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April 08, 2011

Joseph Campbell and Kids

Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Campbell's 4 Functions of Mythology, and how they relate to Children's Entertainment


In Occidental Mythology (1964), Joseph Campbell first said that mythology serves 4 functions...which means that every great story does the following:

  • AWE The story opens its audience up to the wonder of the universe. The audience says WOW, the universe holds more than I can ever know.


  • OUR WORLD: The story presents a map of our current world-view, and how we relate to it. Ancient myths describe the origin of important landmarks or elements of the environment. In Star Wars, outer space is mythologized, because society was beginning to explore our physical universe.

  • SOCIETY: A story teaches its audience about the rules of the society from which it comes, and compels them to follow these rules.

  • LIFE: A story teaches us how to live a human lifetime, from youth to old age, under any circumstances.

When we come up with our ideas for children's entertainment products, these four concepts are a checklist for success. The environment and setting of the story lend themselves to the first two, while our characters and the choices they make relate mostly with the last two. A successful story/product responds to each of these items in a unique way that provides its audience with insight as to their current world and society--and how this relates to the all-powerful universe.

When we consider how to extend a children's story, either with sequels, movies, toys, theme park rides--whatever--it must extend relate to the original story's treatment of one or more of the above items.

1 comment:

Michael said...

Hi, just wondering if you want to exchange links with me? If yes, just leave me a comment at http://michaelwong.blogs.com

I'll link to you first, then you can link back ok? If no, that's cool too. Have a great day!

Cheers, Michael

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