Monday, February 18, 2013

The Man, the Myth, the Legend

Legends are an endangered species.  Thanks to technology and the constant recording of modern history, myths have a more difficult time of taking shape.  Back in the 4th century, figures like Beowulf became world-renoun the hard way, by word of mouth.  And, with the telephone effect in play, each retelling of Beowulf's story brought him closer to the gods than to humanity.

Outside of joking memes like the "Chuck Norris facts," modern culture doesn't hold onto actual heroes for very long.  It is all to easy to learn about a person's flaws and mistakes to ever bring them to the level of ancient heroes.  Yet, there is one man that has become the face of the American legend.  Someone that our country can look to as our own private demigod.

That man is Abraham Lincoln.

Also, he's on Mars now.

Due to the significant contributions he gave to this country as president, we have collectively decided that he is the man who can do no wrong.  The above image is from Adventure Time, where Lincoln is literally depicted as a supernatural being that overlooks all of creation.  And this isn't even the strangest interpretation of the character!  Lincoln has appeared as a time-traveler, a ghost, a vampire hunter, an awkward teenaged clone, and an unusually high number of killer robots.

Based on Disneyland's Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, the animatronic version of the 16th president has been a popular choice for fictional mayhem.  So naturally, in the Muppets Tonight episode concerning positive heroes in entertainment, a destructive Robot Lincoln lays siege to the studio.

After Sam the Eagle laments the lack of role models in modern culture, Muppet Labs attempts to rectify the issue with their own "perfect" hero.  When Robot Lincoln malfunctions, he takes on the role of Frankenstein's monster, causing chaos wherever he roams.  It seems as if he is just a brainless destroyer, but at the end, he has an introspective moment, noticing how people fear his presence.  This inspires guest star Paula Abdul to warm his heart with a rendition of "Lean on Me" and Robot Lincoln is welcomed by his peers.

He just wants to be loved.

Lincoln is the only person that is perfect for this part.  He's the president we are fascinated with and, as seen by the surge of recent movies (both fictional and non-fictional), his popularity will not go away for a long time.  Lincoln is the president that we can just have fun with.

Sure, we may write songs about Washington's raw power or feature Nixon as a ruthless power-hungry super-villain but Lincoln?  Lincoln knows how to party.  Some of this material may be seen as offensive or improper to the legacy of a great man, but the fact that he has inspired so many bizarre and creative interpretations goes to show that legends still exist.  It ensures that history never dies.

Whether he is a bloodthirsty automaton or a sagely wizard, Abraham Lincoln is and always will be a legend.

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