Hey guys how’s it going? Today is going to be a discussion post about Contemporary media’s realism…
Now you’re probably wondering… what exactly does that mean? There are moments for me personally, especially when I first starting reading contemporary books where I read some stories that I felt like this could happen, this is real for me, I could believe the story. However, there are some stories that take place in a contemporary setting, that feel like they could only happen in the media that I am consuming or its only going to happen to specific characters. This post is going to discuss why I personally need a happy medium to my contemporary media because there are times when I want a fun entertaining story, but if there are some realistic characters or plotlines that occur, it can be more relatable and better for me. Also as a disclaimer before I get started: this is a personal opinion, and I am not trying to call anyone out for liking one or the other. I am just trying to show why mixing the aspects works best for me with of course some recommendations. Onto the discussion!
First, I need to relate to the character in some way, but if I don’t, I need to understand them.
There are moments in contemporary media, where the characters in the story can feel like they are stereotypes or archetypes. I can overlook these moments if the plot is very good or it is satirical trying to make fun of itself. Otherwise though, I need to relate to the character or at least I need to understand what their motivations are if I don’t directly relate.
Book: Queens of Geek
Queens of Geek is an example of a mix of both a relatable character and a character that I cannot relate to, but I can understand their motivations. First, one of the characters that has a perspective in this story has anxiety and autism spectrum disorder, and they are going to their very first convention. They reminded me of how I felt at my first anime convention and how anxious I could be. The other perspective is another character who is a vlogger who is bisexual and Asian American and I honestly cannot relate to that at all; however, I still loved both perspectives of this story because I was able to understand and relate to both the characters and plots as a whole. Check this book out if you haven’t already.
Anime: Monthly Girl’s Nozaki-kun
This anime/manga series is an example of the characters being archetypes/stereotypes, but since the plot was satirical/making fun of itself, I enjoyed it. The main characters are a mangaka of a shoujo manga and a person who is in love with him sucked into the world of creating a manga with inspiration from other characters such as the “suave flirty” one and the “emotional sensitive” one. They are stereotypes that I can understand but do not relate to with a still entertaining show. Check this out if you haven’ t already either the anime or manga (I haven’t read the manga yet though).
Second, I need the plot to be realistic, but if it isn’t, I don’t want there to be romanticization (thinking love can solve the problem) or plots that seem unnecessary or are used for dramatic effect.
So plot for me is something that is important for me on top of my characters. If I know going in that the characters are realistic but the plot is totally off the wall crazy unrealistic and that’s expected, I can lower my expectations on the story going in. However, if the characters are unrealistic and the plot is unrealistic in my contemporary media, then wouldn’t it just be considered a fantasy but put in a contemporary time and setting??? (I’ll let you be the judge there). There’s also the difficulty that tends to occur especially in books and manga but can also apply to other forms of media that when trying to make sure they write more diverse stories and also prolonging the story that is being told that they need to add little tidbits that help move the story along like I’ll give a contemporary book example with a book I read that had a wedding plot with two people and the main girl was anxious etc. the author had the audacity to add she was anxious because she was a tertiary bystander in a shooting out of nowhere! It could have just been left that the girl was anxious with an anxiety disorder and the plot would have been fine for me. There’s also the aspect of adding a physical and mental health component that helps with plot and romanticizing that the characters get cured because of love and *blergh* that annoys me so much. I have a few recommendations on a blog post that involves health inclusion that has books and media that don’t do that check it out if you’re interested .
Anime Movie: Ride Your Wave
Ok this isn’t completely contemporary with some minor magical realism elements, However, I do have to commend it for its plot. Its realistic in its timeline in the sense that it gives enough time between events of the story but also the emotional grief that is presented. For instance, this plot has two people falling in love (we get ample time with them falling in love), one of them dies and we get time with the person who survives trying to understand more about the person who died and dealing with the grief, and lastly the ending is not they end up with someone else, but they end up on their own path that at the end with still being in love but moving forward as realistically as they can. Yes, this is a sad movie at times but it has the right amount of joyful moments as well that feels realistic. The magical realism aspects help move the plot along, but the plot is not solely reliant on it. So if this interests you, please check it out.
Manga: High School Debut
This is a manga series that although my high school romantic life was not exactly like this, it feels realistic to me in the sense of a person learning lessons on how to be a proper high schooler getting new friendships, tackling a first serious relationship, etc. The plot feels like if it was expanded to a screen rather than a book/manga, it could go through every step of the relationship/life of this high school group of friends without feeling rushed or feeling unrealistic for teenagers. Check this out if you are interested!
Lastly, I know contemporary literature is supposed to be fun and fluffy for most people but frankly, life isn’t always that way.
This is probably the biggest reason why I read realistic fun contemporary stories. Yes, I need the escapism into a story just like everyone else. But, there are also times when I want to read or watch something that has something I am going through or I want to learn about something I have never experienced before in a contemporary setting. For instance, LGBTQIA stories in general I cannot relate to the characters, the plots are not something I can exactly relate to and understand, and sometimes I need a glossary or more explanation on everything. However, I still want to learn about what romance for them can be like and appreciate when stories are presented to help me understand. Contemporary life isn’t always happy-go-lucky how it can be in media with unrealistic expectations. Sometimes things happen but also sometimes we need that bubble.
TV Show: Big Bang Theory
I know I know not everyone likes this show because of some of the humor that is presented. However at my house, we appreciated the humor and the time line that was presented it felt realistic it was understandable and now as a family we are trying to find a show that is similar for the whole family to enjoy. Yes, towards the end it did feel like they were trying to stretch things too far too long to make it feel too silly but overall I would highly recommend this show because there are realistic situations that happen but its also a ton of fun to watch too.
Ok this is my favorite movie of all time. I know it seems weird because of Disney stars etc. But it has music, it has a decent timeline, it has both realistic characters and plot and its about coming into yourself trying to embrace who you are as well as trying to create the most awesome band ever. It has romance as well but it is not what is expected which is another reason why I put it here. Overall, it definitely as a movie represents my “happy medium”of contemporary media.