Tuesday, June 4, 2013

For Love of Geeky Things

In the aftermath of "Rains of Castamere," ("Game of Thrones" episode 9, aired 6/2/13) a friend of mine posted these thoughts on Facebook:

"How many years are taken off of one's life with each fandom he/she enters? Geeks stress out over ever little thing that happens in their fictions. Characters die, break up with each other, betray friends, etc., and geeks internalize these tragedies and lose sleep.

I guess the same question applies to sports fans, especially to Football fans, since this country seems to have an almost unhealthy attachment to that game."

I replied on Facebook, but wanted to expand a little on what I said, though aside from saying that I agree with the assessment of sports fans, I'm not going to address the sports angle. Speaking from my own experience, I wouldn't say I stress over *every* little thing, it's mostly big things. Character deaths are huge for me when I like a book/show/movie. Or in Doctor Who, companions leaving, the Doctor regenerating. The many times when bad things happen to one of the Winchesters in Supernatural (even though they usually find a way out/back, things are never quite the same). The heartbreaking moments when choices were made in Torchwood that doom some & save many. Then there's the Stargate series' rocky relationship with doctors... When Sherlock swan-dived off the building, at the end of series 2, it was like a punch in the gut, and there have been many, many instances when Joss Whedon squeezed my heart til it was fit to break... and that's just TV shows & movies.

The first time I really remember "fandom heartbreak" was reading book 3 of the original Shannara trilogy. A main character who had been a guiding force throughout...died. I couldn't believe it - the world is full of magic, what the hell? Bring him back! But it was not to be. For years, my best friend at the time would only call it "THAT book," not it's proper title.

To me, it's the emotional involvement that makes it more enjoyable, more real. Especially when I have friends who are just as nuts for it as I am, then it's like therapy when we get together & talk about the plot points. I will admit that while reading George R.R. Martin's books, if somone's chapter doesn't end in a good spot, I'll page ahead just until I see they have another one. (I do have a good friend who, for at least one of the books, would read one character at a time because she couldn't stand being left hanging at the end of each POV chapter.) The better the storytelling, the more involved I become.

I think it's really a testament to the ability of writers and actors to tell & portray good stories that they can evoke such powerful reactions from fans. On Monday, one outlet mentioned this, specifically saying that they felt it was a good indication of storytelling ability that the first reactions on social media to Sunday's "Game of Thrones" were practically incoherent.

George R.R. Martin had a very good quote concerning character deaths following what will be known, I'm sure amongst some "Game of Thrones" fans as "THAT episode:"

"I try to make the readers feel they’ve lived the events of the book. Just as you grieve if a friend is killed, you should grieve if a fictional character is killed. You should care. If somebody dies and you just go get more popcorn, it’s a superficial experience isn’t it?"
(He went on to discuss how deeply writing the Red Wedding in the book affected him, so take that everyone who says he doesn't care.)
As far as losing years, well, I'm not sure about that; people keep telling me I don't look my age & I've been a massive geek for many years. So, either I'm losing years by getting younger or the stress just doesn't show. Alternately, if somehow I'm losing years from the end of my life because of my emotional involvement in fiction, well, I would rather have a shorter life full of all this wonderfulness, especially the shared experiences with friends, than a longer one bereft of these things.


Interview with George R.R. Martin: (SPOILER ALERT for the episode. Don't read if you don't want to know and don't already know)