Random Pop Culture Question of the Week
Favorite Fictional World
the Staff
Random Pop Culture Question of the Week is a bi-weekly journey into the headspace of the Review to Be Named gang, in which a pop-culture question is posed, answers are sought, and discussions are generated about issues and hypotheticals from throughout the realm of pop culture.

This week's question comes from Jordan, who asks: ""if you could live inside any fictional world, be it from film, television, comics, music, literature, or anything else you can think of, what world would you live in and why?"


Diagon Alley

I apologize for the obvious-ness of this answer, but I thought I'd claim it before anyone else did: magical, happy Harry Potter-land. Obviously, you can have a shitty time in the wizarding world - Snape grew up poor in an abusive household, and there's always the chance you'll be born a pathetic squib doomed to press your nose against the window of the toy store that is magic. But barring shitty luck (which is all you can hope for in any world, real or imagined), I think I would have a great time being a witch.

Aesthetically, I find the universe (both literary and filmic, post-Chris Columbus) very appealing - it's a charming blend of anachronisms and modern flourishes. But perhaps the greatest draw of the wizarding world for me is the prospect of bypassing the drudgery of non-magical life. I hate the process of traveling (airports, trains, buses and such), so the ability to apparate would improve my life immeasurably. Apparition is unaffected by weather! Your apparition will never be canceled due to ice or high winds! You just have to concentrate. I'm a very good concentrator.

Cleaning, cooking, personal grooming, organization - there are spells for all of it. And think about all of the spells that must exist, but didn't make it into the books for obvious reasons. I bet there's wizarding contraception that's better than condoms, pills, patches, sponges, and squishy plastic rings. I bet Pepper-Up Potion is great for hangovers. Also, while there are fat wizards and witches in the books, you don't see any of the skinny ones exercising. Maybe they just have more quality food, or they're less sedentary because they can do awesome magical things instead of watching TV and playing video games. But I bet there are some effective weight-loss potions. I want in on that. I fucking hate cardio.


Diagon Alley

I think Ashley's answer will give way to a trend for these answers. We're going to see a lot of trilogies, sagas and long running television shows/book series because they have had the most time to establish an expansive universe. Jordan didn't specify if we'd be able to choose what type of person we'd be in this fictional universe, so I decided to make that a rule.

I would be a post-Episode VI Jedi in the Star Wars universe. I think that there are plenty of opportunities to be someone or something really shitty in Star Wars, but given the ability to be a young Obi-Wan or Yoda type character, I think nothing would be more awesome than going all over the galaxy kicking ass and saving princesses--all while wielding a lightsaber, of course. I'd want to be a Jedi Master, not just some scrub who gets gunned down randomly. Also I've made it clear that this is a post episode VI Jedi, meaning that I will be a part of the new age of Jedi Knights and won't suffer the fate of all the ones from the awful prequels. I'd challenge anyone to find a cooler warrior in any other series. Using real spiritual and combat skills, running and leaping around the Star Wars Universe would make for a thrilling, fun life. Plus when I die, I'll become more powerful than you could ever imagine...


If we're talking about fictional realms here, I think I'd definitely have to opt for the Pokémon realm. Why? Because fuck school, you're becoming a Pokémon master! No job? Fuckin' catch "˜em all.

I mean really, if the people in this universe didn't care so much about putting the little bastards into pseduo-cockfights, they could really have a lot of use. House on fire? Squirtle that shit. Power out? Use Pikachu. Need a bouncer for your club? Snorlax. In the real world pets are mostly good for sniffing things and having videos of to put on the Internet.


Seeing as this is my question, I kind of wanted to let things unfold a bit before jumping into the fray (also, I wasn't sure where I'd land, and thought having some of the good options off the table would help me decide). Obviously, attending Hogwarts, becoming a Jedi, or a Pokemon master would all be awesome (I unabashedly still play Pokemon, and spent some downtime between law school finals taking on the newest generation). My first thought when I threw out this question was Westeros. Having broken an oath to myself and watched the first season of Game of Thrones before reading George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (a series I have been pledging to read for years), I decided to get through the books by the time the show returns, and now, knee-deep in the second volume, A Clash of Kings, I freely admit to being obsessed with the in-depth political interrelations of its characters, their storied histories, and their complex strategies and manipulations. But Westeros would be a terrible place to live. In fact, I would say that one of the great things about Martin's books is that he takes the time to point out that living in a fantasy realm like Tolkien's Middle Earth would probably be a whole lot shittier than people tend to think. Life in Westeros is terrible for everyone who is not high born, and even those that are live in constant fear of winter and the monsters it brings with it, betrayal, and horrible, brutal death. Martin's books are realistic in the way that they depict power being dictated by strength and lack of scruples as often as by honor and cunning, but I don't think I want to live in a place where I'm likely going to die of starvation, festering wounds, freezing to death, being betrayed by lifelong friends, or just being beheaded to adorn a spear outside somebody's castle.

If I'm picking a fantasy realm where heroics are valued and sacrifices appreciated, I would live in Joss Whedon's Buffy-verse. It's a lot like our world, really, except that you can actually fight the monsters that plague you, working with your friends toward a common cause. You'll make mistakes along the way, sure, but you will atone for them by doing good, fighting the good fight, and being a champion. If you have to die (and death is harshly always permanent here), at least you can go out fighting the good fight, sacrificing yourself for your friends and for the greater good. That's a type of heroism that will always appeal to me.

Yet since a lot of my go-to answers have already been scooped up and most of us have chosen fantasy-related realms, I'll take the question a different way and say that, were I to live in any fictional realm, I would like to live in The West Wing . Make no mistake, the vision of politics that Aaron Sorkin created is not how our system of government works. But just imagine if it was. We would live in a land of smart, passionate people, dedicated to a noble cause of making the world a better place, and willing to fight for their views. Sure, sometimes the characters of the show get caught up in partisan politics and strive to just beat the other guy, but usually they recognize that there are two sides to an argument and that intelligent people might end up on either side. There are few villains on either side of the political divide in The West Wing, jsut people with a different view of what it means to serve their country. And I wouldn't mind living in a place like that.


Cougar Town

This is a difficult one for me, as I so enjoy watching and spending time with so many different fictional people in their fictional worlds, but I'm pretty sure I'd be miserable or entirely uncomfortable in the vast majority of them. That's why TV works for me! I think Buffy and the gang are amazing, and I love being fake friends with them through the screen, but I definitely could not handle the amount of ridiculousness they deal with on a daily basis. Plus, I would be very unhappy living in a world where sex so often ends with terrible things happening. The same goes for any of Joss Whedon's other shows.

Considering the amount of time I spend with the beautiful people that reside in Tree Hill, North Carolina (yes, I watch One Tree Hill. Yes, I am incredibly silly. I own it), I'd think I'd choose to live in that lovely land of pretty people, fancy houses, and incredibly successful careers (seriously, every person on the show has some epic job: an NBA player, a famous fashion designer, a bestselling author, two rock stars, and a movie producer), but I really don't think I'd fit in well in that completely whitewashed, strangely tragic little town. So I think there are two places that I'd fit in the best and where I'd enjoy myself the most: Cougar Town, and the black community in Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins books. The first, because, as someone who loves drinking, sitting around, and good friends, Cougar Town is really the ideal place for me. I'd get to drink wine all day, make fun of the people around me, and play stupid pranks with a bunch of insanely fun people. Hopefully I'd get a good looking man to order about shamelessly, too. The second choice, black Los Angeles in the 1940s and 50s, is something I've thought about often, as I researched and spent many long hours studying this exact community for my senior thesis. Though many many bad things happen in those novels, and I'd certainly not like to be involved with the terrible things Easy Rawlins deals with in the course of the books, I love the real sense of community that he has, something that I think would be difficult to find in the modern world. I would love to wear slinky dresses and go to bars every night with handsome men, greeting everyone by name and feeling completely comfortable with the people around me, as we would all have a similar sense of self and place. This is, of course, a completely idealized version of this black community, as obviously there was a lot of bad shit happening for black people at this point in time, but this is a fantasy world we're talking about, right? So that's where I'd choose to be.


I hate answering last because all of my answers are taken. My first and second choices were Harry Potter and The West Wing, for so many obvious reasons. Totally agree with Ashley on the apparating thing. Instantaneous travel would be the shit. And considering I actually live in the real DC, I would love to relocate to the nation's capitol as writen by Sorkin.

Buuut since those have already been taken, I guess I'll say that, if I could live in a fictional world, it would be a toss up between Neverland and Wonderland. I am, after all, a Disney girl. Both have their pros and cons. Neverland is full of adventure and magic, beautiful lands full of interesting people where I could learn how to fly and live in the most baller tree house EVER. And with Captain Hook preoccupied with Peter Pan, it seems like the rest of the island is pretty relaxed. Wonderland is full of riddles and song and hookah smoking caterpillars who I could lounge about with all day, having conversations about linguistics. Again, just avoid the Queen and you're golden. What's better than that?

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Note from Rachel: Unfortunately, my brilliance is sometimes a finite resource. Send us your ideas for future installments of Random Pop Culture Question of the Week on twitter @reviewtobenamed (follow us here), or shoot us an e-mail at reviewtobenamed@gmail.com.

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