Once again, Sarah’s managed to hit the nail squarely on the head with her post about having mental and physical places to escape to. In the process it reminded me of something rather important.
The short, short version of it is this:
What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and most hostile to, the idea of escape?… Jailers.C. S. Lewis, quoting a conversation with J. R. R. Tolkien
Considering that those in the publishing establishment hold the same general principles as those who did their best to turn entire nations into prisons, it stops being surprising that there’s been an ongoing campaign to eliminate escapism from fiction. Yes, I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
So, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of escapism. It’s when you lose track of which world your feet are in that things get dicey, and since writers have a tendency to experience the worlds they write about rather more vividly than, say, watching a movie or reading a book, the risk of losing track of what’s real isn’t exactly non-existent.
That said, trying to remove every means by which anyone, especially children, can mentally escape an untenable or even unpleasant situation is bloody abusive – and no, I’m not going to be persuaded otherwise. This site has a ton of posts with someone ranting about the ghastly, dreary politically-correct angst-fests favored by the alleged educational establishment, many of them pointing out that subjecting children who suffer that kind of crapsack life to a diet of fiction exclusively featuring similar crapsack lives does not give them fictional people they can identify with. It takes away any hope they have that they can get the hell out of their shitty circumstances.
The same applies to adult fiction, just not to quite the same extent because most adults have managed to pick up some extra coping skills along the way.
But then, the point is to “teach” the young that their shitty situation can only be changed by the Benevolent Overlords of the government, isn’t it? Even when said wannabe Benevolent Overlords are utterly incompetent and wouldn’t recognize someone else’s shit if you threw it at them. It’s all about quashing even the idea that it’s possible to escape, because “culture” is forever and authority knows best, and Big Brother is watching you, Comrade.
I rather doubt that this is a conscious decision on the part of those who push this kind of crap, mostly because said pushers lack the intelligence to do anything this devious. They seem to be more the type to proudly display their hammer-and-sickle armbands and spout the Party Line without letting anything resembling an original thought so much as think about tiptoeing through the furthest reaches of their mind.
That they’re mindless puppets of something trying to destroy the only cultures that have managed to objectively improve human life in who knows how many thousands of years does not mean they’re less dangerous: the misguided idealist is in many ways as dangerous as the cynical bastard pulling the strings in the background, and tends to be more numerous so, gee, the bastard has a lot of really convenient cannon fodder. The sad fact is that modern Western cultures derived from the mix of what’s often derisively called WASPs are the only cultures that have managed to significantly improve human longevity (mass production of soap in the 1800s was probably the biggest single boost to expected lifespans) and reduce suffering from preventable illness. That every other culture in the world has benefited from the massive collection of advances known as the Industrial Revolution is usually referred to as “Imperialism”. And yet these fools blindly follow the lead of more fools who ultimately are bowing to someone who would rather reign in Hell than be a nonentity in Heaven.
Heck, more than a few of them would rather be king in their own little hell than be a nonentity in Heaven even if they’d be healthier, happier, and wealthier in Heaven. How do I know this? It’s because they’re so busy destroying their own nests so that nobody else can get anything worthwhile out of them – that alone is enough to be sure that if they can’t get what they want, they’re not about to let anyone else benefit. That they’re rather be suffering as long as everyone else around them is suffering more.
Well, screw them and the leaky raft they came in on. Some of us have matured to the point where we don’t destroy the toys so nobody else can play with them. Now all we need is to deal with these overgrown children.