April 10, 2020, 04:40:13 AM

Author Topic: Reading SFF is escapism  (Read 745 times)

Offline Bender

Reading SFF is escapism
« on: February 20, 2020, 03:33:55 PM »
Quote
...supposes that the real world of unemployment and debt is too disappointing for a generation of entitled narcissists. They consequently migrate to a land of make-believe where they can live out their grandiose fantasies.

The authors of a 2015 study stress that, while they have found evidence to confirm this hypothesis, such psychological profiling of “geeks” is not intended to be stigmatising. Fantasy migration is “adaptive” – dressing up as Princess Leia or Darth Vader makes science fiction fans happy and keeps them out of trouble.

But, while psychology may not exactly diagnose fans as mentally ill, the insinuation remains – science fiction evades, rather than confronts, disappointment with the real world.

http://theconversation.com/fan-of-sci-fi-psychologists-have-you-in-their-sights-131342

I've heard this view before, but this article pulls up some research to back this up. It could be one of the reasons, but definitely not a generalization.

The GRRM quote "'A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen. The man who never reads lives only one." sums up my views. Access to fantasy gives experiences that real life just cannot provide. It can be used to supplement or even push knowledge of what science can achieve and serve as inspiration to many. Calling it escapism is just a narrow, biased and absurd derivation.

"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline Skip

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2020, 06:54:50 PM »
I argued with just about every paragraph. My own attraction to SF was to grand ideas and great hopes (space travel). Close on the heels of that, I fell in love with the sheer poetry of Ray Bradbury. It was a long time before I found a non-SF writer who I felt matched up. But fantasies of power? A need to escape? I can find nothing there that appeals to me. Not when I was 18 and not now when I'm 68.

Conversely, the whole argument could readily be applied to other genres. The world of Tolstoy's War and Peace was very far from my world of Portland Oregon in 1970. Was I looking to escape? Nope. I just bought the book second hand and fell into the story. Same goes for The Once and Future King. My choice to read them and my experience of them was much the same--a chance encounter with a good story well told.

I don't blame the article. Psychologists have to find something to study, and journalists must publish. Just don't take them too seriously.

Offline isos81

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #2 on: February 20, 2020, 07:09:14 PM »
I don't care even if it's escapism, I love reading fantasy. I don't need to justify myself.

I can't stop thinking that I were the magician or the warrior who saves the world :)
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2020, 07:23:35 PM »
I really hate that idea! >:(
Yes, sometimes reading a fantasy books distracts me, but isn't that a very important point of books?
Anyway, more often than not, reading fantasy helps me make sense of my life and the world around me, by giving me different perspectives and points of view of real things - I do lots of connections and that's the complete opposition of evasion.
I dare the author of that piece to read Malazan and think it's evading the real world!!!
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Offline cupiscent

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #4 on: February 20, 2020, 10:21:31 PM »
Just reading that grab quote I nearly shouted "Get fucked!" out loud in the mall food court. ;D

I don't so much disagree with that sort of view as have fundamental problems with the framing. I mean...

A) Obviously there is interrogative, investigative, thematically complex and challenging speculative fiction. Stuff that pushes at the world, questions what it means to be human, asks how we can be better.

B) I am so sick and tired of older generations going, "Oh gosh, why don't these young people want to live in the world that we made that is so horrible and unpleasant and difficult for them??"

I mean, just that first sentence in the grab-quote (which I appreciate might be straw-manning) drives me up the wall. The real world of unemployment, debt, impossible requirements, environmental degradation, pollution, exploitation... IS DISAPPOINTING. I assume it's also disappointing for entitled narcissists, because it's disappointing FOR ME.

Anyway, it's right up there with "Why aren't millennials buying diamonds???" CAUSE WE BROKE AND ALSO VALUE OTHER THINGS. Like hope. Like wonder. Like imagination.

Offline Elfy

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Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2020, 05:01:49 AM »
Isn’t most entertainment some form of escapism? Even sport, which many like to spend a few hours watching, provides an escape from the pressures and issues of real life.

Offline Skip

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2020, 05:26:59 AM »
The article also dodges the question of what is meant by escape-ism. That reading is an escape is true, but as others have said, it's true of all types of reading. Then again, I could argue playing baseball is an escape, but that doesn't make it escape-ism. Putting -ism on the end of a word doesn't automatically turn the noun into something meaningful.

And what is the "real" world anyway? Surely books are part of the real world. What would real-ism look like in this context? Here, as elsewhere, escapism is used as a bogeyman, an undefined shape with which to frighten the reader and make the author appear profound. Pfft. Writing articles for blog posts is escapism, sez I.
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Offline S. K. Inkslinger

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2020, 12:08:27 PM »
Let's see if this fell into some sort of defaming charges, if it is someone who is offended enough by this could notify the authorities and press court charges on the publisher of this article, possibly leading to fine and even jail time. *happy thoughts*

Offline Peat

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2020, 01:02:01 PM »
Yes, there is a significant escapist element in SFF, although pinning down the details of that and mapping it vs the number of works are fly head on at major social issues is probably more than falls under the gamut of a single psychological study. The Handmaid's Tale is SFF. There's studies linking being a Harry Potter fan with having notably more liberal political views than the norm. Etc.etc.

The article writer themselves who sought to make this even more contentious deserves nothing more than silent contempt.
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Offline DrNefario

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2020, 01:18:32 PM »
Some of it is escapism. Some of it is very much about the real world and is able to focus more clearly on an issue by recasting it in an imaginative framework, like a though-experiment or analogy. Sometimes it's both.

Offline The Sword in the Tome

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2020, 04:10:38 PM »
Isn’t most entertainment some form of escapism? Even sport, which many like to spend a few hours watching, provides an escape from the pressures and issues of real life.
My thoughts exactly.  Is surfing escapism? Is gardening?  How about taking a walk through nature when the weather is nice?

If they are, then what exactly is the problem with escapism?  If they aren't, why?
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Offline Bender

Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2020, 04:22:38 PM »
I think there's a incorrect stereotype that SFF is for nerdy introverts living in mamas basement. Even in movies you have the geeky nerd who's awesome with computers but has bad social life. I'm sure there are cases where this is true, but as a generic concept it's plain nonsense.
"I shall hunt your firstborn children and laugh with glee as I tell them of your death in terrible detail, with many unpleasant adjectives!" - M-Bot

"Who needs science when you have a dragon?" - Neil DeGrasse Tyson in Sharknado 6

Offline NedMarcus

A Few Words About Escapism
« Reply #12 on: February 22, 2020, 03:29:20 AM »
Time for a Neil Gaiman quote.

“I'd like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it's a bad thing. As if "escapist" fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with (and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.”

I completely agree with him.

Offline isos81

Re: A Few Words About Escapism
« Reply #13 on: February 22, 2020, 09:13:05 AM »
Time for a Neil Gaiman quote.

“I'd like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it's a bad thing. As if "escapist" fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with (and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.”

I completely agree with him.

+1
Kallor shrugged. 'I've walked this land when the T'lan Imass were but children. I've commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I've spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?'

'Yes' said Caladan Brood. 'You never learn'

Offline xiagan

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Re: Reading SFF is escapism
« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2020, 08:05:56 PM »
Those poor people who have never experienced the wonder of a good fantasy book. Living their grey lives, feeling the need to belittle something they don't know and don't understand.
But yes, "get fucked!" is another thing one could say, @cupiscent;D
"Sire, I had no need of that hypothesis." (Laplace)