Death= Redemption.

I got the idea from this from a comment conversation I had under my last post. I have been thinking about writing it for a while, so let’s talk tropes.

Although this trope is not exclusive to anime, as I’m sure all of us have seen it in movies and shows, anime uses it a lot.

Correction: anime pretends its going to use it a lot.

All us weaboos know the annoyance of animes that pretend they’ll kill everyone all the time, and then never kill anyone…except that one person you were kind of rooting for to make it. (sniff, Pyrrha.)

Then there’s Death Note where everyone dies.. (I don’t watch it.)

Well, I don’t care if nobody dies, I just hate being lied to and faked out so many times.

Naruto is almost sadistic about killing characters, it will inform you a character died a whole two or three seasons in advance, and then bring in the character later for a side arc, or flashbacks, and show them being cute and lovable and ready to actually be happy…and then they show your them dying, alone…(I’m still salty about The Bubble Guy Utaeka, I think.)

But, sometimes villains die, and they might stay dead, and then you have the redemption arc.

Anime accomplishes the arc part usually with flashbacks, while American media tends to either show you the villains in the beginning of the film and hint at a possible redemption, or maybe drop small hints throughout the movie or show, and then they have the death be a surprise.

Anime rarely makes it a surprise, by the  time they’ve actually died you’ve been watching for like, three episodes, or seen half a dozen flashbacks dragging it out.

Anyway, before I get into the meaning of it, I wanted to point out that not every redemption death is for a villain. Sometimes it’s a good character who left the fight, screwed up royally, or never committed to actually helping until that point. They aren’t a villain, sometimes they are a chaotic neutral, if you will, but they choose to sacrifice themselves and end up a hero.

The most infamous example of this in America may be Darth Vader from Star Wars, everyone loves that redemption moment of self sacrifice.

Often in kids media, its common that the character not actually die. In The Little Mermaid, Arial’s father sacrifices himself without dying exactly, (but I always found it much more horrifying to be turned into a worm-thing than just straight-up dying.) Or they will appear to die, but end up being okay.

Anyway, the kinds of characters you’ll see get a redemption death are usually villains who were shown to have a human side, maybe a person they still loved, even more likely if the person is the hero, take Thor and Loki’s back and forth relationship in the Avenger movies; another common one is bad parents who couldn’t seem to get it up until then, but show they love their kids by dying for them (Darth Vader); also the mentors or sage characters who failed to stop the villain make a sacrifice to give the heroes more time to figure it out. That’s even in The Lego Movie.

MHA has used this trope in a slightly different way, equating losing your powers with dying, for a hero, in a way. Thereby adding a weight to their fights that actually has a longer lasting impact on the show itself, not just the characters, because it means they can no longer use that character as a fail safe.

So why is this so  common?

The simple answer is that it’s easier to use death to create sympathy for the character and often it just doesn’t seem practical for a villain to survive, they would just go to prison or die anyway, why not let it be a blaze of glory instead?

But mechanics aside, I think there’s a deeper reason this is used so often.

The thing about tropes is, people mock them, but the reason they are so common is because they reflect meanings about real life that people feel to be true. Romantic tropes mirror what happens in real life, Chosen One tropes mirror the feeling of purpose we all want to have, and fallen Hero tropes mirror the knowledge we have of our own human weakness.

The Death=Redemption Trope is no different, it mirrors a feeling human beings have that death is somehow the only thing that can make up for our sins.

The Bible says “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” For thousands of years that meant animal blood, so that people could be pardoned. After Jesus came and died, His blood was enough to cover all men throughout time.

Fiction has felt this truth, whether the authors admit it or not, and that is why villains die so often to redeem themselves. somehow death seems to be the only way to blot out the memory of their evil.

Anime is interesting here, because as I pointed out in my last post, it has many bad guys who end up living. And without fail, those bad guys feel they must atone for their sins.

See, when the death part does not happen, the good guys are faced with the much more complicated problem of still remembering what the bad guys did and having that reminder in front of them. Even if the bad guys are sorry, the good guys may have a hard time seeing past that, sometimes they do not want to. Like Katara with Zuko on Avatar.

If the villain is dead, you can’t punish them anymore anyway. Only rarely will a character obsess over not getting to kill the villain.

Plus, dying for someone is just so hardcore noble, that it can challenge the heroes to think maybe the villain was never as evil as they thought. a lot of shows choose to later reveal that the villain did some good things along the way, often that they even help the heroes by leaving clues as to how to solve future problems.

Naruto did this with Itachi Uchiha…I hated it…

Now that I’ve discussed why this is so common, the better question is, does it work?

IS it good to send this message?

The answer is yes and no.

While death=redemption can be a beautiful way to symbolically show how we need to die to our sin, and how “greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (-Jesus) there is one problem I see with it.

The whole point of fiction is to be symbolic. Sometimes when shows try to break down too much if death really equal redemption, then you have to start being more realistic.

The discussion then becomes “Should you have to kill yourself in order to be redeemed? Isn’t there a better way than that?”

Fairy Tail did this over and over again, and nearly always concluded on the side of life. But one time, at the end, they had Irene, the mother of Erza, kill herself because she did not trust herself and wanted to prevent herself from falling to the temptation to use Erza or her friends again.

When this happens it’s similar to Jesus telling us that if our right eye causes us to sin, pluck it out. If you really jsut cannot control yourself, then it’s better to lose an eye.

The bible is not saying self mutilation is a good idea. It’s saying that if we view sin that seriously, then we will put that kind of effort into getting free of it.

But we do not have to die fro our sins.

In the real world, this questions is also prevalent in our legal system. Should we just imprison people? Or should we kill them? Can’t anyone be redeemed? The real thought behind the more merciful system in America is that men can turn their lives around. But some men don’t, so we still need the Death Sentence.

Of course, Christians know that men on the verge of death for their sins have been saved, the thief on the cross is the most famous example. It happens nowadays too, in prisons and hospitals alike. But they still die.

The Bible does not seem overly concerned with whether men die in the body or not, as long as they are alive spiritually. That is, it is pro-life, but holds biological life as second in importance, if you follow God. And if you die immediately after accepting Christ, you are not the loser by any means.

Basically, with God, no one has to die for their sins, but some people still will because men cannot know for certain when there’s a change of heart, but that death is just of the body and not seen as a punishment to the christian anymore.

That said, you could say Death=Redemption really hangs on how well the villain understood why they were changing. You have to feel that, had they lived, they would have kept changing, not that they died out of some unhealthy, spur-of-the -moment, self hatred.

Dying for love is the preferred reason. And the one that reflects the most what Jesus did for us.

Though nonchristians may deny that, I don’t know anyone who hates this trope. It seems to be written into our psyches to see meaning in self-sacrifice. I know a YouTube reviewer who will give a movie a win every time there is a self-sacrifice in it.

Death is a tricky subject in fiction where death can be undone. Or prevented in ways we in the real world can only dream of.

Did they have to die? Does their death truly atone for their sins?

Death is all that can atone for sins, but yet, if they keep on living, can they live free?

Most often the answer is, they have to learn to love, to be a good person, to change.

Christianity ties these two things together by having a way to die before you die, to die to your sinful self, and to live in Christ.

As crazy as that sounds, the proof is in the pudding, more people become good because of Christianity than any other reason I know of. Throughout history, the bad kids, the rebels, the slaveholders, the cruel, the arrogant, have made 180 degree turns because of Christianity. Whole countries have changed over it. They still are.

In closing, there was one time Naruto did something with this idea that I thought was profound. When Gaara, a former murder/demon possessed person tried to learn about love, he later got kidnapped and killed in order to steal his power. He lost the demon (thank goodness)but also his life. But then a woman who had stuck him with the demon to begin with gave her life in order to resurrect him, with a little help from Naruto himself. Gaara is essentially given a new life, someone else’s life, and able to live free from then on. No longer needing to worry about losing control.

Easily one of the best examples I’ve seen, up there with Frozen.

Until next time–Natasha.

 

 

 

The Element of Wisdom–2

My sister suggested I do a follow-up post about Wisdom in stories, and after looking it over, I do think there is more to say:

I used Pyrrha Nikos as an example of a wise character, and one who caused wiser writing decisions.  ( see post here –https://drybonestruth.wordpress.com/2019/07/05/the-element-of-wisdom)

But the question I didn’t really answer was What does Wise storytelling actually look like?

We know what it doesn’t look like.

Often, I think writers sometimes make wise decisions that are misunderstood by fans. Mostly by the nitpicking ones.

I’ve seen analysts actually complain that a story had too much of a message, and that it should blur the lines between right and wrong.

In fact, some fans are defending the new Star Wars movies on just such grounds, that they made it more grey.

It might be best to make a distinction then between worldly wisdom and godly wisdom.

Worldly Wisdom: It is wisdom that consists of knowing how to work the system, how to get what you want, how to climb and succeed in this society. How to not be duped by scammers. Worldly Wisdom can look like caution and common sense, but the one thing it can almost never look is Unselfish. Even when it says it is helping you, you are really helping it.

“Here we go again, give it one more try, don’t believe the system’s on your side”–Switchfoot, Rise Above It.

Worldly Wisdom can be good in small amounts (running a successful business is no sin,) but it must be tempered with other virtues, or it makes you into a selfish, arrogant, cynic.

Godly Wisdom: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 8:10) this wisdom is based on knowing right from wrong. It focuses on the meaning of things.

“Do you ponder the manner of things? In the dark?”–Glitter and Gold.

Proverbs is the book of the Bible that talks the most about Wisdom, and it always connects it to being able to do what is right, and to happiness.

Interesting then, that Solomon, the wisest man in the old testament, also wrote Ecclesiastes. The most pessimistic book in the Bible. In it, he admits that he turned his heart from God, and found that every other thing was, in the end, empty.

He would have been better off living a simple, hardworking life, he thinks. Like the Happy Peasant, but even this, he says, is vanity.

Eccl 12:1, 8-11, 13-14 “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come… Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher, “All is vanity.”

And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd.

 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.  For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.”

Solomon wrote proverbs and they were good, he says, but they are like goads to drive us forward and like nails that hold things in place.

Wisdom, one might conclude, is about limitation. Knowing how to control yourself, how to stay away form evil, having a compass.

There is something about doing right that I find very few people outside of Christianity seem to understand. There are traces of it in the idea that it is better to give than to receive, which people still embrace, but not much place else.

People in the bible speak of doing good like it is their greatest pleasure, David says he delights himself in God’s commandments.

People tend to assume this means being a prude, a stickler for rules, maybe even OCD about them.

But this is not about panicking if rules are broken. Rule lovers can be more stressed out than rule breakers, we all know that.

This is about literal joy in doing what is good. In knowing what is good.

I pity people who do not know what that joy feels like. It is no coincidence that this pluralistic society is also a depressed one.

Depression has always followed moral depravity, because people miss that Goodness itself is the greatest joy, and that is why good people are so reluctant to step out of it.

Think of your favorite show, and if it has a character that the fandom world calls “pure”, that character is almost always a happier, cheerful one.

Proverbs 8:35 says “For whoever finds me [wisdom] finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord.”

Proverbs also repeatedly says that wise children will make their parents rejoice.

Happy in the man who finds wisdom, and the man who gains understanding.” (Prov 3:13 emphasis mine.)

A hallmark of a wise character, or writer, is that they will bring gladness to the story they are in.
Pyrrha certainly did this, watching her made me feel uplifted about my own life.
A wise writer delights their readers with the rightness of their decisions. “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” (Prov 25:11)
Happy events come because of wise characters, or they speak comfort or inspiration to other characters that gives them strength to go on.
Wisdom is life: Wise characters are usually the ones who make the choices that lead to saving people.
It can even be saving their heart, as MHA says, it can be talking them off the ledge, talking them our of doing something evil.
Showing mercy where mercy was needed.
Wisdom also brings about justice: You know the characters who can lay a verbal smack down on someone who is acting up, can decide how to stop a problem, and can dole out a fair punishment, if they have to.
Wisdom is knowing how to handle people, but godly wisdom is knowing how to do this in a way that will promote their well being.
In writing, an author has to be unselfish. It can be easy to use our characters to make your readers happy, with zero regard for how much it actually helps the characters or the story.
Analysts complain about a lack of continuity in shows and movie series mostly because it services the author more than the characters to be inconsistent. I can think of a few times where ignoring the past and doing something different helped a story  *cough XMen *cough. But usually it doesn’t.

 

There is also pandering, which is a huge problem with popular shows. Especially in anime.

Fans can push for wise decisions, but a lot of the time they are only thinking about what they want, and not what is best for the story.

It may seem silly to say fictional characters deserve some consideration, but I’ve never noticed any discrepancy with how writers treat fictional and real people.

Charles Dickens was known to not treat real people very well, and his characters he treated even worse.

People who work at loving other people tend to write stories than incorporate that theme. Hannah Hurnard is one example. So is C. S. Lewis.

And my values of helping people be the best person they can be are certainly reflected in all forms of my writing, including this blog.

So when I say writers need to be unselfish with their characters and story, I mean it quite seriously.

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All this is wisdom.

Until next time–Natasha

Fandoms–what the heck?

One follower away from 100! Whoo! No pressure.😉

Okay, so I want to talk about Fandoms a little bit, because fandoms are the perfect illustration of this verse I was just reading.

(Read the lesser known books of the Bible sometime, it’ll blow your mind what’s in there. My mom likes to say there are hidden gems.)

I was reading Titus, literally, the whole thing (it’s three short chapters).

Chapter 1, verse 15 says: “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled.”

I quote the first of it a lot, but I didn’t know the rest.

My siblings and I are, or have been, part of quite a few fandoms, and I can date my first real experience of realizing that people are fans of things for a wide variety of reasons when I started watching Justice League Unlimited again online.

And whoa, mama, I found some messed up stuff in the comment section.

I’ve mentioned this before. You know, a lot of people say not to read the comment section, even under your own videos. I don’t have this problem yet, but I follow plenty of YouTubers who do.

It’s kind of sad really. I almost can’t blame those who disable the comments on their videos.

I’m just going to be blunt here. The number one thing I find in a lot of comments, but especially superhero ones is: SEX, SEX, SEX, Gay, homo, lesbian, incest…yeah, that last one is especially disturbing.

I’m scared because my 8 year old cousin already knows this stuff, though she’s too young to enjoy it, she know there are sick people like that our there. Goodness knows her parents aren’t going to explain to her.

Anyway, since then I’ve found this problem in every fandom. But what puzzled me is that these people show up in the most innocent, kid friendly of places. Shows you’d think they wouldn’t bother watching, or movies, or even books. Usually you expect perverts to look for stuff marketed to them.

What I had to realize was that there is actually a thrill they get out of spoiling innocent things. They know as well as the rest of us what was intended…they just don’t care.

Likewise, we’ve all been around that rare gem of a person who is exposed to something messed up and is completely unaware of what they are seeing. I’ve been that person. I envy them now, though usually, it’s still me.

And that perfectly illustrates the verse above. To the pure all things are pure. To the defiled, everything that goes into their mind becomes defiled, and they do not even have a conscience about it anymore.

I wish I could say it was unbelievers alone who were like this, I’d expect even a person of a different religion than me to have standards based on that religion, but religious people of any faith are just as likely to do this.

In fact, some of them are more likely. The reason is that, as kids, we were given a high standard. (A good standard usually. I have no problem with plenty of the values of even Islam. They are at least trying to do a good thing.)

When we get older we find out just how few people agree with us, we get into “worldly” stuff…and often its not the material that does it, even in this corrupt age (all ages are corrupt in their own way) I’d say over 50% of popular media is still trying to teach some kind of moral. And even shows that teach morals I don’t usually agree with are at least encouraging moral thinking, not sexual thinking. I can’t stand environmental shows, but I prefer that to nothing but sex and crude humor. What a no brainer right?

No, what does it is finding out that most (or it can feel like most) of the people watching it are just doing it to get their thrills.

So religiously raised kids get cynical, we cease to believe people look for value at all, and our commentary on these things becomes full of bitterness and what we expect people to point out.

I could begin naming names here, but I don’t think it would be fair. I’m sure you’ve seen it yourself and don’t need me to give an example of one of my people I know.

Basically, if you watch any kind of commentary, or participate in discussion with friends, you’ve met this person.

And it’s in humor too.

And these people are also who Paul is talking about in Titus, he’s writing about religious people when he says that verse. Because by overthinking ever little thing, and assuming corruption in other people, they have corrupted themselves.

I’d like to say this very clearly: If you constantly assume the worse motives of other people, you will begin to have those motives yourself.

It’s in another book where we are admonished to rebuke people carefully of sin, lest we also be tempted.

With this, you won’t be tempted by the obvious sin, if it’s there at all, you’ll be tempted by assuming it…and in assuming it, you’ll think of it more than the person you’re assuming about will.

I have to confess I do this too. But I am glad I don’t do it all the time, I can still enjoy some things purely. But the more I listen to people like that , the harder it gets.

It’s easy to write off entire fandoms (and fandoms are just one example of a people group, so it applies to any group of people you know) as corrupt because the ones who are are the loudest.

But the bible warns us of this also, in Proverbs it often tells us that fools will be loud and overt about their folly because they do not have the sense to be ashamed of it, while the wise are quieter about it, often. And wait to be asked. Or the wise offer only part of their opinion until pressed for more.

And in fandoms, I can attest to the fact that the more reserved commentators and analysts tend to have the best stuff. The loud ones can either be empty headed, or… gross.

Of course, if you have a loud personality, it does not make you a fool. It’s more of a rule when the person may be weirdly quiet about the good stuff.

(To me a red flag is if the person says nothing during the lesson or emotional moments, and gets way too excited about stupid or inconsequential gags. Or even worse, sees an emotional moment and immediate goes for the gay joke.)

At that point, their analysis is basically worthless I think. It’s a cheap gag.

I’m lucky to have siblings who enjoy thins for most of the same reasons I do and will encourage me to look at the best, otherwise I think all I would see sometimes is that bad stuff.

I think, if you’re like me, you may be wondering how to avoid getting burned by all this stuff.

I do not have a perfect answer yet. But I know that focusing on what you love, on the good stuff, is the best way to forget about the bad.

And watching your influences. Maybe you can’t get away from all of them, but as far as YouTube goes, I’ve found it helped a lot to search for positive reviewers, and clean ones. Or ones who actually think, for goodness sake.

And outside of fandoms, there are other people who corrupt everything they talk about. It may be better to just not hang around them.

But there are some who do it only because they were never taught anything else. Or, like many kids I’ve known, were not given a standard at all. Often they will change if they simply see something better demonstrated.

And to the pure, even a relationship in real life becomes pure. It all depends on your motives. As long as you also use common sense and set boundaries.

I think this song put it well, I had it playing while writing this:

“This is my brand new day starting now, I let go of the things that weigh me down, and rob me of the beauty that’s to be found, in life all around.

And this is my prayer without ceasing, the negative releasing, and as I rise above, my burden is easing.

I bring the pure flow water around, the rocks of life won’t hold me down.

I bring the pure flow, drink so deep, the river of life, my soul at ease.”–Superchick, Pure.

Until next time–Natasha.

Better Off Alone?

You know that moment when you’re reading a comment thread and you think to yourself “50% of this is talking more about the cute couples then the message.”

I’ve written about shipping recently, and defended certain kinds of ships as enhancing the story, but I didn’t really talk about the question of whether or not shipping should even exist.

I figured, it’s not like it’s going anywhere, but I’ve been seeing a few people saying they are so done with it. They are sick of all the arguing. It’s funny how seriously people take it too, I won’t argue that. Especially the most unrealistic ones.

This burn out on shipping has more, I believe, to do with a very real question, wrapped up in a lot of fictional characters: The question of whether anyone needs a significant other to be a full, functional human being.

A lot of romantic songs dwell on needing another person. Old movies are mocked for their inclusion of female leads who sing about how they need a man to be happy.

Even Disney’s Hercules, which many people like because the female lead was NOT looking for love, has a whole song devoted to making it clear she still wanted it, and denied her feelings out of fear.

I’m sure I could fine more mainstream adult movies with examples of a similar thing.

IT doesn’t matter how seemingly self-sufficient your female lead is, she’ll end up with a man 99.9% of the time.

And you know if she doesn’t, it’ll be discussed in the movie.

I could call out the serious double standard here, since it’s more common for the male lead to stay alone, especially in older movies, or to get the girl as some kind of prize.

Actually what really bothers me is how often the woman was a total idiot. Like in Crocodile Dundee, ick.

The same is true of old books, in fact, it might be more true of books than movies, which have more pressure to be “progressive.”

But the solution I see younger people falling back on, and feminists push them to do it, is to simply say “Well, a woman doesn’t need a man to be happy.” It’s usually a woman do, the man clearly needs someone to balance him out.

And hey, I won’t argue with that. But I think the portrayal of women has gotten to be a little unfair.

They tend to be shown as these top-notch, independent, brave, and above all tough and emo-like characters. I could just use kids movies, and I’ll find you that character in almost any of them. From The LEGO Movie, to Big Hero 6, to The Avengers, (in fact, every single female lead in the Avengers was basically the same character for quite a while.)

Why would a character like this need a man?

Especially when their male companion is usually goofy, clueless, and hot headed? Or a wimp.

You can feel, even if it’s never said, that the woman is just basically putting up  with his nonsense because he’s cute.

Talk about a role reversal.

Now, as true as that might be to real life, is it any less true that men have to do the same thing with women?

And the girls I know, though I can’t speak for anyone else, are not anywhere near being as put together as these feminist archetypes.

The truth is, both the old way men were portrayed and the way women are portrayed now, involves a suspension of reality. They are shown as unbreakable, because society tends to worship the unbreakable, we don’t always care whether it’s a him or her, so long as the right qualities are there.

And the real situation is that the qualities I listed above are far more likely to be shared between two above average people in a relationship, then found exclusively in one of them.

And it’s because of that unrealistic portrayal that people are able to say “Well she doesn’t need a man,”

Let me speak some truth sister, (or brother), if they were shown how they really are, how you really are, you’d be more likely to wonder if they deserved a man, let alone if they needed one.

If you on your worst day is not a fate you wish to spare people, then you aren’t honest with yourself. We do stuff that drives people crazy.

However, I’m not saying we should think that we are better off alone because we suck. Other people do things that suck too. The idea of being together, is that we are better together, the sum of our good becomes our new identity.

That is actually what marriage is supposed to be, and by extension, a dating relationship should be growing toward that ideal.

Way back in Genesis 2, God said “It is not good for man to be alone.” The Bible goes on in other books to say that two are better than one, and that we need tor ely on each other.

It’s not hard to figure out, if you read the bible, that God is in favor of relationships.

So it is the height of pride to claim we do not need each other.

Not everyone is meant to get married, it’s true. But I think most people are, because we were designed for that.

We should not be voting for people, real or imaginary, to be single. Because it ignores the truth that we are not good alone. It’s deceiving ourselves to tell ourselves that.

Being alone is freaking hard, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I am not alone in my house, but I still feel lonely. I’m old enough to be dating or getting married. And I’m not ashamed to admit that’s a need.

The question is of timing, not of necessity.

I would not be good alone for very long.

Anyway, I think this all goes back to humility. Letting go of our obsession with the unbreakable human being stereotype. If you are unbreakable, you’re as cold and hard as rock.

Or, you’re too soft to break. Like clay. Humility is what gets us there. And relationships are what get us humility. Unless you know another way…

Until next time–Natasha.

My sister found this hilarious song/clip about relational expectations, check it out for a good laugh at yourself:

The Resurrection Arc.

Hey fiction buffs! You’ve heard of character arcs before, but did you know there’s different kinds?

Yeah, probably if you read or watch any TV show that’s fictional, you knew that. I’m simply being dramatic.

You might know of arcs (and for you non-buffs, an arc is how a character or plot develops from one point, usually an immature one, to another, usually a better, wiser one. Typically the arc is what shows us the point of the whole story, but there are negative arcs that show one good guy turning bad, or a good guy slowly giving up on their cause. These are the bad example arcs that are meant to be a warning.) But have you heard of a Resurrection Arc?

Most arcs follow a pattern and this one does too. It’s actually pretty widely used, but since it is often misused, and people are now knocking it, I thought I’d write a defense of it.

All arcs are meant to change the characters and show them something they did not see before. Some arcs are a part of the plot and the characters learn by dealing with the challenges of that part. That’s what category I put a resurrection arc into.

A lot of things kick off arcs. The most famous is getting a challenge like being chosen for something, or the sadder common catalyst is a character losing someone close to them. Sometimes just witnessing a tragedy is enough to do it, other times the character has to lose their soulmate for their arc to begin.

However, there’s another really cool thing that kicks of some arcs. And it’s a resurrection. A resurrection can happen one of two ways. Either it’s a character literally coming back from the dead, or from being almost dead, or they just thought they were and it turns out they weren’t; or something else can be restored to a character that they felt they lost. In fiction especially this can mean a gift or power, or it can mean a belief in something they had lost faith in. It’s popular now for a memory to also be something that helps a character in this way.

In older stories resurrection is often just straight up someone’s coming back to life. This theme appears in fairy tales way more that we realize. Often it’s intertwined with redemption. Many of Anderson’s lesser known stories involve resurrection, and even his most famous ones that have had those elements removed in the retelling.

In modern fiction Death has an oddly compelling presence. Take “The Fault in Our Stars,” or almost any dystopia fiction now. Death is everywhere, often very young people are obsessed with it. (Funny that it’s often older people writing this stuff.) I always loved life, I was happy when nobody died. I considered “The Lion King” a sad movie, (and that part still is.) But of course, Mufasa isn’t really gone, and that can be part of a resurrection arc. Realizing that death isn’t so powerful. It’s why you won’t see this arc in the death-shadowed stories I just mentioned, unless it’s in some twisted, unholy way. Frankenstein’s monster is no example of resurrection, just to be clear.

Life wins out in the end, and love. That’s the message of resurrection arcs in a nutshell. But the complaint, which I’m sick of hearing, is that they don’t create lasting stakes.

Since the Avengers franchise took off, fans have been growing dissatisfied with happy, everyone’s alive, stories (like they don’t all hate it when their friendly neighborhood Spiderman gets knocked off, please.) While I find the constant whining about it to be stupid, I do note that there’s something to be said for making things a bit more realistic.

It’s not that no one dies that really bugs me, it’s that no one gets hurt for very long, no one loses anything in their lives, and no one seems to be affected for longer than two films by any traumatic experience. Also I fail to see character growth even when they are.

In truth, whether characters live or die has nothing to do with depth. Action flicks that kill off henchmen by the dozens aren’t known for being deep. And Chick flicks that don’t kill anyone, or else do it in a more drawn out, romantic way, aren’t necessarily shallow. The Notebook is dumb for most of the movie, but the ending always gets to me because it is saying something profound about love.

That said, I think people who knock resurrection arcs are missing their potential. It’s not always a cheap cop-out to have a character not stay dead. In fact, often it’s a very good catalyst for growth in both them, and everyone else.

When a characters is resurrected, everyone has to reconsider what life and death means to them. They have to ask themselves what they are willing to sacrifice, and what they aren’t. But most of all, it changes the dynamics of how they see the antagonists. Maybe there are things more powerful than whatever the evil stands for.

As for the character who comes back themselves, they get a chance to change things about their lives that maybe only losing them gave them the clarity to do. Or they impart some wisdom on the other characters that they couldn’t before. Resurrection means restoration.

If we no longer like that, it is because we have grown more hopeless. It’s more cool now to just accept the crap in you life and deal with it, then it is to hope for a change. People encourage you to give up on hoping for others to change, for things to turn around. Be the force, they say. Well, that’s fine in its place. But what about when your force isn’t enough?

What about when all the kick-rear skills in the world won’t save you? What about when you’re losing heart and nothing else will help? What about when someone simply can’t save themselves?

Resurrection is what solves this, and nothing else can. It’s a restoring of life and hope and faith to someone who had lost heart. It’s the only thing that makes redemption fully possible. Because though a death may redeem someone, it only sticks if life comes out of it.

Resurrection, in the end, is what breeds humility. What engraves the inevitability of our own need for someone to intervene on our behalf into our souls. By overcoming mortality, it reminds us of it.

It’s not cheap. It’s often the hardest thing to do well.

I for one will never get tired of this arc, until next time–Natasha.

Cloak and Dagger.

My mom says Summer shows are ones the producers don’t think will go over well so they get them out of the way in Summer and launch major shows in the fall.

If that’s the case I understand better why Marvel launched a show about virtually unheard of teen heroes this year, but I thought it looked kind of cool notwithstanding. I wan’t concerned about it being smaller scale, honestly I thought Marvel could use a welcome dose of moderation…unfortunately I did not get that with this show.

If you happen to have heard of it and been curious, I can tell you all you need to know about it to decide not to watch it.

I can’t really list any positives with this show other than the main characters are good actors, and the special effects on on par with Marvel’s other movies, there was one episode that was truly good, number seven, it’s the only one I could recommend. But you’d not understand it without seeing the previous ones, and they are not worth it.

In addition to the standard creepy voodoo and unnecessary sex scenes, this show features one of the worst characters ever: Tandi. The girl lead.

Oh my gosh, Tandi is the worst.  She makes Deadpool look like someone with moral consistency.

Throughout the course of the season Tandi establishes herself as a gifted liar, a thief who drugs rich kids after faking going to have sex with them and then takes their valuables, a drug addict who hates her mom’s boyfriend, and a homeless girl with suicidal thoughts.

If that wasn’t enough to make you dislike her, she constantly lies to and manipulates Tyrone, her only friend, who she met by scamming anyway. Tyrone actually cares about her, but with seemingly no concern and some apparent satisfaction Tandi steals from him and hi parents after faking coming over out of concern for him on the anniversary of his brother’s death. She doesn’t bother to return the stuff after she’s done using it for an investigation, and Tyrone remains blissfully unaware of it. Poor fellow.

Tandi is a selfish jerk and no mistake. Tyrone can always rely on her to fail him when he needs her most. She’ll make the selfish choice and then run from the consequences. She has the gall to chew him out for his own issues, and her apology later seems to be just to get him to do as she wants.

To make matters worse, for whatever bizarre reason, Tandi is one of the two chosen to protect the world with her gift, a shimmering dagger and the ability to touch people and see their hopes. You’d think this would give her sympathy for people, but she uses this gift for her own purposes to try to find whoever was responsible for destroying her dad’s good name. (Tandi’s life being defined by losing her father in a tragic accident.) She sees all sorts of people’s hopes, some of them quite repulsive I might add, and takes a kind of sick delight in being able to intrude.

When Tyrone suggest that that might be crossing a line Tandi responds with “The world has been stealing from me my whole life, it’s time I stole some of it back.”

At this point I wanted to slap her. “Oh yeah Tandi, you have a house, you had a boyfriend before you ditched him, you had a car, you have food, and if you had wanted you could’ve earned your way through school because anyone with your skill at lying to people to get hired could get a freaking job! But no, you’ve lived by drugging and stealing from people who never did zip to you! And the world has stolen form you!? Get over yourself!”

Seriously, her dad’s death was an accident and was partly his own fault anyway, people survive worse tragedies without becoming psychos. As Tryone points out “Would your dad be proud of what his little girl has become?”

To top it all off, Tandi finds out her dad sometimes smacked her mom around, and immediately decides to forget about clearing his name and to cease to believe in him and to feel justified in being selfish because clearly she can’t trust anyone.

Talk about a victim mentality.

Tyrone is a lot more likable. He does kind things and is a better friend to Tandi than she’s ever been to anyone. He’s the real hero of the show, and sadly if you’re familiar with his comic story, he’s actually stuck with an instability due to his power that would make him go to the dark side if it wasn’t for Tandi’s power counterbalancing. Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if she was the type of person I could picture caring about him.

Now, the show really wants you to believe that there’s more to Tandi than meets the eye, even after she’s repeatedly proven that she’s a terrible person, but it has other problems. The overall tone of the show is way darker than most of Marvel material, and that’s with a lower body count. It has this theme of hopelessness, and nobody on it really being truly good, though Tyrone does come through most often. But from cops to parents, the show screws everyone’s rose colored image of the people in their life, and for what reason we don’t know. the show just believes people are incurably evil.

Which as someone who believes in original sin, I might have to agree with. Without God and love, people are incurably selfish. But people still have goodness int hem, and when any show or movie is determined to erase all traces of that by giving everyone a Freudian selfish reason for whatever they do, I question whether it’s really trying to be about heroes.

This show seems to be cash-grabbing by using Marvel’s name as an excuse to let their own sick minds run wile. Because who the heck comes up with stuff like this unless their own world view is skewed?

Now, you may wonder, would someone who likes darker stuff like this show?

No. Unless your really really like dark stuff. Even if you’re a fan of evil characters, this show would not satisfy you; if you like antiheroes, it won’t satisfy; and if you like heroes, you definitely won’t be satisfied.

I’m serious, it’s not even worth it to make fun of it. Just avoid this show, it deserve to go under, but I do with Tyrone’s actor the best of luck making it into an actual Marvel movie.

Until next time–Natasha.