Enough With The Hero's Journey Already

Shaula Evans at The Black Board came up with a much better title than I did for my second TED talk, though she was using it in reaction to my first one. I thank her for that, and I'm considering that an excuse to share it again.
I have been thinking more about the myth of the White Male Hero and what the stories say he is destined for, in light of current events (read Amanda Hess and Soraya Chemaly and Margot Magowan and Ta-Nahisi Coates, now and always).

When this talk was recorded in the fall of 2013, the Oscar race was heating up and 12 Years A Slave was already predicted to win its important victory. Frozen had just come out, totally fulfilling my request in my first talk for a story about female leaders inspiring people to come together and be their best selves. (Thanks!)

Since then, the fall season ended up bringing more fresh heroes. From the non-white-males who carried Catching Fire and Gravity and Frozen to global domination to the interesting white males of Dallas Buyers Club to the interesting white supporting females of Skyfall to the interesting white quartet of American Hustle, the year ended up bringing a cadre of movies I enjoyed.

(I didn't care too much for the white males of Her or Despicable Me 2, and I didn't go see the white males of Captain Phillips or Nebraska or Inside Llewyn Davis or The Wolf of Wall Street.)

Sadly, some of the smaller films anchored by African-American heroes had faded from memory by the time the Oscars nodded their gold heads. (Oprah was robbed.)

But the good news is that the summer superhero spectacles I was reacting to in the talk have been forgotten as well. (It's like Oz the Great and Powerful never happened. Right?)

And 2014 is off to a strong start. The LEGO Movie may be one of the best movies of the decade...totally fulfilling my request in this talk for a deconstructed Hero's Journey. (Thanks!)

And this summer's crazy smart Marvel movies are making comic books seem like Joseph-Campbell-worthy myths after all.

Though, as intelligent as Captain America: The Winter Soldier is, it's still a movie about how the world is redeemed by an omnipotent, innocent, universally adored white man whose name is "America."

So, yeah.


  1. Hi Colin - I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your two TED talks and how they have affected me. I've thought about these issues for some time, and your talks gave me the courage to start writing about them. I began a blog on Fiction Diversity, and I hope you'll read about the influence you've had: http://fictiondiversity.com/2014/12/11/turning-point/

  2. One of the 40 events in the US is happening tomorrow at my school and everyone keeps talking about it! I have no clue what it is! Is it where public speakers talk about a specific topic? And I heard the guys from Mtv's The Buried Life if going to be there. I am really confused.
    TEDx conference


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