“… I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love.” Psalm 119:113
By the time you read this, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” will be approaching nearly $250 million in ticket sales. Theaters are thrilled to be selling not just tickets in record numbers, but popcorn, sodas and candy bars to people dressed up as storm troopers, Jedi knights, and princesses. All seems harmless enough. What can be wrong with going to see a science fiction movie that only lasts two hours? As the seventh in the installment of movies that take viewers to a galaxy far, far, away, could it be that “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is more of a statement of what our culture has become rather than simple ordinary entertainment? Someone once said, “Show me a man’s checkbook register and I will show you to whom his heart belongs.”
When one looks at where Americans spend their money, it seems apparent, we have become a society of fantasy and escapism. The movie industry is just one segment of our society that has learned to cash in on America’s desire to escape reality. The Avenger movie series, based upon Marvel comics has earned nearly $3.6 billion in ticket sales. While the theaters have taken in a pretty good sum of profits off of fantasy, other segments of the entertainment industry have discovered ways to make money off of fantasy as well. Newzoo research firm reported back in 2013 that Americans spent over $20.5 billion in video games. This number far exceeds the silver screen industry, because of the availability of video games on computers, tablets and smart phones. Gambling websites have found their niche in a $70 billion fantasy football craze and the porn industry continues to enjoy $12 billion nationally and $97 billion worldwide, all built around sexual fantasy. There is also the $90 billion spent annually on alcohol by Americans, and yet, these numbers all pale when we consider the President’s budget for 2016 is $27.6 billion just for drug control as people are being treated for the escapism of drugs and alcohol.
Yes, we are a society of fantasy and escapism. What’s wrong with fantasy and escapism? The obvious answer is that it takes us away from having to deal with real issues that we face as Americans. We have lost faith in our government, we certainly cannot believe the news we receive via the corrupt media and there is so much negativity throughout the world. It is so much easier to just get away. While to get away and take in some fresh air or even a vacation is not a bad thing, the problem rests in that many escapers don’t come back from the break. They will continue to stay away, checked out from reality. Thus the real issues, the real problems never go away.
God tells us in Psalm 119:113 that He hates vain or useless thoughts. Useless thoughts become such, when we seek to escape from the pain life brings. While the typical politician or media mogul would love to keep America in its mode of fantasy and escape, God has bigger expectations for all of us and that is to face reality head on and truly make a difference. If George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and our other forefathers had chosen to escape reality rather than face it head on, we most certainly would not be enjoying the freedoms we have today, but isn’t that the point? Freedom wasn’t given to us so that we could live in a fantasy world, but that we would face reality of life’s problems head on and make a difference here on earth and not in a galaxy far, far away. Get real!