Thursday, 4 November 2010

"It's just a story"

When something matters to someone, like a book or a film or a tv show, and they get worked up about it, become passionate about it, one of the most annoying things it is possible for someone to say is

"It's just a story."

They say it to rubbish the passion the person feels, to mock them for having it mean so much, dismiss it as unimportant because it is fiction rather than fact. The biggest flaw with this is that they are suggesting that stories are somehow inferior and don't matter.

But stories do matter. They can change a persons outlook, change their day/week/month/year. Whether it's a relationship on a TV show, or the narrative of a book, or a dramatic moment in a play or film, it can matter. It can affect you deep down in a way that reality rarely manages to. We live most of our lives in relative mundanity, and there's nothing wrong with this, but stories offer an escape, a vicarious thrill, allowing us to dream of a life different to the one that faces you when you open your eyes in the morning. We can lose ourselves in a story, care about the characters with a degree of passion that takes us by surprise. We love them, we hate them, we pity them, we judge them for their mistakes and praise them for their successes. They can move us to act, move us to take a step we might not have taken without their inspiration. Stories can provoke a person to realise their feelings for someone, take a risk they wouldn't have taken, stand up for what they believe is right. fiction it may be, but it sometimes can mean more to us than fact, the novelists, screenwriters and playwrights understand this, they are performing a valuable service, because the world would be a much darker place without stories to brighten it.

And there's also the stories told by word of mouth, the 'you'll never guess what happened', the 'i can't believe they're doing this', the 'we have to change this', the 'and then they did' stories which are passed from one person to another, whether simply told by one friend to another as they walk to school, focussing on last nights 'fun' or told by a political speaker to the masses in front of them, provoking, inspiring and challenging them to believe. They're all stories. From the "Well last night, i was in plug and you'll never guess who i saw kissing..." story to the "I have a dream" story, we cherish these little insights into another persons life, these little escapes from our own.

Look at it this way, we've come a long way in the last 2000 years, we've moved from caves to houses, we have cars, planes, computers, TVs, we've moved beyond waving sticks at each other and we have a much wider choice in fashion, but one thing hasn't changed. we still gather around the proverbial fire to listen to a story.

So to sum up this little ramble, stories matter and don't let anyone make you believe anything else.

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