I have not seen a minute of the Harry Potter films, know Twilight only as daylight’s capitulation, have zero interest in any of the seven(teen?) Lord of the Rings epics and have no idea what Game of Thrones is.
I do, however, suspect Game of Thrones to be a variant of the above-mentioned films and like most such medieval-Gothic-Old Testament fantasies it is seemingly loved worldwide by those of a socially awkward nature.
Perhaps my limited experience with the genre risks rendering my words as dark as some Minotaur-like villain inhabiting one of these gimcrack CGI fables. But like a passive smoker choking on regurgitated toxins, I am exposed to enough of the poison to know it is not for me.
Classic science fiction takes us to plausible worlds where even a modicum of scientific truth can vindicate cautionary concerns. Unbelievable creatures that can talk, humans that have an animal’s expertise, vampires with hearts of tarnished gold and geeks flying broomsticks could perhaps serve some sort of moral compass to those with a mental age below twelve. But as truth is stranger than fiction, surely (science) fiction based in what is true – or could be one day – must be more poignant, relevant and interesting, right?
Scenarios of warlocks and wizards and caricatures with supernatural powers only serve to undermine what, if any, philosophical point fantasy authors are trying to make.
Then there is the other great ironic fantasy at the heart of such fantasy. The world we actually inhabit is the amazing one, full of technology verging on magic, boasting unprecedented personal freedoms and opportunities.
Most of us in the Inner West even have access to clean water, bulk-billing and can fly at near supersonic speed to worlds as foreign as anything on film. And I suspect the beers and $10 steaks at your local pub taste better than those chunks of meat you see drunken kings tearing from spit-roasted carcasses or the rank mead they swill from communal jugs during victory banquets.
Better still, most of us don’t live in fear of being eaten by dragons or decapitated by Vikings. And when I see dusky warrior-princesses or enchanted maidens with tiny waists and fanciful cleavage, the first thing I think of (well, second) is their inevitably woeful hygiene.
You think chivalry is now dead? Even those supposedly gallant knights of the medieval era that inspire so much contemporary fantasy saw little difference between courtship and rape. I just wonder how the average Tolkienite nerd would survive in a world of fantastic dangers where only the fittest most ruthless specimens suvive?
It’s just escapism, you say? Hey, that’s what rants are for.
Words: Jason Dunne, Inner West columnist and the author of Everyone is Henry Miller.
**UPDATE: Read Max Kobras’ response rant here**
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