|Movie poster for The Return of the King|
When I have read fantasy books or watched fantasy tv shows or movies, I'm often struck by how male dominated they are. (I'm white, and while I have noticed the troubling racial disparities, that's not the first thing that I notice.) I watched the first season of Game of Thrones, and admittedly, enjoyed some parts of it. But I was reminded again about the seemingly inherent conservatism of the genre that Laura Miller notes in her article.
I can see why artists are drawn to medieval England as the basis for their work. The setting is well known, and often romantic. Wind swept moors, galloping horses, gorgeous clothes, shining armor - it is appealing. At the same time, this landscape is altered in some way to make it not actual medieval England, but some fantastical version of it.
My question is, when an author is imagining a fantasy world, with scary monsters beyond a boundary wall, nine year long winters, and dragons that hatch from petrified eggs, walking trees, floating eyeballs, why are race and gender roles still so static? Why is the dominant culture white and patriarchal? Why is it so hard to imagine a world with gender and racial equality?
Even though I'm not a fantasy reader, I will be making an effort to check out N.K. Jamison's work, as well as some of the other authors she mentioned in her post. I invite you to do the dame, especially if fantasy is a favorite genre.