Earlier today Ozoneocean made a pretty interesting post at Facebook, regarding how demons are depicted in modern culture as opposed to how they were earlier, and especially what they symbolized in western culture: they are now generally depicted as sexy, good, glittering, or misunderstood. If they are doing negative things it's mostly on the level of a self centered, spoiled child that just needs to be taught manners or ‘find love’ that will showcase how good they really are.
It's a kind of retcon, of turning old symbols of vices and evil, scourges of the human condition that had to be dealt with into something that is to be tolerated at worst and lived with and loved at best. That's why vampires now glitter and marry their food, Maleficent is the one that kissed Sleeping Beauty awake and broke her own curse and zombies make for good boyfriends.
Sometimes, this suversion works, creating staple works of narrative art, such as Wicked which deals with the Wicked Witch in Wizard of Oz, showing her to be a completely different (and sympathetic, and good) character as opposed to how the character had been originally conceived (brutish and villainous).
Most usually though, it doesn't. And the reason for it is that evil entities of the common western culture held the audiences' interest for eons exactly because they symbolize things that we struggle with within us and around us. They were relevant exactly because they tapped upon this common struggle that transcends cultures. When a narrative takes away these elements to make the characters more sympathetic, it also takes away this visceral connection with the audience. The stakes are never going to be as high, and thus the end result is blunt, and often murky- because when the nature of a creature is undermined it stops making sense within the story.
Mind you- a character that is trying to go against their nature as an evil creature isn't fudged or blunt. The same struggle mentioned earlier still exists, but this time it's just regarding the individual vs. his/her own self, rather than individual vs. villain.
Also, reimagining a creature like that with different rules can be pretty successful- provided there's a reason, a narrative reason behind the reimagining and a rebuilding of the world around the creature accordingly to make sense. If a vampire is conceived to be different than the classic human hunter after blood, then society shouldn't fear that vampire for that reason. Something else has to be what society fears that kind of vampire for- OR a reason for the misconception enduring has to be given, good enough that it is convincing in context with the time frame, technology and prevalence of the creature.
But to simply bend a time-old concept out of shape without any narrative purpose that will make sense is just bad writing. And it shows.
What's your opinion? Did I forget any important aspects for or against this premise?
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, March 17, 2018
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