1. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Evil Ideas We Accept in Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by Jack Asher, May 21, 2016.

    An interesting takedown, by cracked.com. Of course their title includes "movies" but every movie they list was a book first, (unless it was Star Wars) so I consider that pretty much irrelevant.
    http://www.cracked.com/article_23968_why-popular-fantasy-films-are-worst-sources-wisdom.html
    In any case the examination of our cultural expectation is never a fruitless endeavor.
     
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    They forgot the flipside of 5. Mysticism, spirituality, religion made to look evil. Which has become a cliché in many a dystopian book.
     
  3. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Number four is pretty much counterable by the "evil old god" cliche.
     
  4. Lyrical
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    Lyrical Frumious Bandersnatch

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    This article raises some interesting points. As a society, we're constantly pushing for technological advancements, and these days doing so at a seemingly faster and faster rate. But maybe there's a kind of cost with that. While we strive for the future we're also fixated on the ground we've left behind, constantly seeking that nostalgia factor. Even now, there are so many lists about 90's and early 2000's culture online. That time wasn't "better" than now, but for some reason remembering it feels warm and fuzzy. I guess in my mind it kind of explains why so many Americans are fascinated with the British Royal Family, and Britain in general. So much history there, so much to look back on and dream of "the good ole times."

    I don't really know, but this article is definitely making me think about a lot of things. Our fascination with ancient being better is fascinating food for thought.
     
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  5. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    5. Technology is evil - To me this is more a warning to creators about the folly of man, think of it as a friendly, "Hey, yeah, cool app your inventing! Whats it do? It's an AI in charge of the U.S. Nuclear launch codes? Wanna watch a movie real quick on how technology and AI could lead to everyone dying a terrible death? Reason? Oh, no reason... its just a thing."

    4. Past was better- again, its a lot like the first, "Oh, you have running water? that's cool, this older civilization could fly though space... blew themselves up though. Don't worry, i'm sure y'all will be fine."

    3. Long live the Queen- Lets face is, people get in leadership positions, the least we can do is have examples on how not to be a North Korean Tyrant.

    2. Evil is an advantage- In most situations, morals are a limit we place on ourselves, like how you can only use 140 characters in a tweet or fighting without throwing sand in the other guys eyes. Who do you think has it easier, the hero fighting and protecting everyone else around him, or the villain who doesn't really care that they just blew up a building that literally manufactures hospitals for the needy.

    1. Ugly people = evil people - Coorlating doesnt = causation. Say ugly people get treated terribly because they're not attractive, this leads them to hate other people, and then become evil... what if man is thE REAL MONS- okay, I have nothing on this one but 4/5 isn't bad.
     
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  6. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Miyazaki's Laputa, Nausicca, and Princess Mononoke all fit into the "technology is bad" idea :-D Especially Laputa, where advanced technology is feared and used for destruction and Shiita, the heroine, even recites a poem at the end about how man must live as one with the ground (nature).

    Anyway, I think these ideas are popular because there's an element of truth in them. Technology has indeed been the cause of much destruction as well as the decline of community. Being able to travel farther also means you're farther from old friends and family, and meaningful relationships are harder to forge because people leave all the time for cities hours away from you or even another country. And technology is so much part of the accepted way of life and generally seen as a good and indispensable thing that a message of "technology is good" is probably not necessary - it goes without saying that there're benefits to technology.

    The old way is better - again, there's an element of truth. Don't people say the sound quality in vinyls still far surpasses CDs and digital copies? Computers were slower but lasted much, much longer - we had a computer that lasted 10 years. It had its glitches but it was still functional. The Nintendo we got back in 1996 is actually still functional today. These days a phone's supposed to last you a few years max - by the second or third year it's so faulty you're dying for a new one. In that sense, "the ancient thing from back then is better" kinda makes sense. The idea is: it's stood the test of time, it's not one of these new fleeting ideas that turns out to be a hoax or just hype. And then there are values that have been lost - for example, the concept of being a gentleman. Courtesy. It's not so common these days :(

    As for the beauty and ugliness thing, at the end of the day, most of us would rather not watch someone we don't find attractive prance around on screen for 2-3 hours. Who doesn't prefer to look at pretty people? And when that's the MC and you've got to stick with him or her for the duration of the story, it makes sense that you want them to be attractive. I don't think this one's a fantasy thing at all. And we naturally think of people we like as attractive - even celebrities I've not found attractive initially, after watching something they did that I like, or some interviews where their personality endeared them to me, suddenly I start finding them cute. I seem to remember there's some experiment done too on the attractiveness of people and how that affects others - you're more likely to assume positively of someone if you find them attractive.

    I also think we like ancient things better simply for its aura of mystery. We know modernity and technology - what we don't know much about these days is indeed nature and how people used to live. It's like getting to know a completely different culture - it's unknown and fascinating. It sparks our imaginations the way technology doesn't, because technology can be explained. Part of the appeal of fantasy is the mystery, the supernatural, the unexplained and you don't even want it explained - and that's much easier to buy into if it's set in a completely different world to the one you know, which often means going back in time.

    ETA: Monarchy - the idea that a group would have one perfect leader - that is the ideal. I mean, what's a president or prime minister supposed to be anyway? You elected him but ultimately the hope is he leads the country well and makes life better for us all. The idea that there's a perfect, righteous leader that was always meant to rule - if you think about it, it's what gives peace. Most of us would like to be able to rally behind a leader we truly believed in, after all.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2016
  7. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    oh and as much as I love Lion King, even as a kid I'd always thought it was really weird that the land went dry and grey after Scar took over, and then within days the land returns to lush greenness full of animals etc. How on earth does that happen? It's not like the creatures of the land now knows Simba is king again so they all come migrating back, or that the rain clouds are now like, "Hey we gotta rain here again 'cause yo Simba is king now!" Didn't make much sense to me :D
     
  8. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    Who controls the clouds, and uses them to show himself to his son?
     
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  9. jannert
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    It was just coincidence, but damn ...didn't it make him look good!
     
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  10. X Equestris
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    X Equestris Contributing Member Contributor

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    While the whole "technology is evil" thing can become overplayed, it's not entirely wrong. As surely as it has let us share information faster, create better medicines, and ease our lives in general, technology has also let us create bigger and better weapons to more efficiently kill each other with, and is at the very least partially responsible for climate change and destruction of the environment in general. Looking at the Star Wars example, that universe's technology led to the creation of weapons capable of destroying entire planets.

    I don't think nostalgia for the past is bad when the past was actually better than the present. Many fantasy stories are set in the wake of a great fallen empire, usually patterned off of Rome. I don't think anyone will deny that the conditions of the Roman Empire were better than much of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Continuing with Star Wars, the Republic was clearly better than the Empire, and the Republic was more efficient and less corrupt in its earlier years than it was towards the end.

    Monarchies certainly have their flaws, but I think a lot of their most vocal critics ignore flaws in democracy/republics. And one cannot say that one society is better than another based solely on whether they're a monarchy or republic. As for the land magically healing thing, I'd say it's tied back to ideas like the Mandae of Heaven. That some stories have the healing happen very quickly doesn't strike me as a bad thing. I'm sure most audiences realize that such things take longer in real life.

    As said above, evil can certainly be an advantage. If you aren't bound by some sort of morality, there's nothing stopping you from doing whatever is needed to achieve your goals. And the article sort of mangles the Star Wars example:

    Sure you can shoot lightning out of your fingers if you're a Sith, but the light side is the path to immortality. With the climactic duel in Episode 6, Palpatine first goads Luke into trying to strike him down with all his hatred. Luke gives in, resulting in the duel with Vader, and ends up winning the duel because he harnessed the dark side. He sees Vader's broken cybernetic hand, and realizes how close he is to becoming him. Palpatine tells him to kill Vader and take his place at his side. This is when Luke throws away the lightsaber. He doesn't want to risk walking down his father's path. Also, when Vader kills Palpatine, he does it out of love for Luke, not fear or anger.

    Number 1 is probably the one I agree with the most. Good person=good looks and bad person=bad looks can certainly be a damaging message.
     
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  11. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    Well you just made me realize that the real message of Lion King is, "Obey the will of the ancestors or suffer."

    The last time my childhood took a blow this devastating it was because George Lucas took another stab at making movies.
     
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  12. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    No problem, if you want any other Disney films ruined, you know where to find me.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Mary Shelly's Frankenstein had a basis in the mysterious new force, electricity. And of course Godzilla and a million other revived giants were inspired by the nuclear age. Then there were all the Martian invaders that came with the space age. More recently it's designer viruses that wipe out the world.

    Climate change is the new radiation. :p

    And yet good always wins in the end. That may be more than our wishful endings. We evolved to cooperate because that gave humans an advantage. Not that amorality can't be an advantage in some cases, but it's like brain vs brawn, the actual advantage may not always be clear.
     
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  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Goodness I missed that analogy completely... :ohno: But the ceremonies for Simba's birth and then Kiara's birth do indeed fit...

    Whaaaaaaaaaaaa :bigeek:
     
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  15. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    EDIT: nvm...
     
  16. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Isn't the whole point of Fantasy and Science Fiction to create a remove from reality that allows us to put a tight focus on these things? I don't think it's that Fantasy allows us to "accept" these things, but that it lends a less-damaging venue in which to consider them.
     
  17. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    I admit, there are flaws in technology, and today's culture. But the article does raise an intersting point. In many ways, we really are better off than our ansectors, not just when talking of life span and the comforts of medicine, but also socially (as just a hundred and fifty years ago almost ninety percent of the population were poor, and if you were gay, black, jewish, or a woman, life was just very bad.)
    But fantasy seems to just gloss over that. The idea of an old lost technology has almost no paralel in our world (and of you want to make the argument of the middle ages, it's not that knowledge was lost, it was stuck in place, and when it came to war, technology actually advanced.) Now yeah, I know this is fantasy, and the author can just whatever the f*** he wants, but I'm still waiting for the hero who happens to be given an all-powerful sword that fell through a rift in time from the future. Now that will be fun to read
     
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  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Technology may, in balance, prove to be a good thing. Or not.

    What bothers me, though, is the notion that 'new' is always better than old. So most anything new gets immediately rushed out and universally adopted. It's not till we've lived with it a while that we see the consequences ...and some of them are definitely not good. What I would like to see is less of a rush to ditch the old and adopt the new. What I would like to see more of is a trial period, where the new gets a fair workout, but the old gets kept on—just in case.

    I'm a big fan of troubleshooting. That's sometimes seen as a 'negative' attitude, but I don't see it that way. It just seems sensible. There are many 'old' things I wouldn't want to go back to. And many 'old' things that I would. It all boils down to what works best, in my opinion. And 'works best' covers a lot of territory.

    I think it's smart to think along another line as well. Technology brings in billions to the companies that produce it. It's in their best interests (not yours) to insist on universal adoption and built-in obsolescence. And once they've got you, they've got you.
     
  19. Domino355
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    Domino355 Contributing Member

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    I didn't mean that there are two sides to the reasoning wether technology is a good thing or not, just that in popular Fantasy the dark sides of technology, advancment and new ideas are much more highlighted than their advantages.
    Now there are Fantasy books that show the other side. His Dark Materials, for example
     
  20. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    There is an acceptance that people who are burned alive is ok, just as long as you don't use a flame thrower of any sort. (Otherwise the Geneva convention will be all over your ass Medieval style). :supergrin:
     
  21. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Humans Good, Non-Humans Bad
     
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  22. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    That's racist.:supergrin:

    Though it spills out into Sci-fi as well.
     
  23. halisme
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    halisme Contributing Member Contributor

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    All I'm saying is we build a wall to keep the aliens out, and make them pay for it.
     
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  24. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    @halisme Well that better be one hell of a wall, cause I have one species 1000 years more advanced than humans. They might not take kindly to you trying to keep them out with some bricks. :superlaugh:

    "Mr. Trump tear down this wall." :supergrin:
     
  25. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, there are a lot of psychological aspects that I'm open to experimenting with for my SciFi/Fantasy species.

    The only one that's non-negotiable - for every species I come up with - is that non-human's don't make blanket statements based on group membership the way humans do. I am not sorry ;-)
     

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