When Hollywood gets in the way of a perfectly good myth
April 13th, 2012
03:40 PM ET

When Hollywood gets in the way of a perfectly good myth

Editor's note: Aaron Sagers is a New York-based entertainment writer and nationally syndicated pop-culture columnist. He has specialty knowledge in "paranormal pop culture," has lectured at conventions nationwide on the topic and is a media pundit on supernatural entertainment. He covers pop culture daily at ParanormalPopCulture.com and can be found on Twitter @aaronsagers.

Remember how the half-god Perseus flew on the winged horse Pegasus to save Andromeda from Hades’ Kraken, and then later battled the chimera, minotaur and titan Kronos? If your basis for Greek mythology is the 2010 “Clash of the Titans” remake and the new sequel “Wrath of the Titans,” that’s how you might remember the pursuits of Perseus. But that’s not how it happened.

Right, so technically none of it “happened,” but the Greek myths of titans, gods and men that have existed for more than three millennia are the stuff of ancient religion and part of our pop culture pantheon. Many myth geeks like me were exposed to the tales – which live at an intersection of history and storytelling – at an early age when we craved adventures about monsters, violence and valor (and were exposed to, incidentally, sex, betrayal and heinous acts).

Personally, I remember seeing the original 1981 version of “Clash of the Titans” with the Ray Harryhausen visual effects when I was about 4 years old. While not so much obsessed with Harry Hamlin as Perseus, I couldn’t get enough of the Medusa the Gorgon, the Kraken and Pegasus.

I even had a few of the action figures from Mattel’s very limited toy line that never took off. But more than the winged horse toy whose wings kept falling off, my prized post-“Clash” possession was a tattered 1957 copy of W.H.D. Rouse’s “Gods, Heroes and Men of Ancient Greece” that was kicking around my house for some reason.

Written in a spry tone I’d later associate with John Hurt in “The Storyteller,” Rouse’s book became a preferred storybook for me. Along with dinosaurs, animals and super heroes, I memorized and categorized the names of the major and minor players of myths. Although the stories themselves didn’t change as I grew older, the way they were told and interpreted did.

And then I saw the “Clash” remake in 2010. Though I tried to keep it in check, my nerd rage began to boil over. FULL POST

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Cuteness is served: Exploring Japan's maid culture
April 13th, 2012
02:21 PM ET

Cuteness is served: Exploring Japan's maid culture

In America, a woman dressed as a maid can mean one of two things: She's here to clean your house, or she's dressed in a costume. The latter is considered sexy, while the former is anything but.

In Japan, however, the maid costume is a symbol of something entirely different: It elicits an immediate reaction. The Japanese culture has so much love for maids, in fact, that an entire culture has developed around them. Rooted in Japan's love of cuteness, it's not at all uncommon to see women dressed as maids in the streets of Akihabara, handing out fliers to promote the shops there.

And of course, otaku have a special soft spot for maids.

There have been many stories in the American news about "maid cafes" (also known as "cosplay restaurants") in Japan, which originated there in the early 2000s. At the maid cafe, the staff is exclusively made up of young women who wear maid costumes and serve their clients. The menus often feature desserts with cute decor, and maids will visit your table to decorate your food with cute designs or draw hearts in your coffee foam before they deliver it. These have become increasingly popular in recent years, and they have popped up all over the world, even in America. Tokyo is so glutted with them that even "best of" maid cafe lists have been published.

The heart of the maid cafe experience is about an intimate, safe relationship, but a subdued one. For instance, the maids refer to their clients as "masters" or "mistresses" when they welcome them to the cafe. Depending on the location, services besides basic table service are available, such the chance to play video games with the maid or take a photograph with her and have her decorate it by hand for you. The latter normally costs an additional fee, as most maid cafes forbid photography inside, but these are allowed in special cases. FULL POST

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Filed under: Otaku