Saturday, February 20, 2016

He-Man: The Hero's Journey in 60 Seconds

Many of us use the idea of heroes in our curriculum. It may be looking for the heroes in history, it may be looking at the classical concept of a hero and Joseph Campbell's idea of the Hero's Journey. One of my favorite TED-Ed presentations is about that Hero's Journey, and Matthew Winkler does a masterful job of explaining that journey using Katniss Everdeen, Harry Potter, and Frodo Baggins as examples. And you should go watch that. Alongside those characters, I'd also place Luke Skywalker as a prime candidate for a Classical Hero.

There's another hero that those of us Of A Certain Age (read: kids of the 80s) remember fondly, and that's He-Man. Even if kids today aren't growing up with him, they have an idea of who he is through memes and parodies. The great thing about He-Man's Classical Hero-ness is that you can get most of it from his opening credits, shown at the beginning of every episode: that one minute, we get that he's just an ordinary guy, called on to do extraordinary things. We find the source of his power, we meet his allies, we see his mentor, and the enemies he'll need to defeat to complete his hero's journey. 

And in case you forgot, we also have He-Man's twin sister She-Ra, who has her own introduction sequence, nearly identical to her brother:

Both characters can be additional examples of the Classical Hero and be used in the classroom. Honestly, I'd use Matthew Winkler's examples as the core of a curriculum unit about the Hero's Journey, but these sidebar comparisons can be used to great effect. By simply sharing these two video clips with them, you're explaining how you found out about heroes in the 1980s. You're also making a connection between them and their parents, and you're encouraging them to find the elements of the Hero's Journey in their own pop culture, right now in 2016. Help them explore how their own heroes may be doing the Hero's Journey better than He-Man and She-Ra did. Can they find it in Adventure Time? Yes. Steven Universe? Heck yes. Family Guy? I hope not. Bob's Burgers? We're back to yes. I clearly have cartoon biases.

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