The danger of fantasy

I’ve long wondered why the science fiction ranks were so littered with gamma males, both on the supply and the demand sides. I’d theorized it was because it was an escape for unathletic people; at my first group book-signing, about every third person commented how little like a “science fiction author” I looked. I didn’t understand what they meant until I looked at my fellow authors, most of whom were at least 100 pounds overweight and looked as if the only adventure upon which they’d ever embarked was Cheetoh Quest.

However, the recent discussion at Alpha Game concerning Graduating Gamma and Diagnosis: Gamma has opened my eyes to the real connection between the Gamma male and fantasy fiction. And, in answer to a question that someone asked earlier, I do think science fiction and fantasy, particularly modern Pink SF, is psychosocially dangerous for young men of the Gamma persuasion.

Consider this comment from JW, whose situation we’ve been analyzing at his request.

I’ve got this over-inflated sense of self, and that external things haven’t burst that. A combination of parents being too soft and a relatively forgiving and facilitating world/state/government/society/community/family has allowed this ego in me to survive. In a more challenging environment it would be broken down.

I’ve maintained this self from adolescence, and whereas for many people their parents “knock” that out of them Ive got this “tantrum-like child” in my head. Whats happening is I’m protecting this child in my head (which is objectively me, not an external body) and running away or avoiding anything that challenges the beliefs or ideas of this child-like persona. One of which would be “I’m special”….

Seeing myself within an objective social hierarchy using the conceptual
framework you have makes it much clearer. I’m wannabee alpha, in my head
I’m special and therefore deserving of alphaness, I’ll lead, I’ll get
the girl, I’ll be the hero, but the reality of what I am bursts that
bubble every time. Once I’m challenged by objectively superior men I
crumble and/or avoid run away. And yet I yearn for that while doing
nothing to either deserve it or try to get it.

This is the danger posed by the Pugs, the Rand al’Thors, the Harry Potters and so forth. In many ways, they are the precise opposites of the Frodos, the Conans, and the Marcus Valeriuses. (In the middle would be the Aragorns, the Tarans, and the Luke Skywalkers.) They are Special, with a capital S, but not due to anything they have ever done. They have Special powers and are innately recognized as superior beings with a right to lead, initially by the astute, but eventually by everyone.

Most importantly, they don’t have to do much more than show up in order to have leadership handed to them on a silver platter, nor do they have to do much beyond be a figurehead and occasionally make Difficult Decisions. If you think about it, they are essentially what the average millennial thinks a CEO is, and they are handed that quasi-CEO status for nothing more than being Special.

This is pure poison for the Gamma soul. It not only justifies his failure to act or to self-improve, but flatters his delusions about himself. Those who fail to recognize his Special status, those men who fail to fall in line to follow him and those women who fail to offer their hearts to him, are either evil or foolish and blind, just like the antagonists in the book. And one day, just like those antagonists, they will get their comeuppance! It is inevitable, it is fated.

No wonder the Farmboy’s Journey is so popular. It’s basically psychological reinforcement for the Gamma mind. And, writers take note, the less the protagonist has to actually do, the more that his accomplishments revolve around his being rather than his deeds, the more popular it is likely to be with the Gamma crowd because it flatters their desire to lead, get the girl, and be the hero.

Contrast this with Frodo. He is the hero, but he leads nothing and he gets no girl. All he does is shatter the power of Mordor and save the People of the West. Conan is the hero, wins a crown, and gets numerous girls, but he does it all through his deeds; he is the opposite of Special, being frequently dismissed as a mere barbarian. Marcus Valerius is an aristocrat, but for him it is as much burden as benefit, and while his Valerian blood provides him with leadership of the House legion, it doesn’t offer him anything more than the opportunity to fail.

I think one can tell a lot about a boy by learning who his favorite characters from various books are. For example, my favorites from The Lord of the Rings were always Eomer and Faramir, which in itself is telling in retrospect. Both were men who were content to be overshadowed, but proved to be competent leaders when the burden was thrust upon them, and both were stubbornly loyal to the point of endangering themselves. My guess is that neither of them likely held much appeal to the Gamma crowd, who would be more drawn to the hidden Specialness of Aragorn, and even more drawn to the likes of the infuriating Rand al’Thor and the insipid Harry Potter.

It’s an interesting field that remains largely unfurrowed, the psychosociality of literature. But one thing that is already clear is that if you’ve got a young Gamma on your hands, you might want to consider pushing more Louis L’amour, Robert E. Howard, and Jack London on him than permit him to indulge himself in repeated reinforcements of his delusional Specialness.