Now I’m a big fan of rewriting and reinterpreting mythology and fantasy. My initial ambition as a college freshman was to take Southeast Asian myths and rewrite them in the vein of Western European myths. I’m totally into China Miéville’s subversion of the fantasy genre and using it to explore the sometimes faulty assumptions we make about capitalism and Western Civ. I really liked Michael Crichton’s Eaters of the Dead, which is a version of Beowulf told from a quite-unexpected viewpoint, and even liked the movie that it became, “The 13th Warrior”. I sometimes think that this is what underlay my childhood obsesssion with Disney animated films. I grew up listening ad nauseam to the soundtrack of Disney’s “Robin Hood” where Robin Hood and Maid Marian are foxes, Little John is a bear, and King John and his brother Richard the Lion-Hearted are literally lions. (“Oo de lally!”) I was enchanted by “The Little Mermaid” and especially “Beauty and the Beast.” One of my more recent ambitions is to write a novel based on Middle Earth after it has been completely industrialized and paved over, dealing with issues of urban sprawl, pollution, and global capitalism. As for a more small scale project, I’m trying to write a story that is really “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and “The Hobbit” mashed-up together and set on a nanotechnology-permeated, post-Roman Empire-like society.
But for some reason, when it first came out, I never really got into Gregory Maguire’s book Wicked, nor his various re-writings of Western European classic fairy tales. It isn’t until now that I recognize Wicked for what it is: the story of the Wicked Witch of the West recast as a revolutionary, demonized by the Powers That Be. Kind of like Che Guevarra, except a woman, green-skinned, and in a mythical universe.
I kind of want to watch the musical now.
If only I could go to London and watch Idina Menzel in the starring role.
And this song:
So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky!
As someone told me lately:
“Ev’ryone deserves the chance to fly!”
And if I’m flying solo
At least I’m flying free
To those who’d ground me
Take a message back from me
Tell them how I am
I’m flying high
And soon I’ll match them in renown
—”Defying Gravity” from “Wicked”