Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Look Ma, no pain! The Miraculous Healing Gene (MHG) in YA

Movies, TV, and books have conditioned us to believe that adrenaline and general awesomeness cure EVERYTHING.

This is false. (Collective gasp.)

Yes, we've all heard the stories of moms lifting cars off babies, and sheer will to live goes a long way... but in action movies and any TV shows/books where run-of-the-mill (AKA neither superhuman nor superpowered) human beings gets injured, they bounce back with astounding pep.

They all seem to be gifted with the Miraculous Healing Gene (MHG).

Yeah, it would be no fun to watch if, after a big fight, you had 40 pages of whining about the painnnnnn... but even a little more acknowledgment of the realities of injuries would be nice!

"I totes just got mowed down by a speeding car, but it's only a broken leg,
and don't I look cute in this hospital gown?"

And, like, those gigantic explosions that make CGI techs clap their hands with glee? They HURT!
I can't hear! I can't hear! There's blood blisters on my hands! Oh, my God! How do you walk away in a movie without flinching when it explodes behind them? There's no way!
- Allen, The Other Guys
So WHAT if you've been trained your whole life to be some Ethan Hunt/Jason Bourne-esque super-spy? I'm sorry, Evelyn Salt, but you jumping from an overpass onto one speeding truck...

Onto another...

And then onto ANOTHER...

As well as crashing cars into each other AND THEN over overpasses into EVEN MORE CARS ... just takes a little too much suspension of disbelief.

I mean, anyone who's had a hardcore workout who could barely lift their arms the next day, or whose abs hurt when they moved or laughed or breathed knows that just training to fight HURTS!

If you were training to be a vampire slayer in a 90s movie,
you had to wear those awesome leggings.
And heck, I stub my toe on my furniture all the time, and it HURTS!

YA characters I admire because they didn't get the 
Miraculous Healing Gene
(and are still awesomesauce and save the day anyway):

Dru Anderson, Strange Angels
- She's been trained since childhood to fight various supernatural beings, but fighting werewulfen, zombies, and suckers leaves her body in agony for days.

Fire, Fire
- She gets seriously attacked by raptor monsters and is out of commission for a longggg time!

Katniss and Peeta, The Hunger Games
- Katniss is knocked unconscious and loses her hearing after an explosion; Peeta nearly dies from a leg injury.

Help me out here: What other YA novels show the realities of pain, either during or after a battle? Or what injury did you have that proved to you that the pain tolerance and injury in movies, TV shows, and books are all LIES LIES LIES! Leave it in the comments!

PS - This post was inspired by Strange Angels, which I'm currently reading, and even further encouraged by Sara's classic post, The Perks of Being a Fictional Character


  1. I can't think of others offhand, but I agree with your post. Often violence is portrayed so unrealistically as is the consequences of it.

  2. Haha LOVE this! You've seen me sore and aching to the point where sitting up hurts after seeing my trainer and I can't understand why characters who just start to fight don't FEEL it more!

  3. This is awesome!! I so agree. I've had a serious concussion, and I can tell you that no one ever gets that right.

    BTW, I've passed on a blog award to you. :) Come and check it out!


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