Americans, you have way too many holidays. To us Europeans, it feels like you just love to take every occassion to celebrate something, which I can really understand. One of your more respectable holidays occured two days ago: Martin Luther King Day. Reserving a day each year in remembrance of this great person is the least you can do, considering what he has contributed to the fight for racial equality. Martin Luther King turned the tide in an ideological battle, and paved the way for a better, less racist future. However, no matter how much this grand person has struggled, he will never take the only kind of racism that’s dear to me away: fictional racism.
Yes, folks: I’m a fictional racist. While I consider myself a very tolerant, open-minded person in real life, I become a chauvinist, hate-speech slurring demagogue once I dive into one of my fandoms. I’m convinced that Dwarves are mentally and physically superior to most other Tolkien races, I wholeheartedly support the genocide on Gungans to prevent the procreation of Jar Jar Binks and I think that Mudbloods are at least a little bit inferior to full-blooded wizards. As coy as that final example might be, all of the aforementioned opinions would get me branded as a menace to society if they were about real people. Luckily, they’re not, which makes fictional racism that much fun.
Wait, racism can be funny? Not in the real world, of course. In fiction, though, playing to the hateful emotions inherent in all of us is another way to engage the audience. Why just invoke a feeling of spite for a character, when you can portray his entire ilk as lesser beings? But that’s only the top of the iceberg: why not take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster ride, where one species gets portrayed as the bad guys first, just to become the misunderstood good guys once a certain detail is revealed? These U-turns serve an important point, which is to illustrate the exact weapon against real-life racism: education and knowledge.
Once again, fiction is the ideal place to illustrate real-life conflicts and teach people about their dangers. Though the race you feel hatred for is fictional, the feeling itself is very real. It reminds the audience of the presence of such negative emotions, making them wary of it. It reminds us of the suffering born from such blind hate, reminding us of why we should fight it in our real world.
Really, leave me my fun in declaring Elves the most inferior of all races. As long as I know that it’s not okay to do so in real life, I can pretend to support the hunt for pointy ears, right?