Youth, Fantasy, and the Finer Points of Loneliness

(Now for something a bit different. My Musings: a series of topics dealing with pop culture and my relation and history to the medium. Enjoy as you read all the sordid details and then quiver in horror as they match your own life!)

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You may find it unsurprising that I was a lonely fantasy geek. Yes, shocking, I know: someone who blogs was a loser. Well, technically speaking I am still a loser, but a “cool” loser. What I mean by that is though the world has changed into something which prizes the weirdo sub-culture of yesteryear (just think of all the Dr. Who, Battlestar Galagatica, Game of Thrones, and Lord of the Rings hysteria you hear nonstop), during my sweet innocent years, before I became a cold hearted cynic in league with the Dark Side, I knew no such companionship.

Indeed, my friends all specialized in different interests. While they would share my interest, for a time, in Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards (remember those?), even that was short lived. They preferred superheroes, mindless action blockbusters, and sports; some liked sci-fi but very few enjoyed fantasy. Additionally, school in my younger years was a trifling affair; without going into details, let me simply say that most days were unpleasant experiences. It seems like a stereotype come to life, but I was nearly alone. Alone, all but for one.

That one was my brother. Obviously I had to receive my interests in such things form someone and that someone was him. We both developed a fascination with what we saw as the highest form of fantasy: Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs). The melodramatic tales of heroism, evil, love and hate, revenge, and angry gods bent on enslaving the world was all it took for my supple young mind to be forever trapped in the web of Asiatic pop culture.

To be fair I enjoyed other fantasy sub-genres as well. What was traditionally thought of was European varieties of fantasy, such as King Author and princess stealing dragons, both my brother and I greatly valued. Indeed, we made little distinction between the two flavors of fantasy; since each genre incorporated elements from one another (often subtly for the latter genre), we were able to differentiate between the two groupings only by tone and historical setting (whether it was set in Europe or Japan, each area offering a very distinct geographical distinction). Dark fantasy would come in later, during adolescence, but even then, the kind of fantasy popular now, as seen in George R.R Martin’s epic series, I-even now-have little love for. It is not that the upsetting tales disturb me, but rather it takes a keen mind to handle Dark Fantasy right and I never had much of a soft spot for much of what I saw during my younger years. So, for the most part, I stick to more traditional fantasy establishments.

But why? Why do I like a blend of fantasy which currently is out of style? Well, that would have to do with my younger years. Even though not many other people (save my brother) enjoyed my fantasy likings, the characters, plots, and worlds contained within these video games and movies made me feel as though I wasn’t so alone: anyone who has ever played a JRPG can understand what I am getting at: the moralizing about good and evil, doing the right thing, and rising from a lowly wretch to Mr. All-Mighty, mixed with heavy doses of eloquently waxed speeches of friendship, is enough to make any angsty or destitute youth sympathize (or call it gay, whatever the recourse may be). So for me it was a matter of, yes, having an entertainment product which took my mind off of the solitary struggle of school but also of a schema which helped me adapt to an ever changing world of perceptions which every day appeared to resemble more of the dark fantasy which I had previously spurned.

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