For my unessay, I imagined a world in which Beowulf took to the internet to impart his wisdom on unsuspecting masses, as a life coach. What better way to draw vulnerable populations to him! To advertise himself and attempt to gather new clientele, I designed the beginnings of Beowulf’s Life Coach website.
After viewing around thirty (real) life coach’s websites, I attempted to synthesize the most common design elements and language in a way I thought Beowulf would approve of. I included testimony, made up of a few quotes from the book that praise Beowulf. I also featured Beowulf’s poem, to establish his legitimacy as a hero. Moving on to the second page, I wrote a couple of cheesy slogans about defeating dragons and self doubt. This is in line with cheesy slogans I saw on other life coaching websites. The photo of the horse is to show you how you’ll feel if you let Beowulf teach you his ways, and the stack of god bars represents what you’ll be then capable of earning. I then summarize Beowulf’s entire philosophy into five simple phrases, again following what I hope and assume is a real life coaching format. Also, I saw a poster for a live-action Beowulf film with the text, “FACE YOUR DEMONS.” I thought that was absolutely hilarious. Pictures are all linked at the bottom of this document.
Why? First, because in our conference Nic said, “Beowulf life coach?” And this is what I did with it. In designing this project, I dug deep into the psyche of Beowulf. I examined his priorities from the most objective stance I could, asking the question: “How does Beowulf think you should live your life?” What I came up with was part advice, part misogyny, and part blatant bragging, which follows Beowulf’s character pretty well.
My response to Beowulf matters because, when Beowulf is applied to this context, a couple of things become clear. I want to point out assumptions about who gets to give advice, and who that advice is directed to. We figure that once someone reaches a certain level of success, they suddenly have wisdom to offer. Usually, however, these people are out of touch with the majority. So then who is his advice for? The statement about “when men were men,” strategically narrows out half the population from accessing his services. If that wasn’t enough, I followed Headley’s lead in using the female pronoun for a dragon, which isolates a female audience even more. So Beowulf’s advice is for men. I didn’t specify any pricing because I can only go so far down this rabbit hole, and no life coach website I visited advertised that…a lack of visible price, however, usually implies it might be out of reach for the average person. It also makes it feel just a little more like a scam.
Overall, this project made me scour over the text to try and narrow down the most meaningful things Beowulf could say. I thought a lot about colors, subtle messages, and images to make the pages feel cohesive and match Beowulf’s vibe. Some of it may feel more obvious, but I think my entire document does what I wanted it to. To me, Beowulf Life Coach is about the spread and encouragement of toxic masculinity. It’s also about exclusionary success and non-inclusive language. Please don’t take it at face value, it’s representative of Beowulf’s opinions and values – not mine.