Genre, Lessons for Life

Pulp Fiction

Just as old wives’ tales are used to pass on superstitions, other types of fiction have their place in society. Pulp fiction is a type of storytelling that only has the good stuff or the pulp we want in life. This may not be an official genre, but it certainly does have certain expectations.

The Good Pulp

Sometimes you just need a feel-good book or movie to make you feel like everything is good in the world. I like Hallmark movies around Christmas time, because I get an extra dose of good-will and desire to help people. The underdog sport movies vamp-up my determination and confidence. But my favorite is the middle-grade adventure books that allow me to escape responsibilities in my life pretend I’m learning new skills and adventuring right along with the character.

Of course there are problems in pulp fiction, or there wouldn’t be a plot. But the plot is often strongly character based, meaning that the journey is to change an attitude of the character rather than solve a puzzle. Sometimes the problem is less significant, but the shift in the character or the resulting humor is what makes the story.

I think the draw of pulp fiction is the entire concept of a change of attitude. When we’re looking for hope, confidence, excitement, and other emotions we seem to lack, we turn to the stories that are oozing with so much that we can’t help but absorb some. These stories tell about a character’s change of attitude and changes our attitudes in the process. Think of how powerful that is, you can change your mood and attitude depending on what stories you choose to take in.

The Not-So-Good Pulp

While all genres have their place, and pulp fiction can be wonderful, I do feel like some pulp fiction doesn’t help our society so much. The stories full of the good aspects of life offers hope and recharges determination, but if can also portray unrealistic views on life. Beware of the pulp fiction that portrays life as just pulp.

Men are not perfect and they don’t understand the way women think. Regardless of the romances that tell of men tirelessly doting on a woman with everything she needs at the perfect moment. Relationships take work on both sides and there are always plenty of misunderstandings. While it is nice to dream up Mr. Perfect, I don’t think these help any reader develop healthy relationships.

On the flip side, no woman will fall hopelessly in love with a guy the moment he rescues her. I can’t tell you how many westerns or action stories I have read or seen that do this. What seems especially unhealthy is when the ‘hero’ treats a girl without respect then he happens to save her from some misfortune and suddenly she’s in love.

The fiction that may have hurt millennials the most is the movies, shows, and stories about single adults. The romantic comedies show nice apartments or houses and the characters seem to have a part time job and the big challenge is finding the right guy or girl. Budgeting and working hard are the aspects of adulting that aren’t portrayed quite as equivalently. Dating is a huge hurdle for that age group, but so is adjusting to paying bills and taking on full independence.

Pulp Fiction for Society

Changing attitudes and promoting positivity will always be a valued benefit of fiction. But with the amount of influence stories have on us, it’s important to be aware of the impact. Writers do have a responsibility to influence society for the better. Consumers have a responsibility to recognize what they read or watch and consciously choose what aspects they adopt.

Some stories exaggerate aspects of life in order to emphasize the desired attitudes which is why we should be aware of the differences between reality and fiction. But we should be able to still take in the portrayed attitudes and positive messages that make the good pulp of stories.

I think it is possible to have the good pulp without the bad in stories. But it does take a lot more work. Whether you read and watch stories, or you create them, I hope you become more aware of the pulp in the fiction and learn to choose only the good pulp. Society will be all the better for it!

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