Sincerity in media is always in style, yet short in quantity. What happened to sincerity?
There’s a lot of media to watch, play, read and absorb. Countless stories and worlds to get lost in. Numerous characters to root for in their adventures. Hundreds of thousands of lessons to be learned and valued. It’s fun. Some of the most endearing media experiences I’ve had were loaded with sincerity, passion and heart. Does it sound cheesy? Man, of course it does, but that’s what’s so great about it.
That’s something that’s missing in modern media for me. Now, I should preface that I’m not saying there aren’t modern movies I adore, because there are plenty of modern movies I adore. But there’s certain lack of “straightforwardness” to so much of media I see now. That’s just indicative of my taste or something, but I feel it could run deeper than that.
I was doomscrolling away on my YouTube feed a few days ago and stumbled across a video on the sincerity of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. That video got me thinking back on those films and how straightforward they played Spider-Man and Peter Parker’s adventures. There was an unabashed cheesiness to the trilogy, but something there made those movies endlessly rewatchable for me.
We do live in an era that loves deconstructions, reinterpretations and rejections of certainty and enlightenment. There’s nothing wrong with that, mind you, but I feel it’s gotten to a point where it’s no longer as riveting as it once was.
These concepts are a part of postmodernism: a belief that there is no truth, and that the rejection of modernity is ideal. It’s interesting but trying to deconstruction and the subjection of skepticism onto so many things across media is tiring.
It’s not easy to find media that doesn’t constantly turn to the audience and wink, you know? There’s a certain charm to a work of art that plays itself straight and takes itself seriously with integrity regardless of how silly or “cringe” the concept may be. I know Spider-Man, someone with the ability to shoot webs from his hands and climbs up walls in the red, white and blue spandex is a stupid, silly concept. But I don’t need the work in question – be it a movie, comic, show, game or otherwise – to remind me how stupid it is.
It’s a nitpick for sure, but it’s something that I’d like to see more of. Pure sincerity and confidence in a concept that plays itself straight. It evokes an air of pride in the work. It evokes a certain type of heartfulness and passion that would otherwise get lost under the self-aware depreciation or obscured by the winks and nods.
I think more media should be confident in its cheesiness and wear it on its sleeve. Treat its themes, characters and world with integrity no matter how weird. Not everything needs to be a deep deconstruction or rejection of established concepts. Sometimes, just executing concepts well with passion and sincerity is all you need.