A writer buddy of mine recently noted how his escapist pleasures as far as books were diametrically opposite from the person he was chatting with about it.
I’ve thought a lot about what for me makes good escapism, in pondering what types of stories work for me as an editor and what types don’t. I get most all my escapism from the world. Stuff in the setting that’s cool or neat or odd; quirky, awe-inspiring, or amazing to think about.
But when I’m reading or watching TV/movies even just for escapism, I still need some complexity to the character for it to hold my interest. I need a character in an acute situation facing some struggle in a way that will move me, or a puzzle or mystery to that situation that will intrigue me. Without that, I’m not entertained.
So is that truly “escapist”? I don’t know. If say “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” novella and movie, moves me by saying something profound about the human condition, is that “escapist”? I think most people would say no. :) For me it’s not whether the story is dark or the ending to that struggle is happy or not (in “Shawshank Redeption,” the ending is ambiguous, and I love hard-fought happy endings as much as I love ambiguous ones). It’s a level of engagement that such complexity or mystery provides for me, without which I’m not entertained enough to escape.
Which may explain why Hollywood movies rarely ever work for me. :)