Thursday, August 28, 2008

Commentary on Wahopo article

Twilight sinks its teeth into feminism

Synopsis: author claims girls are drawn to "Twilight," a fantasy literary sensation with traditional gender roles, because they cling to traditional gender roles despite 3 decades of feminism. Conversely, author claims boys are drawn to violent video games and internet pornography, for the same reasons.

Madness ensues elsewhere. A few comments:

I think where the author was going is saying that, instead of appreciating one another for their inherent qualities, (young) men and women are instead spending time apart from another, which time they employ fantasizing about those qualities.

The suggestion is that they would be better off to put down the computer games/trashy romance series, and spend the time getting to know one another instead. And additionally, that it is their failure to get to know one another that drives them to such pastimes.

The linked article is relevant to more than just young female readers of fantasy literature. The "fangirl circuit," like any other circuit of western escapism, is a realm where people have been turned away from one another, and seek to find missing humanity in some other medium. Powerlessness? Excessive interest in sporting competition or violent gaming. Economically disenfranchised? Make money virtually in a virtual world. Unhealthy? Make up a healthy online character. Insufficient sexual options? Escapism to the rescue.

What we are lacking from ourselves and our fellow (hu)man, we search out virtually, and spend increasing amounts of time and desire in it. It can be healthy or unhealthy; indeed, given the state of the world, it is perhaps more healthy (at least for the mind) to spend more time escaping it. That is the province of imagination and wonder, which will not be regulated and taxed until things are very near the darkest.

Yet, it is human to seek necessary things that are lacking: food, water, meaning. Some accountants camp out for baseball tickets and pretend it really matters if the team wins. Others gird their World of Warcraft character in armor + .001%. Many, sadly, let their bodies go and forget that their mental health (and ability to escape/imagine/dream) depends on them for fullest potential.

There is more reality in fantastic escapism than in outer society of social ritual, debt gambling and corporate events. You can still find human decency, conviction, courage, and truth in those places--even if these qualities only conform to the fantastic worldview created expressly for the fantasy. It is sustenance for the soul.

Ideally, escapism would not need to be so total, because there would be more meaning in reality. But in the crushing soulless of now, where individuals are partitioned through economics and find it unable to meaningfully connect, it is one of the best option available for the searching mind.

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