My latest guilty pleasure has been watching Hercules: The Legendary Journeys on Netflix. Yes, that Hercules. The one Xena: Warrior Princess is a spin-off from. What can I say? I’ve developed a taste for camp. Not to mention I didn’t appreciate the series when it first came out, although the pretentiousness I displayed in my twenties may have had something (everything) to do with that.
I’ve realized two things as I watch this series. First, they did a remarkably good job of staying true to the source material, considering that it was a pretty campy, not-for-primetime “filler” show that was the modern answer to Land of the Lost. The second thing I realized right after that is there was no way they could stay anywhere close to the source material and still get on network TV. Even HBO might have a problem with it. I mean think about it. You think Game of Thrones is hardcore? How many episodes of maidens getting raped by swans, bulls, and golden showers (insert your own joke here) do you think they’d get away with before they get the show pulled? And those were just some of Zeus’ hijinks.
Between all the rape, murder, and general awfulness of Greek mythology, it’s hard to remember that this is supposed to be some of the best culture in history. I’ve written before about how 90% of everything is crap, and that only the good stuff survives. So what does that say about us? What does that say about our forebears? It’s not like someone is still writing Greek mythology, although clearly we’re still reinterpreting it. But throughout history, when there was a horrible fire and only one book could be saved, this was the one. When scribes painstakingly copied crumbling scrolls by candlelight, this is what they copied.
It’s easy to say that we love these myths for their cultural value, and I’m more than familiar with the analysis of them as explanations of natural phenomenon, nor do I deny that side of them. But I also think there’s some element of Stephen King’s “feeding the alligators” going on here. Civilization is a thin veneer we pull over the savage, and sooner or later he’s going to want blood. Even in the cleaned up version there’s a fight in every episode, damsels in distress abound, betrayal is common, sex is not infrequent (although it’s the punch line of a joke as often as not), and people die. Let’s not forget that the series begins with Hercules’ family being killed by Hera (although directly this time, rather than indirectly through the tool of Hercules himself as in the original myth). And we want that. We want the gore, the horror, the betrayal and the sex and the cruelty of the gods and all the rest (“Red Wedding” anyone?). I’m not sure what that says about us, except perhaps the more things change…
If you want some good, campy fun that is remarkably witty and has held up surprisingly well over the years, I highly recommend Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. If you want “Oh, dear God, don’t do that, she’s your mother!” I highly recommend the original myths the series is based on.
I have been married for about six months now, and I’m starting to worry about my relationship. My husband and I used to go out all the time, but lately he stays late at work a lot, and when he comes home he just eats dinner and then watches TV until bedtime. He never seems to have time for me anymore, and on the weekend he goes out with his buddies. We don’t talk like we used to, and I’m afraid there may even be another woman. I’ve thought about looking through his email and his text messages, but if I didn’t find anything I’d feel like a horrible person, and if I did find something that would be even worse. I just don’t know what to do. Please help!
Dear Concerned Matron,
It is an unfortunate fact that so many of our children have been raised on fairy tales to believe that all it takes is a magic ceremony to create the perfect circumstances for “happily ever after”. What the stories don’t prepare you for is the lifetime of work that follows. A marriage is more than simply living together in domestic bliss; it is a partnership, and one that must be cared for, nurtured, and treated well, lest it die from inattention. I am encouraged to hear you have not yet taken the irreversible step of violating your husband’s trust; a good marriage is built on trust and mutual respect, and once broken it can be almost impossible to recover. Believe in him, and surely you will be rewarded. Rather than snooping, try talking to him. Find a time when you can both be calm and relaxed and share your concerns; likely he has some of the same fears, and by sharing them you will strengthen your relationship. Confrontations don’t solve anything, but conversations can be the beginning of a better life for you both.
My family just doesn’t get me. They’re a bunch of straights, and I want to have fun while I’m still young enough to enjoy it! So I go out and have a good time, and yeah, I date some crazy women, but it’s not like I’m hurting anyone! I’m careful, I use protection, and we’re all consenting adults. Why can’t they just get off my back already?
Dear Wild Child,
Family, am I right? You get just a little bit out of line and they can’t wait to chain you down with responsibilities and their “vision” of what you should be. Here’s the thing though: they really do care about you, and even though you think you’re not hurting anyone, you also may not be looking at the bigger picture. Are you considering where you’ll be in five years, or fifty? Parties are great while they last, but sooner or later the party winds down, and they’re worried you’ll be the lone wolf without anyone to go home to. Give it some thought, let them know you understand their fears and show them you have a handle on where your life is headed, and maybe they won’t object so much if you go out and howl at the moon once in a while.
My girlfriend and I are always fighting. I have no idea why. Sometimes I think we just like to fight. The making-up part is great, but I’m not sure it’s worth it anymore. Half the time it seems like I’m in the doghouse for no reason at all, or just so she can lord it over me. I look at other guys’ relationships and it seems like this isn’t normal, so I’m wondering if it’s me, or us, or what. What should I do?
Tired of Fighting
Dear Warrior of Love,
The question you should be asking yourself is not “is this worth it?” but rather “why did we get together in the first place?” If the sole reason for your relationship is to provide some sort of spark or antagonism that each of you craves, even subconsciously, you need to break it off for both of your sakes. An addiction to drama is an addiction like any other, and continuing to feed it is a sure path to self-destruction. If there is something genuine in the relationship, you need to rediscover what it is that you mean to each other and find ways of resolving your conflicts properly. Patience, understanding, and communication are the way to resolve disputes. Fighting only leads to more fighting.
Theres a boy at school that is very good looking and very nice and all the girls like him and so do I and hes very nice and I think he might like me to but I dont know for sure and I’m not sure if I should ask him or not and even if I do I don’t know what to say and my mommy says I should play hard to get and I dont even knwo what that meens and I would like it if you could help me please thank you.
Let me tell you a little story. Once there was a rabbit that was out on the plains, and this rabbit wanted to get a particularly appealing looking plant to eat. He thought he was a clever rabbit, so he hid out behind a rock, and waited until the sun had almost set. When he thought the time was just right, he bounced over and went for it, figuring it was late enough the snakes wouldn’t be out but too early for the owls. Well, he was right, but he forgot about just one thing: I’m not an early riser. The point of the story is fortune favors the bold. Be honest, don’t play games, just go on up to that young man and let him know you like him. Best case you found yourself a fine young man. Worst case? You found out he’s got poor taste before it’s too late.
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I’ve been dating this girl for a few weeks now, and at first things seemed really great, but lately things haven’t been going so well. She’s started to criticize the way I dress, the way I talk, and even the people I hang out with. I like her a lot and I want to make her happy, but I’m not really comfortable with the way she’s been acting lately. My friends say I should ditch her, but I don’t think they “get” her the way I do, you know? What should I do?
Conflicted in Love
Dear Blinded by Lust,
I know you think you are in love, but the truth is you’re not. You are in lust. True love is something that you have with someone who not only accepts you for who you are, but embraces you that way, and loves you that way. They don’t have to love your friends the way you do, but they have to at least be willing to give them the benefit of the doubt as well. If you really want my advice, listen to your friends and leave this girl before you lose sight of the person you really are. Find a girl who isn’t going to try to change you into something that you’re not.
My boyfriend and I have a very rocky relationship. Sometimes things can be going along just fine, but then I’ll say something wrong and he’ll just fly off the handle. We’ll argue for a couple hours, and then we’ll realize that the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding. We make up and things will be fine for a few weeks, but then it happens again. He doesn’t normally have a short temper, so I’m starting to think it’s me. What should I do?
Tired of Fighting
My first question would be why you go a few weeks without problems. If you find yourself walking around on eggshells trying to make him happy, then you are in an abusive relationship and need to get out before things escalate. However if it is as you say and it is simply a matter of the occasional argument, then I have to wonder what you’re not telling me. If there are major communication problems in your relationship, you need to either find a way to resolve them or else you need to find someone else. Clear communication, on both sides, is the key to any successful relationship. You don’t want to be with someone long-term who is going to bite your head off because you misunderstood something they said.
[Letter edited for privacy.] Should I or shouldn’t I?
Dear Star Struck,
I’ve just started dating the most amazing guy. He’s sweet, he’s kind, and he’s generous. We’ve only been together for a week, but I’m already pretty sure he could be “The One”. How do I know?
Ready for Commitment
Ah, to be young and in love. The whole world seems fresh and new, and everything is in harmony. While we understand the desire to press forward and seize the moment, to try and capture it and spin about it a cocoon of certainty to last the ages, the future is as uncertain and unconstant for men as it is for gods. The only sure path is to worry not what the future may hold, but rather to embrace the present, enjoy today for what it is, and let things develop as they will. Tomorrow will come soon enough.
My girlfriend hates my family. I mean, not just hates, but HATES my family. I can’t really blame her, they’ve always been mean to her, but I still love them; they’re my family, you know? She’s made an ultimatum this year: either I spend Christmas with her or my family, but if I pick them I better find another date for New Year’s, if you know what I mean. I just don’t know what to do.
Pulled in Two Directions
Dear Inconstant Son,
We know all too well what it is you mean: that you are an ingrate. Your family has provided for you, nursed you, sheltered you, and you are unsure as to what your proper course of action is? For shame! You should be whipped and reviled! As for this wanton that would tear you from the loving arms of your family, be assured: anyone who would make you choose between them and your family is not worthwhile, and they have only given you the easiest choice you will ever have to make.
There was this boy I liked and he liked me and we liked each other I don’t just mean liked I mean REELY liked liked and then his mommy got a new job in another place and he had to move away and now I’m sad and what should I do?
You poor girl, there is nothing so wonderful as first love, nor is there anything so tragic as love’s first heartbreak. I too know all too well the inconsistencies of men; the sweet promises they whisper, and yet they never stay for long. Always they long for the things they have left behind: their treasures, their vessels, their air. Take strength from this, sweet Jenny, and learn from it. For even as you have loved and lost, surely you will love again, and as my dear mother used to say to me, “there are plenty of men upon the land.”