Power of You in Fiction
Highlighting how fiction is more than just entertainment.
Have you ever wondered what draws an individual to shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Avengers, or Harry Potter? How is it that stories involving manipulating the earth, attaining superpowers, and battling witches and wizards for supremacy of the world (Wizard and Muggle) have such a large following that grows daily? On the surface, these stories portray a life we will never live. However, they tend to embody a very relatable life lesson, appealing character growth/development that the viewer can relate to, or a captivating story you can truly root for. The best forms of fiction often build a narrative that the viewer can initially connect with, then takes you on a roller-coaster journey that teaches valuable life lessons. This is the foundation of the Power of You in Fiction (POYIF) podcast. Co-hosts Cavon Cormack and James Haynes created this platform because they wanted to highlight how fiction is more than just entertainment. They believe good fiction portrays real life information, and the podcast explores the impact of those real effects.
"The podcast reveals the superpowers we gain through our interactions with fictional characters. We wholly believe that the goal of the fantastical is to give a perspective on the real. And with every project we take on, we aim to remind our listeners that seeing ourselves in fiction validates our existence in reality."
Psychology review of fiction:
POYIF is not your typical review session. They aim to highlight and discuss the underlying messages of what the creators are trying to portray. POYIF takes a very intentional approach to their conversations to engage the audience by explaining the science and psychology behind fiction's effect on the brain and then highlights real life examples of those effects. This is evident in their pilot season, appropriately dubbed "The Great Story Experiment". They open the series with PhD psychologists, Dr. Raymond Mar - Professor of Psychology at York University, and Dr. Keith Oatley - Novelist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, individuals who study fiction's effect on the brain. As described by Dr. Oatley, "fiction enables us to get better at what's actually most fundamentally important to us as human beings, which is understanding one another." Cormack and Haynes use their platform to express how seeing ourselves in fiction can validate our experiences by using them to come to terms with our past, reflect on what is going on in our present lives, and set aspirations for the future.
Historical fiction and its roots to the community:
POYIF uses their psychological review of fiction in every topic they cover. One in particular is the conversation they had with world renowned author, Esmerelda Santiago. In this interview, they discuss the depiction of enslaved people in Puerto Rico from her fiction novel, Conquistadora. This piece of historical fiction is comprised of many stories told from the point of view of Puerto Rican slaves and the African aspects of Puerto Rican culture, pulling from Mrs. Santiago's own African roots. Her novel is meant to educate and relate to millions of people with similar ancestral backgrounds through a collection of stories. For more on the episode, please visit the following:
Discussion of Avatar: The Last Airbender:
The resurgence of Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender" (ATLA), has taken the world by storm. Many have taken to Netflix to discover (or revisit) the life of the lovable airbender, Aang. POYIF is no different. As they watch the series with the public, their related discussions focus on understanding the underlying messages of the show, starting by pointing out that ATLA is more than a story about a boy who needs to save the world. They highlight the realism of expectations that surround the younger generation (Aang), parallels of historic empires rising and falling (fire nation), the importance of mentors and teachers (Iroh and Roku), and the power of growth through an impossible journey to better yourself (Zuko).
A few final words from the hosts:
"One of our favorite quotes comes from a friend of the show Ron Wimberly, 'The function of the fantastic is to give you a sort of perspective on the real.' If you’ve ever deeply connected with a fictional story or character, then this podcast is here to confirm the importance and special-ness of that connection you felt. Check out our most recent season focused on Puerto Rico and its people, titled Rico en Sueños, which is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else podcasts can be found."
About the Hosts:
Cavon Cormack (known as Wilson on the podcast) has a B.S in Aerospace Engineering from Penn State University. He strives to understand the human condition and how we can use fiction to explain it. A few words from Wilson himself:
"Jamaican-bred and raised in New York and Philadelphia, I’m currently a Lab Engineer with a focus in fluid mechanics and filtration applications. I love books and reading; completely obsessed with it! Right now, I’m in love with the works of Jason Reynolds, Elizabeth Acevedo, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m also a fairly above average cook and baker, and have been slowly collecting recipes to master."
James Haynes (known as Lu on the podcast) has a B.S in Civil Engineering (Minor in Philosophy with a focus in Ethics) from North Carolina A&T and a M.S.C.E in Structural Engineering from Purdue University. He currently works as a Structural Engineer but still uses his minor in various places of his life, one of them being the podcast. A few words from Lu himself:
"I’m a dialectician who thinks entirely too much about everything, speaks in this mix of AAVE [African-American Vernacular English] and poly-syllabic words, and is super into storytelling and its formation. This podcast serves as the place in my life where all of that is not only okay, but is the very foundation of our voice."
Check out the Power of You In Fiction Podcast at the following links:
Host Wilson Twitter and Instagram: @word2wilson
Host Lu Twitter: @shenz_da_griot