During these troubling times, I like to go to my safe space for a while so that I can process things, and for me that often means diving into comics. Recently I was thinking about the 2017 Wonder Woman movie, which I loved, but also had some troubling religious aspects. We talked previously about how Wonder Woman was heavily Christianized, with Ares acting more like the Christian devil and less like the God of War, putting Wonder Woman in the Christ/savior role. But today I want to focus on the lack of goddess figures in Wonder Woman, excluding Wonder Woman herself, of course. Why, in a society of just women, was there so much focus on Zeus as the main god they followed, especially when previous comic incarnations of the Amazons did have them worshiping the Greek goddesses over the gods?
Given that the world is already full of enough horror at the moment, I decided to forgo the bizarre thriller flick I found and talk about an upcoming animated feature instead. Most of us have a pretty good grasp on at least one or two Greek myths—even if you didn’t have a unit about them in school, they’re somewhat inescapable in popular media. With re-imaginings like Percy Jackson maintaining a modicum of popularity, it’s no surprise that studios continue digging down into the mythology wellspring. Today I present a new take of the story of Icarus that has as much potential to be enthralling and thought-provoking as it does to be boring and even offensive.
Outside Harry Potter and A Series of Unfortunate Events, I would say that Daughters of the Moon was most definitely one of my favorite series as a child. Lady Geek Girl introduced me to it back in middle school, and once I started the first one, I didn’t look back. I blew through every book that had been released in a matter of days. It had everything I wanted—multiple female protagonists from different backgrounds, a narrative steeped in Greek mythology and magic, and there were a large number of books to keep me interested. So of course I loved it. And one of the things that I enjoyed most about the story was the price that came from having magical abilities and what growing older meant for the characters. However, the writing itself fell flat more than once, and that detracted from what was potentially a really great message.
The Christianization of pagan stories is nothing new. To convince the locals to convert to Christianity, missionaries would often turn local myths and gods into saints instead so the locals could convert but still keep their folk traditions. For instance, some argue that St. Brigid of Ireland was in fact a Christianization of the Celtic goddess of the same name, and rituals surrounding the goddess Eostre were incorporated into the Christian celebration of Easter. This is a form of syncretism (thoroughly explained by Lady Geek Girl here) that was used consciously and deliberately to erase pagan beliefs and traditions and replace them with Christian ones instead. The case of the Disney movie Hercules, though, is a little different. Its Christianization was likely not deliberate, but it ends up reinforcing the hegemony of Christian narratives in our culture anyway.
Disney’s Hercules vastly revised the ancient Greek myth of Heracles to make it more “child-friendly” and more palatable to Western audiences. The resulting story, though, positions Hercules as a Christ figure—probably accidentally. This seems to imply that only stories with Christian morals and understandings of the world are acceptable as kids’ stories, and also shows how Christian influence seeps into everything in our pop culture narratives, whether we intend it to or not.
Find out more after the break! Spoilers for all of Hercules ahead.
It’s been years since I first read the first quintet of Percy Jackson books. (I still haven’t read the second.) I’ve been meaning to reread them for ages, though, and since I had a long weekend off work with no actual plans for the first time in… forever last weekend, I decided it was the perfect time to get cozy with a book or five.
I was thinking recently about faerie food and how it never leads to anything good. Very rarely is the only consequence of eating fairy food that you’re a little less hungry afterward. At first, I thought that faerie food seems to be a metaphor in some ways for drug use and addiction, seeing how, in many myths, humans who eat it become addicted, don’t want to eat anything else, and if there is faerie food available, can’t stop eating it even past the point of being full. But then I started to realize there is a much more sinister connotation to faerie food: faerie food in a lot of ways seems to be very similar to date rape drugs, thus tying it to sexual assault.
Trigger warning for rape, date rape, and sexual assault after the jump.
Ah, Greek mythology, how I love you. Greek mythology has always been incredibly captivating to me, probably because the gods act so human. They have their strengths and flaws, they squabble among themselves, they fight for power, and they can even be tricked or deceived. It’s incredibly interesting. However, I can’t stand the watered down version of the Greek gods that we get in our pop culture. My biggest issues are with how our pop culture portrays Zeus and Hera. While the other gods may also occasionally be portrayed poorly, I feel like the portrayal of these two ends up being the most problematic.
Trigger warning for discussion of rape.