In stories which occur in a "RealWorld plus working magic" setting, it's fairly standard for the magic-users to go out of their way to conceal all evidence of magic from the mundane masses -- and AT ARM'S LENGTH follows firmly in that tradition. And from the writer's point of view, this tradition makes a great deal of sense; it minimizes the number of fictitious details you'd otherwise need to invent (because the setting is so very similar to the RealWorld), the "gotta stay hidden" premise is an ever-fertile source of conflicts that stories can be built on, and yada yada yada. So that's why writers love this Hidden Magic schtick. My question is, why do the characters go along with it? Yes, yes, I realize that the characters are fictitious entities anyway, which means they can't do anything but what the writer wants them to do. I just don't happen to like the my-characters-are-mindless-puppets-for-me-to-manipulate school of "characterization"; instead, I prefer to treat my characters as if they were independent, free-willed entities. So the question is: Why, other than "the writer says so", would magic-using characters insist on hiding their magic? Especially, why would a long-standing group/society/race of magic-users insist on hiding their magic? Take away the standard a priori assumption that Magic Gotta Stay Under Cover, Just Because, and most/all of the given rationales really don't seem very plausible... Thoughts, people?
Post by darkwingdork on Dec 27, 2008 11:20:20 GMT -5
This is actually an issue I myself have with most magic story settings (Harry Potter, I'm looking at you). I don't like the keeping magic secret just for the sake of keeping it secret storytelling angle either. I think it's obnoxious and reflects poorly on the magic users.
Which is exactly my condemnation of most of the Enchanter species. What other stories hint at, I outright say by having the vast majority of Enchanter wishing to keep magic a secret BECAUSE they think they are exclusive and better than mortals.
Ally, Sheila and Reece are caught between a rock and a hard place here. They also go along with the cover-up, but for different reasons. Well, partially they agree with their elders, simply because they don't want to risk being further ostracized by their culture (they're already looked down upon for mingling with lowly mortals.) But also, it's similar to the "Superman" scenario.
Marlon Brando had a good speech in the first "Superman" film where he warns his son that if humans felt like Superman was available for them 24/7, they would become reliant on him to solve all of their problems, even the ones they could solve themselves. The species would languish and become dormant. Hell, this year's film "WALL-E" made the same warning, but with technology instead of a superpowered man. If things were too convenient, humans would lose all desire to achieve things, instead spending their lives being slaves to entertainment, therefore necessitating EVEN MORE technology to accommodate their lifestyles (a vicious cycle).
The girls have instead decided to help out in little ways but to not disrupt the overall destiny of the mortals. Plus, they have the right to have some downtime, too. Who wants to to be solving problems every second of their life? I know I wouldn't.
If magic was publicly known, people would call on the girls to solve not just magical problems, but mundane ones too. And they would be expected to fix these problems at the drop of a hat. You know how pissed people get when the government doesn't fix things immediately. A month without power in Houston after Hurricane Ike and some residents were ready to lynch FEMA members. Who wants to put up with that drama?
Post by darkwingdork on Dec 31, 2008 1:16:59 GMT -5
Here's a question for you: if the good guys are covering up evidences of magic, are they partially responsible for any attacks that might befall mortals? After all, if there was a committed presence seeking to endanger me, I'm not sure I'd appreciate being kept in the dark about it just so I can go about my life in blissful ignorance.
Here's a question for you: if the good guys are covering up evidences of magic, are they partially responsible for any attacks that might befall mortals?
No, they are not responsible for the attacks. However, by keeping the victims in a state of enforced ignorance, they are responsible for ensuring that the victims remain vulnerable to said attacks, and that the victims have zero chance of ever being able to protect themselves. All very patronizing and condescending, really...
Post by darkwingdork on Jan 3, 2009 11:46:50 GMT -5
That's a good point of discussion, really. I mean, the girls will have to face facts at some point and realize that keeping magic a secret is harmful to society at large.
I suppose in say, a "Bewitched" or "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" scenario where there never seems to be any evil magic users (mischievous, sure, but not cruel) it wouldn't really hurt to keep magic secret. Yeah, it's selfish on the part of magic users, but there's no pressing need for them to use it in public, so whatever.
As long as the attacks stay small scaled as they seem to be right now, there is no reason to bring it to public attention and cause panic. Also, if their magic abilities become public knowledge, they would have to somehow avoid being ostracized by this word or worse. Some unscrupulous people might try to capture them or their loved ones to try to learn how their magic works.
There are some super hero stories where the government or other people try to capture the heroes and tear them open to learn how their abilities work. Plus it isn't like the girls have secret identities. They just reveal their extra set of arms.
Now if the magic attacks start going large scale, then they should think about revealing themselves and their magic to the public.
"A good warrior always inspects his weapon first..."
Post by darkwingdork on Jan 6, 2009 12:58:20 GMT -5
The girls are in a unique position, because no one in their group has ever gotten this close to mortals before. Other Enchanters have popped up on Earth from time to time to have some fun, but long-term relations with mortals has mostly been avoided. Most of the other Enchanters who are sympathetic to mortals still don't think very highly of them intellectually.
The girls may question if they have the right to make this public. Surely the rest of their race would not appreciate it, and probably wouldn't care much anyway if some horrible magic catastrophe or attack was leveled on Earth as long as it didn't affect their homeworld. Remember, most of the Enchanters have lived through events such as the Black Plague, the Crusades and various other pestilences, wars and genocides throughout history. Another one probably wouldn't bother them that much as long as most Earthlings survived.
Remember, the girls are kind of between two worlds here. They have NOT abandoned their families and their culture, but they ARE spending more time with the mortals, which creates conflict.