What is the difference between honor and morality, and is one superior to the other? Before reading A Song of Ice and Fire, I didn’t think there was any real, clear answer to this question—after all, wouldn’t a moral person also be an honorable person? Furthermore, if someone has honor, we make the assumption that their honor must be based on the morality of their character. In other words, the two of them should go hand in hand.
Honor is a major theme within the books, and while a character’s honor may be praised, we can see throughout the course of the series that having honor doesn’t always mean having morals. And in some cases, having honor can be downright selfish or harmful to other people.
When you grow up reading a lot of genre fiction, especially young adult and high fantasy, a major turning point in your emotional growth is realizing that “the dark lord”, as you have come to know this all-too-common character archetype, doesn’t really exist. In reality, evil as an ideal is never made manifest in a single adversary whose sole objective is to destroy and corrupt the goodness in the world. Sure, there are people who are “bad” from your own perspective, and bad qualities like selfishness, prejudice, and lack of empathy are generally culturally agreed upon, but even the worst people are generally heroes in their own minds, people who have not yet been shown the error of their ways. No one sets out to be Sauron or the White Witch or Voldemort, and no matter how much power and influence bad people achieve, I know of no instance where anyone has claimed that their ultimate goal was the advancement of the cause of evil.
Most frameworks of morality grasp this concept pretty well: that good and evil are not absolutes, and that humans inherently have the capacity for both positive and negative behaviors. The major exception seems to be in certain camps of modern Christianity, which assigns a motive and influence to Satan that is very much comparable to the fictional and largely metaphorical presence of Sauron and other prototypical “dark lords”. While in Tolkien’s case, Sauron was a metaphor for industrialization, and in the case of children’s books, morality is artificially externalized and simplified for the sake of young readers, the Christian reading of Satan is—as far as many active faith communities are concerned—neither metaphorical nor exaggerated. Satan is literally a dark wizard.
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.
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.
[Fairy] tales used to be dark, moralistic stories to teach people lessons, yet as time went on, people decided that fairy tales ought to entertain children as well as educate them—they weren’t meant to please ancestors of Hannibal fans. Throughout these versions, themes of rape, adultery, and cannibalism were gradually erased from the overall plot, leaving a sanitized version behind. To fill in the blanks with respect to the characters, numerous writers used magic instead. Evil fairy solves all your problems, right? Then the king doesn’t commit adultery and the queen isn’t a heinously one-dimension villain and the princess isn’t raped, but just kissed without her consent, which is… better.
Welcome to Night Vale makes the magical mundane and the mundane magical by drawing our attention to something weird and magical, but then focusing on the mundane aspect of the event so that we cannot escape or ignore it. The magical element essentially acts as a big blinking sign pointing to the mundane and inescapable element.
I obviously have my bones to pick with Penny Dreadful, but from a horror series point of view, I was pleased with its level and style of horror. The clear stand-out performances came from the one and only Eva Green, whose character Vanessa Ives had some extremely notable scenes in which she was possessed by malevolent forces. These scenes got me thinking aboutan extremely common plot device in demonic/spirit possession stories: when possessing a body and in general wreaking chaos in the lives of those around the possessed, a demon loves to ruin everyone’s day by… telling the truth. Truth is something that is extolled as a virtue and associated with goodness and morality, and one of Satan’s many nicknames is “the Prince of Lies”. Yet we consistently see demons using not lies, but rather the truth, when seeking to unsettle or harm humans. Let’s take a closer look.
Major spoilers for Penny Dreadful and American Horror Story: Asylum after the jump. Continue reading →
I think The 100 has proven that it’s a show worth watching. I wrote a post on it a while back, and sadly, some of the issues that I had hoped the show would address, it never did. However, in other regards, The 100 more than surprised me, and I think that overall, this first season was a great start.