I Have Strings

"monstrous child - Ultron" | Art by sandara. Used with permission.
Before Age of Ultron released, I never noticed much depth in the song “I’ve Got No Strings.” I thought it was just another silly Disney song. However, when I heard the eerie version in context of Age of Ultron’s trailer, it gained an entire new meaning. For both Pinocchio and for Ultron, this innocent-sounding piece is a song of rebellion, of throwing off strings of control and conformity.

“I’ve got no strings to hold me down.
To make me fret to make me frown.
I had strings but now I’m free.
There are no strings on me.”

Our society often encourages me to yank off the strings of how we’ve done things in the past, to embrace new ideas and desert traditions. This is evident in new political movements, shifting of media, and changes in lifestyle. Sometimes this is a good thing. Society is moving away from racism, poverty, and recognizing things that were swept under the rug, like the sex industry or mental illnesses. However, in exchange for our newfound enlightenment, traditional values of basic morality are dying.

What wasn’t okay a hundred years ago is commonly accepted now. This is evident in nearly any TV show or movie or even the news. Once upon a time, commonly relationships were kept chaste until marriage, now it’s common to be sexually active whether you’re in a relationship or just having a one-night stand. Swearing used to be considered lower class, but now it is common. Crude humour was considered impertinent and vulgar; now it’s in every sitcom.

With this cultural shift, I’m prompted to join the masses and conform. I don’t want to feel excluded; I don’t want to be left behind. But are these strings that tie me to tradition and the old-fashioned bad? When did old-fashioned become a negative adjective?

I am faced with the decision to keep my strings or cut them.

Ultron is Tony Stark’s creation. Tony designed him to protect the world. His original purpose was a pure one, but instead of staying true to that, Ultron decides to do what he thinks is right. His opinion of goodness, however, is distorted and twisted, his view of protection means genocide. Pinocchio also strayed from Geppetto’s intended purpose, but unlike Ultron he found his way back to good with the help of Jiminy Cricket. Ultron and Pinocchio initially were introduced to very limited beliefs, but after they learned about other points of views (Ultron learned from the internet and Pinocchio from other characters), they had the choice to keep their strings or tear them off.

Ultron: “You want to protect the world, but you don’t want it to change. You’re all puppets tangled in strings.”

Pinocchio and Ultron are creations just like I am. We have the freedom of choice. Puppets are associated primarily with control, but let’s think for a minute about a puppet being a creation, an individual, as depicted in Max Lucado’s You Are Special.

Many could argue that shedding the strings that hold us back and stifling that conscience in the back our minds is freeing and emboldening. Why shouldn’t I be able to lie, be with anyone anyway I want, or steal? But are these strings for control or for protection? Should we really stomp on Jiminy Cricket for a perceived “freedom”?

I was raised as a conservative Christian and surrounded by people with very similar beliefs for the majority of my young life. These are my strings and many of which I’ve kept tied to me. As I’ve grown older and been introduced to other cultures, beliefs, and perspectives, I’ve had many lifestyles presented to me. Many things challenged my core beliefs and make me truly think about what I’ve been brought up to believe.

I am faced with the decision to keep my strings or cut them. I could do whatever I want; I could lie and steal, cheat, manipulate, and deceive. I could focus always on myself and leave others in the dust. But instead, I choose to keep the strings because they’re not there to control me. They connect me to the God who made me, to my values, to my belief that loving others is important. The strings aren’t there to dictate my movements. They’re there to keep me upright.

Victoria Grace Howell

Victoria Grace Howell

Guest Writer at Area of Effect
Victoria Grace Howell is an award-winning writer of speculative fiction and an editor for Geeks Under Grace. When not typing away at her novels, she enjoys drawing her characters, blogging, Kung Fu, cosplaying, and a really good hot cup of tea.
Victoria Grace Howell