Prejudiced Against Fiction
by Saab Lofton
"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world and all there ever will be to know and understand."
... and I dare say Einstein is just a weeeee bit smarter than some of the fools I've had the misfortunate of dealing with over the years ...
... fools who're so bereft of mental prowess they can't handle subject matter unless there's been every assurance that it's real -- largely out of an irrational fear of losing one's grip on reality (and if you're that weak-minded, I truly pity you). Obviously, documentaries are essential, but what gets me is how stuck up these bitchy pricks can be; how they'll turn their noses up at anything the least bit fictional. Be it jocks who don't respect how hard pro-wrestlers work or those who still assume that only children read comics/watch cartoons (the average "fanboy" is a twenty-something white male), fiction is under fire like never before.
Reality TV is popular for two reasons: One, it's cheaper to produce than a sci fi/fantasy series laden with special effects, and two, lazy intellectual wannabes can delude themselves into thinking that watching it is the equivalent of years of nerdy study (Can we say CliffNotes?). In either event, I much rather see some badly done sci fi than watch a bunch of homely/chunky Tori Spelling-looking women parade down a stairwell, stand in front of a panel of "judges" (note the quotes) and pine for a rose after having participated in a meaningless scavenger hunt! Oy!
I was recently in an online feud with this inbred asshole who called himself ADEAL918 because he cruelly turned a blind eye to all the times when Israel's Machiavellian (at best) anti-terrorist policies have resulted in the deaths of children. Not that terrorism is as big a threat as, say, poverty, but I told ADEAL918 that the best case scenario would be for Israel to imitate Batman, since the character never kills an enemy; I pointed out how the use of knockout gas and other forms of non-lethal weaponry would prevent further violations of Human rights ...
... unfortunately, ADEAL918 reacted to my suggestion as all too many do: "Batman isn't real! You're living in a fantasy world!" Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera ... I shudder to think how many lives have been lost in the real world because such advise is similarly dismissed. Batman is a very popular character (The Dark Knight has made more money than Star Wars) and to refuse to use that popularity to sell the public on the concept of non-lethal tactics is beyond retarded. The Human race is suffering, and horrifically so, from a lack of imagination.
I once gave a lecture on the importance of pop culture at Arizona State University -- for the most part, those who attended my seminar understood, but it wasn't as if I was nationally broadcast at the time, so here are a couple of examples of the difference fiction can make.
In the fall of 1987 -- after appearing in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (in which Human history's most popular fictional character is depicted destroying every nuclear missile on Earth) -- Christopher Reeve went to Chile, where C.I.A.-appointed dictator Augusto Pinochet had sentenced 77 actors, directors and playwrights to death unless they left the country by a certain date. According to author Walter Oleksy, "Their crime was having criticized [Pinochet's] regime in their theatrical works." With his good looks, white-skin privilege and the household name recognition success blessed him with, Reeve literally stood between those 77 artists and armed government troops at a protest.
The very next day, Pinochet cancelled the execution order -- knowing full well if anything happened to the man who played Superman, that'd have been his fascist ass on a platter (In fact, a cartoon that ran in a newspaper back then showed Pinochet being carried by the collar with the caption, "Where will you take him, Superman?"). Afterwards, Reeve was given the Obie Prize and two awards for bravery from the Walter Briehl Human Rights Foundation, a group that works with torture victims. In addition, Reeve received the Grand Cross of the Bernardo O'Higgins Order, the highest Chilean distinction for foreigners.
Superman is DC Comics' pride and joy, but Marvel Comics icon Spider-Man has done his part as well: According to the BBC itself, in March of 2009, "An unusual disguise has helped a Bangkok fireman rescue an eight-year-old boy who had climbed on to a third-floor window ledge, Thai police say. The firefighter dressed up as the comic book superhero Spider-Man in order to coax the boy, who is autistic, from his dangerous perch. Police said teachers had alerted the fire station after the boy began crying and climbed out of a classroom window. It was reportedly his first day at the special needs school. Efforts by the teachers to persuade the pupil to come back inside had failed. But a remark by his mother about his passion for comic superheroes prompted fireman Somchai Yoosabai to rush back to the station, where he kept a Spider-Man costume in his locker. The sight of Mr Somchai dressed as Spider-Man and holding a glass of juice for him, brought a big smile to the boy's face, and he promptly threw himself into the arms of his 'superhero,' police said. Mr Somchai normally uses the costume to liven up fire drills in schools."
This is the part I want to stress: "Efforts by the teachers to persuade the pupil to come back inside had FAILED. But a remark by his mother about his passion for comic superheroes prompted fireman Somchai Yoosabai to rush back to the station, where he kept a Spider-Man costume in his locker." Now, if Mr Somchai had been like the snide, short-sighted cynics I've crossed paths with, it never would've occurred to him to change into ol' Spidey. Thank God somebody was using their brain that fateful day -- after all, the ability to imagine is one of the things that separates us from the beasts in the field ...
The 77 lives in Chile that Reeve saved and that Thai boy's life MEAN SOMETHING and anyone who claims otherwise can suck the pus from a herpes canker sore. There, I said it.