The trend toward dark and gritty

Popular media tends to ebb and flow through various trends. Yesterday I read an article about a new “relaunch” of the Tomb Raider video game franchise. The article included a picture of Lara Croft’s new look: photo-realistic, with blood and grit ground into her face and her mouth twisted into a half-grimace that conveys equal parts pain and determination. In short, they made Lara Croft “dark and gritty.”

Ignoring Tomb Raider entirely (I don’t particularly care about the games or the franchise), I see this more and more in movies, video games, and even books. More often than not, protagonists are emotionally (and, often, physically) tortured anti-heroes who find no joy in life and–heaven forbid–never actually smile. Television shows of all genres are thinly veiled soap operas where everyone is miserable. Action movie protagonists are emotionless fighting machines, and video game heroes are much the same. Dramas are little more than stories about a bunch of people and how much they hate each other. Heck, that seems to describe most of television’s current offerings, actually.

I have no real desire to analyze the psychological and/or societal reasons for this trend; it just seems rather indicative of the direction that the world is moving. The world thinks that things are sliding down toward depression and misery, and I suppose that it makes sense that people would want their entertainment to reflect “reality.”

That said, it seems to me that what we really need is a movie, television show, video game, or book that is the darkest and grittiest of all. So, let me propose a title for this nebulous piece of entertainment media: “Midnight Sandstorm.” It just doesn’t get any darker or grittier than that, period, end of discussion.

On further reflection, “Midnight Sandstorm” sounds like an awesome name for a heavy-metal garage band (a band whose lyrics are all about the dark and gritty futility of life and how miserable we all are, of course).

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