Blog Post No. 448
There’s a new He-Man cartoon coming out and when watching the trailer, I was struck with a thought. Throughout the shows I watched as a child, the villains were magic users and/or manipulators and the heroes were mindless brutes. It’s as if I was being taught that being upfront and honest was the same as being simple minded and that anyone with cunning is probably untrustworthy. It’s a theme that you can still see nowadays with characters like Thor and Loki. Sure, it’s all pop culture with questionable cultural value, but you can’t dismiss the popularity.
Look at Superman and Lex Luthor. There have been moments where Superman has to use his smarts, but not many compared to how many times he won the day with punching. In one of the classic Superman cartoons, he punches a laser. Lex Luthor, on the other hand, is one of the smartest people in the world but he’s wholly corrupt. Though, Lex Luthor has a point in his distrust of Superman. (Except for in the early comics where his grudge with Superman was that Superman was somehow responsible for making Lex lose his hair). There’s logic to it, even if he is a villain.
I guess what I’m confused about is, what’s the lesson? Not everything needs a lesson and most of the cartoons of my youth were just advertisements for toys, but the theme sinks in. Look at the overall trend in not trusting expertise. There is a divide between the common citizen and experts. There’s a conflict between common sense and science.
I’m not saying that there is a direct correlation. I’m not smart enough to make a claim like that and I’ve done literally no research (and therefore have no evidence). I just find it interesting that the theme still exists and in the middle of a pandemic, when we should be turning to experts in science and medicine, there are large groups of people think that wearing a mask will make them sick.
But, I’m a story teller, not a scientist. What interests me most is the idea of a character who doesn’t follow the unwritten rules and is labeled a cheater. There is an interesting anime that I enjoyed called Rokka, Braves of the Six Flowers. There is a lot going on in the show, but right at the beginning you are introduced to a society that values honour in battle and a protagonist who is willing to do whatever it takes to win. Instead of pitting brawn against brawn, he uses his wits. It’s kind of like Batman, but everyone loves Batman. Though, I suspect the reason for Batman’s popularity lies in him being human in a world of super powerful beings. Again, being the representation of the everyman standing toe to toe with the powerful (or it wouldn’t be too far a stretch to say experts).
I don’t have an answer. I’m not an expert, just an inquisitive person who tries to be openminded. Though, don’t be surprised if, in the future, you see a character of mine labeled a cheater because they use their head to get out of trouble rather than being bigger and stronger. (Maybe, it’s been tough finding the right setting, but the idea is sticking with me so far).