Seeing myth brought to the 'mainstream' is why I liked the original Stargate SG-1 series with it's connection to Egyptian mythos. And writers such as Neil Gaiman with his "American Gods".
I’m currently re-playing the God of War video game series. Its one of my favorite series and part of what I like about it is that it re-brands the Greek myths. You’re playing a character who fights all the Greek Monsters and challenges the Titans and the Gods and runs into the other heroes of Greek Mythology. You’re experiencing the Greek myths through the lens of Pop Culture.
You see this replicated in pop culture a fair amount. Whether its Marvel comics with their exploration of Thor and Norse Mythology or various video games that explore different mythologies from a modem perspective, there is a re-branding of myths that occurs. And there is also the infusion of new contemporary myths, such as what we find with Batman.
It serves as a way of introducing people to cultures and mythologies they may not have encountered otherwise. And sometimes it inspires research and study to find out more. Purists will argue that a game such as God of War is inaccurate because it reinterprets myths and inserts a character that was never part of the mythos. There is truth to that statement, but that’s why it’s a rebranding of mythology as opposed to the actual myth.
The re-branding of mythology is good because it shows us how timeless the myths are and how we can’t leave them behind. We retell them, we reshow them and maybe we change them a bit, but nonetheless we are influenced by them and the power they have in our lives. They live on in us, not only in the reading of the original myths, but the reinterpretations of them that are created in contemporary culture.
One of my favorite reads last year was the fiction book "The Flight of Michael McBride" by Midori Snyder. It is a "re-branding" of aspects of Irish mythology. As a historical fantasy, it is set in the 1800's, mostly in Texas. Not the place you normally would expect to find Morrigan and others of the Tuatha De Danann lurking around. Yet this was a crucial book in my own understanding of various aspects of traditional Irish myth, especially the Cattle Raid of Cooley or Tain Bo Culaigne. I never really "got" the importance of the cattle raids, until I looked at it through the lens America's own cowboy mythology. It may have helped that I was in Texas on a family trip while reading the novel. None-the-less, I was able to go back and look at Tain Bo Culaigne with renewed eyes after the fictional book.
Myths -like symbols, magic and the Gods and Goddesses themselves- are not static, but dynamic. They shape us as much as we shape them. At certain points those stories may become codified. But in a living culture I think it is well that they be renewed in multiple ways and multiple forms -and that new stories of the Gods be told. Even of new Goddesses and Gods.
...I've been enjoying your latest series of posts over the past week or so...
@RobertDavis I like American Gods for that reason as well. I've also been enjoying Once upon a time for its approach to the Faerie Tales.
@Justin Patrick Moore Thanks. Glad you're enjoying the posts. I think you hit the nail on the head on why pop culture can be useful for reinterpretation of myths, because it helps us understand previous versions of the myth. Sounds like a good book to read. I'll check it out.