Myth in Pop Culture: The Hood

Jessica Dodge
TV Movies
TV Movies

The Hood

A type of apparel worn over the head, face, or eyes. In Myth and Pop Culture, these items can be a hood, coif, hat, veil, helmet, mask, glasses, goggles, or cowl. This apparel is made from many different types of materials and shapes. This garment is given or made by characters. But whatever form it appears as, in Myth and Pop Culture, it has deep meaning relating to the character and the story.  What is that meaning? How does it relate? Why is it important?

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 The Cauled (Called)

In ancient and modern times, a child is born with an extra flap of skin or placenta over its eyes. In ancient times, our ancestors believed that a child born this way had been blessed by the divine. Then, the child was given to a religious order. The child was raised as a spiritual leader. The child was born with “a cauling,” which over time turned into “a calling.” The meaning is the same in either case. (Thompson, C.J.S., The Hand of Destiny: Everyday Folklore and Superstitions)

In Myth and Pop Culture, a hood is a symbol for “a calling”.  The hood can be given, created, removed, and stolen. The hood can be transformed, remade, repaired, or improved. This has everything to do with focus, intention, and motivation.

the bat and bruce

The Relation

Mythically speaking, the garment that covers the head, face, or eyes is symbolically representing motivation, focus, and intention of a character.  The caul represents “wisdom” and a person depicted wearing a hood has received “a calling.” This wisdom allows the person to “see past the given reality” or “see past an illusion or disguise.”

For example, Little Red Riding Hood “called” the wolf’s bluff. She was wise enough not accept the disguise of the wolf. Additionally, Robin Hood “called out” injustice. Robin did not accept the lies of the aristocracy.  Also, Bruce Wayne’s “inner calling” to gain revenge against the person who murdered his parents. Through the journey, he becomes wise to the corruption of Gotham. This action proves that “the calling” doesn’t have to begin with divine origin or with “good” intent.

When the Hood and the Cloak are connected, the character’s identity, value, esteem, purpose, intent, focus, and motive are directly connected to a calling. When a mystical or magical hood is represented, it symbolizes wisdom motivated by moral compass. That moral compass is dictated by the individual’s character.

Horriblehalfface

Dr. Horrible is a villain. He also wears goggles separate from his white lab coat. The goggles are his focus, he can see that Captain Hammer isn’t actually a “good guy”.  The lab coat is the identification of good intentions.  Dr. Horrible’s moral compass motivates him to dominate the world. He believes that if he is in control, he can make the world better. Dr. Horrible feels his intention is a good one. Later, the disconnection of the goggles from the red lab coat is symbolic that his motives and intentions do not match his true identity or original intent. He blames Captain Hammer for the death of Penny. Consequently, his new motivation is revenge. His new identity is evil.

Disambiguation of Dual Motive and Identity

The Caul is important. The act of wearing a hood is to disassociate dual identities in an individual. It is a trigger for the hero and the audience to make the symbolic switch when needed. When Batman puts on his cowl, he is not Bruce Wayne. Batman’s motivations and purpose are fully separate from the motivations and purpose of Bruce Wayne. This goes for most characters. There are dozens of examples of super heroes and villains who habitually switch from one identity to another using this method as a trigger. But the caul does more than hide an identity. It creates a focus, a drive of motive, the “blinding purpose.”

For example, Arya Stark uses the faces of other people to do her work. While she is using the face of another, she behaves exactly as that person would. She is that person. Only when she is ready to strike, does she remove the face and strike. Because that is what Arya’s motive is, not the person she is pretending to be.

Additionally in LOTR, the Orcs are born with a caul that they must rip through, to rise fully formed. The Orcs have one motive, to serve Sauron. The Orcs live, kill, and die for Sauron. It is their only function.

The head covering is an important factor for character and audience. It is symbolic of establishing or switching motivation, intent, and focus. The character’s dual personalities get confused and unclear without the transformation. The singular personalities of characters are emphasized for clarity. It is a visual trope that does not need to be explained.

Face-Off

For the Future

As a result, the audience can use this knowledge to make a better judgment of characters in whatever chosen medium. Writers and visual artists can create better characters, artifacts, and stories for their chosen mediums. Hence, the audience can determine when creators are patronizing the audience with silly tropes. Conversely,  the audience can also better appreciate when creators do something new and exciting with already, well established, elements, concepts, and themes. Armed with knowledge, we may set a higher standard to explore more Pop Culture and Myth.

Jessica Dodge
I love all things Pop Culture and Myth. You can find more about me and my ramblings at screamingstoryteller.blogspot.com
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