Reflections, Thoughts and Opinions From Africa.
|This morning I watched the last episode of “American Gods”, a new television series based on british author Neil Gaiman’s book of the same name. Before the last couple of the eight-episode series, I had decided not to both with the second season; too many characters, too many sub-plots and stories made it a bit confusing. Until the last episode…
I first decided to watch the series because I’ve loved mythology all my life. Egyptian, Roman, Norse and Greek myths spring instantly to mind – imagine how delighted I was to discover I’d be living an hour’s drive from Mount Olympus back in 2003! I read a bit about Norse mythology, but to be honest I’m not too knowledgeable about the stories. I am ashamed to admit I know very little about African mythology, other than stories of Nyaminyami the River God, mermaids, tokoloshes and hyenas. I really need to broaden my understanding of the mythology of Africa…
But back to “American Gods”. The basic premise of the story is that the old gods of Roman, Greek, Egyptian and other folklore have become irrelevant because people no longer believe in them. The first immigrants to America brought their gods with them, but over time the gods’ powers waned as people are more interested in drugs, technology, social media and celebrities. The central character is a man named Shadow Moon, who learns his whole life has been planned and orchestrated by the mysterious Mr Wednesday, who is actually Odin, the most revered god in Norse mythology.
Wednesday wants to unite the Old Gods to take back the world from the New Gods. With names like Media (goddess of television), The Technical Boy (god of the internet and computers), The Intangibles (gods of the invisible hand of the stock market) and The Black Hats (Messers Town, Wood, Stone and World representing conspiracy theories) the New Gods certainly demonstrate what has replaced so many human beings’ religious and mythological beliefs. Aware of Wednesday’s plan, the New Gods periodically interact with the Old Gods, causing destruction and mayhem. Example: Vulcan (Roman God of Fire running a town through its citizens’ belief in the right to bear arms) forges a sword for Wednesday, before betraying him to the New Gods, telling them where Shadow and Wednesday are going. A furious Wednesday kills Vulcan and curses his followers.
There’s a leprechaun named Mad Sweeny, Anubis (the Egyptian God of the Underworld), a Jinn and Biquis – the Queen of Sheba. When the first few episodes of the show aired the media chose to focus on the very graphic sex scenes featuring the Jinn with a young male Muslim and Bilquis devouring her lovers... having watched the entire series my writing mind wonders if this isn't the New Gods trying to influence the true story of the series! In the final episode Jesus is one of many guests attending a party celebrating Easter, hosted by Ostara, Germanic Goddess of Spring. Ostara calls herself Easter, and she has successfully adapted to the modern world by aligning herself with the Christian celebration bearing her name.
Neil Gaiman’s 2001 book won six international science fiction/fantasy writing awards of eleven nominations. I’ve not read the book… perhaps it should be on my “to read” list. After all, the book is usually better than the film or television series. I had concerns this series would be a contradiction to Christianity, Islam and other modern faiths. It isn’t – it’s a fantasy writer taking folklore and mythology to a modern generation. And in today’s world, increasing ruled by selfies and social media, perhaps “American Gods” is something we should all be watching.
American Gods is about 200,000 words long, and I'm sure there are words that are simply in there 'cause I like them. I know I couldn't justify each and every one of them.