"Be your own hero in your story - okay?"
-my four-year old niece
It wasn't an ask. It was a demand. Good for her to making that demand of me. Hopefully it means she will also demand that of herself.
My niece and I spent our Friday evening watching the animated film "Coco", what I now consider to be another step in evolving the next generation's perception of what constitutes as a hero.
From my childhood days where the story always involved a prince and a princess, where the female is always the person in distress, desperate to be saved, we now have stories depicting characters with lives and values closer to reality.
Today's 'fairytales' are full of hardships and that's OK.
The hero can be from a middle-class family, be ethnically diverse, or embody a type of unique beauty.
Here's what this teaches our next generation:
- You don't need to be rich or be of a high social status in order to be happy. If you have watched Inside Out, the film portrays a teenage girl from a middle-class family who enjoys playing hockey, where her father is struggling to startup his new business, and recently moved to a new city where she is finding it hard to adapt. Within the collection of 'islands' that make up her overall personality, there is no mention of 'money island' or 'status island', but there is 'Family Island', 'Goofball Island', 'Friendship Island' and 'Hockey Island'.
- People of ethnically diverse backgrounds all have a shot at becoming successful, healthy, and happy. Miguel in Coco and Moana in the movie of the same name highlights the values of different cultures and teaches their young audience the importance of family, traditions, and courage. Best of all, the hero of the story can be a boy OR a girl.
- Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I love the diversity of the new breed of heroines. They aren't perfect, but they are human, and that's encouraging.
To the writers who spend their days dreaming up these movies to inspire and teach the next generation, I applaud them for their efforts; they should know that their creations, though considered a past time for children (and their parents who accompanying them to watch the cartoon for the hundredth time), are much more easily engrained in their minds than the teachings at school.