The title kind of slaps you right in the face, doesn’t it? It’s a subject I feel very strong about. It’s something I don’t tolerate in a story that I spend my good money, invest time, or become emotionally involved in. The same can be said for movies.
The seed for this article comes from my Saturday evening icky bug on the SyFy Channel, weekend before last. They showed a pretty cool/bad offering called Ghost Storm. I loved it for all of its B-movie hokieness. However, just before it came on, I saw the ending of The Mist.
Of all the horrible endings in a movie, that had to be the worst. If there was ever a story that had so much fun and potential, only to be spoiled but a bummer of a conclusion, that was it. The only other story I can think of in recent memory that comes close is The Ruins. There was no payoff, no reason for sitting there either reading the book or watching the movie adapted from it. All for naught.
For some reason, there’s a group of authors, and I suppose, some readers (and movie goers) out there that love screwed up and bummer endings. There’s all the buildup, the emotional investment, only to have it all thrown away in the end. This seems to be a big thrill for this group. Maybe it’s a big thing for some of you reading this. I just don’t get it.
I was never a big fan of Stephen King for a lot of reasons, even though he’s a literary hero, from a distance. I like most of his movies more than his books. Yet, I also step cautiously, now more than ever with anything he does, especially after The Mist. I’m also highly suspicious of any author he endorses, such as Scott Smith, after he “highly recommended” The Ruins.
Those of you that have read my blogs from the beginning know I hate bummer endings, so this is nothing new. I sometimes get reminded of how much I hate this kind of writing when I see something like The Mist by accident, as I did the other night. It makes me hope there aren’t too many of you out there writing stories like that. In this day and age, especially, we don’t need shocking bummer endings to cheer people up! It reminds me of all those 70’s movies where the heroes always died, like it was an unwritten law or something. Sometimes the 70’s really sucked!
As a writer, is your goal to do nothing more than shock your audience or is it to provide them reading pleasure? Would you rather leave them with a smile on their face, maybe a happy tear? Or, is your sole purpose to leave them sick to their stomach, pissed off, or ruin their day? I love to write scary, even creepy stories, but I don’t like to end them that way. There has to be light at the end of the tunnel. Some writer’s use the excuse that they need to kill off their heroes once in a while to keep up the suspense, keep the readers on their toes. I don’t buy that. I can still get suspense from the character being in jeopardy while knowing full well he or she will survive. Maybe I’m easy to satisfy but I much prefer positive endings. If I want bad endings, I can read non-fiction anytime.
Sure, there’s a place for everything, but I certainly don’t want to be the one contributing to it.
Maybe it’s because I’m a glass is half full person. How about you?