Tuesday, August 31, 2010

August 30, 2010 - Democracy and Demophobia

Little known fact - I am slightly demophobic. As my husband, who loves words, will tell you, demos is a Greek word meaning mob. Crowds freak me out, especially when I am crammed into hostile lines with strangers. My control of my fear was put to the test on Saturday when I attended Fan Expo Canada with my daughter. Reports claim that 60 000 people attended the three day convention. Even if those figures are inaccurate, there were definitely a lot of people at the Metro Convention Centre. It took us an hour to get in (and that was with deluxe pre-purchased passes) and the place was crammed to the hilt with fans of all stripes. We checked out the sales booths and artists alley, attended two sessions (one by Stan Lee and the other by two anime voice actors) and participated in the masquerade. My daughter enjoyed the masquerade the best - it was her second time competing and the costumes there were absolutely incredible. Search for footage on YouTube and you'll see how elaborate and accurate these fashion tributes are to the source material. It was neat to talk with an illustrator from Archie Comics, who has been working with the company for 16 years, and hear about how iconic characters (like Betty & Veronica, or the X Men) came about and continue to thrive. Some characters speak to a generation of fans strongly.

I predict that, like the students of Hogwarts or citizens of Forks, the inhabitants of Panem in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy will be remembered and discussed for a long time. I attended a midnight release party last Monday to get my copy and I finished it on Wednesday. I loved it. My friend did a spoiler-free review on her blog and I had to object to one comment that she made, suggesting that the series was only about war. It's about media, ethics, the individual vs the collective, and definitely about politics. (My husband quoted me the next portion, after I double-checked my understanding of demos.) "In the Greek understanding of politics, there was three levels: the top level of gov't was monarchy, the rule by one man. It could be corrupted and become tyrany. The second best level was aristocracy, rule by the best, most capable people. It could be corrupted and turn into oligarchy, which is rule by the few. The lowest form of gov't is the republic, which could become corrupted and become a democracy, which is rule by the crowd or mob." I don't want to spoil anyone's reading of Mockingjay, but elements of it reminded me of the Spanish Civil War, or the Russian Revolution. It was a powerful book that left me contemplating issues long after I read it. I will definitely have to buy it for my school library and I look forward to having discussions about it with my students.

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