Ben Rees & Ben Garner (A Collaborative Effort)
Urban legends and mythology have to come from somewhere. There is no way that a story like Icarus and his father or the idea of leprechauns came to be solely through the imaginations of our elders. Someone must have seen something ridiculous and told the story. That story got told again and again over the years, so currently, what we are dealing with in terms of mythology is a long, twisted game of telephone.
Although the only thing that has stemmed from the Jersey Devil myth is a mediocre hockey team, the tale is based upon a woman who birthed her 13th child, only to find that it was a demonic creature. The creature now roams the woods of New Jersey (mull that one over). This 18th century “Rosemary’s Baby” type creature definitely is not as scary as we think it is. As weird as it is to have a baker’s dozen of children, especially when modern medicine was nothing more than a birthing trench out by the smokehouse, I’m sure that the child was just really ugly.
The legend of Icarus is not all that remarkable. In fact, I’m fairly sure the Wright Brothers were only a few mishaps away from becoming a fiery ball falling towards the Earth.
Theseus’ encounter with the ghastly half-man, half-bull creature–the Minotaur–might be nothing more than a simple misunderstanding. As we all know from the riveting Jack Black blockbuster, “Year One,” human beings millennia ago did not really differentiate the household from a barn. That said, a gung-ho farmhand encountering a disgruntled bovine in his intricate maze (or labyrinth, if you will) of shrubs could simply have been a chance encounter between a steer, or an exaggeration of a difficult argument with his significant other. People are known to embellish, you know.
Everyone understands the mythical-esque crime-fighting prowess of the street savior Batman. He soars through our concrete landscape upon polyurethane wings, establishing himself the most masculine of all winged mammals (actually, it is the only winged mammal, but I digress). What is truly a mystery, however, is the origin of his effeminate boy-wonder, Robin. He’s as light as a bird, eats like a bird, dons a unitard and doesn’t even fly. My hypothesis is that he emerged as the result of a mass cultural, hegemonic shift towards the war effort. His first comic appearance was in 1940, stemmed from the collective national effort to cut back on frivolity during dire economic times. By this I mean, “The Great Trouser Drought of WWII.” Men on the battlefields needed protective leg-gear, thus limiting the amount of woolen sheathes available to cover quads on the home front. Robin’s unitard represents the benefits of conservative behavior and the generally positive affects movements on home soil can have on foreign efforts. The story of this movement can be viewed in the Oscar-Winning, Tom Hanks film, “Saving Ryan’s Private.”
I hope I have debunked some of the general populace’s misguided beliefs. Sorry to be a Debbie Downer. Tune in next week when I prove that gift-horses adore being looked in the mouth.