Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

An Overabundance of Cheap Messiahs

August 13th, 2017 by Zen

We all know that Hollywood is sick. Not just morally depraved, but intellectually and creatively bankrupt. This is no great surprise to any of us. Looking at foreign films, even just good anime, can really surprise you with genuine emotion, real stakes, terrifying loss, and real characters, you just don’t get with movies like Transformers, or even most of Hollywood. It is interesting to note, that besides the Founding Fathers, the majority of people who appeared to Pres. Woodroof and ask why their temple work had not been done, were artists (authors, poets, playwrights, etc). So, I think their is a genuine spiritual angle here, besides simply Hollywood mediocrity.

The New York Post has a great little article How Harry Potter and ‘The Dark Tower’ have messed up millennials
Please read it – it is quite short.

Protagonists don’t have to grow or struggle. They are simply the Chosen One.

But the most glaring example of the recent shift toward heroic ego-mania? “Star Wars.”

The main character of the 1970s and ’80s film trilogy, Luke Skywalker, was pretty unremarkable. A space townie, really. He was a decent pilot with rockin’ hair who just wanted to move out of his aunt and uncle’s house. Not exactly destined-for-greatness material. But he was determined, and a little desperate.

“There’s nothing here for me now,” he tells Obi-Wan Kenobi after his family is killed. “I want to learn the ways of the Force and become a Jedi like my father.” Even if he is fated to save the galaxy, his motivations come not from feeling special but from feeling empty.

Plus, Luke doesn’t learn a damn thing about being a Jedi until the second film, “The Empire Strikes Back,” when he meets Yoda. At first, the easily frustrated dude stinks at using a lightsaber and moving objects with his mind. He doesn’t really become a force to be reckoned with until “Return of the Jedi.”

Skip ahead 40 years to 2015’s “The Force Awakens.” Rey is the hero now, and she’s instantly adept at Jedi mind tricks and can capably wield a lightsaber with zero training. What does she have left to learn? French?

This is not to say these books and movies shouldn’t be read and watched. Harry Potter and “The Force Awakens” are, by most critics’ estimations, excellent. But adults need to take fiction more seriously. Your kids sure do.

It makes for bad movies, and it makes for bad people, and people very poorly adapted to handling real life problems without falling apart.

 

 

Comments (5)
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August 13th, 2017 17:37:37
5 comments

Bruce Charlton
August 14, 2017

The summary of Harry Potter by Oleksinski is tendentious nonsense – missing out the main themes of the books. The idea that Harry had it easy and had no need to develop is about as far from the truth as it is possible to be!

But then, there is no sign the author has actually read the books – especially not the last one; probably he has merely seen (some of) the movies, which missed out most of the books’ meaning – and wanted a ‘hook’ for his article.

In reality (and amazingly) the Harry Potter series had a Christian theme at its heart (which was made explicit in the Deathly Halows) – and the main virtues explicitly endorsed were love and courage.

Of course the mass media have crudely spun the books to be secular Left propaganda (Trump is like Voldemort etc.) – but the fact is they aren’t!


Zen
August 14, 2017

Bruce,
the Harry Potter books are not without their virtues, but nor are they without their vices. The presence of one virtue does not make the whole good. By themselves, they are not bad books.

Yes, Harry does have to struggle, sometimes. But for most things, he doesn’t really struggle that much. Certainly not for quidditch. How many games did he lose? Certainly not in his schoolwork. He is certainly not the one who has done the most reading or studying (Hermione). He wasn’t the one who really understood what was going on, until the very end (Dumbledore).

There is no amount of work Ron could have done, if he wanted to be the Chosen One. Or anyone else.

Yes, Harry did have to do some work, but being the Chosen One isn’t something he had to work for at all. He was born with it.


JRL in AZ
August 14, 2017

I love Harry Potter. It is almost as good a Fablehaven. The problem with Harry Potter is that most people miss the point – Harry wasn’t awesome because of himself. When we finally learn what was going on, it is revealed that the story is all about the power of sacrifice. Harry was protected because of his mother’s sacrifice for him. And, in the end, his friends are protected because of his sacrifice for them. And none of it is possible without Snape’s longsuffering sacrifice for Lily. It turns out that Harry isn’t really the hero – he is the focal point of the real action of people making sacrifices out of love. That was the point of the whole saga, and it is missed too often.


T. Greer
August 20, 2017

The reason Harry doesn’t have to struggle is not because he is the Chosen One. The whole Chosen One is an ancient trope. It is is vogue now for a very different reason: we have this sort of pathology that says the only mark of a truly good hero is that they don’t want to be one. Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen et. al. are all very big on this–they try again and again to be normal, they long to *not* be the hero. Chosen Oneness is just a gimic designed to give our heroes a chance to express their revulsion w/their magnificient destinies without experiencing consequences for it. They might want to be normal but the choice is not theirs–they are the Chosen One.

The interesting question is why this is so in vogue. ( It isn’t really something a Roman would understand, to provide a counter point.) Part of me suspects that it is really just a device for making the main character more sympathetic almost readers are unremarkable and unambitious, and so it helps to make the character that as well. Another part of me thinks it is a bid to make the mai. Character more sympathetic–it seems we have no tolerance or sympathy for ambition. And jndeeed, when is the last time you encountered a popular hero who does what he or she does simply for the sake of glory or fame? Again, there are cultures where the pursuit of glory, fame, and great deeds were ends of themselves. Ours is not such a culture.


Bruce Charlton
August 21, 2017

@Zen – swift correction! “But for most things, he doesn’t really struggle that much. … Certainly not in his schoolwork. ”

But Harry is very normal at schoolwork. His OWL results were:
Astronomy – Acceptable, Care of magical creatures – Exceeds Expectations, Charms – EA, Defence against the dark arts – Outstanding, Divination – Poor (fail), Herbology – EA, History of magic – Dreadful (fail), Potions – EA, Transfiguration – EA.

It is understandable that he got Outstanding in Defence against the Dark Arts – in which is he did ‘work hard’ (and this was the only subject in which Herminione failed to get Outstanding!) – otherwise, Harry was a mediocre scholar, despite being depicted as working pretty hard (lots of homework evenings are described)!

Being the ‘chosen one’ is the standard trope for an archetypal hero story (eg. in the Joseph Campell formulation).

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