fantasy vs sci-fi: genre theory
I am a firm believer than fantasy is a dying genre and that I have to somehow convince people that fantasy is a great genre.
I recently came across this Youtuber called Daniel Greene and in one of his videos he explains how commercial media often praises Sci-fi and horror but not fantasy and for some reason it really got to me. Here is the video:
I am a fantasy reader, fantasy writer, hell even fantasy praiser but the truth is that I love fantasy in literally every form: movies, TV shows, books, etc...etc...
And as a fantasy fan I was really shocked when ,not even me, realised how much fantasy is bash by modern society.
I am currently undergoing a university module called Science Fiction and Fantasy: Television. and with 80% of the module done I had one lecture about fantasy. ONE!
And in that same lecture the professor said something that made me want to write this article, he said:
"Fantasy is a sub-genre of Science Fiction".
WOW. wait what? Do you people actually eat this and..?NO NO this is wrong on so many levels.
So yes, I may or may not have concluded a 2,500 words essay about genre theory and need to desperately share some of it so that people realise that NO, fantasy is not a poorly written genre and NO it is not for the people that can´t deal with reality.
So, what is the definition of genre?
“Genres are used for specific purposes, address specific problems, provide specific pleasure, produce specific types of insights and experiences” (Johnson-Smith, 2005:18).
Genre is something completely specific to the READER not some much to the AUTHOR, this is why a lot of times we find books that are in the wrong genre. Because everyone perceives genre as a specific thing to only our experience/reasons.
With that said I can also point out that fantasy ,as Sci-fi, have characteristics that define them such as magic vs technology or creature vs robot or reality vs imagination. But apart from this key distinctions we can blur the lines between the two.
Which is totally fine. Fantasy and Sci-fi and Horror can mix together and sometimes the babies are amazing. That is not my point.
My point is that some people (and with that I mean a lot of people) believe that Sci-fi or Horror are more worthy of praise or success that fantasy. and THAT. BLOWS. MY. MIND.
What comes to mind when you think about fantasy media? Game of Thrones maybe or The Lord of the Rings franchise but that is where the common knowledge stops. Fantasy is not a distinct genre people! WAKE UP.
Stranger Things is a massive success and everyone has a found belief that it is Sci-fi and Horror. Horror is mixed with fantasy or otherwise how would you get a demogorgon?
Literally fantasy is in so many accredited movies and shows but it is not even referred to in the genre list. Do you want to know why? Because mass media is afraid of the reaction.
There is such a big idea surrounding this genre that makes it almost unable to succeed on it self outside of literature. and I am aware that this is changing and THANK GOD.
But for a long time producers have been hiding fantasy behind the cloak of other genres just because the image of fantasy is tainted by geeky fandoms or by the somewhat imaginative perception that fantasy is not a real genre!
It annoys me that someone would even thing that fantasy is not a hard-working and super complex genre. I can tell you that creating worlds out of nothing and giving them magic/politics/freaking everything is harder than making a show about hormonal teenagers!
I mean let´s look at the famous show Vampire diaries, I remember geeking out to it. and I loved it. Weird to think about it now but I did. But what is the genre associated with it?
Are you trying to tell me that vampires aren't fantasy creatures?
Well my friend, let me tell you. They 10000% are fantasy creatures.
Supernatural and Horror and Sci-fi all originated from Fantasy because fantasy is imagination outside of reality which all of this things are! Of course all these genres have particular things that make them different from high fantasy.
but that is why they are called sub-genres.
Fantasy elements are in all of your popular shows. They exist because of fantasy elements otherwise they would be just empty shows. Please tell me you believe me.
“Separating fantasy from its sub-genre science fiction is difficult” (Kiefer 2007).
Even academics say that Science Fiction is a sub-genre of Fantasy. It is not just me.
Now go back to your movie playlist or favourite shows and look better at them, give fantasy a very deserved praise. Okay?
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