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My brilliant friend Michael wrote something on Facebook this morning. It was so insightful that I asked if I could share it here. This is not mine, but I wish that I said it. Here you go:
I will never understand how bigots of… well, any kind really, can be sci-fi-/fantasy fans.
Of course, we’ve got out Orson Scott Cards and Ayn Rands and all that, and of course their messages and styles will appeal to certain people, but I’m talking about people who glut on multiple major entries in the sci-fi/fantasy canon.
I mean, seriously. Practically every genre work of note is about liberating the oppressed. Lord of the Rings (for all its unfortunate Eurocentric implications) actually pushes for intercultural tolerance and cooperation, and the right of peoples to live freely as they will. Star Wars is all about taking down a greedy, oppressive regime that exploits its people. Harry Potter is all about respecting the dignity and sovereignty of all walks of life, regardless of how your values may clash or how weird they may seem to you. Star Trek has always (and, at points, problematically) prioritized humanity’s evolution beyond bigotry and warmongering over dramatic necessity. X-Men, even when everything else about it is stripped away, is about Civil Rights and the evils of bigotry.
And all of these stories are chock full of women who are strong either in body, mind, heart, or any combination thereof. Well, Lord of the Rings is pretty much a sausage fest, but the appendices help with that. A little.
So, how we manage get fanboys who are sexist, racist, homophobic, or whatever is just frankly COMPLETELY BEYOND ME. How does this happen? How can someone be drawn to works that are all about freedom, tolerance, and respect, and then turn around and be bigots? Like, what do they even get out of these stories then? Honestly?
Is it just that light sabers are cool? Is that really all?
He makes such a great point. Sci fi and Fantasy stories are usually progressive in theme. Unity, Peace, The power of the common person. These are not the thoughts of the bigot. Of course there are exceptions, but you are what you read. Even Orson Scott Card wrote Ender’s Game, and if that’s not a powerful progressive statement, I don’t know what is.
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