We all know How To Train Your Dragon as that charming animated kids movie where an awkward teenager stumbles across a deadly dragon and the pair soon become best buds while also becoming better people. Well, better person and dragon. But what you may not know is that How To Train Your Dragon was somehow used in real life to help better people without dragons, specifically, uh, helping to rehab high-risk criminals.
Speaking of wild flexes, the GOAT team talk about the Weeknd and the turn his career has taken on ‘It’s Been A Big Day For…’ below:
Okay, bear with me here as there’s a point to the madness and how Hiccup and Toothless fit into all this. So Devon Polaschek is a New Zealand professor of psychology and crime science who studies high-risk violent criminals in prisons.
She’s written several published journal papers on the topic, but the most interesting – and unexpected – one is titled *checks notes* How To Train Your Dragon: an introduction to the special issue on treatment programmes for high-risk offenders.
Seriously, it’s an actual thing.
As for what Devon’s paper is about, it’s not a thing arguing how high-risk criminals should be subjected to repeat viewings of the first How To Train Your Dragon movie like in A Clockwork Orange.
Rather, Devon postulates that the plot of How To Train Your Dragon closely parallels “several features” in the “efforts of programme designers and treatment providers who work with the highest risk offenders.”
It’s pretty in-depth and you can read it here, but the TL:DR version of this How To Train Your Dragon paper can be roughly summarised as this:
- Hiccup lives in a world where dragons are assumed to be dangerous and are detested by the wider human community, only for this perception to be shattered by the end of How To Train Your Dragon when Hiccup shows how dragons aren’t actually malevolent killing machines and how it is possible to live alongside them peacefully.
- This narrative and thematic throughline of How To Train Your Dragon mirrors the real-life work in trying to re-integrate high-risk criminals into a society that’s shunned them.
- Despite difficulties, the movie should be some sort of inspiration and optimism on how we should continue to tackle the issue of having offenders go through rehab.
Of all the lessons we could’ve gleaned from a movie like How To Train Your Dragon, helping to put high-risk criminals through rehab so that they may be safely reintegrated into society certainly isn’t one of them. Talk about a strong argument against those who think fantasy kid’s films aren’t rich in thematic value and have absolutely no real-world applications.
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