Tuesday, March 20, 2012

About Borrowing Heroes.

I come from an odd place in this. I am, I would hope, a very accepting person. I try to allow an individual's character to determine my attitude toward them rather than their looks or their race. Sometimes I fail in this regard, but I do try. I also follow a creed where each culture should be considered on their own merits, and the mores and traditions of that culture not looked down upon simply because the person taking the culture in comes from another culture. I am a lover of myths and legends and a believer in the power of great stories and characters to have a transformative effect on a person's life or perceptions. Today however, I am feeling a bit bigoted. I am unreasonably annoyed at something, something I'd normally just let pass or slide off my back, but with the stresses of moving and the fact that my children have already managed to put crayon on the walls of my new apartment when we haven't been there a full week yet has made this particular molehill into a mountain of huffiness. Not anger, mind you, just mean-spirited grouchy annoyance.
Those of you who are sensitive, unwilling to read what is more than likely a rationalization for something psychologically and socially wrong with me that I need to have adjusted, or looking for outright racism, should probably jump off here. Everyone else, welcome to my confession. Flames go in the comment boxes below.

I'm miffed at Dora the Explorer for making Merlin Spanish. Yes, Merlin the Magician, Myrddin Wyllt or Myrddin Emrys to some. Adviser to King Arthur and generally, outside of Odin/Wotan the prototypical Old Man Wizard figure. A WELSH wizard figure. My last name, Myers, is Welsh in Origin, and speaks of an Infusion of Welsh blood into my Cherokee ancestors at some point. The entire Arthurian cycle, something that I have always been fascinated by, has its roots in Wales. Merlin, for all his popularity is a Welsh figure, and as someone who believes that the stories of other cultures should be preserved and appreciated for being a part of the culture from whence they came it made me a little upset to see him suddenly transformed into a Spanish figure.
I have nothing against Spanish or Latino people. They have a rich culture and a deep and interesting history. I do not look at them and sneer or feel as if I am better than them. There is no hatred here. I am not upset at the show for making Merlin specifically Spanish. I am upset at them for changing his race at all. I am upset at them for saying, "All these wonderful stories, all of these tales from which this unique character sprung, which are a product of a unique and rich culture. They're garbage. We need a wizard character and we're going to take this one and because the focus of the show is teaching children Spanish he is going to be Spanish as well."
Now, imagine for a moment, that there is a show that focuses on teaching kids say, German, or Japanese. Imagine they want a great warrior for an episode they are writing and decided to go with El Cid. El Cid, or Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar was a great warrior of Castilian descent and continues to have stories written about him to this day. He was and will remain undeniably Spanish in origin. Imagine though, if this show made him into a German Mercenary, or a Samurai, or for a more contemporary example, if they made Shaggy Roberts and Scooby-Doo into Nigerian Princes. That would piss me off just as much as Dora making Merlin Spanish, again, not because of the way they are transforming them, but because they are transforming them at all.
There is not much that I can do about this, of course. Nickelodeon is not likely to change the Editorial Mandates on Dora the Explorer any time soon and starting a petition or something would not only be pointless, but may attract the type of person that I do try to avoid, racists who would sign something of that nature simply because they hate rather than because they have a legitimate bee in their bonnet about adulterating another culture's stories and heroes. So I will take this opportunity to complain before getting back to my homework. Again, if you are offended by my opinions here, I apologize that you feel that way. This article was not written with any kind of racial hatred in mind. I just happen to have an opinion and felt like flapping my lips about it on line. Feel free to comment, but also know that if the comment you leave is meant specifically to be hurtful to me or hateful to another person, race, religion or creed, it will be removed. It's my blog and I will do with it as I may. Post Script: Yes, I am aware that it may be somewhat hypocritical of me to have such a high admiration for both Saber and Saber Nero from Fate/ Stay Night and Fate/ Extra respectively. However, despite changing their genders the over all narratives of the games do not change their stories or cultures. (( Arturia still deals with Lancelot and Guinevere's betrayal, dies at the battle of Camlan and generally lives the tales. Nero uses Roman terms, speaks about her reign and gives a relatively factual account of Rome of Nero's time and the end of Nero's reign.)) I can handle a small change, especially if it adds another dimension to the character or story, otherwise I would not have been able to read and enjoy Mallory, T.H. White and Steinbeck, but the wholesale invalidation of the culture the story comes from due to editorial mandate still burns my muffins a bit.

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