The Films Avatar, Fern Gully, and Pocahontas have the same plotline too. Some men come along, thinking they can take the land and turn a profit. They want to strip everything from it, without any concern over what will happen to its locals. One lone man breaks from the group! The man begins to learn the Native culture so he can trick them into giving everything to him, when suddenly (!) he meets a beautiful woman! She teaches him how wrong his point of view is, they fall in love, and the powerful man saves the poor natives from the group he once was part of.
The point is, we often follow strict archetypes because they make the media more relatable, and a lot of people see these archetypes as "Christian" values. We need to have an everyman. Someone who comes from a humble background, who is suddenly thrust into a role where they have to fight and lead! Suddenly, the protagonist realizes they have to go on a journey or figure out how to fix a problem or do something that everyone else is too scared to do. (Think Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Bella Swan, Frodo Baggins, or any protagonist from a Young Adult dystopian novel). This creates a firm "mold" for our media, that people can readily recognize. They have to see the bad, and the good and help others to see the "right" as well! They fight, sometimes to the death, for their cause to protect the innocent
In the essay we read this week, Brent Jorgensen explains some of these archetypes. He talks about Kenneth Burke's principle of "equipment for living". It's hard to get someone to read the bible to find "Christian Values" but it's easy to get someone to watch a film or read a book. By putting "equipment for living" into movies we learn things in a more accessible way. We have the same themes in so much media because we connect so easily to it. Even if we don't realize that we are picking up something from the media, we learn from the media we consume. Once my friend's car was stuck in her driveway, and we couldn't get it out no matter how much we pushed. Suddenly, I remembered an episode of That 70's show, where Eric's car was stuck on ice and eventually he remembered Red telling him he kept kitty litter in the car to use for traction in case he was ever stuck. Luckily, she had cats, and Red's trick worked! We finally got out of her driveway! It's a silly example but shows that we really can use media as a way to learn.
1. Do you think there are any truly original plot lines?
2. Do you think that when we consume media we, to a point, absorb it's message?
3. Can you think of a time where you used something from a book, movie, or TV show, that got you out of a tough situation? (A time where you used media as Equipment for Living.)