Have you ever noticed two movies of the same type appearing in theaters at the same time? Sometimes it has to do with an upcoming holiday, and it makes sense that three horror films come out early to mid October. But occasionally, and randomly, two movies about, say, Alexander the Great are in the works, one by Oliver Stone (Alexander) and one by Baz Luhrmann.. Or all of a sudden, many of our favorite comics from childhood, from X-Men to Iron Man, have been added to the list of summer blockbusters.

Some of this is explained by the “Me too!” behavior of people trying to cash in on a fad (didn’t someone just make an Incredible Hulk movie?). Perhaps superhero movies are just a natural fit for summer blockbusters, but there’s no explaining why a 2300 year old military leader is a hot topic in movies, right?

Is there some manner of collective consciousness at work here? Are our art and entertainment reflecting our needs and concerns as a society? The world is moving at such a fast pace now, I can hardly keep up – sometimes it seems superpowers are what’s needed to stay on top of life. Perhaps we’re all interested in seeing how far the human body and mind can be pushed, how much we can accomplish, real or imagined. Perhaps it’s that it’s nice to fantasize about being bestowed with great powers that can enable us to feel more in control, more able.

Often, the entertainment that is most successful taps, soothes or makes sense of concerns and stresses in our real lives. History shows this to be true: In the early to mid 80s, there was a surge of post-apocalyptic-themed media, a byproduct of the Cold War. The sci-fi franchise, Star Trek, was born in the mid 1960s, the decade responsible for many of the greatest leaps in space travel and exploration.

So what do our current themes and genres of entertainment say about us now? Further, what does the reemergence of genres explored in the past say about us now? Are we experiencing the same feelings, are we running out of ideas or maybe we just have new perspective? Join us for this week’s issue of The Escapist where we explore “The Return of the Genre.”

Julianne Greer

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