Mythmaking Today?

Mythology has always incited to its readers a sense of wonder and freedom to explore their own imagination.  Myths are widely interpreted as reflections of the ideas and beliefs of a particular culture.  Interesting details about such “indigenous lore” have fueled folklorists, anthropologists and researchers to continuously collect, classify and analyze these materials.  If we were to consider that myths and other folklore materials are included in the rich oral tradition predating the colonization period, then we might as well safely assumed that the subject concerned are likely to be historical beliefs, cultural descriptions and lifestyles of the early settlers.  In this modern period and time, how do we approach the role of mythmaking?

In the Philippine context, various commentaries regarding the folklore tradition has relegated myths and legends as something both entertaining and ridiculous. Now the word “myth” in modern context is usually understood as if it’s synonymous with words like “fictitious”, “lie” or “fabricated”.  But if we go back to its original and definitive description, we will discover that myths are expressions of fundamental feelings and beliefs that are common to a group of people.  The myth is an outlet of creative expression; for those who are intimate to its true purpose and value, the myth is both a delight and the ultimate answer to phenomenon in which some people cannot otherwise understand.  Thus, the myth offers a certain kind of relief.

Banking on such powerful and persistent quality of myth to supply information to human’s thirst for a more rational explanation, many media practitioners have borrowed this technique to circulate stories, assumptions and beliefs in various media like TV, radio, magazines, newspapers and the like.  This has come to be known as mythmaking in the media.  There are slight outgrowths from the same concept, in which they are referred to as “urban legends”, “urban myths” and “contemporary legends” by some other people.  Because of technology, the circulation and the transmission of stories are way easier. The internet, for instance, is the most widely used medium for modern mythmaking.

You can’t deny that there are more or less similarities between the myth (in relation to oral tradition) and the urban myth in the modern generation.  They both have to be told for they have become a significant part of human speech and communication.  The stories involved may not be logical, and are likely devoid of empirical explanations, but in the end we tend to highlight divinized heroes and empathize with fallen gods, whether in modern context or not.

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