I stumbled across something this morning that served as a powerful reminder of just how much of an impact the stories that we create can have on the lives of the people who enjoy them.
It was a conversation on Reddit regarding movies and the personal changes they had brought to people's lives. Many users told very heartfelt tales about how each story taught them something very valuable about themselves, their lives, or the world.
The post can be found here: "What movie has personally changed something about you, be it your way of thinking or the way you do something, and how?"
The notion that a movie or a book can change a person's life is often considered to be a bit silly and perhaps over-dramatic. I mean, if I told someone that a movie like Iron Man taught me the importance of taking responsibility for my mistakes, most people would laugh and say something along the lines of, "It's just a movie."
But for many, it seems, movies, books, and even video games have a lasting effect on how they view life. And I think it's very important for people like writers and filmmakers to remember the power they wield, and more importantly, to respect that power. You never know what people are going to take away from your work, but hopefully, it will be something positive and uplifting.
For example, I once worked with a woman who told me that her son's hero was Goku, the main character from the anime series Dragon Ball Z. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with Goku, he was the epitome of good. He stood up for what was right, protected the innocent, and never hesitated to put himself in harms way to help someone in need. And I remember thinking, "If Goku can still be a hero for kids, then maybe I can also create a hero for people to look up to."
These days, the antihero rules. But I am a firm supporter of the good old-fashioned hero of chivalry. Honor, nobility, and all that. The anti-hero rubs me the wrong way. No "good guy" should use questionable tactics to win. It undermines the spirit of conflict, in my opinion. I mean, how do you choose who to cheer for if both characters are using the same underhanded tactics to achieve their goals?
So that's the message I put out there. I try to present a protagonist who is a good role model. Someone that people can look up to. To draw inspiration from. Some may just see it as another character in another book, but others might see a person who possesses qualities they lack. Or maybe they might be able to empathize with the character's journey, or growth, and find hope in the hero's victory.
Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not trying to say that everyone should share my view of what a story should or should not be. But we need to be aware of the message we're sending. People, whether it be readers of a book, players of a game, or viewers of a movie, often take away much more from our works than we sometimes realize. And we should remember that. Our words, our themes, our characters, and our stories can find their way into reality through the ideals and lessons learned by our audiences.
After all, with great power comes great responsibility.