Tale Life

15 December 2010

So why is it that humans prefer the fairy tale, the notion, for example, that we will be rewarded in the next life for "good" behaviour in this life or that "bad" things may happen to "good" people in this life but in the next life everything will be set aright? These questions make me, of all things, think of the film Pretty Woman.

Originally Pretty Woman was going to have an "unhappy" ending. The boy was not going to get the girl, Prince Charming was not going to return for his Cinderella. When Pretty Woman was tested on an audience, however, test audience viewers said they didn't like the unhappy ending. So the ending of the film was changed. In the new ending boy (the rich prince) gets girl (street walking hooker Cinderella). This often happens in real life right? The moral of this story: most humans prefer the fairy tale, the lie, the illusion, the hallucination, to hard reality.

Fairy tales like these allow us to individualise evil in the universe and blame, for example, those in poor countries for their own poverty and the poor in our own country for their poverty among other things. This, of course, allows us to avoid looking at the inequalities inherent in the economic and political realities of the world we live in, the economic and political structures rich nations like ours have created and which benefit us. How is that for a happy ending? Isn't that just sticking your proverbial head in the proverbial sand?

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