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Author Topic: Escapism; Good or Bad?  (Read 559 times)

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Offline WanderingBlackDragonTopic starter

Escapism; Good or Bad?
« on: August 19, 2015, 08:15:18 PM »
I wasn't entirely sure where to drop this, but here.

About a week ago, I had considered giving up fanfiction, roleplaying, anything that had to do with writing, because I felt I was becoming the kind of writer that I had grown to despise. Since then, I deleted just about everything I had ever been working on and recently decided to start anew. However, it did get me to thinking about things.

When I took up writing and roleplaying, I did so because it seemed like a fun way to engage my imagination, and those of others. I wasn't very good at first, but I also had very high expectations of myself and constantly strove to improve. However, as time went by, I began to become more and more aware of less than skilled fanfiction writers and roleplayers who were only interested in flooding sites with yaoi/slash fiction, one hair-brained story after another, and a lot of self-insert fiction that centered less around the story, and more about the author and just how far they had their head up their ass.

Of course, such stories and writers, when they weren't being showered in praise, were booed into oblivion. When I tried to get into roleplaying more seriously on places like IMVU, it was difficult to find partners who weren't going to dissolve everything into meaningless internet drama. Part of the problem was that some of these players would absolutely never break character, under any circumstances. And in the few moments you get to talk to the writer, and not the character they play, they say it's because they roleplay to escape reality, not address it. Of course their unwillingness to distinguish reality from fiction strained things with people and more drama ensued.

It was then I came to the conclusion that escapism was bad; from fanfic writers who were more concerned with imposing their personal fantasies unto their readers, to roleplayers who made everything confusing because they just couldn't talk to their partners as themselves. I became increasingly annoyed with escapists. And I wasn't the only one, it seemed. I've seen plenty of articles, rants, reviews and so on talking about escapists how shit they are, especially writers who create and play as original characters and/or self-inserts.

This was further aggrevated by some of my failed excursions on f-list. if canon players weren't refusing me because my character was original, they refused me because he was based off me, and some were very harsh about it. I came to realize that people automatically assume any self-insert character is a mary-sue; which is in short a shitty character an author makes, most presume to escape from how dull or shitty their real life is.

But, the thing was, I didn't play an original character as a form of escapism, and I constantly strove to live a worthwhile lifestyle, on and offline. My character was meant to be a vehicle of self-expression, a study of various situations and how I'd try to handle them if I were in them. But, I slowly grew to realize I was gradually giving my character traits that would count as escapist sue-isms, from striking it rich, to marrying a harem of six beautiful (and mostly bisexual) women and a slew of martial arts skills & powers. I began to wonder if my character had become an escapist outlet, even if I hadn't intended him to be.

And so, I ask you; what does escapism mean to you? Is it a good thing, is a bad thing? And why?

Offline Caehlim

Re: Escapism; Good or Bad?
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2015, 10:25:24 PM »
Escapism is simply a person taking the chance to think about something other than their current life and problems. Most media involve some element of escapism, just about any fiction does too. Even non-fiction can offer escapism, just ask any armchair traveler who enjoys reading the lonely planet series of guidebooks.

The way you're talking about it though shows that you have a more specific meaning in mind. You're discussing people who incorporate their feelings of self-identity, self-worth and self-actualization into their escapist fantasies. Now from an outside perspective, so long as they're having fun and not hurting anyone then I don't see where it's a problem. If you don't enjoy the fiction that they create as a result, it's simple enough not to read it. I would be concerned if someone I knew spent so much time and effort in escapist pursuits that they were allowing their real world problems to pile up, however that's got nothing to do with what form the escapism takes.

People also have this strange expectation that free writing on the internet is going to compare to the printed and published fiction that is the work of a lot of professional people over a long time for money. None of my writing here on Elliquiy is intended to be quality literature. It's inherently interactive by it's nature and I aim for it to be fun to participate in, rather than to be read by an outside audience. Nor am I interested in delaying a post so that I can do three edits, an alpha read and give it to my writing group. It's pretty much just my first draft with maybe some spelling corrected if I'm feeling really professional.

I've included a clip below from youtube that I think is an eloquent defense of all forms of fanfiction, including badly written fanfiction, and why we should perhaps be a little less quick to judge than we are.

In defense of Fanfiction

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Re: Escapism; Good or Bad?
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2015, 05:38:04 PM »
Quote from: WanderingBlackDragon
When I took up writing and roleplaying, I did so because it seemed like a fun way to engage my imagination, and those of others. I wasn't very good at first, but I also had very high expectations of myself and constantly strove to improve.
     It's really up to partners to be on about the same page as to whatever "quality" of anything they might be trying to reach together.  Of course if one is writing solo, then one can impose whatever -- and then need only worry about say, a possible external audience if it matters to the author.

Quote
However, as time went by, I began to become more and more aware of less than skilled fanfiction writers and roleplayers who were only interested in flooding sites with yaoi/slash fiction, one hair-brained story after another, and a lot of self-insert fiction that centered less around the story, and more about the author and just how far they had their head up their ass.
      Disclaimer -- I don't focus much on fan fics, although I do read certain aging types occasionally.  I always find terms like 'self-interest' -- or some have said to me here and in academic contexts in life as well, 'too much identity theme' -- to be problematic.  It's a more ideological and philosophical problem at the core for me.  Of course if you aren't into what someone else hints about the world and society in their stories, you might feel it's missing something you'd rather be spending time on.  And we tend to say things are "too specialized for me" or even "narrow" (getting slightly meaner maybe?) then.  Next let's take "narrow," then for example:  It's a handily vague and double-edged word but extremely common in use. 

But moving closer to say, words like selfish or perhaps fringe?  Those are the kinds of valence I usually sense in longer reviews where terms like self-interested also crop up.  Sometimes I have to ask, umm why?  Simply because the critic probably had some other interest entirely?  Perhaps because they felt their own form of standpoint (trying to avoid the also rather multiple meaning but again, very common "distancing" here) was somehow better?  It can get weird and messy.

Quote
Of course, such stories and writers, when they weren't being showered in praise, were booed into oblivion.
       Just a thought:  Who is this critique for -- you, a partner with a given particular interest you'd like to focus on too, or "General Audiences" as the movies like to say?  And have you considered the possibility that a movie many people like is often blasted by many of the media critics who write columns on movies?  Or that a novel you might personally find great value or amusement in, might not appeal to many other people sometimes?  There's a potential for tyranny of the majority here too -- the booers can simply not get it.  Who cares how many of them there are.  Or why do you care here exactly?

Quote
When I tried to get into roleplaying more seriously on places like IMVU, it was difficult to find partners who weren't going to dissolve everything into meaningless internet drama. Part of the problem was that some of these players would absolutely never break character, under any circumstances. And in the few moments you get to talk to the writer, and not the character they play, they say it's because they roleplay to escape reality, not address it. Of course their unwillingness to distinguish reality from fiction strained things with people and more drama ensued.
      I do think there's a lot of questions in here, but more like with the first quote above, I sort of think there are many (very!) different particular but viable ways to answer them too.  And when people really don't agree or can't seem to get the same level of elaboration even about those answers, that's called "drama" too.  Terribly often. 

Quote
It was then I came to the conclusion that escapism was bad; from fanfic writers who were more concerned with imposing their personal fantasies unto their readers, to roleplayers who made everything confusing because they just couldn't talk to their partners as themselves.
      Again, I don't really follow fanfic that much...  But I keep wondering, what of situations where people are working to collaboratively roleplay fan fiction?  Does that change anything or is it just compounding (or perhaps even confusing?) the issue when it comes to places rather big on roleplaying or at least interactive projects, like E?

Quote
I became increasingly annoyed with escapists. And I wasn't the only one, it seemed. I've seen plenty of articles, rants, reviews and so on talking about escapists how shit they are, especially writers who create and play as original characters and/or self-inserts.
      Maybe I just don't get your genre community well enough to follow quite as closely as I'd like.  But lots of people go around saying things are "too escapist," and I often find it like other social competition adjectives.  Someone is said to be oh, "not responsible enough."  Is that because they didn't pay back a loan to you when they promised you personally (and maybe even claimed to care about you informally, to make it more interesting), or is that because they didn't get the job that you say anyone who isn't lazy should be interested in having and quite able to get -- regardless of what they say they're holding out for, or what maybe tends to happen to people who live in their neighborhood when they apply for jobs like that?  On and on.   

Quote
This was further aggrevated by some of my failed excursions on f-list. if canon players weren't refusing me because my character was original, they refused me because he was based off me, and some were very harsh about it. I came to realize that people automatically assume any self-insert character is a mary-sue; which is in short a shitty character an author makes, most presume to escape from how dull or shitty their real life is.
     Personally I like to refer back to daily life and social conundrums at least a little, indirectly and probably a bit more...  But quite a few people still find things I rather like, sorts of dubious to forced stories and tension plays, as very formulaic or requiring too much manipulation (Cause for them, coercive harem fantasies have "no" or at least too little, connection to real life? feminism would have something harsh to say about this view of what is social reality then)...  Yes, though people do take really varied positions in what they want and then when we learn we don't match on just a few particular things we really had hoped for, sometimes the backing away doesn't come off very prettily.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2015, 05:42:25 PM by kylie »

Offline Mathim

Re: Escapism; Good or Bad?
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2015, 09:55:22 PM »
Escapism is how I've stayed sane and incentivized the notion of not killing myself. When you live in a wretched world it's probably the only ray of sunshine for a lot of people.

Offline Thesunmaid

Re: Escapism; Good or Bad?
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2015, 03:13:08 PM »
Well for me escapism is a good thing. I can simply push all the worries and stress of my day and settle into roleplay or a book and not be myself for a while. Its oddly therapeutic for me taking a break from my real time. But then I am good at keeping my real time and my escape time separate. I make it clear to new partners real time comes first (either mine or theirs) and that the relationship we might have in the role play is not necessarily(and most of the time not likely) what will be happening in non role play time. But having an active fantasy life so long as your real time is taken care of...i don't see there being any harm in it.