The concept of angels differs from culture to culture as well as from religion to religion, but they all seem to have two things in common: they act as messengers, and they serve the purpose of a higher power. What is interesting to note is how their perceived characters have evolved in popular culture, most notably in depictions in contemporary books and films.
Traditionally, angels are portrayed as kindly, helpful, occasionally funny, but always concerned with the welfare of humans. They are the so-called “guardian angels.” In some instances they are shown in human form with white, flowing robes and wings and in others as a bright light and soothing voice. This may be considered the PG version of the beings, designed to reassure children brought up to believe that angels are always good.
But things have changed considerably, perhaps as a result of the growing cynicism or boredom of the audience with the goody-two-shoes depiction of the angel. Now, angels are portrayed as capable of jealousy, anger, and resentment of humans, who in Christian lore are considered a cut above the angels in the hierarchy because angels have no free will.
Never mind that these depictions edge uncomfortably close to human characteristics to a point that there seems to be no distinction between the two. The point is that angels are no longer namby-pamby do-gooders but fearless warriors that do not hesitate to kill. Often in these modern depictions they have their own agenda, usually contrary to the orders of the higher being (rather in an “in your face” manner, too!), which strangely enough is more often than not aimed at the complete annihilation of humans.
Modern characterizations of angels also usually show them to be in factions that are constantly warring with each other, much like a frat war, and the bone of contention is often (surprise, surprise!) the fate of humans. At a certain point, one can’t help but wonder if the creators are still on track with the angel genre, or have merely tacked on the title willy-nilly for the shock factor. Because, really, they may just as well be humans.Read More