So, the other day I was at physical therapy for my broken foot*, and at the next table the patient was trying to explain Game of Thrones to his therapist. And, it was clear listening to them that the therapist just plain didn’t understand it, and the guy explaining it also didn’t fully understand it. Phrases like “So, it’s like Lord of the Rings?” and “So, it’s in medieval times?” were often repeated, usually with the tone of voice reserved for discussing unsavory things.
That’s not that surprising.
I mean, I’m glad that fantasy, as a genre, has become mainstream enough that Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones are legitimate pop-culture phenomena. Captain America is the top movie for three weeks running, and if you had told me that twenty years ago, when the best we had done for that character was the Matt Salenger atrocity**, I would have fainted dead away.
I think it’s important to remember that we’re still on the fringes here. Yeah, George RR Martin will now get on legitimate talk shows, but the rest of our rock stars don’t get much notice outside of our own circles. Most of what we do and write stays in our circles, and it’s easy to get lost in the sense of how big that really is. The things that cause twitter-sphere and blog explosions tend not to make much of a dent beyond the SF/F community.
More beyond that, a lot of the things about our genre as a whole don’t make of a dent beyond the community itself. Despite it being at an all-time high in popularity, despite it being one of the top selling genres in literature– it’s still on the fringes.
Which is fine. I’m comfortable with being on the fringes, being part of this community. But it’s good to have these little moments to put the things that seem like a Very Big Deal back in perspective.
*- It’s pretty much healed and I’m back to normal, thanks for asking.
**- I could rant for a while about that movie.