I have no idea why I dismissed the fantasy genre the other day

This is something that needs to be understood.

LOTR is also high on the list. If you scroll through, a disproportionate amount is fantasy in one way or another.

Inb4 you ask, googling it you’ll find lots of controversy as to whether Star Wars is sci fi or fantasy.

There’s a synchronicity with the name “Marvel” since that Bakhtinian theorist Todorov I mentioned before connects the fantastic with the marvelous. And also the uncanny.

The Marvel franchise is so popular that should be studied as a “genre” unto itself. For now I’m just going to stick with the broader one. Out of the top ten the only one who seems human is James Bond. Then there are Star Wars characters that use “the force” and Batman who has supernatural qualities it could be argued. As for the rest it seems pretty fantastical. And that’s what people love to watch. It’s mostly superheroes that are at the top of the list. That must say something about us as a people. Could it be that we fantasize about the Übermensch?! Or am I just reading my own self into this?

Obviously I’m wondering how to politicize the fantasy genre. Given its popularity it is not something to dismiss. Forgive me for saying it- there’s no doubt at all the US would be a better place if the Sorting Hat had put Harry into the Slytherin house.

How useless are these for political purposes

These “villains” act as pressure-release valves. Living vicariously through their defeat has next to no direct political effect. Fantasy doesn’t have to be that way.

This is a twist though- Tolkien and C. S. Lewis

have also rejected allegorical readings of their own works on numerous occasions. It is ironic, however, that Todorov indirectly places the works of these two fantasists within the genre of the marvelous, in which allegorical readings are not only accepted, but also deemed necessary by Todorov, in order to reach a meaningful interpretation.

How do you think I would subconsciously interpret the Green Goblin for instance? Subconsciously there is something political that happens a lot of the time.

Luke Skywalker ends the tyranny of the Sith for instance. How is that seen by many? Given our education these days they probably, subconsciously or not, see the Sith as representing white supremacy. So the symbols of the fantasy would have to be carefully chosen so as to facilitate particular interpretations. An anti-leveling allegory I’d like to see for example.

Back to this genre in general though, for Todorov fantasy is rooted in hesitation, hesitation between concluding whether the reality presented is supernatural or natural.

An example

Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass is frequently labeled as a work of fantasy even though the whole story is set in a dream-frame, and thus can be said to have a natural explanation.

Or you might think of the twist-ending of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village.

Wolverine’s claws are interpreted as almost a possibility that could be engineered in the natural world. And that would be considered the uncanny-fantastic for him. Whereas something like Gandalf’s magic or Superman’s flight would be the marvelous-fantastic. If you attend to your experience while watching these types of movies Todorov does seem to have a point about the “hesitation” and the fluctuation of acceptance of the reality or the “sensation of suspension” you could call it. If you can figure out a science of this you can use it to potentially create political allegories. And again, looking at the popularity of fantasy, that sounds like a particularly important task one could devote oneself to.

I’m new to thinking about fantasy very closely myself and this genre that is seemingly so familiar to us isn’t exactly simple to understand. It looks like a theorist named Rosemary Jackson expands Todorov to include the political dimension of this genre, if this is your cup of tea.

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