John Mark Reynolds details the usefulness of culture phenomenons like Spiderman, Harry Potter and Narnia. They serve as emoticons for deeper, more important truths.
Reynolds, as am I, is a admirer and even fan of C.S. Lewis – his writings and his mind. He uses Lewis’ thoughts about the importance of myths leading to the one True Myth and directs them toward modern day stories.
Most fantasy (from comics to Tolkien) repackages difficult issues in simpler form. Safe to say that Spiderman has gotten more teens to think about power and responsibility than most public service announcements or sermons.
An icon is not a picture of a person painted badly, but is (in part) a simplification of the immense complexity of the soul of a saint to show what needs to be seen. It is a window to their character. If one takes that much humbler (and more artistically annoying) modern icon the emoticon as a pop culture version of the same thing, one begins to see the value of Potter and Spiderman.
An emoticon strips down the human face even further than a great icon to communicate an emotion that might otherwise be missed by most of us.
It also trivializes it, can be ugly, but when my nine year old daughter sends me a “kiss” on Microsoft Messenger it still works.
We are not so great, at least not most of us, that we can live in the world of Platonic Forms or even of Rublev icons. Sometimes emoticons make things clear to us.
This is what Potter or the very best comics or summer blockbusters do. They are emoticons of the great myths. The great myths are icons of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. The emoticons point the curious (and there are always curious) to the myths (for Potter see the lumimous Granger) and the myths bring us to virtue and to Christ.
The whole thing is well worth reading and he makes his point well. While the Spiderman movies may not be filmmaking at its artistic finest, it can be useful in bringing people to the Man who had ultimate power, yet displayed ultimate responsibility.