While listening to a podcast episode of No Dumb Questions about the book True Grit, the metaphors in the book are being discussed. The main one is Maddie Ross, while seeking revenge on her father’s killer, is knocked into a pit of venomous snakes as a result of firing the gun. It’s obviously a metaphor for the cost of revenge.
Stories over the centuries have been filled with metaphors like this, seeking to show people the “proper” way to behave because if you don’t, nearly always will you “get what’s coming.” These stories always had the same themes, as the thoughts and principles became more universal. So writers and creatives started to change what they used, and the conclusions the stories had.
Take a movie, called Better Living Through Chemistry, it’s about a pharmacist who had a terrible life. He was unathletic, meek, and had a poor existence. Eventually, he starts to get into drugs that he prescribes himself, all of that starts to change for the better. At the end, I was always expecting there to be consequences of his health, instead, he was just fine. I’ve never known any real life stories where this is true, where people heavily abused drugs and had no life consequences as a result. The movie defied my expectations by not ending that way, and rather than reflect accuracy, they wanted to make a movie that felt different.
In True Grit, the story was written with metaphors to help people and society behave in a way that is healthier for all of us. Stories like Better Living Through Chemistry were written simply to be different than those on the market, not with a certain effect on society in mind. At least, I don’t want to believe they want society to do more drugs.
This is a societal problem. That standing out then becomes a promotion of negative messages simply because the market became too cluttered with the positive ones. Think long and deeply when picking a market position because the position itself may have an effect on society.