A Suspension of Disbelief is defined at wikipedia.org as referring:
...primarily to the willingness of a reader or viewer to accept the premises of a work of fiction, even if they are fantastic or impossible. It also refers to the willingness of the audience to overlook the limitations of a medium, so that these do not interfere with the illusion. However, suspension of disbelief is a do ut des: the audience agrees to provisionally suspend their judgment in exchange for the promise of entertainment.
By its very nature, all fiction requires Suspension of Disbelief, because it is not true. Stories, characters, places and the like are made-up...
Now, of course, there are all kinds of examples of this in our Hollywood fare served up for our consumption. But DAMN IT, do we have to put up with this stuff in our news and politics?
For example. we're reporting, today, on a story from the Associated Press discussing how Eva Longoria won't be doing anymore television after she's done with Desperate Housewives. She's trading in the small-screen for feature films. Of course she is. Isn't that what all actors worth their scale want? But have you seen her performance in The Sentinel? I picked up a copy of The Sentinel on DVD recently and checked out her performance. She may sparkle on the boob-tube, but she's less than ready-for-primetime on the feature film front. So, the Suspension of Disbelief here is that we have to set aside our recognition of her skills to "buy" that she'll be dropping TV from her repertoire.
Not if she wants to keep working.
Now... I suppose many of you have tuned-in for ABC's mini-epic (5 hours...whew!), The Path to 9/11. Here, again, ripped from the headlines, is a departure from reality that we're asked to make. No, not that the premise of the film is too much to believe (it happened... most of it, anyway). Rather, we're seeing, on the screen, the more-or-less true-to-life failings of that skirt-chasing William J. Clinton and his cadre. The Suspension of Disbelief we're asked to make here is that this guy actually got voted into the Presidency...not once, but twice! While "BJ" Clinton was soiling dresses, his adminstration was falling all over themselves avoiding true and effective confrontation with UBL which would have ensured that the WTC tragedy on 9/11 would have never happened. That's right. On more than one occasion, Clinton's team could have given the go to take out "The Tall One" and saved us all consequences of 9/11. Instead of showing "real" balls and taking action that may have been unpopular at the time (state sanctioned assassination of a terrorist leader), "BJ" decided the only way to show his "stones" was discharging them all over poor Ms. Lewinsky.
In effect, our entire politicial system is one big Suspension of Disbelief. It is entirely impossible to believe some of the things that our political "leaders" will do (or not do) to avoid taking a stand or actually stepping up to a real cause. What happens when, either in '06 or '08, we elect a less confrontational batch of morons to lead our country? As our stance swings from "forward leanding" to "backward cowering", how many ways will we be leaving for the terrorists in this new war to attack our soft under-belly?
I don't even want to consider it...
You know what's scary? A couple weeks ago, ABC News ran a special 20/20 featuring the Last Days on Earth. The thing about the freakishly outlandish stories they told is that those stories don't require Suspension of Disbelief. Yes, the world's largest volcano (in Yellowstone Park) will blow, creating an ice age that will most certainly cause the end of the human race. Yes, it is likely that, eventually, we'll be stricken by an asteroid that will be an extinction-level event that will destroy our race. Indeed, at the rate we're advancing artificial intelligence, it will only be a matter of time until machines decide they're better off with out us... Wow, did you ever think you'd have to fear the impending Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? What about the very real heating of our environment caused by the vast quantities of Carbon Dioxide we spew globally?
Meanwhile, our politicians are worried about the mundane matters of their daily lives instead of affecting real change. The entire story is... has got to be a work of fiction.