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← Fantasy's Spell on Pop Culture: When Will It Wear Off?

drl2's Avatar Jump to comment 30 by drl2

I'll have to agree that I don't think there's a "bubble" - we've merely reached a point where the technology to portray these stories cinematically without resorting to puppets and rubber suits has become widespread and inexpensive enough that you don't need to have an almost guaranteed blockbuster like LotR to risk the investment.

I've been a fantasy reader all my life - Christopher Tolkien keeps publishing everything his father ever so much as scribbled on a napkin because he knows people like me will rush to the bookstore for the hardcover the day it comes out, then come back again two years later for the deluxe leather-bound boxed set edition of "Galadriel Orders A Pizza".

To some degree I credit my reading of fantasy with my rejection of religion. I never for a moment believed there really were elves and dragons and wizards fighting over magic swords... but through these stories I learned to recognize make-believe when I saw it. Somewhere along the line I realized that Jesus the Wizard and Gandalf the Wizard were just as unlikely (and if I could pick one to be real, it would be the one with the wagon full of fireworks...).

As to the issue of fantasy creating oversimplified black-and-white, good-vs-bad scenarios, I think it's far from the only genre to do this. The best fantasy, the kind that sticks with you long after you've given the book away because, while you enjoyed it, you know you won't be reading it again, is the kind that's all shades of gray. Tolkien managed to do a little of both - the bad guys were unquestionably, undeniably bad... but the good guys were flawed and could and did give in to temptation, often to disastrous results. His work was heavily influenced by Catholic theological ideas of sin and redemption, but I like it anyway. As for Game of Thrones, I challenge anyone to find a single character in that series who is either totally good or totally bad, who Martin hasn't already killed off.

Wed, 03 Aug 2011 13:48:44 UTC | #857457