Challenge #02105-E282: Iconography
Scholars of the Galactic Alliance study ancient human gods; the likes of Apollo, Coyote, Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, and Ronald McDonald. -- shkspr1048
"The changing roles of icons in culture is a fascinating process. Take this fellow," a picture of Apollo. "A figure from ancient Terran culture. He has been, at various times, the God of music, truth, prophecy, the sun, light, plague, and poetry. The Greeks and the Romans alike got things confused for a while, of course. After he faded from worship, he reappeared in various forms. Including jovial cartoon representations." A slide containing a discussion of the Icarus myth, and how gay it was. The picture of Apollo there was of a youthful, skinny, blond man with an appreciative smirk on his face.
"Little is different, no matter the non-Christian myth that encounters the greater reaches of the Western Economical Empire. Take Coyote, of native American myth. Originally a cunning trickster, he became transformed into this fellow." A picture of a cartoon coyote, standing on thin air, bearing a sign that read, Uh oh, in pre-Shattering English. The audience laughed. Some memes persisted for seeming eternities.
"Then we have the deification of common media celebrities. Only the genuinely good become these household deities. Those who matched the wholesomeness they represented on the screen." An image of Mr Rogers, next to an image of Bob Ross. "These are just two examples of people who attempted to make their world a better place. They lived according to the role they portrayed. Alternately, the role they portrayed was how they lived. That matter is up to debate. The point was that the greater public gradually deified them. Initially, they were an example." A picture of an early twenty-first century meme. An image of Mr Rogers with the caption, Be the person Mr Rogers knew you could be. Another image of Bob Ross by his canvas with a paintbrush, and the caption, Turn your mistakes into happy accidents. "Then they gradually transformed into paragons of virtue, then into minor deities. Mr Rogers into a God of learning and helpfulness, and Bob Ross into a God of beauty and nature."
Some of the Humans in the audience were wiping their eyes.
"Then there's this fellow." Laughter erupted at the image of a plastic clown in a yellow jumpsuit. Red hair and mouth eternally grinning. Half the Humans in the audience gasped and made protective gestures. The other half tittered nervously. "Originally conceived as a friendly figure of fun and an appeal to children, the behaviour of the parent corporation corrupted it into a demonic figure of greed and harm." A succession of pictures showing the progress from fun, happy clown, to an entity more from the depths of any imagined hell than anywhere else. The progression included a number of memes that implied a cannibalistic or paedophilic inclination to the clown. "Numerous attempts at reformation resulted in a collapse of trust, and then a collapse of the corporation. That was shortly before the Great Shattering and the Galactic Food Value laws became part of Terran culture, so it's moderately well-documented."
"Following the Collapse of the Western Economical Empire, and the double blow of the Great Shattering, Humanity foundered in a series of dark ages. Dark ages during which some icons persisted, some became deities," a picture of an early icon of Elvis Presley. "And some became devils." A picture of a Human male with a distinctive manner of dress and a way of wearing his hair that was instantly recognisable. Some Humans in the audience hissed. They may not know all the details of their histories, but some evils were iconic.
"The near-destruction of mass media has done nothing to diminish the given meaning of these images. Most Humans know what they mean, even if they don't know the story. Those who know the story can easily draw parallels between ancient evil and the modern day, or ancient good, and more contemporary people to admire. The language remains, even though the means to disperse it is no longer as uniform as it once had been."
After that exemplary beginning, the task of the day was to disperse and find figures and icons that were shared amongst them, and how many had different meanings depending on their origin culture. The results for that one were always fascinating.
[Image (c) Can Stock Photo / tannjuska]
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