Just thinking about Kung Fu Panda again. I remember as I was watching and we were coming to the part of the story where Ooglay, the Turtle, must choose the Dragon Warrior, that I smiled.
Something about that motif always pleases me. It’s a universal desire: being chosen. And not just being chosen, say, in Kickball. I’m talking about a Wise Person, someone well respected, choosing you and telling you that you have abilities far beyond what you thought you did.
Rare these days to find a well-respected Wise Person anymore–wisdom is suspect. Authority is suspect. Certainly supernatural hunches and Predestination is suspect. But we all want it, secretly. For someone to assure us that we will matter. That what we can do is far beyond what we thought we could do. And we really want someone to tell us we have that potential.
I’ve seen the motif in other films, and from really old fairy tales. But it works: Willie Wonka knows that Charlie has the potential to be great; some coach believes in some losing player; the wizard chooses the peasant boy or girl.
I don’t know why I want to talk about it. It just made me happy to see that motif in this film. It plucked that string again in me and resonated deep–that someone might see through my bullshit, through my mistakes, through my attempts, and know what I could do, know what I will do, and bet on me.
Kiss the frog, be kind to the bear, love the beast–it’s all the same. When stories use that motif it resonates with most readers–as long as we can see that the bumbling pre-hero is good and honest and trying, even if he makes a lot of mistakes along the way.