Everyone loves dragons! At least they love them now. Between ‘Game of Thrones’ and all those cute & cuddly dragon movies for kids, you could almost say that a Dragon is a girl’s best friend.
Of course the fearsome, fire breathing, mythological beasts are MONSTERS. The kind, wise, large, flying dogs of dragon cartoons are a new incarnation. I’m not sure what to make of them as monstrous dragons—the real deal dragons—play a special role and the new incarnation just can’t cut it.
G.K. Chesterton (famous for the Father Brown mysteries) summed it up well when he said:
“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
We need monsters to be monsters and dragons to be DRAGONS! We need fictional monsters to conquer in stories, because when the prince slays the dragon we learn that we can overcome adversity, survive terrible trials, and that we can be heroic when the times comes.
I wonder about children growing up with fear stripped out of fairy tales, followed by fiction saturated in violence. Does flying from one extreme to the other confuse children? Entertainment for adults—everyone over the age of 12 on TV—is violent, edgy, ironic, disturbing, transgressive, extreme, sexualized, or any and all of those things. Warm and fuzzy dragons are in the opposite camp, with dancing penguins and happy families at Christmastime.
Maybe if entertainment for big people was a bit less extreme and entertainment for kids was a bit scarier, we could strike a balance where storytelling would get more exciting for all of us?