Stranger Things Reveals the Beauty of Sci-Fi

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Okay, I don’t want to gush but I do love Stranger Things. There, I said it.

At first, I didn’t want to talk about the show. I felt it would push me into the ‘buying instead of being’ aspect of geek that I want to avoid with Geekquinox. That said, I saw Gaten Matarazzo talk about living with cleidocranial dysplasia and I had to speak up. Gaten’s revelation and the show itself revealed a core aspect of science fiction to me. Here it is:

In science fiction, there are no weaknesses … there are only strengths you haven’t discovered.

You can stop there if you’re short on time. The rest of this blog post is about expanding on that idea. Stranger Things and science fiction are an asset to the world of 2016. Earlier this week, one of the kids from Stranger Things revealed something. His character’s medical condition is really *his* condition. He uses the show and his notoriety to draw attention to an under-known issue faced by many children.

Gaten Matarazzo about living with cleidocranial dysplasia 

It takes guts at any age to leverage your challenges into universe-denting advantages. At fourteen, the kid’s is not only class act, he’s an example of the kind of positive change that science fiction should be known for. Charlie Chaplin’s is famous for saying: ‘More than machinery we need humanity.’ It applies to science fiction as well as the rest of humanity. We deserve something more than toys and computer graphics. That’s where Stranger Things succeeds: it treats us like people instead of a paycheck. This kid refuses to let his genetic condition define him. You can’t help but applaud his courage and his kindness. Not only that, Gaten is super-talented. He’s already had several successful runs as a Broadway actor as you can see in the following video:

So I appreciate Stranger Things for reminding me that there are strengths inside me that are waiting to be discovered. That’s the kind of science fiction that formed me as a kid, and that’s the kind I’d like to help create in the future. This is really important to me, and here’s why:

Science fiction, whether I’m reading it or creating it, helps me deal with reality. If my reality was a story, it’d be a little funny and mostly sad and if there’s a happy ending, I haven’t seen it yet. Rather than letting that story grind me down, I want to focus elsewhere. Potentially, these stories I’m telling can help me find the happy ending to my own story. Maybe they can help others, too. If imagination is the only weapon in the war against reality, then we need to fight that war like we mean to win.

You go, Gaten. Mad respect.

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2 Comments

  1. I so love what you said here: “We deserve something more than toys and computer graphics. Science fiction, whether I’m reading it or creating it, helps me deal with reality. … Potentially, these stories I’m telling can help me find the happy ending to my own story.”

    Beautifully said. As science fiction (of sorts) has gotten more and more mainstream, like you, I’ve gotten tired of “super hero opera” and “space opera” and “dystopian future opera” that has no meaning. Science fiction is supposed to be a fun house mirror and a lens that offers us a view of real personal and societal moral dilemmas, widens our perspective, disrupts our narrow thinking. Like you suggested, pure escapism isn’t escapism if when it is over, you arrive back to reality unmoved and unchanged.

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