The Trials and Errors of a Supposed Hero.
I’m still in love with fantasy. So much so that it’s going to be my main topic for my dissertation at uni. I love the new worlds, the creatures, and the story lines. But like everything, fantasy is more complicated than you initially think. There are a lot of sub-genres to fantasy.
So what do you think of when you think fantasy?
For me, I think of Game of Thrones. Of Narnia. You know; epic fantasy. The kind of fantasy set in new or parallel worlds. The ones that always hit the mark for their complexity.
But there’s also urban fantasy, like Harry Potter or Vampire Academy, which always has an ‘urban’ (read: normal) setting and contains supernatural elements.
Then there’s alternate history (like I, Coriander), Romantic Fantasy (Twilight), and Steampunk Fantasy (The Time Machine). And that’s just the surface.
But the one thing that has always gripped me is the heroes and their portrayal. They mainly seem to all be relatively on the straight and narrow when it comes to our heroes. They may walk a grey path (like little Arya in Game of Thrones), but mainly they’re good.
Except when you come to women. Women in Fantasy fiction, more specifically the ‘strong female characters’, have always been referred to as ‘quirky’. Actually, the reality is that this isn’t something that limited to the fantasy genre… but in all genres, in all mediums.
Think Lisa Simpson in The Simpsons – Intelligent eight-year-old well above the intellect of most characters on the show. Quirky.
What about Ramona from Scott Pilgrim VS the World? Quirky.
Susan for Narnia? Quirky.
Lucy from Howls Moving Castle? Quirky.
The point is, these characters, whether they are from fiction, TV or film, they are all treated the same. They are the enigma to the rule that is women. They are not seen as anything other than strange. They do not conform to what society expects and therefore they must be quirky. When in reality they’re not. They are females placed into situations where our normal expectations are altered. It’s a cartoon where anything can happen or a fantasy world where the rules are different. It’s okay to be positive about female characteristics – because the world is so absurd anyway. It’s not like it’s reality where women single-handedly helped shaped this world we live in – oh wait, history forgot that too.
I could rant about this until my fingers bleed – so it’s probably a good thing that this is exactly what my dissertation will be about.