OLD News

569 posts

More Wittering on Divine

So, gods in fantasy fiction.

In real world mythologies, it’s actually fairly rare (though not unheard of) to have a clearly defined "god of [specific thing]." Most gods were, well, messier. Poseidon, god of the sea, right?

Right. Also earthquakes. And HORSES.

Ares and Athena were both war gods, and while they’re definitely different, it’s not entirely clear where one starts and the other ends, influence-wise. Don’t even get me started on Apollo.

And the Greek pantheon was a lot more formal than some.

I mean, it makes sense. We’re looking back at a mythology that developed over a broad area over hundreds of years. Many of the gods evolved, or started as local/tutelary deities that were eventually more widely adopted.

Fiction, however, tends to be neater than reality, and that includes in its religion and mythology. In most fantasy novels or RPGs, the gods are much more tightly defined. Bobeseus is the god of lawnmowers and gardening tools, and nothing else. And nobody else has dominion over the lawn.

And that, too, makes sense. You want something that readers/players can easily identify with and keep track of. And even on the writer’s side of things, it’s just a lot easier to work with way. Cleaner. More efficient.

I’m curious, then, what you prefer as a reader and/or gamer. Are you good with your fictional deities fitting into neat slots? Or would you rather authors make more of an effort to mimic the chaotic feel of real-world myth, even if it comes at the expense of ease of use or efficiency of storytelling?

"Never Again"

Have I just been making false assumptions? Having grown up as a Jew whose grandparents were all Eastern European immigrants, I know that I was educated in the horrors and specifics of the Holocaust more so than your average American child, but I just assumed everyone was taught enough to understand just who and what the Nazis were.

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe part of the problem we’re facing today is that many people don’t understand the term. They just think of it as having a nebulous "bad guy" meaning. Or at worst, "somewhat militant racist."

So I’m going to try this without screaming, just speaking.

The Nazi doctrine has, at its core, not just white supremacy, but the subjugation and annihilation of "lessers." They don’t just want to be in power, they want to lock away or kill everyone not like them. People of color, queer people, disabled people, Jews, Muslims.

They want to kill us.

And it’s not something that was tacked on to an otherwise harmless ideology. It is a core part of the identity.

And they will do it. It’s not empty threat. Twelve million people were murdered over this ideology (and that’s not even counting the soldiers who died fighting it). Shot. Gassed. Starved. Enslaved. Experimented on. (And that’s not counting the soldiers who died fighting them.)

That is the ideology that the modern Nazis have looked at and said, "I want in on that." Whether they’re as organized as the original Nazis, whether they have the capability, is irrelevant. This is what they want. This is what they work toward.

And they were nothing more than a bunch of fringe extremists when they first started in Germany, too.

This is what I shout about on social media. This is why I say that you cannot treat them as just another unpleasant political stance. They are a real threat to so many people. They are a clear and present danger.

And you cannot stand back. You cannot remain neutral. This isn’t about Democrat vs. Republican, or Right vs. Left. This is literally about right or wrong. It is one of the few times in your life you’re going to be in a position where there are no shades of gray, where you honestly and truly have the chance to fight genuine evil.

And so many of you are failing to step up, perhaps because you truly don’t understand, or don’t want to believe. But this is what it is. This is where we are.

Even if you are normally a free speech absolutist, their very ideology is an active threat, something that free speech doesn’t accommodate.

Even if you disapprove of what groups like Antifa do to fight them–and let’s be clear, a lot of what you’ve heard about Antifa is exaggerated or outright false, but even if everything negative said about them were true–it is still your duty to deal with the Nazis first, and worry about lesser wrongs after the fact.

You are being manipulated, by Nazis, and by certain Right-wing elements that mistakenly think they have to ally with Nazis, into remaining neutral. Into not taking sides because the other is "just as bad." They’re not. Nothing is.

In all the confusion and shades of gray of human history, this is one of the few true, genuine, and incontrovertible evils.

And the only way to avoid supporting it is to stand loudly and actively and yes, sometimes maybe even violently, against it.


(Note that I mention several movies, below, to use as examples. I touch on the endings of these particular movies, so watch for spoilers if you haven’t seen them and still plan to: Alien, Life, Drag Me to Hell, Dog Soldiers, Cabin in the Woods).

I find it exceedingly difficult to find new horror to watch/read.

See, my taste in horror runs down some very specific paths. I’m not interested in human-on-human horror, for the most part. Saw, Wolf Creek, any of that. I only tend to like supernatural or sci-fi horror, with a rare few exceptions. Give me It, or zombies, or a xenomorph. Jason only started to interest me after he rose from the dead.

So, okay, narrowing down the field. But there’s still plenty of genre-horror, so why do I have trouble?

It’s because I deeply, deeply dislike hopeless/frustrating endings.

What do I mean by that? I mean any ending where all the protagonists struggles accomplished nothing. Where it’s not only not a happy ending, but basically a nihilistic one.

For some people, that’s the point of horror, and that’s fine. For them. Me? It’s not just that I’m not fond of them, I find them deeply unpleasant on an emotional level.

Drag Me to Hell, for instance. I really enjoyed that movie, right up until the end, where the main character is… Well, it’s in the title. Nothing she did, nothing that happened in the movie, mattered a damn. Or Life. The alien gets to Earth, the final two survivors are about to die either due to the alien or because she’s tumbling helplessly through space, and none of their efforts, none of their struggles, none of the final plan accomplished one. Damn. Thing.

Horror doesn’t have to have a happy ending, of course. (Though I disagree with the premise that it can’t. Some of the best horror movies/novels have them.) But you can have a dark ending that’s still not too dark. Dog Soldiers and Alien both have only a single survivor out of a larger group, but that survivor lives because they succeeded in destroying the threat. I’m fine with that. But if they’d gone with one of the earlier ideas for the ending of Alien, with Ripley having her head ripped off and the xenomorph taking control of the ship, sending messages in fake voices? I’d have hated that movie.

Even Cabin in the Woods, with it’s "old gods rising to destroy humanity" ending didn’t bother me, because it still felt like the main characters accomplished something, were able to fight back against the people who put them in this situation. As I said, doesn’t have to be happy, but I don’t do well with useless/hopeless.

And this simply isn’t a question most reviews answer. You can’t read up on a movie, or a novel, and get a sense of whether the ending’s going to fall into my preferences or not. And even if I go searching and find the answer, it comes with much more detailed spoilers I’d rather not see.

So, yeah. If you ever wonder why I don’t watch/read/talk about horror nearly as much as I do other genres, despite the fact that my fantasy usually has a pretty dark element to it? This is why: Because I have trouble finding any that’s not a serious risk of just pissing me off and making me feel like I wasted my time, no matter how well done it might have been.