23 February 2011
Post 333: Wizard's First Rule
So, we have a fairly typical example of the "Chosen One" trope here. I think most people are probably somewhat familiar with the altered storyline of Goodkind's novels thanks to the Legend of the Seeker show. This mostly made me think about why Chosen One myths and story arcs are so appealing to us.
Really, they're some of the oldest and most popular stories: Hercules, Jesus, Moses, and of course the more modern Neo from The Matrix. Why do we still feel drawn to these stories? Do they fill our need to feel special, like we might one day be the one to fulfill a prophecy? Or do we like the idea of putting the responsibility of saving our asses on one person?
I think I'm going to go with that last one. I don't know many people who actually want to be responsible for saving the world. If that were the case, we'd have a lot more people actually speaking up over atrocities. Somehow we have become comfortable with the idea that we don't really have to worry about fighting off evil unless God or prophecy or something taps us on the shoulder and says, "Hey, you're up." We like these stories because we prefer to have a champion, someone who will fight for us rather than having to do it ourselves and risking our own lives or families or TV time.It's too hard to get involved; most of us don't do anything more intensive than signing our names to a petition. There's nothing wrong with that really, except that how much "evil" has slipped into our political system while we weren't watching?
In some ways, it feels like Obama definitely took advantage of our hopes and dreams for a Chosen One. It felt like he was going to be The One to change the world, to beat the snakes from the grass, and to return us to Better Times. But it doesn't really work that way in real life, does it? Obama can't be the Chosen One because there's no such thing. He's doing what he can in the political situation he's in. We can hope for more, but we shouldn't expect godlike powers and sudden endless prosperity. This is really just one example of many problematic issues that come from the Chosen One mentality.
Sometimes I wonder if we might be better off having never introduced this trope into our storytelling arsenal. It would mean reducing Jesus to a mere mortal and a son of God rather than The Son of God, but maybe that's okay. Maybe we don't need The One to save us (from anything). Maybe we just need a couple of regular people that we can relate to to step up and change the world so we can step up behind them. Why are we so willing to wait for The One when we can be one of many working towards fighting off evil or at least what we perceive as wrong? Should we really ask The One to give all for us when we feel like signing our names is a sacrifice?
And another thing, how many Chosen Ones can you name who are female? I'll give you a head start with She-Ra and Lyra from His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman.
My review can be found at Goodreads.
LibsNote: Copy checked out from my local library.