Friday, December 7, 2012

A Cloey Find

While browsing I paused on this article in the blog section and loved it and wanted to share it with you. Join me in thanking Louise Cole for sharing her article with us today. Is there anyone twisting your last nerve whom you would like to see a Urban Fantasy heroine kickbox into next week? 

Problems you can kickbox


A friend of mine keeps quoting a line from one of my (as yet unpublished) YA novels. The character in question says she envies Buffy Summers because she has problems she can kickbox. And for me, that, right there, is the appeal of urban fantasy.

In real life our problems are complex. We have to see all sides. We have to compromise. We have to live with the cognitive dissonance of wanting a civilised and non-violent society where justice prevails and knowing that, in our hearts, we lust for vengeance against those who hurt children or prey on the innocent. On Remembrance Sunday it was brought home to me just how much we treasure the memories of those who died for our country – who sacrificed – but like to dwell far less on the fact that we asked them to kill for us.

Urban fantasy, with its heroes who dwell in a world where power is transcendent and the bad guys are just asking to be annihilated, gives us an outlet for this unease we feel. It gives us a psychological escape from the contrast between the egotist which says we are each the hero of our own story, and the reality which says we are mostly no more than bit players in the grand scheme of things, unable to solve or change most of what disturbs us.

It’s catharsis – a term which isn’t much used any more to describe the role of story-telling, but is still relevant, if unfashionable.

I recently wrote a piece for Cosmopolitan on the popularity of 50 Shades of (De)Grey(ding). (Yeah, OK, not the cleverest pun but it tickles me.) Modern men, who have spent their lifetimes learning sensitivity (bless them) were moaning that suddenly women wanted to be dominated? When did that happen? The truth is, it didn’t. Forget the kinky sex and the terrible writing. The reason the domineering men of 50 Shades or Twilight strike such a chord with many women is because the fantasy fulfils a psychological need – the need to be free of the endless and relentless work which falls to every woman now that gender roles have been scrapped.

So these men are rich, tell you what to wear, what to eat and shadow your footsteps in order to ensure your total security. And that seems like a holiday from having to sort kids, service the car, arrange the insurance and still be at work on time.

Whichever kind of fantasy appeals to you, it all has a place psy
chologically. And it isn’t just for escapism. It helps to process, to discharge, to decompress. It reminds us that we are complex creatures and we need to find healthy outlets for all our emotions and urges, whether ‘civilised’ or politically correct or not. Stories help us to work out our cognitive dissonance.

So a Fifty Shades heroine would tell Mr Dominance: ‘Oh my!’ and go all melty. A real woman would take out a restraining order.

But an urban fantasy heroine? She’d kickbox his ass into next Sunday. My kinda girl.

Please visit Problems you can kickbox for more information or to comment on the original post.


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