‘Toxic Fiction’ (2013)

J r ewing hi-res stock photography and images - Alamy

Gigantic oversized image of Larry Hagman as J.R. Ewing. Not what I wanted, but sometimes you have to settle for what you can get.

Can you emulate a TV villain? Setting aside the question of why you’d want to.

How about if it was a really cool villain?

Toxic Fiction

Many of you are way too young to remember a show called Dallas, featuring an antihero named J.R. Ewing (played by Larry Hagman, who used to be in I Dream of Jeannie). The show was a huge hit, and the J.R. character became a national icon. What does that tell us about our nation? People wanted to imitate the bad guy!

6 comments on “‘Toxic Fiction’ (2013)

  1. I’m somewhat with Solon. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that fiction is wrong, but there is a problem, in that some people seem to be unable to separate fiction from reality. JR Ewing at least started out as being a bit over the top; a caricature of a self-centered, amoral jerk. I saw a few of the earliest episodes of Dallas, and the character of JR could be counted upon to do something incredibly selfish, and it was good for a laugh.

    But note the words I chose; the character of JR is a far cry from regarding JR as really existing. Fictional characters do the writer’s bidding, and suffer only the consequences which the writers choose. Life; reality, just doesn’t work that way. In real life, JR Ewing would have been a pariah, and quite possibly ended up on the wrong side of the law. When someone shot JR, the bullet would have been real, and he might not have survived.

    When I was a child, I took things very seriously, and could easily become disturbed by things I saw in movies or TV. My parents helped me to understand that movies and TV weren’t real, and that an on screen tragedy was fictitious. As an adult, I took this lesson further, realizing that cameras “see” only what they are intended to see and keeping that simple rule in mind, I began to see the hand of the videographer and editor, at work. Eventually, I began learning how to predict what would happen next, just by observing the camera positioning. I’m not a lot of fun as a movie-watching companion. 🙂

    Theater and fiction was a relative novelty, throughout most of human history. Imagine life before recorded music; the only music you would hear would be live music, most likely performed either by someone from your community, or by a traveling professional musician, who was able to make a modest living, because of the novelty of their skill. Then came recorded music, and everything changed. Music was no longer as novel of an experience, and when radio came along, having music on as the background sound to daily activities.

    The same thing happened with theater, with moving pictures bringing theater to a wider audience, and television making theater possible as an all day experience, within the home. By the time I was born, radio music was ubiquitous and in many homes, television was on most of the day. Children born into this era were exposed to constant music and theater, which, not surprisingly, has resulted in generations of people whose very concept of reality is was forged in an environment of constant entertainment. The results are all around us.

    1. It certainly wasn’t meant to have that effect. When we evaluate any problem, it is in the context of mankind being in a fallen state. For example, musical talent is truly a gift. This gift has been abused by some musicians; used to promote immortality and drugs, but that doesn’t negate the fact that music is a gift, and I believe it to be something God made for good purpose.

      Likewise, fiction can be used for good, but sadly, it is often misused by the unscrupulous, towards their own immoral ends. It’s our fallen human state which causes this.

    2. As Croesus once said, “Oh, Solon, Solon!” Because he wanted so badly to understand what that meant, Cyrus the Great spared Croesus’ life in return for an explanation.

  2. Who killed J.R.? Yes, I was around for that one but didn’t watch it (and it was before dvr). I have seen actors interviewed who say they would rather play the villain than the hero any day because it is more fun to do so.

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