As a person who loves to read and watch movies, I have read many stories, been a part of many fandoms, and enjoyed feeling as if I was part of the world that my favorite characters lived in. And this is something that I love about a good story. I believe it is one of the few forms of magic that you can experience in the world today because stories influence us to such a great extent based on the fact that they emphasize the internal yearnings of the world. You could almost say “it’s just like magic!”
While we may not want to have vampires and werewolves running rampant around our world, we long to be loved and protected. Even if the gods of Olympus are only a myth and Camp Half-Blood only lives in our minds, we still want to have a purpose in this world and prove that we matter. We may not have children killing in an arena annually, but we still have major problems we face in the world. And even if there is no Hogwarts and a more corporal form of magic doesn’t exist, we still want someone to save us from the trials we face while we curl up in our favorite spot on the couch.
Stories have the power to influence our emotions. Why do you think so many people like to dress up like different characters and relive the stories that have reached “The End”? Truthfully, I cry each time I read Harry Potter and come to the parts of Sirius’ death, Dobby’s death, and basically the death of all my favorite characters. Most of these emotions stem from the love that each of these characters had for Harry or for the people they were trying to save.
In other cases, stories cause us to think, to wonder why it was considered “justice” that children are to atone for the crimes of their predecessors in a sadistic fight to the death held in an arena. Katniss Everdeen was just an ordinary girl. She had no clue that she would soon be the symbol of the revolution, all she wanted was to save her sister. But she had a greater purpose; to prove that she was “more than just a piece in their games.” Even if we aren’t “The Mockingjay”, we still have a need to prove that we are more than what people judge and label us to be.
Some stories may change our outlook on life since some very real world problems are immortalized in the stories we experience today. Though we may not have prejudice against werewolves and half-breeds, we still have the discrimination against those who are different than us. Some of the biggest issues today deal with this. We have the Black Lives Matter movement versus the police. The LGBT against the conservative Christians. Each side has their beliefs and many view the other as the bigots. And I don’t have the authority to say who is right, but I find it sad that we can’t have the same open-mindedness for the people of reality as we do for the characters that live in the world of fantasy.
Disney’s Pocahontas made this point really well: “You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you, but if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you’ll learn things you never knew you never knew.”And lastly, some stories blatantly point out the desperate need for a savior. Why are superheroes so popular? Why are the theaters packed when the next Marvel movie comes out? Why do so many people cling to things or people that scare the demons away? Even when it seems all hope is lost and the Guardians will not be able to save the galaxy, I’m still rooting for the heroes to save the day and defeat evil. Each time I see Lord Voldemort defeated and Harry Potter alive, I feel happy and relieved. And really, it’s not something that I like to admit. I don’t like to admit that I need help. But it’s something that I need a lot of the time because I’m human. As a culture, it’s something that we all need: someone to save us.