Season 1: Deconstructing Disney (for Adults) Or… Rationalizing Disney Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – Alternative Themes Found in Disney Films That Provide Lessons and Parallels for Adults.
Ep 5 : Hercules
Hercules is a true labor of love. It has the type of cinema language any well versed film teacher can pull an entire semester worth of material. Between Hades and his aggressive antics, to Zeus basically being the villain of the film, there is a lot of unpack on Mount Olympus alone. However, as the plot unraveled, I could not help myself as I was lost in the sauce off this hidden notion. Disney’s Hercules is a testament to the essential 10,000 hours it takes us to master any craft. As Hercules trains for his moment back home on Mount Olympus, we too sharpen skills and hone talents of our own as we find our true place in the world.
When breaking down Hercules’ journey from zero to hero, we can also objectively track similar trials and tribulations from the start. The events leading up to teenage Hercules wrecking the town say more than the colorful collapse itself. At the core, this is very much like us, as people, when we discover something new. We go overboard. The first time, we try to cook? We break the egg. The first time we try that stunt we saw on TV? Broken limb. First $100 gift card I ever received the day I graduated high school? I bought the fattest stack of DVDs of my life, at that time. There is something to be said about excitement and eagerness toward something. When we get the chance, we go head first. For better and for worse. Same as teenage Herc, laying waste to the town with larger than life strength. That same strength we identify as passion. Many times the passions we have make us wonder far beyond our mental limits and cause us to wander to city limits we never knew existed so young. Teenage Herc was so aware of this calling, he knew the time set out for guidance. Though Herc was fortunate enough to be guided by both his adopted Earth parents, Amphitryon and Alcmene and his biological father, Zeus, we are not always afforded that luxury and must figure out to how to get where we want to be the best ways we can. With so many ways to get the fabled 10,000 hours in your craft, the possibilities are boundless if you can go the distance.
Starting off, we usually gravitate to those in our craft, both peers and predecessors, in order to learn what we can from the ones that seem to know it all. For teenage Herc, Philoctetes was the know it all for him. If the feel was only mutual. Herc and Phil’s dynamic upon introduction is very telling to how hard it is to find a reliable peer or mentor to work with just to learn the ropes properly. As bright eyed and bushy tailed we are, it could easily be for naught without the right person, or anyone for that matter. Sometimes we find them or they find us, sometimes we miss out on them or they aren’t receptive and sometimes we have to get their face and let them know it’s time to do work like young Herc. Once we find that mentor or peer-to-peer dynamic the fun really begins as we start to learn things never imagined when we started. We are getting what we asked and then some and we LOVE IT. Nothing can tear us, or Herc, from our crafts. Except those devilish attractive distractions.
Attractive distractions work like passion, can feel like passion, but isn’t quite passion. An attractive distraction, if left unchecked, can detract us from our 10,000 hours mark altogether. For Herc, it was in the form of certified D.I.D, Megara. Though relationships are a common form of attractive distractions, there are countless other types of attractive distractions such as a promotion, extreme indirect celebrations on off nights, breaking routine for a day or night out and so much more. Be wary of the varying forms and persevere en route to adding up those 10,000 hours. A wise Satyr once said, use your head.
There comes to a point we really start to get a hold of our craft. We learn a few things, pick up a trick here and there. We feel there but we are not there. Same to be said for Herc. He may have felt ready for his ascension but he clearly lost count of his hours. As Zeus reminds Herc, he has to prove himself a true hero. We don’t necessarily have to sacrifice ourselves to get to where we want but there is a level of change we have to go through. We can’t just learn the craft, talk a bit about it, and repeat. We have to apply key lessons when possible. It is only through my studies I know what film language is, yet it is the application that allows me to communicate to my audiences through ExCU. The basics provide the tools. The application allows you to build identity through the craft. As Herc gets closer to home, we keep pace with him as we get closer to master and farther from student.
As the prized 10,000 hours are reached, we will be as established as Herc when he meets Hades again. Hades may have released the Titans as planned however, it was the mastery Herc had with his tools. In addition with his great rapport with Pegasus, that allowed Zeus to be set free and prevail against the Titans. When Hades threw his last curveball at Herc, getting him to swim for Meg’s soul, it was ultimately Herc’s ability to apply lessons from Phil and Zeus in order to return to Mount Olympus as a God. Herc’s final obstacles take me back to the last year in college when Professors would have the wild arsenal of projects and analytical essays in a way too elaborate syllabus. Herc’s final obstacles would take anyone back to their most difficult paths to where they had to get to be where they are.
Disney’s Hercules is one of the better love stories not because of Meg, but due to the craft. The metaphor of being a master of your craft and the effort it will take is as apparent in the subtext as the surprisingly impressive CGI hydra monster. Herc shows us the capacity of defying odds when no one expects you to succeed. What will you do with your 10,000 hours: invest in the craft or find some attractive distractions?
**Stars are born through fusion, equal parts passion and directing that energy effectively. For mentors and peers in our lives that show us the craft. We shine in ways they only see.