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Life imitates art — but shouldn’t.

11 November, 2011

Does anyone remember Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom? You know, the one where hundreds of children are forced to work in a mine, and are only saved because Indy comes to rescue them? Ok, kind of. Because Indiana Jones frequently rescues people by accident, and that was no exception. But Indy is handsome, funny, and kills the bad guy. He’s also an adult, and he saves the children. He’s kind of a hero.

Our culture is filled with heroes. Men (usually) who see injustice and stop it. They come in from the outside, and save the oppressed. Whether White Savior or Batman, we are taught to think of the heroic as male — and interventionist — and adult. Occasionally, a woman gets to be the hero, but only when she is super-human. Normal women are not the heroes of pop culture.

But if you think about stories in which the victims are abused children, that’s just not true. Indiana Jones does a lot of heroic things, but his sidekick, Short Round — a child — is the real hero of that story. Think back to any story you’ve read where the main characters are children. Fantasy, Science Fiction, plain old kid fic… most of the time, the children aren’t saved by an adult seeing their plight and doing something about it. Most of the time, the children are strengthened by their experiences, and help themselves. From Jane Eyre to Lyra, from the Lost Boys to Ender, the abused child helps himself (or herself) and her (or his) friends. The victim, with no other choice, must become a hero, or ceases to exist.

Today, now, is no different. There have been no brave and noble adults intervening to save the victimized. Instead, it rested on a victim, older, but still a victim, to say, “Stop. Children are being hurt.”

Men of wealth and power had the opportunity to do something. They could have said, “Stop.”

But that’s not how the story goes. Not even in real life, apparently.

For the best take on this, please just go read John Scalzi

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