I’ve been looking for material to help me inform my opinion that modern day comics are the new mythology. There’s less out there than I expected. So it’s either SO obvious that it isn’t considered to be in need of examination, or I’m kind of a loner on this one. How could either of those be true?
In casting around today, I came across this interview of George Lucas conducted by Bill Moyers. If you don’t know, Bill Moyers is well-known for a long PBS tv series he did interviewing the 20th century’s leading expert on mythology, Joseph Campbell (author of “The Power of Myth” among several other books). Joseph Campbell was (famously) a mentor of George Lucas.
To me, every single thing being said in this interview applies to superheroes in our comics, tv and films. Star Wars, is, after all, a superhero story of sorts. (It gets a little mystical at one point, so if you’re an atheist it might be a bit of a turnoff. But don’t let that drive you away because the discussion around mythology and the modern world is interesting.)
I’ve included both a short 13 minute excerpt here (the first one), as well as the full interview. If you don’t feel like watching nearly an hour, then the 13 minute version contains most of what I want to point out to you.
At one point, in the full-length interview, Lucas says, “Children love power. Because children are the powerless. So their fantasies all center on having power.” And myths and stories are an extremely efficient vehicle through which children learn about power.
You’ll notice in the intro that “fathers and sons” is pointed out as a primary mythological theme. No mention of mothers or daughters. Yet, the power of myth is just as important for girls as it is for boys. The fact that our myths have either left girls out or placed them in very narrow contexts is, to me, important. It needs to change. It’s why I argue so hard for great female superheroes (myths) for our girls.
13 Minute Version
Full, Nearly One-Hour Version