Timeout: Dramas as Escapism – What Escapism? (The Drama-Writer Grinch Snarks).

Heisui wrote an interesting entry the other day – her Heisui’s Thoughts is seriously the best – about drama-watching and its correlation to escapism, which got me thinking… it’s something I’ve thought about for a while now honestly, because these days between myself and dramas – it feels like a breakup.

These days I kinda just want to be the drama-watcher, occasional-writer Grinch.

Sometimes I think, maybe I just like to rebel. Maybe despite my goody-two-shoes ways, in actuality I am an internal wild child. When I first ventured into Jdrama land through Beautiful Life as a nine-year-old, the experience was cathartic; it was like having found a secret key to unlock the Pandora’s Box. A year later, Winter Sonata premiered, opening the flood gates for Kdrama fascination.

Back then, the people within my circle were casual watchers – now they don’t watch any Asian dramas at all – so I stood out for my rabid addiction. American and British pop culture were mainstream even then, so being someone who liked things from East Asia was rather odd; you can see why I grew up as a closeted drama-watcher. The thing is, maybe, secretly – I loved this.

Maybe I actually loved the fact that it’s like I’d found the pathway to Oz, feeling like I was Dorothy in this strange, magical land. I was all by myself, and most times it sucked that I didn’t have anyone to dissect and discuss dramas with (so I conveniently harassed my siblings’ ears) but truthfully, maybe I secretly loved it because I was doing something that few others were.

Now we’re in 2014 and Kdrama is pretty much the shit. It is so mainstream and easily available all over the web, and the strangest thing happened – folks from all walks of life and around the world are tuning in. As is typical in drama land, all you really need is that first venture. True enough, drama land in general is now booming with vested word-of-mouth and the drama blogosphere is crazy saturated. Suddenly everyone’s talking about dramas, and of course naturally, opinions are plentiful. Tumblr is flooded with insanely hilarious and squeeworthy gifs. There are also many intellectual discussions and analyses on dramas across the world-wide web, ranging from topics such as history, feminism etc.

Everyone is watching, it seems.

Which… is it… because of this, or has the years finally taken their toll on me?

When 2014 arrived, I told myself I needed to return to the basics of my writing purposes here. I threw caution to the wind as much as I can, and you’re seeing the results – sometimes I relapse, but frankly these days I’m really just going with the flow. Truth be told though, these days I don’t even know what that purpose is, that same one I tried so hard to return to. What of it, what is it?

These days it’s whatever I feel like. For instance, if I feel like writing about my seemingly inevitable transformation into grouchy, grumpy drama-watcher, here you go. If I feel like sharing a sonnet, then I damn well do so. If I feel like sharing a song which I just did and decided to translate totally on the fly, well then.

I’ve been told that writing is inherently selfish, but sometimes I feel like the same can’t be implied towards blogging. There’s an ownership of space and thus, control over what gets published and not, but blogging is two-way where writing, in its most fundamental act, isn’t. So these days I am… selfish. Purposefully selfish, because I feel like it. It begs the question – just cos what I feel is acceptable, what makes my behavior still understandable?

These days when it comes to the drama-watching scene, honestly I am… grouchy. Grumpy with a dose of annoyance.

Heisui brought up an interesting point about escapism and drama-watching, and pointed out that so many of us choose to hide behind masks of screen names and or express only the bright, bubbly sides of us. Of course that’s so, and I don’t fault any drama-writer and reader for doing that; everyone has their own reasons for liking what they do, and what we’re seeing of each other in the drama blogosphere is only one, or a few, facets of the multiple facets each person has.

Then there’s myself.

I want to talk about the sadness, the anger, the imperfections. The fatal flaws, the point-of-view of a non-believer. I want to talk about how dramas are great, lovely, wonderful things but they’re unrealistic and offer only temporary reprise. I want to talk about how there are days when I hate what I feel, and the last thing I believe that can save me is a good drama. I want to talk about sadness, without having to insert drama into its picture. I want to talk about the flip side of drama land that everyone is aware of, but no one wants to talk about.

Why? I don’t know why. Maybe it’s my internal wild child forever rebelling; maybe I’m just angry and confused about everything at the moment; maybe I want people to stop worshiping dramas; maybe I want to talk about slumps and emotional blocks; maybe I just want to talk, because no one is listening.

I think I don’t believe in drama-watching as an escapism anymore, and here lies the problem. I no longer believe that drama-watching is a means to something, or a form of escapism. These days honestly – complete, total honesty – I think it’s trivial. Incredibly trivial, when juxtaposed with the larger scheme of ongoing the world over. While I understand and still do believe that dramas are a representation of these larger pictures, like a hypothetical case study of human and societal behaviors, I find it incredibly hard to look past the trivialities.

It’s not an escapism anymore; where I used to watch dramas as a form of relaxation and entertainment, or simply put, a pause from the hustle and bustle of daily life, nowadays it irks me that the fictional world feels so unrealistic. On the other hand, the heavyweights seem so meaty that after a long day, the last thing I want to do is put on my thinking and emotional caps again. Where I used to believe in these fictional characters, the underlying messages and romantic gestures, these days hindsight and jadedness are like malignant tumors, deep, deep inside.

I am still in this scene, but sometimes I wonder if it is more habit than anything.

Like an old lover you don’t know what to do with, but the person is harmless so you’re a dick if you chuck the poor person off to the side. So you stay, linger, and hang around; you exist, but you’re not necessarily present. There are enough things and people in drama land that keep me vested, like some of my favorite drama-writers and that breakthrough moment for a drama to touch my heart and stimulate my mind – hope springs eternal after all – but reading and watching are two separate things.

The other day I realized, maybe in hindsight thank goodness I made that decision to write about drama-related stuff – even if I’m not really writing about them anymore – because now, it’s just about the only thing that keeps me still in this scene and sphere.

Everyone throws praises at the drama world that I just want to heap disdain. Why? Because everyone’s talking about dramas like it’s life-and-death. Everyone wants to talk about it, so naturally I find myself with nothing to say anymore.

When someone isn’t watching something, i.e. me, it suddenly feels like peer pressure – people start stressing or feeling guilty about not watching anything, because the majority – wow, the majority in 2014 – enjoys lots of the crack. It’s like suddenly everyone is heaping praises left and right when it comes to dramas, and I’m just… it feels like any discontent or grunts are conveniently clustered under unpopular opinions, because now the majority has veto. Now there’s so much about oppa and abs and the (insert snark on gender inequality) Asian culture and – oh dear God, spare me.

Ugh, I don’t know where I am going with this. It’s past 2 AM.

Maybe the short story is – it’s no longer feels fun, not like it used to. While maybe it is true that all it takes is one drama to set things right again, funniest thing, I thought Heartless City was exactly that and well, look where I am now just two months later; still the grumpy, grouchy drama-watcher-slash-sometimes drama-writer Grinch.

Escapism – what escapism? Sigh. I don’t know anymore.

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9 thoughts on “Timeout: Dramas as Escapism – What Escapism? (The Drama-Writer Grinch Snarks).

  1. I understand what you mean.That’s what I feel about many dramas now.They are ok but really nothing special.For one good drama I get at least 5 bad dramas.I realized that my fav dramas are mostly underrated and not popular while those I consider absolutely bad became really popular.Last year I dropped many dramas and that list is getting bigger and bigger.Why?Maybe I have high standards,I want story to be engaging,I want it to have some heart and not just handsome guys.
    Initially I started dramas as a way to escape reality but it didn’t work anymore.Dramas can’t suprise me anymore.I want something to make me cry,to make me forget everything in this world.
    I agree with you drama watching process became so trivial,it’s like chores I need to do to stay in tune with drama world. What happened to that passionate fan I was?Unlike you I watch dramas only for 3 years. I need something to return my hope.I really need that.

  2. Don’t say no one is listening -because all of your readers are all listening to you…

    And stop feeling peer pressured, no one expects you to be marathoning dramas all the time or to extol all dramas. There are lots of people unsatisfied with dramas right now, not just you!

    1. Hey :) I actually meant both in general, not what I feel at the moment. In terms of listening, I meant it in the sense where my wild child self rebels again – I feel like talking about dislikes and sadness because those aren’t what the masses like – it feels like it’s me against the mainstream ideals.

      Regarding peer pressured, thankfully I’m past that but i noticed across Tumblr and some random blogs I checked out, that there’s so much guilt about not watching, and especially lots of defensiveness when it comes to not liking a popular or majority rabid show. It’s infuriating, because why? The peer pressure is unnecessary.

  3. Once again you manage to hit this right on the nail – I’m not quite to your point yet, I still watch dramas (just way more slowly) as a means of escape, but it’s less escape from my own world and more as just a habit to fill up the blank time holes in my life. And honestly, I’ve been finding other means to fill up those holes. Some just as trivial (but to me novel), other regular/irregular habits I just haven’t let go of yet, and those sparks of productiveness that may be me sitting around reading a Bible, or actively dealing with things in my own life, personal or physical, or just.. cleaning dishes. Cleaning out a closet. Doing something which I can see the results of. Even just spending time with other people.

    I don’t think there’s ever a time in our lives when our priorities are set in stone, whether they should be or not. We bend with our situations, a particular timeline – and maybe some people can classify that as being fickle, but from these times in our lives we learn more about who we are and what we’re about. They shape us and the world continues to shape us.

    As for dramas – I look more and more for those slice of life dramas that may be not revolutionary, but make me think about my life. They don’t have to be completely relatable. Sometimes it’s a fantasy novel that shakes my world. Or a historical drama. Or a sneak peak at a fictional world that throws relevance on my own world. Unfortunately, watching these are a) rare, and b) hard to handle. Sure, I’m stressed some days and the last thing I want to do is think hard and deep about my life, responses triggered by a harder to watch drama. I want to.. but I don’t have the energy. It’s the same reason why I don’t read serious literature as much anymore. It drains you, as much as it might enrich you (and usually the fruits of enrichment don’t show up immediately). I still adore the concept of my owning a billion fantastic works of literature – and I stare at them guiltily on my shelf.. but I’ll get to them someday. Because in between their leaves is a kind of humanity I can’t fathom on my own. I need something to initiate the spark. Same with dramas.. The comedies, the bare romances, they don’t do anything for me. But sometimes I find something deep.. those are the moments I wait for. When I decide to devote some time to finding them. :)

  4. I don’t think of them as escapism. I just use them to pass time. Most of them are unrealistic and forgettable. But that’s dramas and we should always remember that they’re only for entertainment.

    But seriously just watch what u like, do what u like, eat what u like and live as u like! Life is too short to be worrying about mundane things like dramas and peer pressure.

    10-20 years down the road you’ll be like me :)

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