Warning: This is a rant, and contains religious references. Deal, or skip this post return on Monday :P O:) And should you happen to be interested, here's my first defence of fantasy, where I explain one of the reasons why I love the fantasy genre.
Fantasy is evil. Fantasy is the spawn of the devil. Fantasy is inherently immoral, amoral, anti-moral, and wrong.
Gah, how comments like these make my blood boil, particularly when issuing from the mouth of religious leaders or religious people. Yes, this happened a couple of days ago :)
So why, exactly, does this get me riled?
Mostly, I think, because it displays a tremendous amount of ignorance and narrow-mindedness.
First off, 'fantasy' is just a genre. Genres have defining features, but underneath, they're all stories. So why is 'fantasy' so much more evil than anything else?
Apparently the primary issue is magic. At least, I assume it must be, because what other difference are there? Setting? Nope, see sci fi and historical, or alternate historical. Character? Well, some people are good, and some are bad, but that's the same in all genres. Plot? Yeah, sure, some fantasy plots are so cliched they might as well be evil, but really, that's not fair...
So it must be magic.
But here's the deal: magic is a thing. Things can't, in and of themselves, be evil. Things can be used for evil - but they are not themselves evil. Notions of good and evil is a people thing. Not a thing thing.
Secondly, stories are written by people, and people have beliefs, and those beliefs seep through into their writing. Sure, some fantasy is atheistic; but wow, so is a heck of a lot of non-fantasy, and you know what? It's to do with who wrote it, not what genre they wrote it in.
And a heck of lot of fantasy is religious. A lot of it's even Christian. Fantasy writers are the devil's tools, are they? Great. Tell that to J.R.R. Tolkien, founding father of the entire freakin' genre, whose Christian themes and allegories abound, or to C.S. Lewis, arguably one of the greatest and most prolific Christian writers of the century.
Yup. Fantasy's evil. Darn that Narnia, and it's allegorical Aslan.
Not to mention, if we're going to be blunt and truthful about it, the Bible. Prophecies that come true? Dreams of the future? Allegories and strange visions of fantastic beasts that don't exist in our reality? Come on, that's not fantasy?? Not to mention the ultimate Chosen One, and - le gasp - magic. Yes, magic. Hello, water to wine, anyone? Healing the sick? Raising people from the dead?!
(Hmm, interesting doctrinal point: Is God the ultimate necromancer? Or is necromancy by definition the raising of the dead to an unlife, rather than to life?)
And finally, the ignorance. The people that disparage fantasy so emphatically seem to have little conception of what fantasy really is (see number two above). Apparently, it's only fantasy novels that are evil, and even then only ones written in the last century or two. If it's old enough to be called a myth or a fairytale, apparently it's fine. Cinderella? Yup, that's a pretty evil story. The Little Tin Soldier? Oo, terrible story, that one.
Not to mention Disney. So, it's evil of novelists to write stories that involve magic, but Disney is a happy, fun, family-friendly, movie-making company (heh, actual evils of the company itself aside %-))? Let me get this straight: The Wheel of Time, Narnia, the Lord of the Rings, Song of Ice and Fire, the Farseers, and so forth, are evil, but The Lion King, Suddenly 30, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and Toy Story are not?
I'd like to end by saying - People, before you try to take a swing at me for writing fantasy, you'd better be damn sure what you're actually swinging against - but since most of the people to whom that applies won't ever read this, is there really any point? :P
So, tell me dear faithful readers: What genres do you write in, and do you ever cop any flak over it? Are you perfectly happy to tell anyone who asks, "Yes, I'm a writer, and I write blah genre!", or do you hedge around the edges, mumbling non-committal responses in the hopes that they'll go away and that once, just this once, you won't get flamed for your writing preferences?
(Okay, so I've never actually been flamed, as such, and I've been pleasantly surprised a few times by a supportive response. But the point remains :D)