Of Barbie and Osama

Change - the process of transformation of an entity into a new one, in part, or in whole - was a phenomenon I had the pleasure of encountering not in a Science Class, learning about insects or some such boring thing as most people did, but with a film that I, to this day, consider the very epitome of art - Barbie Fairytopia. And no, here I allude not to the supposedly new and improved CGI version of the greatest barbie to ever exist, I am referring here to Princess Elina the First, whose god-awful hairstyle managed to endure through her glimmering transformation into the Butterfly Queen.

The point being, the word change, rather, metamorphosis and the meaning behind it is one that I am quite fond of, as proved by the exasperatingly long introductory paragraph.

Back then in my young mind, the first impression was the last impression and I believed that change always, irrevocably meant change for the better. To me, change was the one-way bridge between imperfection and perfection. It was only later, in sixth grade when we learnt of negative numbers and school cliques, that I realised belatedly that change goes both ways. That change can be unpleasant.

In fiction, in the books we read and the films we watch, we often see heroes traverse the path between the ordinary and the extraordinary; gain powers, friends, enemies, allies along the way and finally morph into the shining, self assured leaders and warriors that creators spend years making us root for. We constantly see these heroic characters brave the tumult of their tragic pasts and go from being Marie the Baker to Elina the Butterfly Queen.

But we also see the metamorphosis of villains, and dare I say, these hold much more meaning than those of heroes. Because the change of a regular person to a monstrosity - from the Joker to Kingpin, from Itachi Uchiha to Getou Suguru right down to Osama - always indicates something fundamentally wrong and discriminatory in the society these people live in. And since fiction parallels life, I believe it is safe to say the monstrous transformations in the world of fantasies very much reflect those that can stem from real reasons in real life. Some such changes of course, reflect a clear lack of empathy and abominations in humanity, but many are simply products of their environments. Because as much as the world would have us believe, changes are rarely sudden. They are a form of growth and are just as gradual. And sometimes, things can fester right under our noses, till we find that we have metamorphosed into the very demons we swore to destroy.

Of course changes don't always have to give way to existential commentaries about one's fictional emotional support/comfort characters. It can simply imply ..... change. And in such contexts, are changes not a fundamental part of life? Be it a teenager's condescending graduation from listening to Baby by Justin Bieber on repeat, to I Found God in a Tomato by Psychedelic P*rn Crumpets; an actual graduation from school to college; drastically changing one's wardrobe because finally their search for an "aesthetic" is over - humans are in a constant state of change, as ironic as that may sound. And what is life but a series of changes and the spaces in between that help us understand who we truly are?

Author: Sucheta Mitra

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