When Dream won the fight against the devil in TheSandman, I heard the “inspirational music”. You know the one where you can tell that the good guy is having a good time or winning, and it makes you excited and happy? The music gets faster, and it sounds like children are giggling softly, and the tempo rises gradually. Yeah, that one.
It immediately hit me. I haven’t felt like I’m about to be taken on an adventure of a lifetime in years. It made me feel hopeful. For what? I don’t know, but I guess that’s the point of these movies. I don’t associate my childhood with many good memories — and honestly? I don’t even trust my memory, but it made me miss the childish innocence of believing in magic.
I was that kid that grew up convinced fairies exist, convinced that trolls lived under bridges, elves hid in tired cupboards, and there’s magic around. You just couldn’t see them because you didn’t believe or because humans had hurt them too much, and they wanted to remain unseen. Humans have a horrible track record of dealing with nice things anyway; just look at the story of the garden of Eden.
Did someone say delusional?
Do you know how tapped you must be to stay up past 12 as a nine-year-old waiting to see your toys come alive or a fairy coming to grant a wish? In Nigeria?
I can’t even judge little me because life’s tough, and I’m pretty sure these movies saved me at a point when I needed an escape.
It’s one thing to read the books and come to ridiculous conclusions about what a creature from a fantasy world looks like. Can you imagine watching The Lord of the Rings as a child, seeing that evil skeleton baby man Smeagol and thinking, yeah, fantasy movies are my drug of choice? This is appealing. We die here?
But things don’t just appear from nowhere, and if we can have real-life tales of witches turning children into yam, why can’t kind witches who give you nice things exist?
Imagine already being the skinny, quiet tiny kid younger than everyone in your class and then when you talk to someone, your mouth says things like this,
Hi, I’m Kai. I’m a Slytherin, a Whovian, a demigod, a divergent, a Narnian, a wallflower, a shadow hunter, etc. I imagine it must have been exhausting for the people I met. Eventually, after years of trying to drown this part of me, I met people who enjoyed everything about living in a fantasy like me. People unwilling to face reality. Or maybe that’s just the “adult” in me talking because what’s so amazing about being present in this reality? You breathe too much, and you’ve spent 20k. It was too late though, the me that was a believer had already died.
The tragedy of growing older
I watched and consumed all these stories and movies to escape, for them to save me, and half of their central theme was that no one would come to do that. I had to save myself.
But I’m glad I’m a walking encyclopaedia of magical jargon. Maybe one day I’ll get my letter, and it’ll be worth the obsession. No, not the one from Hogwarts; OGs knew that the better letter was the one from The Magicians.
Sometimes, when I miss the person I used to be before the cynicism that comes with being an “adult” kicked in, I go back to watch all those movies: Narnia, Percy Jackson, Eragon, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Jumanji, and every Studio Ghibli and Tim Burton movie ever. But they don’t feel the same. All that sense of wonder I used to feel is now much more fleeting.
These movies taught me everything I’m made up of at my core. They stressed the importance of friendships and found-families. They grounded my need for adventure, taught me the importance of believing in myself, that it’s okay to be a little different and that there can be magic in the mundane too.
Still, the further I strayed from my childhood, the less I believed in these things and the sadder I became. All I’m left with is a painful awareness of whatever real life is.
So here’s a tip: if a child or person in your life likes something enough to make it their entire personality, if they’re not hurting anyone or behaving like an incel, just let them be. Allow them enjoy their shit before they stop believing in it. Most of them will outgrow it anyway, but the best people? They’ll stay that way forever, and society is always better with people like them.
When they can see the things they enjoy being created, they always go out and make them. You name everything from animations to movies, books, cosplaying, and music. The world needs more dreamers.
There’s a lot that I can thank my parents for, but I’m glad they let me consume such ridiculous amounts of magical media I enjoyed growing up. I’m convinced that I had a great childhood. My therapist will say otherwise, but what does she know?
In all this, I hope people never stop creating movies about children being transported to fantasy lands, magical old men talking in riddles, talking animals and kind fairies who give good gifts. Because there will always be that one kid these movies will save, and there’s no better way for a person to appreciate your art than making it their entire personality.
Here’s to the ones who dream.