Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Write Wednesday: Defending Our Favorite Stories

Well...I finally succumbed to a Facebook argument.  ("Discussion")

I make it a point to never pick a fight online -- there's no point (usually).  All it does is cause internet rage, which we all know is absolutely worthless.  So I avoid it.  I avoid politics, religion, and every other heated topic I can so that I don't have to waste time online dealing with trolls, haters and "idjits".


A long time ago, I watched a movie with my friend Stephanie.  I didn't think my sister would like it so we discouraged her but she watched it with us and completely missed the point of the entire beautiful story.  She trashed it and we still argue about it today.  It's a sore topic with me because we're so different that I won't ever be able to explain properly in a way that she'll grasp.

So, my husband posts something about a new musical having to live up to this other particular one that he's loved for years and my sister starts in, whining about his lack of classical education.

...When the musical in question is a retelling of Orpheus and Eurydice.


That did it.

I did not light into her (but I wanted to -- oh, how I wanted to!) but wrote a few paragraphs explaining the movie and what it all means and how there are so many wonderful, beautiful things about it.

She continued this morning with another ridiculous judgment and I wrote a couple more paragraphs concerning certain religious stories, the differences between those who love and those who judge, and generally told her that she was coming at it from the completely wrong direction.

And then (my family, excepting my brother and me, are Potter-haters) I repeated all the things that she purports to like and suggested she'd find all those things in the Harry Potter books (and then proceeded to drop my mic and walk away).

Why is it that we get so emotional about stories that mean something to us?  This particular story is my third favorite film of all time (OF ALL TIME) and it has inspired my husband and myself to be artists.

I am extremely passionate about story, both good and bad.  I don't believe I know everything or have all the right answers, but it does irk me to see (usually intelligent) people failing to grasp the truth and beauty beneath the world's ugliness or a different worldview.

I used to think I wasn't passionate about anything -- I worried that I'd just be one of those people that just drift through life with no aim or purpose -- I'd simply exist.

Then I started watching, listening to, reading and crafting stories -- and I fell even more deeply in love with the concept of stories (books were my constant companions as a child, but when I grew older I discovered an ardent love for serialized storytelling -- TV shows).  Stories have the power to move generations, to uplift, to teach, to inspire, to reach into the future and share our lives with our children.  They are powerful things.

Stories have helped people through depression (Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood in the HP movies), grief and despair (myself and countless others) and have changed the way we see the world (LOTR, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Battlestar Galactica -- the re-imagining of the show, etc.)

I think we have a right to defend stories, to protect the right to craft story, and to educate those who may not be aware of the several levels going on all at the same time in a story.

Have you ever defended a story to someone?  Would you (which one)?  What's your favorite type of story-telling?  And what story has changed your life?


  1. I would, and have, defended Harry Potter (although not as much as I wish I would have. There's several people I would still REALLLLY like to have that conversation with.)

    There's different types of Potter-haters. Some people shy away from anything ultra-popular, other people stay away from things that are super-controversial (a long time ago, my mom didn't want us reading them (I also had no interest in reading them at this point in time), but she didn't claim they were evil; she was worried by things she had read about them, but knew she couldn't make a judgment because she hadn't read them. When I told her they were really good, she read and liked them.) I've had one friend who just thought they were boring and claimed that Harry's friends always fixed everything for him and he never did anything himself (which is just kind of laughable and ridiculous). Those kind of comments don't bother me as much as people who claim that the books are evil and corrupting, especially when those people haven't actually read any of the books. And don't realize that the MAIN THEMES of the story are about love & death, friendship, prejudice, choices, etc.

    I've actually considered MANY times writing a paper defending Harry Potter. Who knows, I still might...

  2. As far as TV shows, Dollhouse is one I would probably defend to people.

    My favorite types of stories always have been, and probably always will be, fantasy novels. My favorite books are: The Silmarillion, the Harry Potter series, The Lord of the Rings, the Abhorsen Trilogy, and The Chronicles of Narnia. Shannon Hale, Margaret Peterson Haddix, and Cameron Dokey are high up there on my author list as well. (I would have to include The Relic and all other books by Preston/Child too; they're an exception because they're just so stinking mysterious and intriguing.)

    There's just something about the way themes are presented in fantasy that makes a huge impact on me. It's hard to even explain. There are people who will understand that and people who won't, and it's very difficult to try to communicate to those who don't just GET it, who don't already see fantasy from the same point of view.

    One thing I've always loved is that you just GET stories the same way that I do. We feel them the same way and get similar things out of them. It's really nice to find people like that. :) People who actually understand WHY you love Harry Potter (or any other book) so much and don't view it as "just a fun read".

  3. That sucks you had to have that kind of argument with your sister. It's one thing to shout it out with strangers online, but definitely a different thing for family to be incapable of understanding something that is so important to your life.

    I once wrote a blog post defending The Golden Compass. It was when the movie just came out, and there were a lot of Christians who were upset about Pullman and his atheism. Supposedly he wrote his books to undermine the perniciously Christian influence of The Chronicles of Narnia in today's unsuspecting youth.

    When I read Pullman's trilogy, I did notice some generally blasphemous ideas: God isn't really the creator but only the first created thing; God can die; the Fall was a good thing. But because I brought my own faith into the stories, I was able to experience from them, all unbeknownst to Pullman, expressions of my own Christian faith.

    Lyra's relationship with her daemon Pan helped me to understand the experience of a conversational friendship with the Holy Spirit. Will is a stunning example of courage and honor in a society that barely recognizes those as virtues any more.

    I think Pullman has a rich idea of what goodness is. Just because he calls it by the wrong name, it doesn't mean we can't learn from the way truth and beauty manifest themselves in his stories. Cause they're there.

  4. Really fantastic comments, you two! I might do a follow-up post...