(This was topical when I started writing it; it’s less so now that I’ve finally finished it. However, since the debate seems cyclical, it will unfortunately probably be topical again in the future.)
The Importance of Storytelling
I’ve always been a fan of stories, and I’m not too picky about how they’re told to me. I read, of course, voraciously and widely, though speculative fiction is my home (more on that in a bit). When I play video games, I play for the story; combat is something that happens in between story bits. When I listen to music, clever lyrics or a good ballad will light up my face. Movies, comics, anime, fanfiction … it all comes back to loving and emotionally investing in the story the creator is trying to tell.
Emotional investment is the value of stories. They make us think, but mostly they make us care. There’s a reason the Eight Deadly Words are “I don’t care what happens to these people,” not “I am not intellectually curious about the plot.” In the first level of caring about something, we care because it speaks to us: because something in the story resonates with our own lived stories.
At another level, stories speak to more than just our personal stories. I can read and appreciate stories about redheaded super-intelligent people in a futuristic setting (hi, Heinlein!), but I can also read and appreciate stories about a reluctant revolutionary out to change a horrible, dystopian future (hi, Katniss!). So our media does more than tell personal stories; it tells us stories about our communities and our cultures. But you knew that, because not every piece of media you consume is about people just like you.
Or it shouldn’t be. Continue reading