“We thought expanding the Galra empire would bring stability. We learned too late; a tyrant doesn’t seek stability, only power.” — Ulaz (Voltron: Legendary Defender, S2E3)
When people watch Star Wars (disclaimer: I have not), do they root for the evil Galactic Empire? The mutants’ oppressors in the extensive X-Men saga? Heck, in Frosty the Snowman, do they favor the dry adults’ logic over good old Christmas magic? Unless they’re a huge buzzkill, probably not.
In simple terms: this is naturally because we like to see justice happen. We are hard-wired to believe in the just-world phenomenon–people deserve what they get and get what they deserve. We enjoy the success of the underdog especially in the form of big fights and explosions, and especially when we see people like ourselves being threatened. The X-Men series is so popular because it’s based on the ageless struggle of discrimination vs. tolerance, from race issues to the most basic schoolyard shunning.
But to take it a step even further, I suggest the idea that we enjoy seeing fictional rebels because we see ourselves in them. Perhaps we are cowards individually, but as a whole, we feel powerful. We feel inspired to cheer for the brave and weep for their losses. It’s the great courage and tenacity that has prolonged our survival as a species, the fact that we refuse to die even when we feel like we should. These exalted traits are the reason that the President’s speech from Independence Day is one of the most iconic film scenes in history.
I must conclude this post on a serious note. In today’s society, I urge the reader to do one thing: don’t consume media like the ones listed above, cheer for these fictional heroes, and then turn your back on your own fellow humans who fight for their own rights. Don’t ever let yourself be so shallow.
Real-life, genuine action of this caliber is not something that is only dreamed of. It is in our neighborhoods, forums, schools. It brings me more pain than almost anything else to hear my own mother, a Vietnamese immigrant, vilify protesters and dissenters just because they choose to disagree. For those who wish for justice, there cannot be such thing as “them” and “us.” Division makes groups weak.