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He kills his subordinates, chokes people with his mind, does all kinds of things a good guy would never do. But then the nature of a bad guy is that he does things a good guy would never do. This moral physics underlies not just Star Wars, but also film series such as The Lord of the Rings and X-Menas well as most Disney cartoons.
Virtually all our mass-culture narratives based on folklore have the same structure: In Marvel comics, Thor has to be worthy of his hammer, and he proves his worth with moral qualities. In old folktales, no one fights for values.
When characters get their comeuppance for disobeying advice, for example, there is likely another similar story in which the protagonist survives only because he disobeys advice.
Defending a consistent set of values is so central to the logic of newer plots that the stories themselves are often reshaped to create values for characters such as Thor and Loki — who in the 16th-century Icelandic Edda had personalities rather than consistent moral orientations.
In stories such as Jack and the Beanstalk or Sleeping Beauty, just who is the good guy? Does Sleeping Beauty care about goodness? Does anyone fight crime? Even tales that can be made to seem like they are about good versus evil, such as the story of Cinderella, do not hinge on so simple a moral dichotomy.
In traditional oral versions, Cinderella merely needs to be beautiful to make the story work. Neither Achilles nor Hector stands for values that the other side cannot abide, nor are they fighting to protect the world from the other team.
The ostensibly moral face-off between good and evil is a recent invention that evolved in concert with modern nationalism — and, ultimately, it gives voice to a political vision not an ethical one.
Most folklore scholarship since the Second World War has been concerned with archetypes or commonalities among folktales, the implicit drive being that if the myths and stories of all nations had more in common than divided them, then people of all nations could likewise have more in common than divides us.
It was a radical idea, when earlier folktales had been published specifically to show how people in one nation were unlike those in another. In her study of folklore From the Beast to the Blondethe English author and critic Marina Warner rejects a reading of folktales, popularised by the American child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim, as a set of analogies for our psychological and developmental struggles.
Warner argues instead that external circumstances make these stories resonate with readers and listeners through the centuries. Still, both scholars want to trace the common tropes of folktales and fairytales insofar as they stay the same, or similar, through the centuries.
Novelists and filmmakers who base their work on folklore also seem to focus on commonalities. J R R Tolkien used his scholarship of Old English epics to recast the stories in an alternative, timeless landscape; and many comic books explicitly or implicitly recycle the ancient myths and legends, keeping alive story threads shared by stories new and old, or that old stories from different societies around the world share with each other.
Less discussed is the historic shift that altered the nature of so many of our modern retellings of folklore, to wit: Good guys stand up for what they believe in, and are willing to die for a cause.
This trope is so omnipresent in our modern stories, movies, books, even our political metaphors, that it is sometimes difficult to see how new it is, or how bizarre it looks, considered in light of either ethics or storytelling. When the Grimm brothers wrote down their local folktales in the 19th century, their aim was to use them to define the German Volk, and unite the German people into a modern nation.
The Grimms were students of the philosophy of Johann Gottfried von Herder, who emphasised the role of language and folk traditions in defining values. Von Herder and the Grimms were proponents of the then-new idea that the citizens of a nation should be bound by a common set of values, not by kinship or land use.
For the Grimms, stories such as Godfather Death, or the Knapsack, the Hat and the Horn, revealed the pure form of thought that arose from their language.
The corollary of uniting the Volk through a storified set of essential characteristics and values is that those outside the culture were seen as lacking the values Germans considered their own. Von Herder might have understood the potential for mass violence in this idea, because he praised the wonderful variety of human cultures:Nietzsche's Best 8 Books (Gay Science, Ecce Homo, Zarathustra, Dawn, Twilight of the Idols, Antichrist, Beyond Good and Evil, Genealogy of Morals) - Kindle edition by Friedrich Nietzsche, Bill Chapko.
Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Use features like bookmarks, note taking and highlighting while reading Nietzsche's Best 8 Books (Gay Science, Ecce Homo. The Debate About Violent Video Games Essay - If you have not heard, there is a debate going on about violent video games.
The reason for this debate is because of violent crimes committed by youth. The Andrew Jackson site has been retired from caninariojana.com To find similar history and technology content on caninariojana.com, explore our American Experience site.
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