Welcome to the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair poll for December 2013. If you were given the opportunity to live in a fantasy world of your choice, would you move there permanently? This month's poll is about fantasies of all stripes. American culture is chock full of fantastic stories in books, plays, video games and movies. Before the written word, there was the oral tradition, and poets like Homer were telling fanciful stories about heroes and their interactions with gods, warriors, monsters and supernatural beings. They preceded and informed more recent fantasy classics like Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz and The Lord of the Rings which in turn inspired modern classics such as Harry Potter and A Game of Thrones. It is an entertainment genre that continues to thrive in our culture testing the bounds of our imagination and creating legions of devoted followers. Americans dream big and we fantasize that way too. The tougher the times get, the more we rely on fantasy worlds to distract us from harsher realties. What are your fantasies? We look forward to hearing your opinions. May you enjoy a fantastic holiday season and a happy New Year. And now the results of our poll...
What fantasy world would you live in? That of a world class athlete, a movie
star, a billionaire or a great humanitarian? Even if given the chance, 44
percent of Americans say they would prefer "keeping it real."
Thirty-seven percent said it would be a nice place to visit but they wouldn't
want to live there and 14 percent said they would move there permanently. Despite
the lure and temptation of living in a fantasy world, most Americans think that
the real world is already the most fantastic show on Earth.
When the Puritans ruled, this question itself would have been banned in Boston let alone the answer. Flash forward nearly 400 years and only a third of Americans disagree that it is healthy for fantasy play to be part of their love life. The majority (58 percent) agree with the premise which is probably one reason that American films and television shows are so saturated with racy content. Grandma's idea of "role playing" was probably quite a bit different than today's definition.
It's kind of like the line in the song by Gordon Lightfoot, "if I could read your mind love, what a tale your thoughts could tell." Forty percent of Americans would take the power to hear the thoughts and 58 percent would leave it. Men are fairly evenly divided, but by a margin of nearly two to one, women would leave it. They may think that some things are better left unsaid.... and unheard.
White lie Everybody has heard it in a story, he (or she) went out for a quart of milk 20
years ago and never came back. It is a way to describe the actions of a person
that abandons their family. If there are no children, good riddance. If there
are children there is hurt and shame and loss. Slightly more women (13 percent)
than men (9 percent) say they have fantasized about doing it. Nine out of 10
Americans say they have not. In the old days lots of people got away with it,
but with today's technology the odds of evading one's familial and financial
responsibilities aren't very good.
Nine out of 10 Americans say they have never fantasized about killing someone and only nine percent say they have. Anyone who has watched even a minimal amount of television, films or video games has probably seen countless on screen murders and killings. Even in that format, we experience it vicariously on some level. Numerous sociological studies have been done attempting to quantify how this affects people. With today's violent video games and movies it is difficult to think that it has no effect with regard to these types of fantasies.
If Santa Claus were real...
Who's more beloved than Santa Claus? Nobody according to the 49 percent of Americans that voted him the (spoiler alert) fictional character that they most wish actually existed. Twenty-five percent would fall under the spell of their Fairy Godmother, six percent don't fear the Reaper, five percent are sweet on the Easter Bunny and another five percent want the Tooth Fairy to show them the money.
Broadcast Your Life
One out of four Americans has fantasized about being on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, after all who doesn't want to improve their home's appearance? Thirteen percent would be the last "Survivor", four percent would be "The Biggest Loser", another four percent would live in "The Real World" (a little ironic isn't it?), three percent would be "America's Next Top Model", two percent would be "The Bachelor" and one percent would brave the elements on "Frontier House." "The Biggest Winner" with 47 percent was none of them. Some might say the term Reality Television is an oxymoron and it appears that nearly half of the American viewers prefer their own brand of reality.
What a waste! Thirty-six percent of Americans called 1-900 or premium rate telephone numbers
the biggest waste of their time from the list of choices. Twenty percent said
the idea of playing a video game until completed was the biggest time waster,
15 percent said maintaining an online avatar was twice the waste (how does the
avatar feel about it?), 11 percent threw a yellow flag and were penalized 15
yards for wasting time managing a Fantasy Football team and 13 percent think
they are all a big waste of time.
Of all of these works of great fantasy literature, 47 percent have gone down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland, 45 percent have followed the Yellow Brick Road with Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, 38 percent have received their Golden Ticket to meet Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 35 percent have ventured to Middle Earth in search of The Lord of the Rings, 32 percent have traveled to Narnia via the Wardrobe to visit The Lion and the Witch and 25 percent have yet to visit any of these fantastic places.
Fantasy of the future
Forty-five percent of Americans predict that 100 years from now, the contemporary fantasy novel series with the best chance of continued success will be Harry Potter. Fifteen percent think that people will still have an appetite for The Hunger Games, nine percent think that Twilight will still have some bite left, seven percent believe that people will still be "enraptured" by Left Behind and six percent say people will still be very stimulated by 50 Shades. Nineteen percent aren't sure which present day fantasy series will stand the test of time.
Take a guess
Seven out of 10 Americans were unable to correctly identify George R.R. Martin. Seven percent thought he wrote "Where the Wild Things Are," four percent guessed he was the first actor to play Dracula, another four percent thought he created the video game series "Final Fantasy" and three percent took a shot that he might be a partner of George Lucas. 11 percent correctly crowned him as the author of "A Game of Thrones", the very popular fantasy series that follows a complex story line about the efforts of many to claim the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. The story's popularity as an HBO dramatic series is further proof of America's unlimited appetite for a rich complex and well-produced fantasy series.