Article Up @ Fantasy Magazine!

My Essay ‘“The Chosen One” vs. The One Who Chooses‘ is up at Fantasy Magazine! In this essay I dissect the general hero tropes in the Harry Potter Series and Zahrah the Windseeker. A total overhaul of a post I did in Feminist SF! over a year ago it reads completely different and is more general and analytical by far than my original post was. Go check it out and let me know what you think!


6 responses to “Article Up @ Fantasy Magazine!

  1. Interesting analysis of the Chosen One! I also definitely prefer The One Who Chooses, but for a slightly different reason.

    To my mind, The Chosen One usually gets glorified without earning his place in the story. Instead of working for years and years, toughing it out, succeeding by virtue of his own determination and decisions — he’s just predestined to be The One. He can be a huge screw up — in fact he often is (see Kung Fu Panda, tons of anime, superhero stories, whatever). Generally he starts naive and without any skill and just magically *becomes* great, overshadowing those around him who may have worked years to get where they are. And it seems to me no coincidence that The Chosen One is almost always a young, straight, white male.

    In fact, the latter fact may be my main reason for detesting chosen one stories. I know that *I* will never be chosen as The Chosen One.

    I also don’t like the idea of it to being with. Not only because it robs the character of agency — but because it removes from the character the necessity of actually *earning* the role of hero. He just gets to be hero because he’s Chosen. That is so unfair.

    But, Chosen Ones are kinda my pet peeve in the fantasy genre. 😛 Heh heh. Anyway, cool analysis, Naamen! Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Ones Who Choose are soooo much better!

  2. I really like it.

    Especially your conclusion — that ‘being different is something that can be corrected” in the Chosen One stories. What’s interesting is that Harry Potter, forex, is trying to eat its cake and have it too; he’s still Special. My disappointment with the Potter ending was because in a way it did all seem too pat. With LotR, for instance, Frodo can never go back (I’m not sure he’s quite a Chosen One in the same way, though) just as the world can never go back; things are too changed; but that is part of the deeper story within Tolkien.

  3. Ico-
    Excellent point!

    I also think that “The Chosen One” is so pervasive as a trope beyond SF/F/H even that it makes it’s way into the way we see the world. I mean you only have to look at the way we basically deify a lot of people in the public eye with phrases such as “No one else could do it” “Only her/him” which makes those who’ve failed before feel better ’cause they can cling to the fact that they just weren’t “the one” and encourages others not to try because very few people are delusional enough to believe themselves “the one”.

    Maybe I’m thinking about it too much but I think “The One Who Chooses” is a much better ideal to look up to and one that teaches us to take responsibility for our actions as opposed to blaming something/one else.

    Thanks for the compliment, I’m really glad you liked the article. I was more than a little nervous about this one.

  4. Kate-

    You’re aboslutely right the HP ending was way to pat. I mean people died but we never really got to see the grief or aftermath of that it just jumps ahead to when everything is all hunky-dory. I try to imagine the Epilogue does not exist and it just had a very abrupt ending.

  5. We in America have a very odd relationship with this idea of Chosen-ness vs. Choosing. The American Revolution is a classic act of choosing, and yet you are right in that continually we culturally have this obsession with Chosen-ness. That’s part of Manifest Destiny, isn’t it? We are a Great Country which Deserves to Rule the World because God Favors Us. It’s a nice circular argument.

  6. Kate-
    That’s part of Manifest Destiny, isn’t it? We are a Great Country which Deserves to Rule the World because God Favors Us

    Very interesting point! I hadn’t really thought about the ties this attitude had with Manifest Destiny but it makes very good sense. I think we as Americans have such a problematic relationship with Manifest Destiny. I mean overtly we reject it and its connotations now but our language still holds it’s belief in the way the mainstream talks about “civilized nations” and going in to “civilize” people. The words of Manifest Destiny may be dead on the page but the spirit of it is still, sadly, thriving.

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