Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Superheroes and fairy tales

There's been a pretty obvious trend going on in the book and movie industries over the past few years: superheroes and fairy tales. In fact, so much has been said about this topic that I could easily write a 30-page research paper on it. (I'll admit, the idea sparks some excitement.) But since I don't actually have to start thinking about research papers for another 33 days, I'll try to express my thoughts within the appropriate blogging guidelines.

Telling stories is part of human nature. We tell stories to entertain and to teach. Stories are often enriched by personal histories and traditions. Some stories are told or acted out, changing with each interpretation, while others are written down, to be preserved for generations. Stories give us a chance to escape to another world for a bit and to develop our imaginations.

There are those who would tell us it's unhealthy, even for children, to spend time in worlds full of happily-ever-afters and invincible superheroes. Stories like Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist and Robert Cormier's I Am the Cheese are perfectly acceptable because they won't risk making readers think that bunnies and chipmunks are adorable little creatures that will help them keep house, or that readers will one day discover a new power within themselves that allows them to beat up the bullies and get all the girls without any effort.

And yet, people still crowd the movie theaters to see the superheroes in action. Some are saying it's the need for a hero in this bleak world we live in that is driving ticket sales so effectively.

Personally, I love fairy tales; YA fairy-tale retellings are some of my favorite books. After the movie Thor came out, I decided I love watching superheros, too. I don't see anything wrong with a society that makes a huge profit off stories that couldn't possibly happen in real life. Even though we live in a world without pixie dust and vats of toxic waste lying around to miraculously change our circumstances, we can still relate to the characters, and, most importantly, rekindle hope for our own lives as we watch a stressful situation resolve nice and neatly on screen or in the pages of a book.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go watch Once Upon a Time.

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