It’s Fantasy

Published September 30, 2020 by swankivy

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Whose fantasy, exactly?

If someone offers a critique on a piece of art for being “unrealistic” due to perceived inappropriate diversity, it’s almost always rooted in prejudice.

Most of the time they have no special knowledge of history or what realistic renderings would look like, and can’t quote or cite anything except the feeling that variations from “typical everyman” constitute forced diversity or PC pandering. But even if they do offer some basis in fact for their attempts to insist on homogenized casts, it’s important to pay attention to what they excuse. In some cases, like the exaggerated portrayal in this comic, they’re happy to scoff at “warrior chicks” for being unrealistic but have no problem with magical creatures, male protagonists with superpowers, and technology that’s mismatched to the perceived historical setting. They only even think to criticize if they feel that inclusive casts constitute stolen spotlights for people like them.

I once read a criticism of the Ghostbusters remake consisting of a guy objecting to a fat character running. He just couldn’t believe, he said, that a woman that overweight would be able to handle running the way someone in her position would need to, especially with all that equipment on her back.

Meanwhile fat people in the real world sometimes run marathons and he has no problem with the dozens of ghosts in the movie.

He finds athletic fat people more unrealistic than ghosts.

Obviously I do have to admit that complaining about one thing doesn’t mean you do necessarily know about or excuse other glitches in an artistic work. I get that. But watch these people when they react to diversity with sudden need for “realism” that a) isn’t demanded of other aspects of the work and b) often isn’t even realistic.

The real reason a man complains about fat women in a movie is not because he really thinks this lack of realism ruins the movie for him. It’s because he isn’t attracted to her and he wants the women to all be attractive to him. If a woman doesn’t do that for him, she isn’t worth anything to him. So she shouldn’t get to exist in his sphere of attention.

Too bad. Many fat women can run a marathon better than you, sir.

And if you get a dragon, I can at least have a sword.

2 comments on “It’s Fantasy

  • I can understand the Ghostbusters complaint. There is a kind of fantasy (hard Sci Fi is a common example) where you explore, “How would *real* people in the *real* world react if this improbably or impossible thing happened?” Politics doesn’t change if Magic is real. If dragons were real, that doesn’t change Physics, and they have constraints like any other large flying thing. (I wonder if dragons have hollow bones?)

    Even a totally alien world still has logic. I started a story where a premise was that the circumference of a circle was exactly 3 times the radius. The logical consequences of this creative fiction (e.g. significant warping of space – imagine an embroidery hoop with circumference 3 times the radius of the circle of cloth it holds) were ignored, and repeating that approach resulted in a series of random events with no rhyme or reason.

    • Sure, just because you change one thing about reality in a fantasy doesn’t mean all bets are off and no expectations apply for internal consistency or believability. But it’s still baffling to me that anyone would take that premise and then apply it to “I don’t think a fat lady can run” when fat ladies CAN AND DO RUN IN OUR REAL SOCIETY. If you’re willing to suspend disbelief for ghosts but not even willing to swallow athleticism that is literally achievable in the world we live in, I do have to give the side-eye to your complaints.

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