Does anyone else have "fiction fatigue"?

Submitted by tnstaec in AskRaddle

In the last few decades there's been this remarkable shift that seems scarcely commented upon. The mainstreaming of nerddom due to the rise of the Internet has brought with mainstreaming of fictional universes.

At first there were revivals like Star Trek TNG, and the Star Wars prequel trilogy. Then the superhero movies really took off in a big way. "Fandom" became a thing, to the point where you can't use Tumblr without being inundated with Doctor Who and Harry Potter posts. Now we're getting to the point where reboots, remakes and revivals seem to dominate all forms of narrative media.

Collective consciousness has become saturated by the minutiae of imagined realities, and I have to conclude that this is at the expense of concern for reality. This is not to say that fictional works can't be socially engaged. Margaret Atwood, Octavia Butler and Philip K. Dick are but a few speculative fiction writers whose work tells us more about our own world than non-existent ones. But most of our hypermediated narratives are just attention-grabbing spectacles with little substance behind them. I see this current obsession with "AU" as the cultural manifestation of the terminal state of our society. While the world is burning around us, we sit enraptured in our air-conditioned apartments consuming electricity and someone else's fantasies.

The new season of The Walking Dead has just premiered. A group of my friends are continuing to watch it, though they admit they it long ago ceased to give them much enjoyment. We've reached the point where franchise fiction can produce both literal and metaphorical zombies.


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GrimWillow wrote

I'm mostly fatigued by horrible messages on repeat from the most distributed media. Everything from patriarchy, fascism, capitalism, white supremacy, and rape culture. How many times does everything in the media have to turn into a romance that has no respect for the concept of consent? I wouldn't be so sick of "Star Wars" if it didn't prescribe fighting for some hierarchical structure to replace the empire's structure. If it glorified horizontal organizing and displayed intersectional solidarity then I'd watch it. The barrier to access mainstream expression is controlled by evil shitheads with an agenda. It bothers me when people gloss over its influence...

But yea, it's pretty cringey to watch liberals insulated from the violence of capitalism being mad that you're breaking their distraction to mention that this isn't an ok situation the world is in.


goof_goat wrote

I think the movie industry has realized there was (and maybe still is) a huge and under served market for scifi, fantasy, comics, dystopias, zombies &c. Rather than develop originals, they've just decided to cash in on nostalgia as well as relative scarcity for high quality films in these genres.

the films in these genres are escapist in a lot of ways, but i don't know that this is because most people want that. i think what's important to remember when discussing 'the culture industry' is that what's produced is what a certain class of people thinks another class of people want. People have complex relationships with the media they consume whether it's well articulated or not. i think there's a model of 'mindless consumption' on the left that really turns a lot of people off to our movements/ analyses.

also fandoms are very problematic in a lot of ways, and i'm not from those communities at all, but fan fiction communities are very interesting to me. I think fanfic sometimes is a rewriting of popular media by its audience into the media they wanted, and that's kind of cool and radical/ anarchic.

what gives me hope about AU is that a very substantial part of its history is radical. You already named a few influential AU authors, but the radical tradition is very deep: Ursula Le Guin, Kim Stanley Robinson, Samuel Delany, CJ Cherryh... on top of that there are a lot of contemporary authors continuing this genre. I mean look at the hunger games! Not saying it's perfect, but damn if 'young adults' are reading that & watching those movies, that makes me pretty hopeful!