kconlow's blog

Anna Maria Hong's H & G

David Greenberg

Our culture’s obsession with fairy tales and superheroes is both a premodern revival of myth and a form of compulsiveness. It doesn’t matter that Spiderman has been played by multiple actors or that Disney creates microvariants of identical coming-of-age stories. Myths are meant to be retold, and the more retelling, the greater their power. Nor does it matter when the work winks at the audience with an awareness of artifice and convention. (See Guardians of the Galaxy, or Robert Coover’s debauched fairy tales.) Skepticism is a crucial component of the genre, as fairy tales are not just about first enthrallment, but the full cycle of spell, disillusionment, and reenchantment. The fact that a spell is always ready to wear off defines its power—its precariousness stakes its claim.


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