The world is a vampire. Or more specifically, a shockingly terrible vampire movie that somehow emphasizes the worst things about everything we once loved (and thought could never get this bleak).
But here we are. And with every advancement of the Donald Trump regime, escapism becomes more and more essential to our survival as a species. Self-care has come to epitomize everything from moments of meditation to outdoor time to ordering and eating several large pizzas in one sitting, but for me, it means one thing: disaster films.
It may seem like we're living in the middle of one, but if that were the case, we'd have already enlisted our Hollywood hero to take on this villain. Then, he'd eventually render said leader powerless amidst a backdrop of long neckties and fake tanner, and for the first time since November we would all breathe. But no: Real life calls for escape from hell with a little more hell. And particularly the kind that provides an avenue for our collective build up of stress and adrenaline. Some of us just want to watch the Titanic sink.
Where rom coms, dramas and Harry Potter offer messages of hope, happiness and sensationalized heartbreak, disaster films turn our feelings into actions – for a fleeting moment, they allow us to see the world the same way it feels right now. We watch it erupt in an onslaught of lava and volcanic ash, succumb to a tornado with no rhyme or reason, or we brace for meteor-induced impact. We spend our time poking holes in the narrative (Bill and Jo never would've survived that F5 tornado) or shielding our eyes from scenes we've never been able to get over. And then we end the saga satisfied that there was an actual solution. Because there's always a solution. In fictional hell, there's a way out.
Which is the message disaster movies allow us to cling to: Even in the worst-case scenario, somebody survives. This weekend, Titanic in 3-D plays in select cinemas, and I'll be there front and centre with a pal who needs the distraction as much as I do. And where the story of Titanic is tragic and humbling and a testament to mankind's inability to gauge its own limitations, we'll still see Rose survive the sinking, the hypothermia and the emotional duress to reinvent herself in the wake of tragedy. We'll all still tell ourselves that disaster is survivable and doesn't always signal the end of a chapter. Even though Rose isn't real and Jack totally could've fit on that godforsaken wardrobe door.
I mean, in general, movies do a wonderful job of offering a gateway into fantasy, but no genre succeeds the way disaster films do. The point of a disaster film is to lead us to a solution. And even if havoc is wreaked to the point of near-obliteration, we're still given a Hail Mary pass and a last-minute victory, which offer us a brief pause or sense of relief. Things I'm not sure any of us have had the luxury of experiencing in the past three months.
So as my own form of escapism I will embrace the version of worlds whose problems can be solved in a handful of hours. Worlds where volcanoes rise out of Los Angeles streets to the horror of Tommy Lee Jones or where Sharknados are defeated by the determination of Tara Reid. Worlds that are worse (but still not quite as bad) as the world we're living in now. Worlds where we make our own luck or change our last names on a whim in the rain on Ellis Island. Worlds where a wardrobe door could be left unattended in the wake of Titanic's sinking.
Because as if someone else wouldn't have already called dibs on it. (Only in a disaster movie.)