The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

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The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Sean Hayden » Sat Sep 21, 2019 2:34 pm

Stories about good guys and bad guys that are implicitly moral – in the sense that they invest an individual’s entire social identity in him not changing his mind about a moral issue – perversely end up discouraging any moral deliberation. Instead of anguishing over multidimensional characters in conflict – as we find in The Iliad, or the Mahabharata or Hamlet – such stories rigidly categorise people according to the values they symbolise, flattening all the deliberation and imagination of ethical action into a single thumbs up or thumbs down. Either a person is acceptable for Team Good, or he belongs to Team Evil.

Good guy/bad guy narratives might not possess any moral sophistication, but they do promote social stability, and they’re useful for getting people to sign up for armies and fight in wars with other nations. Their values feel like morality, and the association with folklore and mythology lends them a patina of legitimacy, but still, they don’t arise from a moral vision. They are rooted instead in a political vision, which is why they don’t help us deliberate, or think more deeply about the meanings of our actions. Like the original Grimm stories, they’re a political tool designed to bind nations together.
It's a good read: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the- ... ket-newtab

It contains a lot of "truthiness" that I really like, and it makes many excellent points. But as with everything it is possible to disagree. For example, I don't think it's an accident that the following point excludes Hector's brother Paris:
The situation is more complex in epics such as The Iliad, which does have two ‘teams’, as well as characters who wrestle with moral meanings. But the teams don’t represent the clash of two sets of values in the same way that modern good guys and bad guys do. Neither Achilles nor Hector stands for values that the other side cannot abide, nor are they fighting to protect the world from the other team.
Neither Achilles nor Hector stands for values the other side cannot abide --perhaps, but Hector and Paris?
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by laklak » Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:56 am

It was all the slut's fault, women, there's a reason it's spelled " woe man". On the plus side, it gave Achilles an excuse to share a tent with Patroclus.
Yeah well that's just, like, your opinion, man.

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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Rum » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:32 am

I think there have always been tales about the ‘enemy’ and how evil they were. The Greek city states had many of them. If I recall baby eating by you neighbouring city was ‘common’.

I think the tales you are referring to are the ones which built our archetypes, some of our social rules and, if you like, the psychic landscape western civilisation was built upon. These are, I grant you, are being superseded by the power of American myth, much of which derives from frontier legend,

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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Brian Peacock » Sun Sep 22, 2019 3:16 pm

Disorder afflicts the land, caused by powerful and nefarious forces with malign intent working against the interests of humanity. But a hero arise to revolt against the agents of disorder, overthrow those nefarious forces, and restore harmony to the land and balance to The Force.
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Clinton Huxley » 21 Jun 2012 » 14:10:36 GMT
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Sean Hayden » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:05 pm

:lol: I don't think narrative is as causative as he thinks it is.
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Sean Hayden » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:05 pm

laklak wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 8:56 am
It was all the slut's fault, women, there's a reason it's spelled " woe man". On the plus side, it gave Achilles an excuse to share a tent with Patroclus.
:lol: You gave your teachers hell didn't you lak?
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Brian Peacock » Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:13 pm

Sean Hayden wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 6:05 pm
:lol: I don't think narrative is as causative as he thinks it is.
Yeah, probably, but that in itself is a good story though isn't it? :biggrin:
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Clinton Huxley » 21 Jun 2012 » 14:10:36 GMT
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by L'Emmerdeur » Sun Sep 22, 2019 9:08 pm

Studiously avoids mention of the Bible (in particular, the Old Testament). However the Old Testament is in many ways a nationalistic narrative: the Jewish people are the good guys vs. various bad guys--the Philistines and various Caananite tribes, and of course the Egyptians and Babylonians. So I think it conforms with the idea of the basis of moral tales, and perhaps the author puts the Old Testament into some other category than myth and folklore. Then there's the war narrative in the Mahabharata, in which Krishna is on the side of the good guys while those who lead the opponents are mostly demons in human form, fighting to secure ill-gotten gains.

The Old Testament and the Mahabharata are contemporaneous with other ancient narratives. I think the claim that the good guy/bad guy story is a relatively recent invention is glib, and not entirely sound.

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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Brian Peacock » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:11 pm

The Epic of Gilgamesh is credited to be the world's firts monomythic hero narrative in which the good guy, Gilgamesh, seeks to destroy the bad guy, Eatmiass.
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Clinton Huxley » 21 Jun 2012 » 14:10:36 GMT
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Svartalf » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:46 pm

Never heard of that part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, I'm more familiar about how he and Enkidu killed the giant Humbaba and came back with a cargo of cedar wood from the sacred forest.
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Sean Hayden » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:51 pm

Maybe we're all reading into the ancient stories, it is a common enough problem. But the writer doesn't give us a reason to believe that's the case.

The problem itself is more interesting though than when it may have first occurred. But, I suspect that this is one of those problems that tends to evaporate upon closer inspection. There is something to it, sure, but what exactly is it?

If the claim is that popular culture often presents us with empty moral dilemmas, then fine, I guess that's true. But so what? Can you get from there to a mechanism by which our moral lives are dictated to us and cheapened by a shallow popular culture, which would seem to be one of the author's concerns? I doubt it.

You're more likely to end up overextending the usefulness of a personal gripe with popular culture.

But there is something there...
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Brian Peacock » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:54 pm

Svartalf wrote:
Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:46 pm
Never heard of that part of the Epic of Gilgamesh, I'm more familiar about how he and Enkidu killed the giant Humbaba and came back with a cargo of cedar wood from the sacred forest.
Ah, you need to read it in the original Kligon to understand the true significance of Eatmiass.
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"This is how humanity ends; bickering over the irrelevant."
Clinton Huxley » 21 Jun 2012 » 14:10:36 GMT
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Re: The Good Guy/Bad Guy Myth Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil.

Post by Sean Hayden » Sun Sep 22, 2019 10:55 pm

Eatmiass

:lol:
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