It's a big one today, ladies and gents. Today, I'm going to define fantasy.
Fantasy is, at its basest qualities, what our world is not. I don't base fantasy on the presence of dragons or elves (though it couldn't hurt to have them), so I personally tend to think of science fiction as just another part of fantasy as a whole. One thing about fantasy that you hear quite often, usually from your mother after you've been discovered still on the computer at 5 am roleplaying, is that the fantasy your mind is buried in doesn't even matter. It's true, there are no survival needs that are fulfilled by thinking about things that don't exist in places you'll never go and full of people you'll never meet because of the aforementioned nonexistence problem. But the problem with the argument against fantasy is faulted. To show the flaw, I'll look at my desk and name a few objects I find on it. In handy, bulleted list format:
I don't need any of these things to survive. I can live without them. But I like to have them. I like potato chips, though they're bad for my health. I think the Star Trek flashlight in the shape of a Star Fleet badge is neat. The plastic smiley daisy ring is cute. I wear my hair in a clip from time to time. The lip balm isn't even that functional, but it has a few sparkles in it. I like to listen to music when I'm in drawing class. We, as human beings, will live perfectly healthy without any of these items. We don't need iPods, we managed to survive for thousands of years without cell phones, and clothing fulfills little purpose in the form that's worn by most people. (most of us aren't out in the arctic or in the desert on a regular basis) But we like it. We like our stuff, and we like what we get from many of the advancements in things like communication. Our cell phones connect us to our friends so we can chat back and forth in an unobtrusive manner. Our MP3 players let us listen to music we like without disturbing others. Our laptops connect us to the internet, connecting us to even more people than our cell phones can, allowing us to stay up to date on other things we like. All in all, we have a lot of excess stuff. And yet, there are some who claim these advancements are keeping us from enjoying the simpler pleasures. Books, for example, get a lot of attention in places like schools and libraries, where they're elevated to an almost god-like status of education. When you think about it, though, books are really just simpler and out of date versions of cell phones and laptops. They bring us things we like and news about other people without having to actually go do the things we like or see the people we like to hear about. Even more, the staggering amount of fiction books serve the same purpose as the current fantasy video games. They let our minds wander to places we'll never go to meet people we'll never meet and care about things that don't exist. Video games are simply interactive books with moving illustrations.
For some reason, video games have brought on a big scare that kids won't do anything aside from play video games. Aside from the lack of vitamin D we gamers usually suffer from, I'd have to say this is nonsense. True, games like shoot 'em ups and the like aren't exactly the material to get your mind working, but give a kid a fantasy game and see what happens. If that kid has a creative bone in his or her body, they'll go ahead and take part in the story.
This brings me to fan fictions. Whether you like a given story or not, you must admit that there's an awful lot of brain power being put towards coming up with even more things that don't exist and how they affect people who don't exist in worlds that don't exist. Fan fictions are the baby steps of original fiction. Using the training wheels of a previously set up nonexistent setting, a person can start to work out what they think would be totally awesome if it actually existed and how they think it would affect specific people that would be awesome if they existed themselves. Eventually, you might decide that the training wheels can come off and you can make your own universe with rules you've decided. Or no rules at all. It's an exciting time when you think of what else you could possibly do with your idea and realize that there's no limit to what you can do.
Upon writing this rant, I've decided that I need to retract my first definition of fantasy.
Fantasy is the purest form of freedom known to man. No one can take it away from you if it doesn't exist in the first place.