Empathy and Fear in Legion

fuzzy-rabbitLegion is my favorite new show right now. I won’t give a recap of it here, but I wanted to talk about something a character says in the opening of Season 1, Episode 4. Jermaine Clement breaks the fourth wall by directly addressing the audience.

There are two kinds of stories we tell our children.
The first kind: Once upon a time, there was a fuzzy little rabbit named Frizzy-Top who went on a fun adventure only to face a big setback, which he overcame through perseverance and by being adorable.
This kind of story teaches empathy.
Put yourself in Frizzy-Top’s shoes, in other words.
The other kind: Oliver Anthony Bird, if you get too close to that ocean, you’ll be sucked into the sea and drowned! This kind of story teaches them fear.
And for the rest of their lives, these two stories compete.
Empathy and fear.

I liked this quote, but it got me thinking. We actually tell our children more than just two types of stories. We tell them silly stories to make them laugh, we tell them dead pets go to a better place to make them feel better, we tell them stories to teach morals such as The Boy Who Cried Wolf, etc. There are many different types of stories told for many different reasons. I’d say non-fiction counts as story telling too. We tell them about the wide variety of animals and the vastness of the cosmos to inspire awe and love of nature.

This quote also made me wonder if the point of horror stories isn’t just inspiring fear for the fun of it, but in order to teach a lesson. I suppose horror stories did start as cautionary tales and to a large extent they still are. How many slasher movies shows us that if you have sex or do drugs, a serial killer will murder you, but if you refrain, you’ll survive to the end? However, I think to a large extent horror stories aren’t about providing a moral lesson any longer and are now just meant to thrill.

Anyway, just a couple thoughts I had.

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