Do you like fantasy? Or does it drive you up the wall to even consider reading a novel about vampires, sorcerers, or hobbits?
Whatever you feel about the fantasy genre, apparently you're not alone. People seem to be hard-wired to either love it or hate it, according to a recent psychological study performed at Kansas State University. (The irony of doing a study about fantasy stories in Kansas does not escape me. But if it bothers you, just click your heels together three times and say, "There's no place like the non-fiction shelves at the library. There's no place like the non-fiction shelves...")
As a fantasy lover, I am fully in favor of believing that I am far more imaginative than a non-fantasy person. I also tend to believe I'm prettier than they are, more fun, and more likely to become a millionaire. None of that may be true, but remember, I like to fantasize. *wink*
Seriously, though, the study poses an interesting question: Why do we care if some people like fantasy, while others don't? Loving a good paranormal romance isn't exactly in the same category as drug addiction, murder, or pedophilia. The fantasy genre isn't going to cause the downfall of humankind.
And yet, I do feel cautious introducing my love of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia to people I've just met, because it can be an invitation to condescension: "Oh, you like those novels, do you? Well, I can't get into them. I prefer [insert pretentious literary novelist here]." This shouldn't happen, but it does, and all too often. Even the study summary describes fantasy fans as the fantasy prone, as though we fit in with the people who are prone to violence, prone to bizarre sexual behaviors, prone to mental problems.
We fantasy lovers are not prone at all; we are up and moving all the time, sometimes physically and sometimes mentally. But life doesn't catch us lying down. I can attest to that personally.
The reality is, some of us do dream of what never was and say, "Why not?" And really, why not? There's nothing wrong with a little fantasy to take a break from your reality. And fantasy can lead to an embrace of life, rather than a flight from it. It's like expecting magic wherever you go. The magic may not always show up, but sometimes it does. If you're looking for it, you won't miss it. What a great way to live!
So, what do you think of fantasy? Do you love it? Hate it? How do you view people who like fantasy? And what do you think of the decision to do a psychological study on the topic? (It was for a student's doctoral dissertation, and I don't mind it. But it seems kind of funny to me. What do you think?)
For more on this topic, read my source article on MSNBC.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.