Two big winners at the Oscars were The King’s Speech and Black Swan. Both these stories follow a Virgin structure (see my previous blogs) and deal with the desire to explore the interior world rather than the need to selflessly protect the homeland. Does this speak to a trend among writers and audiences to step outside the Hero box and find a new perspective for story telling?
How exciting is this!?
I don’t think this is a brand new trend. Avatar last year was a Virgin story followed by a Hero story. The Hurt Locker may have been foreshadowing. It was the story of a guy who couldn’t stop being a Hero. The prospect of joining with another, letting your heart exist outside of himself as the Lover King must learn to do, was too daunting.
If this is the case, I’m going to bravely suggest that if we want to tell these new kinds of stories we have to rethink some of the long held beliefs as to what constitutes good story structure.
For example, the Hero is learning to be strong, rugged and brave to fulfill his destiny. Writers must make him completely uncomfortable in a foreign environment and throw hardship after hardship at him to show what he is made of.
The Virgin doesn’t go to a foreign land. She stays home in her Dependent World because her need is to hold her own opinion separate from what others expect of her. This is the moment in The King’s Speech where Bertie is ready to leave his Secret World and follow his gut instinct rather that abide by the heavy pressure from the Church to find a speech therapist they approve of. This moment is powerful because it is steeped in a long history of alignment between the Church and Monarchy. It would have had much less impact if Bertie was new in town.
The Virgin is discovering her unique talent which longs to find a place in the world. She does this by finding a Secret World where she feels safe to be curious and follow her creative, spiritual and sensual impulses. The joy she finds here awakens her self knowledge.
The Virgin finds a Secret World where she feeds herself with joy. Yes, she goes back and forth to her Dependent World where she is kept small, and fears discovery of her Secret World, but while she is in her Secret World she is blissful. Bertie enjoys his time in speech therapy and it is in this atmosphere that he grows into the man he is capable of being.
Mistakes or imperfect creations are gifts to the Virgin for they give her information as to what she likes and doesn’t like. All this helps her get in touch with her values separate from those of her kingdom. She faces flops with good humor, often as sources of bonding with supportive friends.
Mistakes in the Hero’s world are life-threatening.
There are many more ways in which the Hero and the Virgin stories are told differently. How great it is that our palette is shifting away from a steady Hero diet.