I’ve seen a number of movies — as I’m sure you have as well — where the final end sequence is a revelation. The final act, the master-stroke against the Bad Guy by the Good Guy is that the Good Guy manages to reveal to the world just what a complete asshole the Bad Guy was.
Maybe it’s a worldwide broadcast.
Maybe it’s “And now all your secrets are on the Internet!”
Maybe the Bad Guy confesses crimes to the Good Guy, but instead of being in private, this confession is actually heard by hundreds of people, who spread the news.
I think — if we’re going to be honest with ourselves — we’re going to have to decide that this is complete fantasy.
We have a world filled with revelations right now. We have Assange and Snowden. We have transcripts of meetings. We have YouTube videos showing riot-gear bedecked police beating homeless people to death. We have videos of people beheading other people. We have private prisons overflowing with the greatest percentage of incarcerated people in the history of humanity. We have a collection of school shootings hung about our neck like bloody pearl strings. We have detailed citations and links and documents showing that the Bad Guys are exactly doing everything bad that could possibly be done in the history of Bad Guyness.
But that’s not the end of the movie. That’s not the sound of us waking up and realizing that these are Bad Guys and therefore they must be stopped.
The Bad Guys are telling us “No, no, no, that doesn’t mean anything at all.”
The Bad Guys are telling us “No, no, no, that one person was just crazy, but you’re safer now.”
The Bad Guys are telling us “Well, that person is actually a Bad Guy for revealing my secrets. And if you’re patriotic, you’ll agree with me.”
The Bad Guys are telling each other “Give it two weeks and then you will be forgotten.”
The Bad Guys are telling us “Not all _______ are ______ blank” with the inference that “therefore, ignore ____________.”
So, the Revelations Tactic?
That doesn’t work.
People really don’t care. Or perhaps those that do don’t have a fraction of the power necessary to overcome the much louder cash-fueled voice of the Bad Guys saying “No, no, no, that’s not a problem — that’s simply ‘freedom of religion’, so it’s totally okay!”
So, as a movie trope, I think it’s time to retire this one.
We can handle a boy discovering he’s actually a powerful wizard. We can handle giant radioactive lizards. We can handle faster-than-light drive. We can handle gamma radiation exposure making a person super-powered. We can handle romantic 3000-year old vampires falling in love with mortals.
But we just can’t handle the truth.
That’s simply too much to ask.