A myth is a popular term which is commonly misused by people. Many people have tried to explain what a myth is, but due its fictitious nature it is not easy to explain what it is. The aim of this essay is to discuss this term, myth and investigate it in a deeper sense by revealing the complexity of the term and exploring the different meanings of the word. This will be done by distinguishing the different notions of myths, comparing the different uses of myths by Roland’s use of myths to that of Barthes and concluding by explaining how myths relate to religion and ideology. Examples in this essay will be drawn from the X-Files episode entitled, Quagmire.
Colin Grant in his book, Myths we live by explains that there are two prominent senses of myths. There is the personal sense, and the academic approach. He goes on to define a myth as something that is false, naïve, passé and a matter for the uninformed and gullible. This may be accepted as the academic approach to the definition of myth. On a personal sense, myths can be defined as stories that have been handed down from generation to generation and as a result are believed to be the truth. Grant goes on to add that a myth is a falsehood that is exposed as soon as its mythic nature is recognized.
There are three approaches of myths; a journalistic myth, scholarly myth and a living myth (Preston, 2010). The journalistic approach to myth is that a myth is to be exposed which in turn presumes that we do not notice it or see that it is false (Preston, 2010). Two features of this approach. One is that a journalistic myth ignores the wide influences and allegiances that shape our vision of truth. In the X-Files episode, despite the fact that there are people who actually do believe that the monster exists, people like the chief himself think it is all a joke. Action is only taken when the chief himself is attacked by the monster.
The second feature is that as falsehood, myth is really recognized only through exposure and once exposed, it is no longer to be taken seriously (Grant, 1998). In the X-files episode, Mulder’s main objective was to find proof of the existence of the monster and consequently to expose it. When Mulder mistakes the monster for an alligator and kills it, the residents of the area are relived and no longer take the monster seriously as a threat and can now dismiss the whole ‘Big Blue’ myth. As Grant explains, something is identified as a ‘myth’ expressly for the purpose of dismissing it.
The second approach of myths is a scholarly myth which is generally held to be interesting in themselves; they are catalogued and studied as clues to the beliefs and behaviors of ancient peoples (Grant, 1998). Mulder in the X-Files episode as well as the characters in the episode who believed in the existence of the monster looked and collected clues and evidence to support their belief. Their main aim in doing this was to prove that the monster actually existed. In this approach, the...