Taking a Stab at a Dragon

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?

A Dragon detail from a painting by Juan de Flandes, where Saint Michael's sword pierces the dragon.

A Dragon detail from a painting by Juan de Flandes, where Saint Michael’s sword pierces the dragon.


  1. Thought provoking post, Candy, and one that sent me back to when the Offspring was very little. I bought all those cutesy cartoon videos – the little dinosaur etc etc – because I didn’t want the Offspring watching the cartoons I had watched as a child.

    Why? Because as an adult I suddenly realised that Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner were instilling a terrible misconception in the minds of impressionable young children. Every time something terrible happened to Coyote …and he survived, the message was not the funny face and the slapstick, it was ‘bad things don’t have consequences’ [other than ‘not winning’].

    So I’d actually be all for cartoons that /did/ teach children about the real world. As for adult viewing…we don’t watch TV a lot as so much of it is crud. Perhaps both adults and their children should be more selective? -shrug-

    • Candy Korman

      Yes, we should all be more selective!
      Thinking back to the cartoons I watched and I cringe. Decades after they were created, the classic cartoons from the 1940s were in the mix with the Flintstones & the Jetsons. The racism in the early cartoons was awful even then and, however fondly I remember the cartoons of “my era” the gender stereotyping is depressing. Maybe cuddly, baby dragons aren’t so bad in comparison?