I like watching movies as I do reading books that affect me, because I learn about other people through the portrayal of characters and their stories. Emotionally, people respond to fiction, as they see the characters, story, and the fictional world as something they have experienced in the real world. Also, I watch and read fiction to escape from reality, or as a what is called escapism. As defined by the Webster Dictionary, escapism is the “habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine.” Art, movies, hiking, comedy, animal-bonding, etc. are some examples of methods of escapism.

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To belong to a cult is sharing with others a deep admiration and passion for participating in something, being a part of a community that makes them filled fulfilled, accepted, and meaningful, and to believe in someone or something; escapism being seen as a way to lose reality temporarily to participate in something people are passionate about unites the terms, “cult” and “escapism”. Entertainment and peace shared by people in a group is an example of escapism.

Into the Wild can be considered an example of escapism, because the protagonist is leaving the attachments that come with the reality of living in a society to doing what he passions – escape into the wild. And this film has a cult following, because people connect with McCandless and understand and share his passion for adventure and individualism (breaking away form the attachments in society). People can escape their everyday dependence in society, such as work, school and other things that may hold them back from being adventurous, as they watch the character leave society to explore and live in the Alaskan Wilderness. As he left, they left with him.

There is the more fantastical example of cult and escapism, such as Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, to name a few, and many other books and films.Maybe one wants to watch Iron Man and pretend he is Tony Stark for the duration of the film, saving humanity from villains. One can watch these movies and escape reality for a while. During times of turmoil, people resort to escapism as a relief.

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An image of Emmile Hirsh who portrayed Christopher McCandlesss in the film, Into the Wild.


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Lord of the Rings. I need to visit New Zealand.

The words cult and escapism have been mixed together before, and it made me think. To clear the air, cult is a broad term that goes beyond the religious cult and Charles Manson type cults, or even the government, or  a large entity who persuades people to follow through fear and control. Cult also refers to having a passion or high admiration for an activity or event, or person. Now, considering people who enjoy biking or running for miles or/and venturing off into the wilderness to explore. Since people admire the beauty and intrigue of nature, and the cyclists and runners like to test their speed and endurance together, they are a type of cult. They share these values, and find these activties an outlet.

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Look into their eyes, and JOIN.

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People romanticized characters in movies and books as the heroes they want to see or be in real life, as a popular form of escapism. Escaping reality doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring the concerns that exist in reality. It could mean someone resorting to fiction and fantasy to observe how possible efforts demonstrated in fiction and movies can work at solving real life issues. For example,  some people want get lost in watching comedies or superhero movies;whereas, some people will want to escape into a fiction that explores possible solutions to everyday problems, such as disease, financial problems, war…

There are other methods of escapism in addition to fiction and movies, including art, protests, video games, venturing the world….Consider staring at an abstract painting and getting lost in its various patterns, or observing a painting of the landscape, be it in outer space or the moon, one wants to be.

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Escapism seems to be a popular activity in society, and has been for a while. Surrounded by death, politics, anxiety, bigotry, doubt, a redundant routine, escapism becomes more alluring.  Whether it is taking long walks in the woods, camping, and kayaking, watching  a movie, or some other method of escapism, it does not need to be done with company, but when it is done so, escapism becomes shared with others as a cult.



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