Monday, April 6, 2009

Escaping Your Fate, or Allowing Yourself to become Trapped....

This week in class we watched the film Saturday Night Fever. The film represented a type of cool escapism in the way the main character, Tony, played by John Travolta escaped his problems by living on the dance floor. Tony’s life was very boring throughout the week. He had a dead-end job, he had a stereotypical group of friends, and he still lived under the rules of his parents. To put it plainly throughout the week Tony was a nobody. However, every Saturday night when he hit the dance floor he became Mr. Big Shot. People revered Tony on the dance floor. This is seen when a woman he kisses at the club refers to him as Al Pacino. Tony was the boss at the disco, and he lived his life for every Saturday night. Cool escapism can still be largely seen in pop culture today.

One example of this is teenagers and music. I don’t know if I can strictly say this for everyone, but throughout the ages of 15, 16, and 17 I found my escape in music. I liked music loud, I liked music fun, I liked music all the time. I found myself always doing everything with music; homework, videogames, driving, cleaning, and pretty much any other time I could get away with wearing my headphones. I’m not sure what I found so particularly great about music. I liked everything ranging from Blink -182 to Linkin Park to AFI. Rock music set me in motion. It gave me motivation to do things. It made it easier to do things. It also gave me an excuse to ignore people, namely my parents. When my headphones were on I always had an excuse for why I didn’t answer, although many of the times I heard them just fine, but I always had an excuse. Again, I don’t strictly know if this is largely apparent in pop culture so much as it is in real life, but an example that I can specifically recall is Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. It’s really a very stereotypical adolescent love story that unites two kids through their love of music, but it’s a good example because music was so very significant to the two characters, Nick and Norah. Without their love for music they would have never been in the situation they were so as to meet.

Another example of cool escapism is far more depressing. It’s drugs!!! Drugs are always seen as a sort of escape. Although it’s far different from the two other types of escape because it begins to alter lives, it is still a good example of escape. People use drugs to forget about their problems. Drugs are just how they deal with life. When things get too heavy they can always just have an instant fix. An example of this sort of escape can be seen in the movie Knocked Up. Although the movie is not directly about the escapism drugs can embody, it is a sort of method to depict the main character, Ben Stone, and his arrival at becoming a mature adult. His girlfriend/baby’s mama, Allison Scott, helps Ben to realize that there is more to life than getting high. He sees that he now has a responsibility to take care of in his unborn child and willingly accepts the responsibility of adulthood in order to be a more well-suited father and boyfriend.


  1. It's interesting (not to mention very relevant) that you mention drugs as a form of escapism. It's actually kind of unique to Western culture that drugs are used solely for this purpose, instead of some religious or ritualistic experience. Do you think it is only Western society that uses drugs for escapism, or do other cultures use them to escape as well, but just put a different label on it?

  2. I agree with what you say about Saturday Night Fever and realism. Without the realistic slap in the face of Tony's regular life, the movie would have lost much of its power. However, even though the ending is kind of rough, the energetic dance scenes are enough to give the viewer a temporary escape into a much better place.

  3. Drug use as a form of escape really makes sense. Almost every person I've known do drugs did them either as an escape from life or to look cool(no joke). Personally, I am not a strong believer in drug use. However, is escape from real life a bad thing? When others in society are not explicitly harmed, what is the danger in using drugs to escape from problems?