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they shoot dreamers, don't they?
look at the past and see the future, perhaps?
by robert a. melos
pop culture

Do you remember Fantasy Island? Of course you do.

For those who do not remember Fantasy Island, it was this great television show in the late 70s and early 80s. Okay, great may be too strong a word. It was really good escapism television. I remember Saturday night was escape night on ABC, where forgetting your problems was just a click of a remote control away.

Fantasy Island starred former big screen idol Ricardo Montalban as Mr. Rourke, who put the suave in Suavé long before that Rico kid came along. His comic relief was in the form of vertically challenged performer Herve Villachez. Together these two gentlemen, who had seemingly mystical powers, granted the fantasies of the rich, well-to-do, and heart wrenching, all who needed or wanted an escape from their own lives.

Well who doesn't want an escape from their own lives, be they hectic, or humdrum? Who wouldn't want to go to some fantastic tropical paradise and have their most secret fantasies come true for them? Apparently not many, considering how popular reality-based television has become.

I will admit right here and now, I've never seen any of the Survivor shows. I worked with a man who said he would watch Survivor when it truly became a matter of life and death, with people killing each other and women offering sexual favors for food. Now that would certainly give new meaning to "the other white meat."

What I don't get is the attraction to reality. Perhaps it's my youthful obsession with fantasy which causes my aversion to reality. Why would anyone choose to struggle to survive, when they could step off a plane and be greeted by a handsome Latino offering drinks with little paper umbrellas in them before he grants your every fantasy? It seems like a no brainer to me.

Isn't it bad enough facing the news each and every day, with the threat of war hanging over us like a distant mushroom cloud? Or the stock market tumbling downward like Joan Crawford down a flight of stairs in "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" Why do people still want to subject themselves to the torturous antics of people struggling for survive?

Historians can tell of the dance marathons of the great depression circa 1930s, when couples would compete for a grand prize, maybe $500 or $1000 dollars, sometimes a bit more, by dancing for extended periods of time without rest or with very little rest. Those same historians can tell of people performing ridiculous feats for a few dollars and a few moments in the spotlight. It is reducing humanity to its lowest common denominator. Put simply, everyone has a price.

I have a price, just like the rest of humanity. I'd name it, but none of you could afford to pay it. So while the rest of the world blindly follows the crowd, waiting to see who will be voted off next, (my money is on North Korea), I'll let my mind drift back to a simpler time when escapism was all the rage.

I know that isn't the realistic approach of the modern world but, let's face it, the modern world has become a living nightmare drifting between Orwellian visions presented to us by John Ashcroft as the way things ought to be, and complete chaos as presented to us by Geraldo Rivera as he reports live from Afghanistan.

Maybe my thoughts of retreating to the fanciful past are simply a defense mechanism, using the logic of "better the devil you know." Escaping back to a time when everything was easier seems logical, yet it isn't practical. Reality never is practical and, unfortunately, reality is the forward motion of life.

While we can't really go back, we can repeat past mistakes until we correct them. Considering the outcome of the past mistakes, I shudder to think of the horrors which lay ahead for us. If reality is so important to so many people, perhaps they should look back at the history of the human race, particularly the era which the present is mimicking, and look to where it led?

I'm not much for the pain and suffering thing, be it historical, reality, or quasi-reality in the form of a television program. I like to keep things loose and light, but the world is fighting me at every step. My dreams waver from Fantasy Island to World At War, and I don't like what I see.

If only I could click the remote control, and relieve my worried brow? But deep down, in my heart, I know I can't escape into a realm of fantasy. I have to face the harsh realities just like the rest of the human race.

I want an immunity challenge!


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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erik myers
1.2.03 @ 9:37a

Don't you think that Geraldo Rivera as a news correspondent is some type of escapism or fantasy world?

robert melos
1.3.03 @ 2:56a

Geraldo is a complete escape from reality. Not that I have anything against guys changing their names for professional reasons, heck, a lot of us do that. Anyway, in general I think he's moved into the realm of Larry King Land. It's a scary place to visit on a good day, and when you've got bombs bursting in air, then it's just surreal.

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