Myths of Our Age

Corpsey

call me big papa
What does the popular mythology of our time tell us about our time?

('OUR' here admittedly means 'WESTERN CULTURE')

Allowing for the fact that I may be reading into things that don't require reading into:

ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

And apocalypse in general. No doubt this is to do with our fear of global warming, and perhaps also the saturation we experience, via news media, of terrible news. Maybe it's even a sort of utopian idea in disguise? Life has become so complex and tangled up that we would like everything to be reduced to a bare bones survival situation.

Zombies in particular are an interesting cultural phenomenon. Part of it is the joy of being able to shoot people in the head without feeling guilty. I think the rise of zombies in the popular imagination has to do with overpopulation (and again with the media populating our minds with other people even if we live in a hamlet in Surrey). We feel there are multitudes of hostile people 'out there'. This also has a cultural dimension, of course, as vividly illustrated by the recent issues around mass migration from the middle east to Europe. (Katie Hopkins openly fantasising about machine gunning boatloads of migrants.)

Zombies also feature in Game of Thrones, one of the most popular myths of the current era. In fact, as well as being all about dragons and all about backstabbing politicians GoT is all about Climate Change, and the fear of mass migration. Obviously 'The Wall' has become particularly charged as an image in recent years.

SUPERHEROES

YES, this could just be a fad, a consequence of CGI advancing sufficiently to make superheroes seem more credible, but there's surely something in the idea of superpowerful people offering a morally ambiguous way to fight crime/disorder which resonates with us more today than it did in, say, the 90s, when superheroes were less common on the big screen and were basically just camp escapism for kids when they were. The themes of surveillance, terrorism, vigilante justice etc. are of course consciously pursued by films like The Dark Knight and Civil War, but the point is these CAN be pursued without financially harming these movies, and perhaps give them a wider appeal and allow them to make a greater impact than the campy superhero movies of old.

I am rather too ill today to do this thread idea justice, but you get the point and can no doubt improve on it. I was also going to bring up HARRY POTTER, which is in many respects derivative of old myths but, it seems to me, is rather unique in fantasy fiction for DA KIDZ in making direct parallels between its villains and fascism. Again, like GoT, this is a myth which seems to be increasingly resonant in our orrible times.
 
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griftert

Well-known member
The zombie thing, I think, is partly to do with fantasies of a world which has been morally simplified, where in-group unity is possible without illegitimate exclusion or prejudice.
I think also it maybe functions as a kind of 'return of the repressed', a pale version of earlier ways of living low lost. Here ones immediate survival depends upon membership within an egalitarian group structure. Ones everyday activities are focused around meeting the needs of the group; finding food, shelter, etc. In a globalised world, where finding the place one 'fits in' is all but impossible, it again becomes possible to locate onesself within social life once more.
At the same time, there is an escape from the messier, vaguer stresses of modern life . In a way, zombie apocalypse scenarios can be considered as kind of utopian fantasies, the only possible means of transition to a form of life which accords with our 'species-being'.
 

Glacial 718

🍉 🍉 🍉
the zombie thing is interesting. undoubtedly a lot of it has to do with fear of various other groups and alienation from society, but there's countless other disaster/post-apocalyptic scenarios that scratch that itch already.

this is a good somewhat different take on it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iSwAbQD-gZU
 

sufi

lala
I find the whole Zombie meme, and how it's become a standard part of the mythological pantheon, rather scary.

In that it normalises the first-person shooter behaviour where you're wading thru crowds of dehumanised victims wiping them out with your automatic weapon or in ever more creative ways, or is it just me?


(As the man kind of almost says in teh video, though he couches it in a load of unnecessary thinky stuff - i reckon the zombie character has constructed itself in a way that precisely feeds this scenario)
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I definitely think that's a big part of it. Obviously you take away the headshots from Resident Evil and there's not much left. Actually, this was something that didn't occur to me about that Resident Evil game set in Africa, which now I think about it seems full on disturbingly racist. (Playing on Western fears of diseased African hordes. Colonialist really.)

Of course, shooting people has always been a big element of video games and action movies, almost always morally sanctioned by the targets being villainous. It's the same thing with orcs in LOTR, e.g.: you can safely enjoy the spectacle of the heroes carving up dozens of orcs in the knowledge that the orcs are irredeemable bastards to a man/orc.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
From an introduction to Ulysses I just founded highlighted in my kindle.

The human need to make myths is very deep-rooted, since myths are symbolic projections of the cultural and moral values of a society, figurings of its psychic state. The French Revolution, which purported to put an end to all myth-making, instituted the myth of modernity, the notion of perpetual renewal...
I was going to make this thread again, but on Thought, and not just about the myths we find in imaginative fiction (e.g. zombies), but more pervasive myths (e.g. the myth of universal progress, now looking distinctly moth-eaten)
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Again, like GoT, this is a myth which seems to be increasingly resonant in our orrible times.
There's a phenomenon these days (I think it's quite a contemporary thing) of old stories that are (supposedly) relevant to our times being adapted and thus ressurrected. The Handmaid's Tale is what I'm thinking of.
 

woops

is not like other people
the zombie thing is interesting. undoubtedly a lot of it has to do with fear of various other groups and alienation from society, but there's countless other disaster/post-apocalyptic scenarios that scratch that itch already.
what happens to these poster people?
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
I wonder how the vogue for apocalyptic fiction will be affected by COVID-19.

Zombies are often metaphors for viruses, ofc.
 

luka

Well-known member
Staff member
once it happens you probably do away with the need to fictionalise it. i can imagine a lot of people are busily trying to write the happy ending now.
 

Corpsey

call me big papa
Another fascinating thing about myths is that they are both shaped by the real world and shape it.

Obvious example - billionaires (consciously or unconsciously) aspiring to be Tony Stark.
 

WashYourHands

Well-known member
Various manifestations in Twin Peaks. Ep8 from S03 had more contemporary myths of our times than just about anything else in recent years. The bomb as a new fear archetype. Got a light? Ruptured realities. Madness as one of the few responses to an insane world.

Never the most lucid this time of day, granted.
 
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