Not long ago, Ace and I were discussing how the wizards in the Harry Potter universe never seem to grow as a society. They are still stuck with very basic technology, and while many tasks are certainly made easier with magic, no one can deny that Muggles seem leaps ahead of wizards in a lot of ways. From being able to explore space, to using computers, to even having pens, Muggles have it better—seriously, why would I ever use a quill? But this got me thinking: this isn’t just in the Harry Potter world. A lot of magical societies in fiction seem to be stuck in a more medieval era. This led me to consider how we evolve as a society. It is just a fact that human beings are more likely to grow and change to fulfill a need. It’s easier to wash clothes with a machine than by hand, and having a computer makes it easier for us to access information, keep in touch with friends, or learn new things. But for magic users, when you can wave a wand to conjure fully prepared food or teleport yourself somewhere in an instant, is there ever really a need or desire to grow and change?
As usual, our yearly Valentine’s pairing extravaganza will be showing up later today. To balance out that romance-filled spectacle, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite feminist movies that don’t have strong romantic messages for the not-so-romantically-inclined to curl up with on this fine Tuesday night.
Hit the jump to find out what we picked, in no particular order!
It’s just a jump to the left
And then a step to the right
With your hands on your hips
You bring your knees in tight
But it’s the pelvic thrust
That really drives you insane
I’m sure these lyrics are familiar to most of you, dear readers. With the surprising prevalence of The Rocky Horror Picture Show despite its cult status, even if one hasn’t watched the film, many of its (for lack of a better term) memes have stuck in the cultural consciousness. As a younger me, while watching this I wondered what the heck a dance had to do with anything, and honestly as an adult I still don’t know for sure–although I fully know that in this film, things don’t really have to make sense. It just comes out of nowhere. But thinking a little bit harder, maybe it wasn’t as out of place as I originally thought. After all, Rocky Horror isn’t the only piece of media utilizing the magic of dancing in the way it’s typically used: to signify a transformation.
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.
With a recent re-re-(put “re” like, fifteen more times here) watching of Labyrinth, I’ve come to two finite conclusions: I’m not done talking about fairies, and Labyrinth is still eons better than Legend. While there was a lot that I didn’t like about Legend, I wasn’t able to cover it all in a concise manner. Yet here we are again, and I find myself with the time to discuss Legend’s atrocious portrayal of the fae in comparison to Labyrinth’s—the latter of which seems to keep closer to the actual lore surrounding the fae instead of discounting it entirely.
It could be that “fae” aren’t the first thing you think of when Labyrinth is brought up. Indeed, in popular culture, fairies are shown as cute or even beautiful in regards to our societal standards, and most of the inhabitants of the Labyrinth are bizarre, non-nonsensical, ugly, or downright threatening. Hell, even Jareth, beautiful man that he is, is called the “Goblin King” rather than the fairy king. Yet, despite common perception, these two things aren’t mutually exclusive. As it turns out, goblins are a type of fae, and have the same traits and rules as much as any winged wish granter. The only difference seems to be that while fairies have an ethereal sort of beauty attached to them, goblins (or trolls, or kobolds, or whatever you may call them) are equated with ugliness—given the track records of all other forms of media, it’s not really surprising that goblins and their ilk have been painted in a more negative light in falling out of this beauty standard. So when Sarah is dealing with Hoggle, Jareth, and all the other fantastical creatures in the Labyrinth, it’s just about the same as Jack dealing with Gump and the other magical creatures of the world of Legend. In terms of mythology, interpretations on the fae are about as varied as vampires or werewolves. So the issue here isn’t that these movies have different interpretations of the fae, it’s that Legend completely ignores the skeleton that the meat of lore can be built around. And how is this mistake manifested? By inferred intelligence.
After rereading The Perilous Gard last week, fairy stories of all sorts were on my mind. I love reading about them, but, well, should I enjoy it? How good are fairies, anyway? The answer is, not particularly—at least by human standards—but that’s not necessarily a bad thing from a storytelling perspective.
I’m sure some of you have heard the superstition “breaking a mirror brings seven years of bad luck”. Do you know where the sentiment originally came from? Apparently, back in the time of the Roman Empire, it was believed that “life renewed itself every seven years, and that breaking a mirror would thus cause damage to the soul it was reflecting at the time.” This mentality has stuck with us as it seems that the state of one’s soul is most commonly entwined with mythos about mirrors in fiction. While a mirror can sometimes trap a soul, I think one of the more interesting interpretations are when mirrors are used to show one’s inner desires, as well as how those desires can lead to one’s downfall.
Spoilers for Dragon Age: Inquisition under the cut. Continue reading