Art used to be a representation of reality. Now, in this age of digital sound and video, we are inundated with reality. Or at least we think we are. So art has a new role: the escape from reality.
When Adam Smith described the division of labor in a pin factory, he told the story of how productivity would soar. This turned out to be a kind of prophecy but it is even more true of information than products. The almost cliche, probably true tidbit that a single edition of the Sunday New York Times has more information than a medieval peasant absorbed in a lifetime seems to make this point.
So, what is the protection for the psyche of a curious animal suddenly confronted with gigabytes of information at any moment? Information that provides no information about what to do next, what you should do, what you could do? You opt for information (for surely meditating on nothing can hardly compare with focusing on something in this information age) that takes you away from reality rather than plunges you into it.
And if the escape gives you some moments of vicarious bonding with a superhero while you are at it, all the better. Not only are you faced with fictional situations that require no response, you feel equipped with special powers with which to deal with this situation.
Art has morphed from a vehicle that brings art to us into a vehicle that, like a getaway car, takes us away from reality.