I know, I know. A fuzzy mirror wouldn't be all that useful. Or reflective. It might even need combing, or a bath...
ANYWAYS. Bear with me, I'll get there. *snicker* Bear, get it?
But despite Pooh's happy dance, I give quite a few bothers about recent events and I've been figuring out how to start dealing with them. On which shelf does Bother-it belong? Next to Botheration and my favorite croutons, or alongside that cereal I bought when it was on sale but don't eat because it tastes like cardboard?
A lot of November has tasted like that cereal.
The Great and Powerful Oz (aka the internet) has weighed in - of course. As happens more than usual when events shake the world, there's been a lot of talk about the role of an artist. Some people dig into the entertainment camp, while others staunchly defend the need to reflect current events.
As also happens with complicated situations, I agree with both.
Oh, Chris, I could stare at you all...
I MEAN YES, HELPFUL. INTERNET. MIRRORS.
Entertainment has been a necessary part of coping these past few weeks. I've watched innumerable puppy videos and trusted favorites on Netflix (while hugging a box of cookies). Quick facts: My degree is in history. I used to teach WWII at college. I know you'll believe what you want, but for me, its a scary time. But good art doesn't come from a diet of baby animals and...
Um, that did NOT come out as intended. What I mean to say is that, as much as we need comfort, we also need understanding.
And understanding is fucking hard.
I don't want to know the monsters that birthed this hate-stuffed beast. But we had a painful lesson in the dangers of the echo chamber this past November. So today I looked up things I did not want to hear. People preaching hate. People supporting exclusionary, harmful policies. But once I pushed past my personal rage and fear, I could see pieces of what drew angry, scared people toward such talk. What made them invest in promises of better times and protection from the unknown.
The unknown scares a lot of people.
Werewolves used to represent that unknown. We told tales of beasts walking like people to understand what we could not see. At first, those stories were only to frighten. Then, the longer we sat with those tales, the more familiar they became. Until the werewolf wasn't the villain.
Until the werewolf became the hero.
This is the power of fiction. And I believe we have a responsibility to use our art - particularly those who write science fiction and fantasy. In our hands isn't just a regular old mirror, reflecting terror back at scared people. No. In our hands is a MAGIC FUCKING MIRROR.
We can dress the unknown in wolf's clothing, give it a hero's name, and send it to fight dastardly villains.
Basically, we get to entertain people while punching harmful stereotypes in the face. How awesome is that? Challenging your worldview is tremendously difficult. But when you're invited into a different world and handed an epic adventure with engaging companions, its easier to drop your guard and see something a little differently.
Come in, we say, while I tell you a tale full of magic and mystery and star-crossed love.
Its not real, you see. Even if it is.