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Friday, August 03, 2007

My Wife is a Rockbiterist

Last night I had an interesting literary discussion with my wife (squee! I love literary discussions) about why she likes certain kinds of fantasy and not others. This is important because it means knowning your audience. What it boils down to is that she likes Willow and Lord of the Rings, but not The Never-Ending Story, Alice in Wonderland, or the Wizard of Oz.

Why? Well, she considers them too trippy, too irrational and illogical, and there's nothing where she can set her feet on the ground. She doesn't like the surreality of it.

Well what's the difference in the surreality of an elfin traveller with a great swordsman, and a rock-biter? Well, because they're all human-esque. There's nothing outside the Tolkien-geneaology of foreign creatures. Elves, dwarves, and others are all pretty much human. And the bad guys are monsters. Cut and dried. However, a racing snail is pretty surreal, and a broom-dog that erases a path doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

Granted, but where's her sense of imagination? Where's her suspension of disbelief? Where's her acceptance of the illogical? This is what happens when we watch movies. She keeps asking me questions about things that we're obviously going to find out. Most movies answer the left-out questions, at least the big ones. So when she asks me, why do we see character X walking around now, when the last time we saw him, he was about to be trampled by a horse. Either she needs to know everything now (no surprises), or she's afraid she missed something.

So what have we learned from this? Well, the more surreal your fantasy is, the smaller an audience you'll probably get. People can only stretch their suspension of disbelief so far. Which is fine, because if they stretched it too far, everything would be implausible, and it would turn into a comic book. Some people appreciate a good, vivid imagination, like Guillermo Del Toro and Neil Gaiman, and some people don't.
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