Reality and Fiction


A parent wrote in distress about her teenage AS son. He was unable to accept that his friend enjoyed a comedy film where the humor depended on teasing and treating people badly. If the son continued to obsess on the logical contradiction of a "good" person liking a "bad" movie, he was likely to ruin the friendship and lose his friend.

I wrote:

This is a hard one. In the long term, your son probably will learn to accept that fact that, as another list member said, people are different. I was astonished when I learned (in my 40s) that a man I liked and admired has no feeling at all for non-human animals. For him, they are in the same category as non-sentient objects. I was horrified at first, because non-human animals are so important to me. But by that time in my life, I was mature enough (finally!) to be able to accept that even a good person could be that different.

In the meantime, would it help to talk (if you haven't already) about the difference most people recognize between "reality" and "fiction" (including movies)? I have quite a few categories of things that I do not want to see in movies simply because this distinction (between "reality" and "fiction") is not as complete for me as it seems to be for the majority. For example, I refuse to watch war movies, because I think it is immoral for war to be "aesthetic" (which is what the film-makers want it to be when it's in a movie). For many people, watching a war movie can be well within the scope of moral decency, however, because they are able to make a complete distincton between fiction and reality. They can watch a graceful "dying fall" on the screen and not feel they are getting aesthetic pleasure from murder. I can't do that.

It sounds to me as if your son is in the same position as I am, perhaps. When he sees people acting badly, he sees bad behavior, whether it's in a movie or in "real life." He hasn't yet come to accept that for most people, what is in a movie isn't real and "doesn't count."

Maybe he eventually will be the one to write the essay that explains as clearly as I want it explained why our species would be better off if we all refused to "aestheticize" bad behavior! But that's just my personal prejudice speaking, of course. :-)



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