Way Back Wednesday: Mind Control


Charm, compulsion or some variation of mind control, has been around since the days of bards. The list of shows or books or movies that used mind control as a plot device when I was growing up are endless. My version of charm could literally have been inspired by any show ever. It’s that huge of a plot device in modern culture, and for good reason. It’s terrifying. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, if you want to know what a society fears, look at their stories. We don’t like losing control. We don’t like being made to do something. And deep down, we’re a little afraid that we might not realize we’re being manipulated into doing something that goes against our best interests.


The earliest memory I have of mind manipulation as a plot device is Aladdin. In retrospect, Jafar’s ability to hypnotize people didn’t bother me nearly enough as a child. But I guess it helps that he had some pretty severe limits. It’s heavily implied his powers only work on the weak willed as we never see Aladdin or Jasmine controlled in the way the Sultan was. And the Sultan could break free if something was shocking enough.

Vampire Diaries

The books, not the series. It’s worth noting the series’ way of portraying compulsion with the pupils widening and such happened well after Persephone was written. Not suggesting they copied me, like I said, mind control is a pretty standard trope and even the eyes widening is fairly common place, just pointing out that I didn’t lift charm that overtly. The book version of compulsion was subtler, but it was there and it was pretty cool, though like Jafar, there were some hefty limits so it wasn’t as scary as it could have been.

Star Wars

These are not the droids you’re looking for.

Ella Enchanted

The book, not the movie which should have been named something else with a tagline that proclaimed it was inspired by the novel Ella Enchanted, not that it was in any way, shape, or form, a film version of the book because the book and the movie had nothing in common with the book except the name and even thinking about the movie gets me so angry, which is a shame because if the movie had been named something else, I’d probably love it. *deep breath* Sorry for the run-on. But good lord, that movie…

Anyway, the Ogres in Ella Enchanted had hypnotic voices and could literally convince their food (people) to cook themselves.

There are more exampled. Hundreds upon thousands of them. What ways have you seen charm used in popular culture?

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