PAN-demic – the Pan phenomenon

Anna banna

Every second month Anna shares her musings, personal insights, and observations of our diverse lives.

Who doesn’t want to ‘stay young forever’ and ‘have no responsibilities’? Just like the iconic Peter Pan, who first appeared in the adult novel The Little White Bird (1902). He then returning as a centre character in stage play Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up, which premiered on 27 December 1904 in London. The play was extremely popular, running to 1913.

PanI believe …in fairies? Well yes, I do.  However I also believe in what is known as Peter Pan syndrome.

A book, a play, many movies (Peter Pan 1953, Hook 1991, and Peter Pan 2003) and even more humans chasing the desire to never grow up, and not have any responsibilities. Let’s explore this a little more and I’d like to rename this syndrome a PAN-demic.

Why a PAN-demic?  “A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that has spread through human populations across a large region.”

It has been suggested by some bloggers that certain gay men have ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’. By this, they mean that the supposedly ‘desired’ gay lifestyle is made up of parties, gym, chasing youth (in whatever form), job type, living carefree, lots of bling and possessions, and no family responsibilities.

Dalton Heinrich writes in the same vein on the blog GayGuys. He says “This portion of grown men clinging to the wild nights and serial dating of their twenties seem to live in a secret Neverland. It is this category of men that I have personally diagnosed with Peter Pan Syndrome.”  He also asks why, “these Lost Boys are terrified of actually looking their age and are always fighting off time instead of aging gracefully and being something helpful for the young gay man to idolize?”

Now in the 2015 movie release of “Pan” actor Hugh Jackman plays the character Blackbeard.  He shares in a recent interview some essential keys of Peter Pan syndrome, or as I like to call it the PAN-demic.  Jackman says, “This is Neverland. There are no barriers and no limitations.  [It’s] grown up men playing dress up.”

Then he gives a breakdown of the story and the essence of the PAN-demic.  “As an adult it’s a cautionary tale in a way, of don’t lose that childhood sense of wonder. That anything is possible with our sense of imagination and the ‘what if’ is so strong for kids, that the whole world is magical, the whole world is this fearlessness. And as we get older we can lose that.”

This contrast is interesting. Dalton says, “It’s time to grow up,” while Jackman suggests that there is something that we may miss out on if we grow up – the magic and fearlessness.

I don’t condemn PAN-demic (or Peter Pan syndrome) and I’m definitely not suggesting it is exclusively queer. In fact I may somewhat subscribe to it myself – within reason. If anything I find it a fascinating and somewhat normal human characteristic to wish to live in a world of fantasy and adventure.

I do believe in the magic that surrounds us in day-to-day life, particularly if we look for it.  And I do believe in having a fearless attitude towards life in general.

But what do you think?

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