Although Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome vanished long ago, their culture has not fallen into oblivion. The characters of the Greek and Roman mythology no longer seem just as credible as the Ancient Greeks and Romans saw them. Still, there are lots of references and allusions to Greek and Roman mythology in the popular culture of nowadays. Such examples of using myths in modern literature, filmmaking, and advertising can be found in Western and, especially, American culture. Some of the examples will be described in this essay. However, the elements of mythology might not factor in the content of the pop culture just as well as the authors of the reference think.
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One of the most famous examples of the use of the characters taken from Greek mythology in pop culture must be the mentioning of the famous goddess, Venus, in advertising, which is, in fact, based on a song about Venus. In the advertisement, some elements of the song are used, with Jennifer Lopez performing. On the one hand, the idea of femininity which the whole commercial is shot through seems to be entirely in tune with the image of Venus.
However, such lines as “Feeling confidence and strength” can hardly be attributed to the Greek idea of femininity, especially strength, which is a purely male feature in Ancient Greek mythology. Therefore, the authors of the commercial turned the Greek mythical beauty into a modern image of a femme fatale. Hence, one can admit that the authors of the ad have offered an excellent idea; however, this idea landed too far from the original context.
The second example of an allusion to greek mythology in pop culture can be considered a modern adaptation. Hercules was a tremendous innovation at the time and a new way of telling the old story. However, it is still a movie for children, which is why it should be viewed as a modern story about a man learning where he belongs, with an Ancient Greek background.
However, it still seems that basing a movie for children on such an ambiguous character as Hercules, who further on killed his wife, Megara, does not seem a good idea. To avoid the controversy, the movie director had to cut a lot of essential elements, making it another coming-of-age story, but not an interpretation of a myth.
Finally, comic books as a huge chunk of modern day must be considered. In one of the most famous comic universes, DC, a character based on one of the most famous Ancient Greek mythological creatures, a phoenix, was created. Jean Grey, known further on as Phoenix, turns into the creature mentioned above, bringing destruction and chaos into the entire universe.
That is another excellent example of reviving the long-forgotten myths. The comic book adds a meaningful social context to the image of the mythological bird, i.e., the idea of equality, which, as a phoenix, cannot be killed, defeated, or washed away by the sands of time.
It seems that the use of the elements of Greek and Roman mythology in popular culture in modern day can be justified by the proper use of the elements above.
For instance, when referring to a specific idea expressed in some of the famous Greek myths, or when developing a character that can relate to one of the characters in the ancient mythology, the latter can be used. However, the use of these elements must make sense both regarding the source material and the new context; otherwise, the whole idea will most likely fall flat.
Beyond Beautiful JLO. “Jennifer Lopez’s Gillette Venus Commercial.” YouTube. 2012. Web.
Hercules. Ex. Prod. Ron Clemens, John Musker and Barry Johnson. Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Pictures. 1997. DVD.
Phoenix (Jean Grey). Web.