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Old 09-01-2006, 12:33 PM
Askia is offline
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Define "Power fantasy"


For once, the internet isn't much help. Can anyone help me cme up wth a workable definition of the genre and some examples, including gaming, comics, the movies, what have you?
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Old 09-01-2006, 12:38 PM
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By any chance, were you reading an Elseworlds title?
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Old 09-01-2006, 12:45 PM
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...my Enron stock is still increasing in value...
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Old 09-01-2006, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
By any chance, were you reading an Elseworlds title?
I think I was re-reading either Scott McCloud's UNDERSTANDING COMICS or REDEFINING COMICS and ran across the phrase there, where it seemed to be alluding to the superhero genre.
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Old 09-01-2006, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
I think I was re-reading either Scott McCloud's UNDERSTANDING COMICS or REDEFINING COMICS and ran across the phrase there, where it seemed to be alluding to the superhero genre.
OK.

A Power Fantasy is, simply, a wish-fulfillment (sp?) for a powerless person.

It can be anything, from vast physical strength or invincibility (popular with adolecent boys), to wealth or political influence (popular with adolecent boys middle-aged men).
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Old 09-01-2006, 12:57 PM
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Power fantasies are escapism, first and foremost, but at least in comics, they are mostly stories that give hope to the hopeless. Superman was an immigrant who came to America and stood up for the common man, originally beating up slumlords, arms merchants, and evil dictators. He would have been a normal guy on planet Krypton, but he had powers beyond mortal men on Earth, where he was otherwise a stranger. Captain America, Spider-Man, and the Hulk were all some degree of scrawny wimps who gained super-powers through science, and Captain Marvel may be the ultimate example of a comic book superhero-as-power fantasy: a little kid who got to turn into a super-powered grownup.
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Old 09-01-2006, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
Captain Marvel may be the ultimate example of a comic book superhero-as-power fantasy: a little kid who got to turn into a super-powered grownup.
He's the classic example, the 1980s DC character Princess Amethyst is likely the best female analog (even better than Mary Marvel). A thirteen year-old girl, when transported to the magical Gemworld, becomes an adult princess with magical powers, flying horses, etc. It's My Little Pony meets ... something with magical crystals in it... um, Folgers coffee.


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Old 09-01-2006, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bosda Di'Chi of Tricor
It can be anything, from vast physical strength or invincibility (popular with adolecent boys), to wealth or political influence (popular with adolecent boys middle-aged men).
Bosda, can you think of any comic book with a theme of political or cultural influence as the fulfillment of a power fantasy?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bad Voodoo Lou
Power fantasies are escapism, first and foremost, but at least in comics, they are mostly stories that give hope to the hopeless. Superman was an immigrant who came to America and stood up for the common man, originally beating up slumlords, arms merchants, and evil dictators.[Emphasis mine.-- Askia]
The underlined part doesn't sound much like escapism to me. It sounds faintly activist/progressive and grassroots political. That said, do you think the average comics reader would be interested in a power fantasy along these lines, Lou?

Bryan, do you think the power fantasies of little girls are substantially different from boys'?
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Old 09-01-2006, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
Bosda, can you think of any comic book with a theme of political or cultural influence as the fulfillment of a power fantasy?

Yes.

Prez: First Teen President


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Old 09-01-2006, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
Bryan, do you think the power fantasies of little girls are substantially different from boys'?
Well, likely less stuff gets smashed, but... not really.
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Old 09-01-2006, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
The underlined part doesn't sound much like escapism to me. It sounds faintly activist/progressive and grassroots political. That said, do you think the average comics reader would be interested in a power fantasy along these lines, Lou?
Well, back in the late '30s and 1940s, immigrants probably felt like they didn't have a lot of power. I don't have a cite; I wasn't alive back then and don't feel like looking up pre-WWII social history books for quotes. They might have had troubles learning English or getting decent jobs, they might have been the victims of corrupt big city officials or police, the kids might have been victimized for speaking or dressing differently, and they surely wouldn't have had as much money as established American citizens, or politicians and public benefactors looking out for their interests. In that regard, an immigrant who possessed superhuman abilities would be an effective power fantasy -- quite a powerful one, in fact. Superman was able to blend in with the citizenry as Clark Kent and establish himself in a good job, something I'm sure many newcomers to America wished they could have done at the time. He didn't take guff from anyone (I'm referring to his Golden Age incarnation in particular, my favorite Superman era ever), and stood up for the common man, the poor, the humble, the downtrodden. And despite all that, he was meek and mild-mannered -- he could have chosen to have people worship him as a god, but he chose to live among us, just like an average schmuck. That humility, and that knack for empathizing and living among mortals also established Superman as a hero for America for all time.

As for average comic book readers today, I have no idea what would interest them. I'm feeling less and less in tune with average comic book readers today, to the point where I've dropped all my titles and quit monthly comics cold turkey. I think average comic book readers today want giant boobs, dick and fart jokes, pop culture references, and violent deaths for secondary and supporting characters.
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Old 09-01-2006, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
Bosda, can you think of any comic book with a theme of political or cultural influence as the fulfillment of a power fantasy?
Any Marvel ish with Doctor Doom in it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
The underlined part doesn't sound much like escapism to me. It sounds faintly activist/progressive and grassroots political. That said, do you think the average comics reader would be interested in a power fantasy along these lines, Lou?
[]Green Arrow had a long run in the '70s with that kind of focus.
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Old 09-01-2006, 05:50 PM
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Fixed link.
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Old 09-02-2006, 02:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
Green Arrow had a long run in the '70s with that kind of focus.
Green Arrow is probably a good example of the other power fantasy superhero permutation I'm interested in: heroes who use their influence and authority to combat underlying social ills that result in desperate criminal activity, rather than blindingly uphold the status quo, as most do. Superheroes do not question or try and change society by doing other things (war, politics, activism, grassroots efforts) without being roped back into their usual superhero antics.

So here I was wondering why the superhero power fantasy is almost exclusively coercive: using force and threats of force to achieve ends, rather than exploring how, say, influence and authority are other legitimate expressions of power.

Coercive power is almost certainly more visually interesting in a comic book medium, but we've had more than sixty years of such visuals. Authority and influence are not without their adherents, too.

I wonder how you can depict authority visually? How does one graphically depict influence?
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Old 09-02-2006, 06:33 PM
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Not in a public forum thank you.
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