Do we enjoy drama in our lives? It’s a fair, valid question. We all in live in a world of complication, difficulty, and obstacles. We mentally challenge who our friends are, debate whether we can lower our defenses and open up to others, and lastly, we worry about what others think of us. Sure, we say we don’t want drama, but when you think about it, the very foundation of being is drama. We grow from drama. We learn from drama. We discover who we are through drama. So, do we enjoy drama? Perhaps not. It is because drama is painful and we all want to believe it doesn’t exist in our own individual lives, but guess what; Nobody escapes drama. Without drama, we cannot persevere. Without drama, we cannot realize our internalized beliefs and stand for ourselves. Without drama, we don’t truly know who we are. So the better question is, is drama necessary? Absolutely.
Let’s look at it from the framework of cinema and use genre as a metaphor towards life’s drama and interactions. Regardless of what genre your preference is, that very genre is based upon drama and complication. Every film is centered around a conflicting situation that shakes up the normative and people are forced to react. As Alfred Hitchcock once said, “Drama is life with the dull bits cut out.” Taking that quotation in the context of reality, do we as individuals truly forget and bury the bad moments? No. We typically remember the obscure, the outliers, and especially the bad. Why? Because it shapes not only us, but our perception of everything around us. Therefore, for all its issues, drama is good.
Genre is very strategic regarding drama because it crafts what would normally be uncomfortable and shifts it in a manner that we can either analyze or be thoroughly entertained by. That is the beauty and art of cinema: It takes the vile components of life and spins it for our enjoyment. In fact, we as an audience actively seek drama. Unless our preference is the unconventional, we typically walk into a movie theater with the exception of observing other people’s drama. By purchasing a ticket, or renting a movie, or watching a movie, we essentially are demanding that drama be unveiled to us. Is that a bad thing? Not at all. Through drama, we are enlightened or informed about humanity, culture, and the social. It’s through drama that we connect through association, which is necessary. Nobody should ever remain the same throughout life. Choosing to be unchanging is somewhat unrealistic and even taking a firm stance of not changing while everything around one is changing is, in fact, still a form of change.
Writer/director Ingmar Bergman, who was known for his intense dramatic films that explored social circumstances and life, once said, “I don’t want to produce a work of art that the public can sit and suck aesthetically. I want to give them a blow in the small of the back, to scorch their indifference, to startle them out of their complacency.” This quotation perfectly summarizes the effect film is supposed to have on us all, regardless of genre: We are supposed to be rattled and shaken from our comfortable existence in the world. Therefore, we demand drama so that we can evaluate and reevaluate our very being.
Drama is prevalent in all genres: With comedy, we laugh are the complications of life and realize certain things are not as bad as they seem or laugh at the absurdity of how things are. With action, we are enthralled by the destruction of something and remember we have to internally be heroes to ourselves. With drama films, we are reminded of the realities of life and appreciate what we have or seek to better ourselves. With horror films, we are terrified and mortified by instances of the macabre, but become more cautious and aware of our surroundings. With science-fiction, we see the complications of the future, but are inspired to attain more. Of course, there are the sub-genres that have their own individual messages, but they are still based off a foundation of drama and complication. Without complication, a film will bore its audience to tears. So let’s admit it: We enjoy drama in our lives…at least on an entertainment level!
This doesn’t necessarily mean we are a dramatic civilization, nor does it mean we are inherently bad people. No, what it means is that we have a sort of functionality that is linked with drama. Often drama is provoked: Someone says something, someone is stabbed in the back by another, someone says or does the wrong thing, but what this says is that civilization isn’t a utopia and conflict and drama are bound to occur. Without drama, we are the same entity and that simply cannot be. A utopia isn’t possible. To a degree, conflict is a part of our identity. As Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner once said, “Identity is part of drama [to me]. Who am I, why am I behaving this way, and am I aware of it?” That said, we should acknowledge drama is prevalent and ask the better, more refined question: What do we do with the drama that is in our lives?
So what is the point of this opinion piece? It is to state that a drama-free existence isn’t impossible, but rather difficult to attain. So rather than having the determination to escape what we think is harmful, let us all remember that drama actually has its benefits. This opinion doesn’t suggest you should go ignite some drama, nor does it suggest you should willfully seek some drama. No, what this opinion suggests is that drama is a part of the daily occurrences of life and we ought to accept it for what it is and recognize it does have its positive attributes. Drama can shape us, craft us, and somewhat tells us, individually, who we are. Again, despite its shortcomings, drama is good. It’s very good. In fact, it’s necessary.