upside down

Has anyone noticed the “untold stories” trend? Has anyone noticed that these “untold stories” often turn a story on its head, and, in so doing, make the traditionally-viewed “good guy” into the “bad guy”?

For instance, the earliest one I can recall is Wicked. Wicked told us the untold story behind the famous tale of The Wizard of Oz, and we learned that, in actuality, the WICKED WITCH of the West was not really wicked at all and had been kind of cheated and mistreated her whole life and gotten all kinds of bad stuff she didn’t deserve. We saw that she was actually a heroic sweetheart who may have made some unwise decisions, but nothing unprovoked.

Then there was Red Riding Hood, the 2011 film starring Amanda Seyfried. The WOLF in this one is a werewolf, a half-man/half-wolf who just unfortunately received this curse genetically. The (multiple) killings are mostly righteous indignation. The [were]wolf is just a misunderstood, albeit dangerous, being.

Now we have the brand-new Maleficent, telling us the story behind the EVIL STEPMOTHER queen character in the well-known fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty. We find out that she was betrayed and became really, really bad. But it’s totally not her fault. She’s actually a really nice person underneath, you know?

There aren’t a ton (maybe more than I’ve mentioned or can remember, though), but isn’t it kind of odd? Doesn’t it seem to send this message that there is no absolute right or wrong, but every case depends on your perspective? The evil character isn’t really evil, per se – it all depends on how you look at it! You can’t judge her actions; don’t you know her backstory?

I’m not sure I like this trend. Although it’s not exactly this, it feels much too much like “calling evil good and good evil”, if you catch my drift.

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3 thoughts on “upside down

  1. Since when is seeing everybody in the best possible light a bad thing? Since when is showing compassion to the worst people something to avoid? Do these new back stories to fictional characters really change our perspective of evil, or just evil people? Does knowing the motivation behind evil actions actually stymie our moral compass or does it just make us more understanding? Doesn’t Ramban prescribe nearly exactly what has happened here in his Letter For The Ages (assume your sinning brother has sinned in ignorance)?

    I feel like you’ve taken this fine and arguably commendable “trend” and made it out to be a monster. And therefore I bow to your superior sense of irony :]

    • Excellent post! I admire how clearly you are able to see the trend here, seeing through the marketing smokescreen the depths behind it all – well done. Your skeptic mind has protected you from accepting possibly dangerous new mindsets like the sheep of our culture.

      I have to ask the same questions as Peter (above). Judging someone unfavorably by their actions alone seems unjust. Everyone deserves to give a reason.
      However, I think, as a rebuttal, that it’s not just the misunderstanding of how they got there, but the repeatedly evil actions that followed the story that should give us pause when we see everyone accepting them as wounded and snubbed. By all means give everyone a chance to explain themselves, but can you explain CONTINUOUS WRONG? No, I don’t think so. Judge a tree by its fruit.

      • I think you both are missing the focus of my concern. It’s not the people I’m “judging”. I don’t think we need to know the “justification” behind a wrong/evil action to be understanding toward people. We can treat people with compassion while still disagreeing with their behavior. My concern here is that the producers of these shows are muddying the waters with regard to ACTIONS that are right or wrong. Mistreated Maleficent lashes out against an innocent baby with a pretty awful curse – we can feel compassion for her as a person, because she’s had a rough time, but her ACTION is still morally wrong and reprehensible.

        For me, it’s not so much the repeatedness of the evildoing as it is the attempt to make it seem like if someone was treated wrongly, they have the right to do wrong to others, as well.

        Wrong is wrong. And the media is making it difficult to discern what the wrong is here, because they’re adding emotions to what should be black-and-white.

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