Thursday, February 3, 2011

Escapism

I am tired of big events. Every morning I have to be up on the latest international happenings so I can talk about them in French class. And then for reading practice we read articles about poverty in Africa, death squads killing children in Brazil, human trafficking all over the place, and other such cheerful topics. And when I'm done debating the future of Social Security and the constitutionality of health care reform en fran├žais, I need a break. I need bonnets.

Yes, bonnets, otherwise known as BBC period dramas. I need to lie in bed with tea and watch excerpts from the lives of fictional well-bred but free-spirited young ladies whose primary, nay, only goal is to look and act in just the right way to attract the favorable attentions of the mysterious/moody/socially awkward but inevitably rich and handsome gentleman a rung or two up on the social ladder. Most of these take place in Regency England, when Napoleon was laying waste to Europe and the Industrial Revolution was causing tremendous social upheaval at home, but the girls vying for the hand of Mr./Lord/Earl/Duke So-and-So either don't know or don't care, busy as they are with their piano practice and embroidery.

The plots are predictable, the protagonists often insipid, and the matrimonial prize and supporting characters irritatingly one-dimensional. But I don't care. I just need to rest my mind with simple stories where everyone's minor personal difficulties are eventually resolved and everything works out well in the end, with lots of pretty lace dresses, lush green landscapes, and good-looking men in cravats for soothing eye candy. "The good [end] happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what Fiction means."* And the more time I have to spend examining real life the more need I have of some nice light fiction to escape in.


*Oscar Wilde

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