Alternate Interpretations of Pop Culture Works and Their Implications
Resistant reading, which is a technique designed to question and even go against a particular text or work, has for most of its history been a technique used only by scholars. Paul Sherman poetically questions the world around him, Chatterjea looks at how the western world may have appropriated Eastern dancing, and the average man would usually scratch his head in puzzlement. However, with the advent and proliferation of the internet, fan theories, which in themselves are resistive as they seek to redefine a work in an often unintended way, have become a dime a dozen. Anyone with a keyboard or a camera will take to the web with what they consider to be a breathtaking new discovery that promises to completely alter your perceptions of a movie, or video game, or some other such pop culture work. I myself have always had a natural inclination to look beyond what is presented at face value. I remember my utter disappointment after first watching the movie The Lion King. “How come the bad guys won mom?”, I remember asking. Obviously this was not what my parents had expected to hear, but none the less I couldn’t help but question the narrative presented to me. The main difference between the approach I prefer and that of your average reddit user or Youtuber is that I look into the intentions that led to these alternate interpretations being possible. Considering my background in science, I of course understand the merits of asking the questions of who, what, when, and where, but I personally believe that to truly understand something, you also need to ask the question “why?” It is not enough to ask whether a hero is actually a villain, for instance. One must also attempt to answer why the creators chose to portray this villainous character as heroic? Sadly, it is this last question, the why of the matter, that is most often left both unasked and therefore unanswered, and is one that I hope to shed some light on. Using some popular alternate interpretations, as well as some of my own creation, I hope to look beyond these works to the larger world. I encourage readers to follow me down the rabbit hole as we seek to answer such questions as “is Scar from The Lion King portrayed as a villain because Disney is racist?”, “does the video game Grand Theft Auto take place in the future to serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of eugenics?”, “does George Lucas want his audience to hate technology?”, and many more questions in this vain of discussion. I encourage you to follow me as we look at ethnically accented hyenas, the tensile strength of steel, the pros and cons of using the Force rather than a computer, and other seemingly random areas as we connect the dots to examine the larger picture and the social and moral implications it produces. I can only hope that, after following me through these close examinations, you will see the world in a whole new light.