29 August 2009

Storytelling, Updated

This summer, I had another stunning realization. (What this means is, I either heard it before, forgot, and then thought I invented it, or I really did figure it out on my own, hundreds of years after someone else already did). My momentous decision is this: the hero a la Joseph Campbell is dead. Thus began the slow accumulation of thoughts that would someday become a blog post.

It all crashed down last Sunday as Em and I got into a movie: The Chaos Experiment. In and of itself, it was an okay film, sort of a formulaic horror/thriller, the premise being six people are locked in a huge steam room. Like any horror/thriller, the sexy stuff comes early on, but soon shifts into "Oh, shit. Let's forget how aroused we are, because we are all doomed."

The best part of the film is the lead role, played by Val Kilmer. He's the anti-hero, the guy who locked people in a steam room. But he did it for the good of all humankind, you see. He did it to get newspaper headlines so he can warn everyone about the human plunge into global warming, for which 2012 will mark catastrophe.

So it's Val Kilmer I can thank for realizing that the hero isn't dead. Our heroes have just been complicated. Because we construct heroics based on our egos, our growing understanding of each other's egos only complicates matters. It could be that as our society becomes more complex in its operations, our egos have also become more complex to keep up. Regardless the reason, knowing that we're all similar (despite what our egos suggest about each other), the "good vs. evil" motif is no doubt becoming a relic of the past, of a time when light was good and darkness was evil. Therefore, any story clearly portraying "good vs. evil" is an exaggeration of the human condition. Either this is done for the sake of art, or the storyteller is trying to serve his own ego up as the truth.

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