Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Sneaky Way of Making Fans

In response to a previous posting of IE Lester's excellent article in New Myths (10 Science Fiction Novels to Give to Your Father-in-Law):
I mentioned that the general populace cannot think of science fiction beyond Star Trek or Star Wars, and thus, they dismiss the field as not worthy of serious consideration or study, either literally or cinematically.

Styrofoam Dog leapt to the defense of Star Wars, correctly citing that it is an excellent representation of the mythic hero's journey, so brilliantly expounded by Joseph Campbell. The poster asked, in essence, “What's wrong with Star Wars?”

Well, nothing (aside from Jar-Jar Binks, and that's VERY wrong). I wasn't dissing it, but pointing out that for the masses, it isn't very serious, and it is what they think of when they think Science Fiction. They haven't progressed beyond viewing the entire field as rayguns, spaceships, and bug-eyed monsters.

(There is an alternate view, among the truly enlightened, that an appreciation of these examples is a necessary component of modern culture, specifically geek culture, and indicates a technological mastery of the computer age, which has brought the future at an ever-accelerating pace. See where the author posits that an ability to discuss the merits and differences of these stellar examples defines the most hireable computer masters)

The prejudice of the masses for science fiction and its followers is reinforced when they see television coverage of science fiction conventions. They see adults dressed up in costumes, and think it's all a childish waste of time, something not for grownups. They may have seen a piece on the woman who showed up for jury duty in a Starfleet outfit, and extrapolated from that that anyone who likes science fiction is a nutjob.

When someone starts with that viewpoint, it is futile to begin a discussion with the merits of the thing they dismiss, in this case the two most well loved examples of sci-fi fandom. We'll leave that for another time (or perhaps a guest posting- Styrofoam Dog, are you up for the challenge?)
Rather, we get sneaky- give them the gateway books that will hook them. Bit-by-bit, you add ideas to their mindset, expanding their consciousness, making them a science fiction fan without them realizing it, until it's too late.

Then explain how Kurt Vonnegut, 1984, and Brave New World are all science fiction. Whoa- ideas and literature? Show them how the best examples of good science fiction is indeed serious and good. It's a long path before you can convert them to Star Trek and Star Wars, but it can be done. Just pity them, because they weren't inclined to start that way, and don't know what they're missing.

No comments:

Post a Comment