Monday, July 23, 2018

Hate Crimes Against Mythopaths

A mythopath ( a term coined by J. R. R. Tolkien) is a person who likes stories — a person who is receptive to stories — a person who is enriched and nourished by stories. Like yours truly. And probably like you too — if you are reading this blog.

A young mythopath in training

Alas, the world is not always kind to us mythopaths. Cause, as you know, haters gonna hate.

Some of these hate crimes are committed by authors (who ought to know better).

5. Unsatisfying endings. And no, I don't mean that some beloved character dies. Sometimes that is an important part of a good story.  

The hero slays a dragon and
wins the princess.

What I'm talking about is. . . .after our gutsy hero has slain the dragon, won the princess, and learned to play Bach fugues on the harmonica, we find out that. . .
    ...surprise  it's all a dream!  
    ...government goons wipe his memory so he can never tell anyone what happened.
   ...a bomb falls or a meteor strikes and destroys every living thing, including the readers/viewers.

What is the point of the hero suffering and making choices if not to learn and grow from his experience — and by extension, for us as readers to learn and grow?

4. Changing the rules in the middle of the game. 

In the last episode of the sit-com Rosanne, the character Dan (Rosanne's husband) has died. But in the reboot of the series, he is suddenly alive again and none-the-worse for wear. 

I actually don't have a problem with this rule-change — because, after all, it's a sit-com, and it's kind of funny. But sometimes changing the rules is not so funny.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, the Star Wars franchise licensed several writers to create novels based on the original movies. The was the Star Wars Expanded Universe. But when the movie series rebooted in the 21st century, suddenly all story lines save one were declared to be non-canonical. That leaves a lot of creative work now considered heretical and non-valid.

Contrast that with Star Trek. When they thought it would be fun to do Star Trek with younger versions of the same characters, they made the Enterprise spin off into a parallel universe — a very satisfactory sci-fi explanation, with no harm done to the original stories.

Some hate crimes are committed by strangers. Like. . .

3. Talking NEAR you. Those annoying people in the movie theaters that ignore all the warnings and talk on their cell phones or to each other. They ruin the experience for everyone within ear shot.

And some hate crimes against mythopaths are perpetrated by your friends and family.

2. Talking TO you. There's the guy who comes into the room in the last five minutes of the tv movie and demands a recap of the entire plot — so that you can't watch the ending in peace. In fact, you miss the ending altogether because you're trying to explain the whole plot to Mr. Johnny-come-lately.

And the most heinous crime of all. . . .

1. Giving spoilers. In an episode of the sit-com The Middle, Axl tortures his younger brother Brick by stealing his new Planet Nowhere book — the last book in the series. Axl then reads the last chapter and tells Brick how it ends. Cruelty indeed for a book lover like Brick.

An author or screen-writer works hard to build a story that will carry you from the beginning to the end. And the first time you read or watch a story, you deserve to experience it just as it was intended — without some know-it-all telling you, "You know, of course, that the princess dies and the frog is really the evil wizard from chapter two." Or, the best line in the movie was, "What does God want with a space ship?" 

Thanks all the same, but I'd like to experience the story, including the best line in context for myself. I can't begin to tell you how many books and movies have been ruined or diminished for me by so-called-friends who couldn't wait to share the ending with me. Thanks, Guys!

The moral of the story is: don't be a mytho-meanie. Don't ever commit one of these heinous crimes against story-lovers. Otherwise, there's a special circle of Hell where the punishment is listening to endless episodes of Lemony Snicket that never come to a resolution. 




Mythocrime doesn't pay.

Photo Credits
    Nurse Reading to a Little Girl, 1895 , Mary Cassatt

         The author died in 1926, so this work is in the 
         public domain in its country of origin and other 
         countries and areas where the copyright term 
         is the author's life plus 80 years or less.
    Bilibin dragon
         Artist: Ivan Bilibin;
         This work is in the public domain in the United States, because it 
             was in the public domain in its home country (Russia) on the 
             URAA date (January 1, 1996);
    Star Wars logo -- This image only consists of simple geometric shapes or text. It 
        does not meet the threshold of originality needed for copyright protection, 
        and is therefore in the public domain;
    Stealing popcorn in the theater:  © Can Stock Photo / Mark2121;
    Prisoners: Čeština: David Černý a ???. Akce: Vězni na Václavském náměstí, 
          Praha, 15. března 2004;
          Author: Vit Svajcr, Dobre         


  1. Oh unsatisfying endings are the worst! They just leave you feeling like you've been tricked and lied to for the whole story.

  2. What a super duper post this is!!! WhooHoo!!!! Can you hear me whooping and clapping???

  3. Love the term mytho-meanie. Hate the behavior. Well done!

  4. you might want to use a different term than "hate-crime". Not only does it have a different connotation and denotation, but it also has a legal definition that you have expressed here.