Children play a lot of different roles in fiction. Sometimes they embody innocence and goodness, such as in Rise of the Guardians or Hook. Other times, they’re used in direct contrast to that in order to create a sense of horror. Small creepy children with magical powers are… well, creepy. When we think of children, most people think of innocence, and there’s a reason for that. After all, many children have yet to be exposed to the horrors of living and their naivety only helps to reinforce the idea that they are good deep down. As such, when our media gives us children with awesome powers, especially if those children are evil, it plays into our fears by perverting something many of us commonly see as good.
Hello there, good readers! I am back to the blog after a whole year hiatus; much has happened in my life, but in summary the two most important forces to have influenced my new life are Prozac and Protestantism (I’ve always had a thing for alliteration, I guess). I’m jumping right back in with a good ol’ OMPCR. One of the most hotly debated topics in Protestant Christianity (indeed, all Christianity) is the idea of predestination—in particular in relation to “chosen-ness”. The two biggest names in the Protestant Reformation in fact came to their own interpretations of predestination via studying the teachings of St. Augustine of Hippo, revered by Catholics as one of the greatest teachers of the faith: however, as usual, Luther and Calvin could not reach a common consensus (Luther went for single predestination, whereas Calvin advocated for double predestination). As Western Christianity celebrates Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, today, I thought it a great time to look at the idea of a Chosen One embracing their destiny—today the Western churches proclaim Jesus entering into Jerusalem to begin the culmination of his destiny as Messiah through the trials of Holy Week leading to the resurrection of Easter. Let’s look at some other Chosen Folk and see how they are both chosen and choosing.
I love Dragon Ball Z. I used to watch it all the time as a kid. I still read fanfiction for it, and I follow the amazing Dragon Ball Multiverse fancomic. The story has also become a cultural icon, and it is probably one of the more well-known manga today. As much as I adore this story, though, I have to admit that I always wanted more from it. DBZ is more or less about a bunch of super martial artists who have banded together to save the world from alien invasions, cyborgs, monsters, and any and all villains that they find. Along the way, a good number of our DBZ fighters die, including the main character. Multiple times.
DBZ is so named because within this universe, there are seven magical balls that, when gathered, summon a giant Dragon. This Dragon has the ability to grant a person any wish, including bringing people back from the dead. While a neat idea, this is also unfortunately problematic for creating suspense. It removes consequences from the story, and that only hurts the narrative.
Spoilers for all of DBZ below.
I was planning to write about how skeevy it is that literally all the clones on Orphan Black are/were in relationships with their monitors (don’t worry, I’ll get to that in a sec), but thinking about this brought me to an unpleasant realization: just how common it is for shows with main female protagonists to have a system of male oversight/regulation above them. If that wasn’t bad enough, we never see an inverse parallel where women oversee/regulate men, nor even situations of matriarchal oversight for female characters. Spoiler alert for Orphan Black and Buffy the Vampire Slayer after the jump.
A few weeks ago, Lady Geek Girl wrote a nice article describing the precarious position of witches in current pop culture media. Witches only finally started to reach some level of acceptance (still a work in progress, that’s for sure) largely thanks to the enormous expansion of the religion of Wicca in the past fifty years or so. This led to a curious occurrence: witches weren’t just in fairytales and fantasy books anymore; they were bookstore clerks and nurses and teachers too. It opened the doors for the possibility for modern people to reclaim and identify with the word “witch”. We can see other seemingly outdated or maligned words being used by contemporary folk, from druid to heathen to shaman (though words like sorceress and wizard seem to be lagging in popularity), but I would argue none to quite the degree of “witch”. So while I believe that Wicca was a large—I would say the primary, in fact—reason for the modern reclaiming of this word, I think it is inappropriate to treat “Wiccan” as a monolithic synonym for “witch”. There are simply too many witches out there who are not Wiccan.
Hello lovely readers! Since it’s been roughly one week (and 2000 years, give or take) since one of the most famous resurrections, I thought I’d talk a little about some slightly more recent examples from pop culture. More specifically, I’m gonna talk about that awkward moment in a sci-fi/fantasy show when a character gets resurrected, and then, a season or two later, some other character does not get resurrected. Whoops. This is even a scenario that takes place in the Bible. We have stories of Jesus raising Lazarus in one of the Gospels, and the daughter of Jairus in the others, clearly establishing Jesus’s ability to raise the dead. But how many other people around him and his followers died without being resurrected?
This happens frequently in any story world where resurrection is possible. Why does this happen? Oversight? Quota filled? Price hikes? Join me on a tour of some of the more notable instances of this phenomenon in some of geekdom’s favorite shows. Character deaths are obviously major spoilers, so spoiler alerts below for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Warehouse 13, and Charmed.
I’m always a fan of the idea that there should be some sort of logic behind how the universe works in stories. This extends to concepts of magic. There is a part of me that always wants to know why it works, how it works, why magic in a particular universe acts the way it does. Why do monsters follow certain rules? Questions like that keep me awake at night and cause me to write posts like this. I’m the type of person that would go to a Supernatural convention and ask “why does salt work to stop most evil things?”
But I always wondered why the characters never asked these same questions. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer there is little to no mention of any of the characters believing in some sort of deity or having any faith. And yet Buffy wears a cross everywhere to protect herself. Which makes sense—but it strikes me that she never asked Giles, “Why do crosses work on vampires?”