Death is a Statistic

We’re fucked up people. We need to come to grips about it. 152,000 people die a day and we’d probably care about one or two of them. The human mind just isn’t capable of getting emotionally attached to all of those lives. After a certain point, it just becomes meaningless. It becomes a statistic and abstract. It evolves into something dissociated from reality. So when Hosnian Prime and its moons got destroyed by the Starkiller base, it was meaningless. Spoiler Alert.

The First Order’s dastardly act is just a show of power much like the destruction of Alderaan in A New Hope. The New Republic, having been a thorn in the First Order’s side, needed to be wiped out. So the First Order did it. They used their superweapon. All of the relevant characters react to its destruction. Finn panics. Han watches in silence. It’s an important event for all involved. The New Republic means something to these people, but it doesn’t mean anything to the viewer. Hosnian’s destruction is supposed to matter, but it falls flat. In fact, most people think it is Coruscant.

Without having been on Alderaan or meeting its denizens other than Leia, we feel more connected to Alderaan. It’s the stated goal for Obi Wan and Luke, the place that would solve all of the problems of the movie. Then the Empire destroys it. Now our heroes are left wondering what to do next and so are we. It is a great turning point for the story and pulled me further into the story.

Hosnian’s destruction pulled me out. It shoved a red pill down my throat and I could now see the code that holds together the Force Awakens’ universe. I pluck a single string and it all comes crashing down, compiling into a blue screen of IDGAF. Instead of going along for the ride, I was critiquing it and thinking of ways that it could be better. The magic was gone.

Any form of entertainment, movie, book, videogame—it doesn’t matter—must maintain an illusion of believability. The Force Awakens broke that illusion halfway into the movie by asking me to care about something without a good reason. The movie expected me to roll with it, but I simply could not. If you are creating something, I suggest you give your reader a reason to care about a big event other than the fiery spectacle of it. The moment will be punchier and more personal than the faceless masses of the Hosnians. Have your readers hear the millions of voices crying out in terror and then silence them.

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