Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Now You See Me, Now You Don't

This week in class we watches Saturday Night Fever, a classic blockbuster from 1977. This movie has it all, cool music, camaraderie, action, and much more. The movie stars John Travolta as Tony Manero, a misunderstood nineteen year old young man who seems to get crapped on by everyone until he steps onto the dance floor. There he is a god. He is in his own little world filled with big polyester collars, disco music, and flashing lights. When he is dancing he escapes to his own little world where the sky is the limit and the disco ball is his sun. This thought of being able to go off to another place and be who they want to be is done by everyone that has ever been trapped in the middle of a daydream while sitting through a lecture, any little kid that has ever made a space ship out of an empty box, and even many people that get lost in the middle of an exciting movie. Being able to be in a different place while sitting on the real world is a luxury that must be not taken lightly.

The practice of real world escapism is something that is seen in most parts of what humans do in there lives. People do many things to escape from everyday life. People read novels, play games, watch movies and TV shows, and many other personalized activities. The good thing about doing this is that you are safe in your room experience an out of the world adventure somewhere else. The genre of sci-fi embodies the ability to escape to another dimension. Being able to be side by side with a 30th century captain of a space ship fighting aliens from some other planet, what else could you ask for. Science fiction escapism is cool.

People also find escapes from the world by using drugs. Although the use of some drugs is illegal and definitely more dangerous than escaping from the world by dancing, books, or movies it still lets people escape. Now when psychedelic drugs combine with movies or music, then the escape from the world can be truly out of this world. This was first seen in the 1960s with some collegiate research, and continues to this day but now it is not legal. The mixture of music and hallucinogens can still be seen in the Rave culture. People role on ecstasy and dance to bass thumping music. They escape from reality with there counterculture like many other groups did before them. Drugs are questionable, but escapism is cool.


  1. Is escapism always cool though? Is there a point where escaping too much and ignoring the real world can be uncool?

  2. Yes, when you start dressing like the dungeon master and rolling massive amounts of dice... that would be uncool

  3. I think the key to this idea of where the line is for cool escapism is in the idea of cool as ironic detachment. When detachment is no longer ironic that is when the problems begin.

  4. Simply reading, or simply dancing, or simply watching movies (especially if you're a critic) does not really qualify as escapism, which has a really engrossed/entrenched connotation. If I was lost in Austen (for instance), then I could probably say that I was engaging in escapism - especially if I were consciously using the book to get away from it all. Tony Manero is an escapist because he is running away from the harsh reality of his life. Conversely, watching Drop Dead Gorgeous or Gladiator or No Country for Old Men doesn't make me an escapist because I am very conscious I am watching a movie. Yet a child who is trying to get out of an abusive situation and watches and becomes infatuated with Disney movies would be an escapist.