Hogwarts’ Superschool Of Settings

What can we learn from barely competent teaching staff and poor hiring standards?

Class is once again in session! Yes, that idiom was to be expected. Yes,  you are fully allowed to cringe at me. Just as planned!

Today, I’ll be talking about a staple of fantastic settings and what we can learn from it: The SUPERSCHOOL! One highly popular example of a very involved setting.

Whether it’s an academy, the school, a magical order, or an alien police force, these are institutions built around the idea of collecting what we’d consider “special” and training it to perfection. From Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters to the Hogwarts School For Witchcraft And Wizardry, these have been a rich source for potential stories.

The main purpose of these, of course, is to teach superpowered individuals how to responsibly control and use their powers. Otherwise you’ll end up with all sorts of tragedy and collateral damage. Though the mission statement and end goals can vary, ultimately they’re about getting all that power in one place and getting it under control or awarded after rigorous training.

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Ah, yes. That old nugget.

But what’s the deal with these schools? When’s something normal or not, and what’s the nuts and bolts behind it? What can we learn from barely competent teaching staff and poor hiring standards?

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Everyman For Himself

Where other heroes treat things as a matter of course, they are the ones who’ll laugh off their insecurities and point out just how insane it is that there is an actual place called Gorilla City.

A hero. A shining paragon of might, intellect, charisma, and willpower. The great champion who will rise to the challenge, armed with a mighty advantage to turn the tide. The ones who ride off to defy fate and forge their own destiny, riding upon the tide of their allies.

And then there’s the other guy. Ladies and gentlemen of the net, meet the Everyman. As the name describes, they are like every man or woman.

They are not chosen by fate. They are not fiery, warping reality with their sheer passion. They are not brilliant, staying 500 steps ahead of the opposition. They are not divinely awe-inspiring in personality or looks, eliciting worship and adoration. No superpowers, no super training. Just enough to get by in the world.

But when stories can vastly vary what makes up ‘normal’, what marks an Everyman when one universe’s Average Josephine is another’s demigod?

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20th Century Failiterature

Probably for the best, I don’t want to see Gor’Mok The Savage spend three chapters having a debate with Durgamar The Feldrake about the ethics of using sentient beings as mounts.

Hark! Today, I shall be talking about 20th Century Literature and giving my thoughts on it. Not quite ALL literature written then, nor ONLY literature written then, but a particular genre which fixates on miserably moping about the 20th century.

There were plenty of other things written back then, but somehow, by the time I went on to study 20th Century Lit in university (among other more enjoyable subjects), the texts I studied almost entirely covered the miserable injustices of life. Racism, sexism, elitism, classism, this here appeared to be the primordial, eldritch ooze from which Social Justice Warriors evolved: all noise, no substance.

Obviously, I’m very much AGAINST it and I’ll explain why after I explain what it is. So watch out, netizens! Here there be opinions!

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I Play Fighting Games For The Plot

“Ah, but will he finally achieve his revenge in SUBURBAN SLAPFIGHT 2???”

Get your start buttons ready, folks, I’m talking about one of the last things you’d expect to have a plot! …No, not whatever is trendy for nerds to mock. It’s fighting games!

Ah, fighting games. Button inputs, dial-a-combo, outrageous special moves, and people beating each other up while getting up daisy fresh for next round. Of all genres, this one seems like the one of those that least needs a plot, right? Really, just give it a tournament or event, design a marketable cast, give ’em some fluff, and you’re good to go, right?

Not exactly.

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Agendas, Assemble! Also, Black Panther and the Falcon.

Set aside the fact that a Spider-Falcon sounds TERRIFYING and let’s talk about when comics dip into REAL real life!

Agendas. Messages. Themes. From the days of the Golden Age’s Hitler-punching propaganda to the we’ll-hate-mutants-but-not-cosmic-radiation-freaks racism allegories, reality has always had a place in comics. And in today’s age of “This Is The Internet So Any Moron Can Put Their Opinion Online” we also have no shortage of people trying to explain the meanings and intentions of these stories (plus why you are objectively bad if you disagree with them).

However, I’m not here to tell you whether you should lean to the Left, the Right, or the Red. My priority has been and always will be one simple thing: Does it make for a good story?

Well, get your animal suits out of the closet (don’t ask, I know you have them, you bronies, don’t deny it) and let’s take some recent examples from the men themselves: Black Panther and the Falcon!

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Kayfabe, Bayfabe, and High School Musicals

Also, it has Ashley Tisdale in it, who went on to voice Candace in Phineas and Ferb, and she is the best part of the franchise.

Following up on my point of the Emperor’s New Groove, we’ve seen what I opined to be the height of a story which could have been one big pandering mess and yet became one of the most honest, hilarious tales of all time. Here are some other examples to illustrate what it means to be ‘genuine’ in works.

I realise belatedly that there’s a term for this sort of honesty, of believing in what you’re doing, no matter what you’re doing, no matter how ridiculous the premise: kayfabe, the spirit of pro-wrestling.

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Honest Stories and The Emperor’s New Groove

So like a complete sellout, I am adapting my post titles with this mainstream concept called “comprehension.”

Disclaimer: Stuff belongs to Disney. Duh.

So like a complete sellout, I am adapting my post titles with this mainstream concept called “comprehension.”

Today, I’ll be looking at something which doesn’t quite have a term, though I suppose the best I can think of is the difference between genuine and disingenuous storytelling. Basically when a story feels like it can stand on its own, or if it’s just obvious pandering to a particular trend or idea.

We may have subjective tastes and values, but I think there’s something we can agree on: We can tell if a film is speaking to us, or at us. We can tell if a film is comfortable in its own skin, or trying too hard to be something it’s not.

And to do that, I think I’ll illustrate it with one of my favourite Disney films. It initially started as a conventional adventure, and was DRASTICALLY reinvented from the ground up as something else entirely. That decision was the greatest thing to ever happen in its existence, making it a beloved film to many for just being absolutely awesome.

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