Diana Black: Happiness amid Sorrow, Gloom and Mass Hysteria

by Diana Black

Death, oppression and panic invariably lead to gloom and depression – economic and personal.

Over the last 100 years or so, we’ve had WWI (1914), Spanish Influenza (1918), The Great Depression (1929), WWII (1939), Round One of the Corona viruses – SARS – CoV (2003), the GFC (2008) then Round Two – MERS – CoV (2012), and now Round Three – COVID -19…

Sales of romance narratives soared during the WWII and the GFC… why their success over grittier, darker fare? Nostalgic escapism into happier times or what could be a brighter future? Within romance narratives a happy ending is paramount, but prior to the happy couple walking off arm-in-arm, there must be moments of heart-felt solace and a sense of the best of who we are (or can aspire to be).

And most critical in a world where mass hysteria and wall-to-wall uncertainty reigns supreme, ‘predictability’ in the form of a sunset clause on the misery.

While it may have been only books and the cinema that lightened hearts and minds in times past, later on it was the little screen and now – via multiple streaming platforms. In those earlier times, audiences wanted uplifting, romantic films, swashbuckling adventures awash with heroism, love and comedic delight. Are we similarly flocking to uplifting, lighter narratives? The jury is still out on that one…

A perusal of what’s trending on Netflix, Hulu, Tubi, HBO and Amazon – reveals an eclectic mix of dramatic and supernatural narratives – all with a dark underbelly.

There’s some comedies peppered with snitty/witty dialogue. Disney Plus is the apparent ‘go to’ for family friendly fare, with much of their material on the lighter, less snittier side. Will we see more of it in this current Covid-19 era?

The Australian film producer, David Lightfoot (Wolf Creek, 2005…a horror-thriller) would seem to think so – currently clearing his slate and shelving violent movies for feel-good dramas and comedy. He et al anticipate a strong demand for uplifting cinema once over the COVID-19 lockdown.

Another production from ‘down under’, the “Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries”, explores the unbridled optimism of a smart and progressive, Lady Detective.

The television series ended a while back, but she and her gallant Jack, have returned to the Acorn TV screening site in “Miss Fisher & the Crypt of Tears”. Why is the character Phryne Fisher so damn popular she even has fans so ardent they rival hard-core Trekkies?

Optimism…and it’s in short supply these days…

As this current misery lingers on, and with us having been willingly enthralled by dark cynicism for so long via courtroom, hospital and detective dramas, grim fantasies and ghastly doco’s revealing humanity’s sleazier side, one wonders whether we’re capable of embracing lighter narrative fare.

Are we so jaded by the harsh reality of our current world crises that we cannot escape into the virtual cinemas aka our all-too-small living quarters?

Maybe the burden of guilt lays too heavy.

We’ve collectively brought this on ourselves through the overpopulation of our species (many of whom would in the natural world have long since ‘passed’), coupled with a total disregard and respect for Nature that’s allowed mega-cities of unhygienic humans – enough of whom embracing disgusting and unethical dietary habits, to become disease-riddled petri-dishes.

Miss Phryne Fisher, we need you.

And in the real world, what will be Round Four?

Diana Black is an optioned screenwriter who has placed in competitions with features and teleplays.  She’s also a professional actor with a Bachelor of Creative Arts – Drama, Film & TV and a regular contributor to TVWriter™.