Hatrack River
Home   |   About Orson Scott Card   |   News & Reviews   |   OSC Library   |   Forums   |   Contact   |   Links
Research Area   |   Writing Lessons   |   Writers Workshops   |   OSC at SVU   |   Calendar   |   Store
E-mail this page
Hatrack River Writers Workshop Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Antihero

   
Author Topic: Antihero
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Yesterday I came to realize that the sequel to my novel will be told from the POV of antagonists. There's an overall reason for this, but the experience of writing characters like this is interesting.

There's the unlikable character, which is hard to pull off, though in workshop settings I've seen people try to employ the technique in their pieces. But the mistake I often think people make in writing unlikable characters is that A) the individual is a douche who I don't want to spend much time with as a reader, but more importantly, B) the character is also uninteresting. And an uninteresting unlikable POV is a horrible combination.

Literary fiction writers use the unlikable main character quite a lot in their narratives. Their characters are supposed to be flawed with distasteful qualities, like selfishness or self-centeredness, or judgmental with hints of superiority, or greedy, or vain, etc., because this most aptly imitates real life individuals. In genre fiction, you don't see this type of main character POV quite so often. Katniss is basically a good person. Harry Potter is basically a good person. The Starks and Tyrion and Daenerys are all basically good people, at least in the three books that I read. I have no idea what's going on in the next five or six books in the GoT series.

Writing a basically bad likable main POV is hard to pull off because I don't think most readers, particularly most genre readers, want to submerge into that type of narrative. Small little negative quirks here and there is okay. Maybe the character is selfish, except when being selfish causes genuine damage to decent people. And the only way this become palatable is if after the selfishness causes this genuine damage, a lesson is learned, and the character changes somehow for the better.

But if said flawed behavior has negative effects, and the character simply shrugs it off and continues without changing. That's a more disquieting narrative which, I think, can only be salvaged if the character is intriguing. A bad fun person who, nevertheless, is exciting to be around.

You also have to think about the character arch in a narrative like this. If your main POV is a bad likable person, what is the change he/she undergoes from the beginning of the story to the end, if the change isn't to go from being a bad person to a better person?

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I had given this concept some thought in the recent past and came to the realisation that the most interesting 'bad character' is a character who is 'better' than the hero but has chosen a different path. Chosen NOT to be a hero, chosen NOT to do 'the right thing', chosen TO BE the antithesis of the hero.

Phil.

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Sara Luikert
Member
Member # 10487

 - posted      Profile for Sara Luikert   Email Sara Luikert         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think you can have a bad likable person do more things than a ‘hero’ character. They make more mistakes, make more conflict, and conflict is at the bones of storytelling. So I can understand the appeal. Also with a bad likable person, you always have the chance that they will become the ‘hero’, the tension that POV’s usually have regarding weather or not they will make the right decision is tenfold. Again, more conflict, more suspense.
So maybe he problem here is how do we describe a bad likable person. What makes someone bad? I think that labeling characters in such binary terms takes away the glory of the spectrum. The spectrum is what makes us wonder what will happen. I mean, in real life, are there really truly bad people, that have no redeeming qualities, or do something good every once in a while?

Posts: 14 | Registered: Feb 2016  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
...the most interesting 'bad character' is a character who is 'better' than the hero but has chosen a different path.
What's the best ending for these type of narratives? What's the best way to construct narratives like this?

Maybe WATCHMEN is a good example. Though there is maybe one or two "good" characters, for the most part all of the main POVs are bad guys, or at the very least, apathetic, in the case of Mr. Manhattan. I think, though, that genre fiction starts creeping towards literary fiction in cases like this. More character driven instead of plot driven, because it's hard to write a genre plot around a main character who isn't interested in "saving the day", in whatever form that takes.

What is the interest of a main POV who isn't basically a good guy? What motivates him/her from the beginning of the novel to the end, and what, or who, is the antagonist's antagonist?

quote:
So maybe he problem here is how do we describe a bad likable person. What makes someone bad?
Writing a character who delights in killing and torture is probably a bad character. It's hard to rationalize a POV like this as good, even if they take a good action here and there. But such a character is brilliantly brought to life as Alucard in the Japanese magna HELLSING. A vampire who delights in the pain of others, who feeds upon that pain, who finds pleasure in terrorizing the weak.

What makes him a perfect example of an antihero is that he does good only because he's enslaved to a human family as a result of losing a previous battle generations ago. So he fights for good even though he's completely evil. But if his handlers slip for a moment in their faith (and he tempts them all the time), then he'll be released to go back to being the demonic entity he truly is.

So that's two ways to write an antihero:

1) A POV better than the hero but who decides not to save the day. But what is that story actually about?
2) A POV who is a monster to his/her core but is forced to save the day against their will.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Meredith
Member
Member # 8368

 - posted      Profile for Meredith   Email Meredith         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
it's hard to write a genre plot around a main character who isn't interested in "saving the day", in whatever form that takes.


Ah. But what is this character's idea of saving the day. It might not be what the rest of us think is good. But he could still be saving the day as he sees it.
Posts: 4375 | Registered: Dec 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Questions like this are why I appreciate the difference between hero/villain and protagonist/antagonist.

Personally, I feel that the key to writing a good antihero is ensuring they have realistic motivations. So long as the reader is given a chance to understand the viewpoint character's motivations, they have the chance to invest in the character (and I think it's possible to be invested in a character whether you like him/her or not). Looking back on the original post, that probably ties into making the characters interesting. Understandable motivations are a big part of keeping me interested as a reader, I've found.

It's also important to consider that no character is truly good or bad; the gray areas may be small in some cases, but they're always there. Everyone makes mistakes, fictional characters doubly so.

As far as character arcs go, growth and/or positive change is always an option, but there's also the option of decline and/or negative change. Also, there are protagonists who don't change in and of themselves, but alter the world around them (John Cusack's character in Runaway Jury comes to mind).

Posts: 719 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Science fiction and fantasy plot movement favor external transformations and less so internal transformations. A challenge, though, then is potential for unappealing melodrama: the drama solely moves the plot. Character movement emphasis relies on internal transformation. While character movement emphasis is a perhaps qualification for literary fiction, that's no reason to leave all character movement out of science fiction and fantasy.

Story movement altogether transcends any one movement strategy: plot, character, setting, event, and the one most essential -- emotional movement. A start upsets emotional equilibrium, a middle strives for equilibrium restoration, and an end accomplishes a restoration of emotional equilibrium to a new normal. Emotional movement is all the former movements' functions.

For an antihero agonist (contestant in contention), the technical-mechanical features are a non-heroic conduct, either external or internal, or both and more (more anon); a dramatic action that invokes morals contentions, not per se the action of substance, nor internal or external, rather morals contentions that point up an antihero agonist's non-heroic conduct and somewhat at times selfless conduct; and no less an eventual external resolution or emotional satisfaction of a dramatic complication -- a congruent problem and want of a magnitude suited to a narrative's length.

Aesthetic antihero features are no less essential; they are the real action of substance, though they are intangible, abstract, metaphoric. They evolve for the antihero agonist type from a non-heroic conduct tendency. The antithesis approach illustrates: A hero's conduct is selfless sacrifice, for a moral service to the common good, greater than the self's service. Ergo, an antihero serves the self without consideration of others needs, feelings, and existence or mutual involvement. An antihero is selfish to variable degrees.

What forms that selfishness take are infinite and subject to a society's moral values. An antihero's selfishness may be anywhere on a spectrum from trivial trifles to severe moral crimes. A user of tobacco, for example, or alcohol, maybe contraband substances. Maybe a dietary prescription, like eating unclean food, pork and shellfish, for example. Trifles in a sense. Or hoarding -- covetousness, false witness, cheating, theft, adultery, murder. Maybe idolatry, blaspheme, apostasy. Maybe thoughtlessness of consequences. Most anything under creation that causes undue harms to others. What constitutes undue harm is, again, a matter of a society's moral values. Humans are social beings who rely on the common good to at times sacrifice self for the good of all and at times selflessly provide for the good of individuals in times of genuine need. This is an antihero: conduct that causes undue harms to others.

A story arc then might involve a personal transformation of moral values to more responsible conduct that serves the common good. This invariably requires a heroic deed, a selfless deed of consequence. However, that's contrary to the thread topic and question. How otherwise to structure an antihero story movement.

Transformation is central to any story movement type: plot, character, emotion, etc. If not a personal transformation from bad to good morals to a degree, what else otherwise. External transformation of a setting or other beings or both and more -- events, for example. Or, and these approach literary fiction's likewise distinction arena: discovery of a moral truth external to an antihero's perception or assertion of a moral law. The latter is a philosophical narrative's mainstay; the former is drama's general mainstay.

The given parameters then of an antihero's unadjusted morals outcome, yet a dramatic movement more than mere plot movement, lead to a moral truth discovery story movement. The discovery is for readers' benefit, not an antihero's in that scenario.

How? That's the challenge of an antihero narrative. Implication is the answer.

Now, likability is the other parameter. Others have commented that no one is fully pure evil, wicked, selfish, nor pure good, noble, selfless -- something to ponder on, as Plato claims Socrates said "An unexamined life is not worth living." Antiheroes are likable when their selflessness is at least a small effort, a random kind act or two, for example, and their selfishness is of a minor degree. Such antiheroes are likable when the undue harms they do are more to themselves and less harmful to the common good. Though they know it not. Pitiable, in other words, and at the same time admirable for their self-serviced needs satisfaction that takes by whatever means necessary what a society immorally denies or likewise takes from an antihero rogue.

This is a likable antihero: a socially amoral rogue who counter-operates to a society's aggregate moral aptitude values to some small or greater degree and admirable for it. Robin Hood, for example. Not to mention oligarchs who Hood counters, Nottingham's sheriff in particular, likewise antiheroes for their self-serving immoral vices of greed and gluttony, lust, etc., that are nobly motivated on one level to provide for the common good in times of need, taxation's true function, though is really the sheriff's embezzlement for slothful self-enrichment at others' expenses. Then Beowulf and Grendel, David and Goliath, Odysseus and Poseidon, etc., too.

[ March 02, 2016, 01:28 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5094 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Also, there are protagonists who don't change in and of themselves, but alter the world around them...
I think this is important in writing a central antagonist POV character. The change they can bring to characters around them may actually be positive, which I think makes the writing more commercial.

I think that was my central concern. How to write a narrative from the POV of a central antagonist character and still keep the work commercial. I don't think mainstream American audiences are very compelled by stories that don't somehow end on a hopeful note. I know noirs are written, or dark comedies, but how broad is the appeal if the bad characters, even if main characters, don't get their comeuppance?

quote:
The given parameters then of an antihero's unadjusted morals outcome, yet a dramatic movement more than mere plot movement, lead to a moral truth discovery story movement. The discovery is for readers' benefit, not an antihero's in that scenario.
This and above is where I've been heading in the narrative. A central antagonist POV that affects other characters allowing them to achieve some ultimate good, or brings the reader to a moral positive truth (or should I say "truth").

Broad audience appeal is the tricky aspect of this kind of narrative.

quote:
This is a likable antihero: a socially amoral rogue who counter-operates to a society's aggregate moral aptitude values to some small or greater degree and admirable for it.
While I agree in theory, this formula has been done so many times it borders on cliche. I think the writers of the unending flow of superhero movies has this very sentence taped above their computer monitors while they churn out all of those Marvel movies.
Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm interested to find out what you mean by 'commercial' fiction.

I am also interested to find out why you think this:
quote:
I don't think mainstream American audiences are very compelled by stories that don't somehow end on a hopeful note. I know noirs are written, or dark comedies, but how broad is the appeal if the bad characters, even if main characters, don't get their comeuppance?
Do these opinions mean you are focused on writing genre pulp instead of challenging your audiences preconceived ideas? I have a novel in the works where the protagonist has one goal in mind; to bring about the absolute extinction of the human species. She has always been regarded by the writer (me) as the protagonist, but is she really? And, in her attempt to reach her goal, is she good or bad?

Phil.

[ March 03, 2016, 01:21 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I haven't written to challenge my readers in many, many years. I simply write what comes to mind, and if that is challenging, so be it. If it isn't, ah well. Generally, though, from the reactions I often get, the former scenario takes place over the latter.

By commercial fiction, I mean narratives that have the widest possible audience appeal.

I remember once, when I was 19 or 20, I wrote a story for a workshop that was from the perspective of a serial killer. In the story, there was a scene in which the character was talking about women. After my professor read it, she said in class, in front of probably a dozen people, how sometimes she got a piece from a student (back when fiction was printed on paper and handed out to classmates in workshop), and while reading it, she wanted to hold the story by the tips of her fingers as if it was filthy.

My story was such a narrative. Obscene. Gratuitous. Yeah, a market probably existed for it, but my audience would be limited not because of the subject material, but because of the unnecessary depth of the subject material.

Ever since then, I've skirted the surface of the obscene, the perverse, the violent. I hint, but I never go beyond those hints. This makes for more mainstream, commercial appeal.

Because of the expected POVs of my sequel, I worry that the narrative may go a little too close to the edge of what mainstream audiences want to engage in. The dilemma is writing a novel that's true to itself without turning off readers who might otherwise be engaged.

This goes both ways, by the way. Overly religious fiction, for instance, with overt moral themes has its audience, but generally that audience isn't mainstream. It's not commercial fiction because the average consumer isn't all that interested in being preached to.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks for the clarification, Denevius, I can now frame a more appropriate response.

The question, I suppose, boils down to: what is 'bad'? In essence the antagonist is simply in opposition to the protagonist. This can be as simple as a disagreement about how best to save the cuttlefish and as complex as a fight to save or destroy the world.

For me, there is no such thing as a bad or evil character; there is simply someone with a different point of view than the majority. As a writer it is your job to 'explain' this different point of view to the readers in a sympathetic light. If you don't, you rob your antagonist of all his shades of grey and create a one-dimensional cardboard cut-out character.

There is never any need for recourse to the lewd, vulgar, or distasteful when creating horror. the shower scene from Psycho is testament to that. Nothing is ever seen but you can bet every member of the audience 'saw' that murder in vivid detail. That's the trick in creating the monstrous--they look and sound just like you and me. [Smile]

Phil.

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
James Maynard Gelinas
Member
Member # 10484

 - posted      Profile for James Maynard Gelinas           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What does anyone here make of Ignatius J. Reilly in _A Confederacy of Dunces_? There's an Anti-hero who holds no punches. He's not likable. He doesn't have any redeeming values, only endless pugnacious opinions. He's self-congratulatory, holding an unreasonably high opinion of himself. And is an utter failure.

Yet it's one of the best American literary novels of the late 20th century. No?

Posts: 12 | Registered: Feb 2016  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I loved CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES, and think of Ignatius as one of the greatest characters written. I found him extremely likable because he was exceptionally funny. Not on purpose, but hey. And he had plenty of redeeming values. He was for the worker and against the employer. He considered himself a man of the people. If I remember correctly, I think he was even for equality for the negr* at the edge of the Jim Crow era. Was he often times delusional? Sure, but he wasn't evil. He wasn't bad. And he never set out to purposely do harm. He did, however, insert himself in situations in such a way that had...let's not say harmful, but definitely disastrous consequences.

Characters like Ignatius, though, are hard to define in terms of hero/anti-hero because they're transcendent. Only a small percentage of writers ever write a character like Ignatius.

quote:
For me, there is no such thing as a bad or evil character; there is simply someone with a different point of view than the majority.
I suppose I could name books probably most haven't read, but let's just stick with something I think most of us are familiar with. Game of Thrones. Prince Joffrey. Make a case of how he's not bad or evil, in the way George R.R. Martin wrote him.

I don't think we ever get into the POV of Joffrey in any of the GoT books, but if one was to be written, think about the narrative that could possible paint a morally relativistic view of someone who did the things Prince Joffrey did, from sadism to torture to murder.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There are a couple of writers I admired when younger---yes, George Railroad Martin was one of them, but he's not the only one---who, I've come to realize over the years, populate their stories with people I don't much like. Not just the ostensible villains, but the ostensible heroes and a lot of the others.

These writers produce work that's brilliant and imaginative---but I can't really root for the characters.

I've come to not liking that much---even though, up till it was pointed out to me, I was doing much the same in my stories. Since then, I've tried to stamp it down in my own work. I can't say if I succeeded, but they're generally people I like, at least.

Posts: 8714 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
I don't think we ever get into the POV of Joffrey in any of the GoT books, but if one was to be written, think about the narrative that could possible paint a morally relativistic view of someone who did the things Prince Joffrey did, from sadism to torture to murder.

Joffrey never got explored, but Tyrion, Cersei and Jaime did.

Really, when it comes down to it, the Lannister family as a whole seems to encourage degrees of sociopathy, simply because of how far they will go to get what they want (I should note that sociopathy is not something one is born with, but rather is behavior one learns, often as a coping mechanism).

There are a number of things Joffrey could use to justify his own actions (at least, in his own mind). He's young, so he's looking to adults for guidance. He wants to please his mother, who encourages him to emulate his grandfather rather than the king she is married to. His grandfather, Tywin Lannister, is ruthless. Therefore, that trait has been painted as admirable. Only the strong are fit to rule. Therefore, Joffrey feels he must be strong, and ruthlessness is associated with strength to him.

He is also youthful and impulsive, with all the inconsistency that entails. He's a child trying to be a man, trying to impress all of the grown-ups and stand above them. How do you out-do a grown-up? Be bigger. Be badder. Be scarier. And how is Joffrey supposed to do that? He's not yet full-grown. Most men would look down on him as an adversary. His only real weapon is his power, and you can damn well believe he's going to use that to defend himself. He's trying to protect himself and his family from what he perceives as vicious threats, and he can't show weakness or he'll be torn apart.

He also, thanks to his mother, has a twisted idea of what love is and how one is meant to think of one's spouse.

Did I miss anything?

Posts: 719 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
There are a number of things Joffrey could use to justify his own actions (at least, in his own mind).
In my response to Phil, I was commenting upon this:

quote:
For me, there is no such thing as a bad or evil character; there is simply someone with a different point of view than the majority
For the sake of argument, let's say everything you wrote in the quote below is accurate:

quote:
There are a number of things Joffrey could use to justify his own actions (at least, in his own mind). He's young, so he's looking to adults for guidance. He wants to please his mother, who encourages him to emulate his grandfather rather than the king she is married to. His grandfather, Tywin Lannister, is ruthless. Therefore, that trait has been painted as admirable. Only the strong are fit to rule. Therefore, Joffrey feels he must be strong, and ruthlessness is associated with strength to him...
Would you then conclude that Joffrey isn't a bad, or evil character, that he just has a different point of view from the majority?

I go back to the phrase "moral relativity" because it's what younger people often engage in when debating each other. Every action basically boils down to a matter of subjective opinion. I think, though, that as many people age, they can look at a situation and say, "A bad person did this."

The guy who kidnapped three young girls and held them imprisoned in his house for one or two decades while he continually assaulted them. I don't think it matters if he tithes every Sunday at his local church, this is an awful human being.

The famous radio personality in England who is thought to have assaulted hundreds of kids. This is an awful human being, as well as those who knew what he was doing but ignored it because the guy was popular. No amount of character motivation is going to excuse these people. Bad guys if written, scum of the earth as they still live in breathe.

The quintessential villain of modern history: Hitler. Maybe he liked to paint landscapes when he was younger, and maybe he was nice to his dog, and maybe he genuinely did some good for German people. And to say that he didn't have well-developed motivations for starting the Holocaust would be disingenuous at best. However, evil character if written. Awful human being as a historical figure.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
walexander
Member
Member # 9151

 - posted      Profile for walexander   Email walexander         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dem,

It must be a story from the darkest depths of your psyche, down, down, down into the virulent and malignant. It must drip of acid and venom, yet lure the unwary, spider-like, into it's invisible tangles. Where shadows drain living flesh into corpse-like visages, and knife's slit throats into grinning replica's of the devil's awaiting kiss. Into this tomb of severed body parts and globulous gangrene gore you must swim and sink below to find your muse. This is where lights; wink, blink, dim, and disappear, leaving the fearful alone to face the horrific silence of inevitable disembowelment and dismemberment.

Take from this decaying mass of goo the meats and liquids to form your creation and you will have your creature to entice the beast within your readers to follow along it's evasive destructive path of swallowing the desperate fools that dare to match wits with it.

Here is where a readable anti-hero lives. Everything else is but a mere facsimile.

Within every human awaits a beast, whether dreamed or enacted, it lay waiting, hungry, for the dark.

W.

Posts: 482 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I wasn't trying to paint Joffrey as a good person; I was trying to explain his motivations in a way that might appeal to a reader. (Sidenote: another important thing to remember, if we're going down the humanizing route with Joffrey, is that he probably isn't okay with everything he does. In the heat of the moment, sure, it might seem like a good idea, but there are always repercussions, and he may well have regrets and nightmares.)

Shifting back to more general examples, the first character that comes to mind for me when I think 'antihero' is Mad Max (specifically, the version of Max who appeared in The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, because I have never been able to get through the first movie for some reason). Max is a self-serving asshole, but he does (reluctantly) care about other things from time to time. He has a sense of right and wrong. He just tends to ignore it, because in his post-apocalyptic world having a conscience is dangerous. He's not entirely good or bad--he's thoroughly in the gray area.

All of that said, dictionary.com defines a protagonist as the leading character, hero, or heroine of a drama or other literary work. It also defines an antihero as a protagonist who lacks the attributes to make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like. So, essentially, the nature of an antihero is to be flawed. (It should also be noted that it defines an antagonist as a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another.)

I think what Phil and I are trying to get at is that, especially when writing characters like antiheroes, it's important to think not so much in terms of black and white/good and evil, but in shades of gray (moral or otherwise). A character like Joffrey would be a bad person, morally speaking, and he certainly doesn't strike me as the antihero type. However, he could still be the protagonist of a story if he were written right. It all depends on the kind of story you're trying to tell and how it's written. Protagonists and antagonists come in all shapes and sizes.

Posts: 719 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
An alternate universe Hitler-like character may sincerely believe that the only way to save the human race is to be a monster to everyone but his chosen group of people. This character may even be emotionally torn over needing to be the monster (and needing to turn his followers into monsters), working against their own sensibilities for what they believe is the good of humanity.
I think there's a reason why we don't see narratives along this line of thinking. As we know, there's an audience for everything. A simple google search will reveal that there's more than one person interested in any topic that can come to mind.

The problem, I think, with a narrative like this is that it's hard to suspend disbelief while reading it. It's hard to imagine a story written with convincing characters who truly believe that the way to achieve something good is by the extermination of children, women, and men. I think most readers would keep questioning the rules of the universe of such a story, and that would disallow them from submerging in the narrative.

Exceptions are Biblical stories. The Old Testament has, of course, wide appeal over thousands of years. But the story of the flood still strikes people as troubling, because though all adults on the entire planet *may* be wicked, are all of their kids also wicked? New borns included? Noah saved an animal but not the suckling babe in the cradle?

It's a hard sale, narrative-wise, because I think your typical reader is going to always think that there's a better choice than mass genocide. Again, we go back to WATCHMEN. The "villain" of the story believes that the way to save humanity is to kill off more than half of humans. Which makes a compelling story in this alternate reality, but we already know what the flaw in the character's thinking is.

We had the Cold War, we were close to nuclear annihilation, and we didn't do it. If Adrian Veidt had just exercised some patience, he would have seen how wrong he was. And the movie didn't have wide appeal. Alan Moore didn't think it could be made into a proper film, and I still remember being in the movie theatre and people becoming upset at the long, long monologues which served one purpose: to justify the unjustifiable in character development. That 5 of the 6 main characters at the end of the movie would honestly conclude that killing off half the human race was the best way to save the human race.

I did enjoy the WATCHMEN, however. It was an excellent deconstruction of the superhero genre which usually has super-villains plotting world destroying scenarios. They wouldn't be a super-villain if they didn't.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
because though all adults on the entire planet *may* be wicked, are all of their kids also wicked? New borns included? Noah saved an animal but not the suckling babe in the cradle?
Denevius, you forget the notion of original sin: even the new-born are tainted by it and and damned, and that's why Jesus sacrificed himself for all of us.

So says the book, anyway.

As for Joffery, he is simply a sociopathic narcissist; just like every other 13, 14, 15, and 16 year old boy. The only thing that makes him different from them is he has the unlimited power and resources to do whatever he wants. And let's not forget the only people he ever killed, apart from Ned Stark--for treason, have been strumpets and harlots and, they don't count for anything in that society. You may not realise it but in Elizabethan England you could beat your servant to death with impunity so long as you didn't disturb your neighbours.

Phil.

[ March 04, 2016, 02:41 AM: Message edited by: Grumpy old guy ]

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
To go back to the quintessential evil of the modern era, Hitler; he also never *directly* killed anyone.

I'm also not sure if living in an era where it's okay to do horrible things means that good and evil are relative. But if living in the Elizabethan England somehow blurs these lines because it was okay to beat a servant to death, then a German living in Nazi Germany must be giving the benefit of the doubt morally because it was cool to kill Jews, among many others of the non-pure German race.

Again, though, this harkens back to high school arguments about good and evil. I *thought*, though, that as many people got older, we could point to certain actions and generally all agree, "A bad person did this."

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I *thought*, though, that as many people got older, we could point to certain actions and generally all agree, "A bad person did this."
What constitutes a morally right action has never been an absolute. If it were, then Bomber Harris and President Trueman should have been hanged for war crimes, along with half the Allied leadership and hierarchy standing alongside the Nazis at Nuremberg.

But the winner writes the history and decides what is right and what is wrong, and who is good and who is bad.

Jimmy Savell was a predator. He did what he did because he could and because he chose to. The real monsters are those, who by their inaction and refusal to act, allowed him to hunt for 30 years. Jimmy had perfectly valid reasons (in his own psyche) for what he did and he did not, for one moment,feel pity, remorse, or guilt for what he did. Was he a bad man? I would have quite happily slowly strangled him if I had the chance, not because I thought he was bad but because he offends my personal idea of what is right and what is wrong.

You see, I don't subscribe to your brand of morality, nor societies at large. I pay lip service to the notions simply so as not to draw undue opprobrium from the bulk of the unwashed masses. My brand of morality may be, and probably is, far less forgiving of transgression than you might think, but it is also one far less concerned with modern societies ideal of what is right and wrong.

Phil

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What the Allies did at Nuremberg was set a precedent: Plotting and waging aggressive war is a crime and those who do so are criminals.
Posts: 8714 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
Again, though, this harkens back to high school arguments about good and evil. I *thought*, though, that as many people got older, we could point to certain actions and generally all agree, "A bad person did this."

There are certainly a fair number of things in this world that society deems bad or evil, and I'm sure that most of us ascribe to most of these opinions. However, characters do not have to hold the same views as the writers that write them.
Posts: 719 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Grumpy old guy
Member
Member # 9922

 - posted      Profile for Grumpy old guy   Email Grumpy old guy         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
To get back to the subject of how to write a bad character, how would you write Joffery? Essentially I see a young man desperate to find a father figure; someone to guide him through his adolescence. The escalation in his aberrant behaviour simply reflects his growing desperation in search of this figure to guide and nurture him.

I could do a similar treatment for AH. Consider a broken, pathetic figure in his bunker as he contemplates where he has brought Germany and what its ultimate fate might be. There is evidence that Hitler wanted to totally destroy German society at the end so a new and better German society could rise and take its place. Was he responsible for today's modern, progressive, pluralist state? An argument for such an outcome could be made.

Phil.

Posts: 1605 | Registered: Sep 2012  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rstegman
Member
Member # 3233

 - posted      Profile for rstegman   Email rstegman         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The best characters of any kind I had seen were doing things for logical reasons. Darth Vadar was not pure evil. He basically had a temper problem and a lack of patience. In the FLASH GORDON movie, Kladis was trying to be the best in his job, and took pleasure in a job well done, even if it was torturing people. In Timothy Zahn's star wars trilogy, The general was the evel one, but he was acting for logical reasons and you could like him.

Characters like the Emperor in Star wars or Emperor Ming, were simply cut-outs. Evil for Evil sake.


Disgruntled Peony nailed it in his first post.

As long as you can understand what the anti-hero is doing, even if the reader does not agree with them.

Give the character just a couple character flaws. He could have a drug problem and is willing to steal and kill to afford it. He might not be able to control his temper, going into blind rage. the people around him will do anything to keep him calm.
He might be a pathological liar and those around him are too invested in his lies to not help him. He is only interested in himself and does not care about anybody else unless they can get him what he wants for himself.
Anything that you see in people around you can be amplified as the cause of him looking evil. The hard part would be to balance it in a way to get people to follow them.

In my mind, the most evil person would be an extremely charming person who can sweet talk everybody around them. Consider a popular politician Publically doing everything to help the people, but in the back rooms, by the way laws are written or enforced (or not enforced), undermining everybody who is not useful to him. This kind of character would be followed willingly but could do serious damage in the background. What would be especially important would be that he would not be involved personally in any of the evil going on. he could even rebuke the very thing he is causing.
My one and a half cents.....

Posts: 1002 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you take "Star Wars" on the basis of just the one movie, the first movie, then Darth Vader was pretty much a cut-out villain in much the same mold as Ming the Merciless.

But if you take the whole arc of the six movies---the original three and the three prequels that came later---it makes Darth Vader the hero of the whole saga. (Still waiting to see the last one on video.)

It's a more complex job---but, probably, a more interesting one---to take a carefully constructed villain from one story and make him the hero in another story.

*****

I once read a biography of Elvis Presley by Peter Guralnick, and was struck by how the "characters" were handled. (Even if they are real people, we, the readers, can see them as characters.) There were no villains---everybody was handled with some sympathy for their point of view and their role in the saga. Even Colonel Parker and Dr. Nick had their due. I was impressed.

Some works suffer from casting participant as villains and heroes---for instance, many Beatle books cast McCartney that way---but it seems a flaw in them. People oppose, maybe stand in the way, maybe actively frustrate, but that doesn't make anyone a black-hearted cardboard villain...

Posts: 8714 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
wetwilly
Member
Member # 1818

 - posted      Profile for wetwilly   Email wetwilly         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
One of my favorite villains of all time is Magneto from X-Men. He's the villain because his philosophy is diametrically opposed to that of the good guys, but it's not pure, incomprehensible evil. The X-Men feel the oppressed mutants need to work toward peace and mutual understanding and respect with the discriminatory homo sapiens, but Magneto believes trying to make nice with their oppressors is just going to lead to further oppression and the right approach is to conquer them. I get it. In fact, at least a part of me agrees with Magneto. Apartheid didn't end without a bloody conflict, right? Neither did slavery in America. Trying to make nice with the Nazis led to some serious problems that only got solved by a world war. So I get where Magneto is coming from, and I think that's what makes him an effective villain.

I know, that's a villain, not an antihero, but I think the same principle applies. If I can understand where the character is coming from, maybe even agree with them even though I understand they're not exactly "good," that's an engaging character.

Posts: 1528 | Registered: Dec 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If you *just* take the first three Star Wars movies, the only reason to assume Darth Vader is evil is because he, and the emperor, wear all black. We never actually see any evil actions either of the two figures take. The empire is a vast collection of planets across the universe, but we don't see slavery, or genocide, or any of the other negative attributes that one sees in real life oppressive regimes. Everyone that we see in the original Star Wars movies seem relative content *except* for the rebels, who are bent on destroying the empire for one and only one reason made apparent in the movie: Darth Vader and the emperor wear black.

The movie made no other justifications for the rebel forces to rebel. The empire did use the death star to blow up the rebel planet, but this is only after we see the rebels attempt technological espionage that could be used to kill thousands of people housed on the death star (before the whole clone subplot came around, and even then, do clones not dream of clone sheep? Is it cool to just kill thousands of them?).

Magneto is an interesting character, though. I'm not sure how much of a villain he is, as everyone in the comic book universe seems to switch roles at some point. Good guys become bad, bad guys become good. And in the first movie, at least, his plan probably should have been supported by the X-men if it actually worked. In a world where a small percentage of people have extraordinary powers, it does make more sense to equalize the situation and just give everyone superpowers. Which was the basic concept of Magneto's plan except the mutations were unstable.

I don't think either of these two characters are "evil". Neither of them are exactly bad guys. Vader doesn't seem to take any particular pleasure in slaughter, and Magneto did belong to a group of people that were systematically extinguished. Now he belongs to another group of people and he doesn't want the same thing to happen again.

I don't think western narratives pull off what we're talking about because it's not what western audiences want. If you look at best selling genre novels and read the descriptions, it's always a good protagonist who's flawed vs. a thoroughly bad antagonist. A popular western version of HELLSING'S Alucard doesn't come to mind.

THE GOLDEN COMPASS comes close. Marisa Coulter, in the first book at least, is a bad guy. There's not much redeeming in her characterization, and she takes the actions she does despite the negative consequences she clearly sees in a misguided notion that she's doing good.

However, THE GOLDEN COMPASS is highly controversial, and not mainstream. When the movie came out, they changed significant portions just to appease critics.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Homer's Iliad contains a classic antihero archetype: Thersites. He objects to Agamemnon's Trojan ambitions, calls him greedy and craven. Thersites expresses the secret thoughts of the assembled Greek kings, though who don't speak their minds. Thersites' ugly visual appearance, behavior, morals, and bluntness are repugnant to the Greeks, secretly shamed by his voicing their reservations, which makes his assertion fall on deaf ears. Odysseus punishes Thersites for his impertinence by beating him with Agamemnon's scepter.

Thersites antihero function is exactly that, to give a voice to the audience of Agamemnon and Odysseus's true character and nature and controvert those so that the audience decides for themselves about Agamemnon, the Greeks, and Thersites' moral aptitude. Thersites influence in no way shapes the story movement, only that his function is to sow details that develop characterizations and express unsaid and otherwise unsayable thoughts in scene. Thersites is the dissenter, in other words, who gives voice to an audience consideration.

Antihero archetypes followed that model through to the Romantic era, when a new type evolved -- the Gothic Double, a character who is more morally ambiguous and less visually grotesque. Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a model of the Gothic Double archetype.

More recent, Dean Moriarty of Jack Kerouac's On the Road evolves yet another model antihero archetype: a morally ambiguous individual who lacks hero conventions and isn't per se craven or coward, nor idealist or spiritual, nor transcendental or enlightened, nor especially harmful to others. Moriarty is an every-person archetype, too, whose personal journey is an expression of car culture's symbolism of new-found physical, social, financial, and cultural mobility for the masses.

Antihero narratives or parts or characters wax and wane -- waxes when a particular antihero narrative reinvents the type and performs well, wanes when the type is derivative and repetitive to the point of diluted mediocrity of appeal.

At present, the antihero archetype is a degree out of fashion. Renewal of its vigor requires the same artful uses as prior, only that the use be fresh and lively as well as innovative and appealing.

How? A thought from villain archetypes suggests an approach, only that the antihero be both non-heroically self-serving in all things, more or less harmless and someway repugnant to others. Courtly irony melded with practical irony contains a germ, too. Courtly irony condemns with faint praise and praises with faint condemnation. Practical irony dissimulates from a let an individual go through trial and error on the individual's own initiatives basis, free will exercise, without any wise advice given by others.

Combined into satire, the action scourges virtue and exhorts vice, the merger of courtly and practical irony, actually.

Now to the nitty-gritty: such an antihero archetype and action results in a messed-up-backward outcome. The antihero's self-serving efforts save the day, or world, etc., through no overt intent; rather, the antihero fails at self-satisfaction efforts and, by accident of inevitability, satisfies a larger-than-life crisis. The antihero learns nothing from the action, neither emotionally matures nor in any way becomes a less morally ambiguous individual. The antihero is untransformed and no better or worse off at the end than at the start though has done for humanity a noble act.

I believe this is also known as serendipity.

Posts: 5094 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
The antihero's self-serving efforts save the day, or world, etc., through no overt intent; rather, the antihero fails at self-satisfaction efforts and, by accident of inevitability, satisfies a larger-than-life crisis.
THE BIG LEBOWSKI just came to mind. Funny enough movie, but somewhat depressing how it's almost worshipped by the "slacker generation".

Novel-wise, nothing much surfaces. I *think* Horza from CONSIDER PHLEBAS is written to be an antihero. Selfish, self-serving individual not above petty murder to fulfill his own personal goal which, if fulfilled, will also just so happen to save the galaxy. However, once again in my opinion to garner mainstream appeal, even this character goes through a sudden change of heart in the name of love, which was inconsistent and unbelievable to everything we'd learned about him in the narrative to that point.

Actually, I guess Case is also an excellent antihero in NEUROMANCER. Like Horza, though, suddenly falling in love has a profound impact on his character that seems a bit too unrealistic, if not altogether unsatisfying.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Reader satisfaction for that type of action comes from event more than character transformation. The events, their transformative influence, and their satisfaction must matter more for readers than individuals. Greece takes Troy through the guile of Odysseus after a ten-year siege. Always look in the mouths of Greek gift horses. Even at the end of the Homeric Cycle, Odysseus is untransformed to any substantive degree

The events need not be as epic and patriotic as the Cycle's; the events only need to emotionally matter more to readers than characters; albeit, mindful that event movement can be artless melodrama.

Posts: 5094 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
rstegman
Member
Member # 3233

 - posted      Profile for rstegman   Email rstegman         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Another thing to consider is if there is a reason for the character's motives.

If it is science fiction or fantasy, that group or species must be removed to save all of the rest of the life. they might diseased or have a dangerous mutation that has not developed fully. Remove them now before it becomes a problem and the day will be saved.

Another is that they have a dangerous philosophy.
On that line, they must convert to the religion or die. It is the will of the god.
They must submit unquestionably to the will of "smarter" people as they know what is best for you.

Another is that his people must expand or die. The other side is in the way.

Of course they could be looked on as "less than human."

Consider also, that the area is needed for a special development or to be "cleaned up" and those people won't relocate.

How about if they were able to gather enough resources, they could create a machine to save the planet - a asteroid deflector - but cannot get enough resources any other way.

As long as the reason the person is "acting bad" is logical and in some way acceptable to their thought process, one can get the reader to accept it. the higher goal is all that matters. What is done might be distasteful or immoral, but if the goal is achieved for the good of all, one must do it. Of course, you must make the reader believe that the character believes it is necessary to do it this way, whatever the consequences.

What I dislike is those movies and books where the evil one is barely able to keep his coalition on one path and they destroy and foul things just to destroy and foul because they are evil. It might be simply because the motivation of the evil is not shown, but it leaves the story lacking.

Of course, the Hero is simply a pawn, reacting to what the evil is doing to them.

I outlined a story from the viewpoint of the "evil" leader. His magic was not spectacular and the soldiers he animated or converted to his will were not too competent. A band of "heroes" had somehow bypassed his security and was making their way in his stronghold and he saw he was going to have to fight them personally.

If the reader can understand the reason the anti hero is doing what they are doing, even if the reader does not agree with the methods, the reader should be able to enjoy the character.

Posts: 1002 | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Nothing much, but...I'd say Darth Vader and Company destroying a planet inhabited by, maybe, billions, *is* pretty evil---and they obviously planned to destroy others.
Posts: 8714 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's only because you're thinking on a planetary scale. In the Star Wars narrative, life is spread throughout their Galaxy. There are probably hundreds of inhabited and terraformed planets. The Death Star destroying one is probably like a modern day country dropping an atomic bomb on a city or two.

I think that if a country hostile to the U.S. stole nuclear codes that would allow them to hack at least one nuclear missile and set it off before we could stop them, that if we knew what country did this, we'd probably try diplomatic means to protect ourselves before doing something more extreme. After 9/11, it is policy now that a hijacked plane will be shot down before it can be crashed into a building killing higher numbers of people. Countries are obviously not above killing a smaller group to save a much larger number of its citizens.

The rebels stole secrets to a top secret base for the specific purpose of blowing it up, while thousands of storm troopers and simple everyday workers were on board (remember that conversation from CLERKS).

quote:
A construction job of that magnitude would require a helluva lot more manpower than the Imperial army had to offer. I'll bet there were independent contractors working on that thing: plumbers, aluminum siders, roofers.
- CLERKS

And throughout the first three Star Wars movies, we still don't see the evil the Emperor does. We see his reactions to perceived threats, but not the initial evil. The Empire, for all intents and purposes, seems to be functioning perfectly and quite efficient. Imagine the amount of resources and manpower it takes to build a star base that future humans with light speed are still awed by. A base the size of a small planet, or moon, itself.

This is not a government on the verge of collapse. If anything, they're flourishing.

I would bet, when it all comes down to it, that the rebels are like any group of separatists that simply don't want to be part of whatever larger collective they may have ideological differences with.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
So it's a matter of statistics, then. The death of billions do not matter when they're among trillions.

I'm also reminded of the old school E. E. "Doc" Smith style of science fiction. They used to throw planets around as weapons---but I've often wondered about (1) the people on the planet about to be hit by another planet, and also (2) what the guy who fired the planet at another planet really thought about it...

Posts: 8714 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, that reminds me of Allistar Reynold's awful scifi book REVELATION SPACE. But there was the one good scene in it when the main character launches a planetary destroying weapon from the bowels of her ship with the press of a button.

Honesty, I don't remember her thinking too much about it because she was far away from the planet and wouldn't hear anyone scream anyway.

Even as I write this, there may be a drone strike going on some where. How much do the operators, or the citizens they protect, really contemplate it? Scifi has touched upon the scariness of war among technologically advanced species when the effects of their weapons are on beings they'll never see, hear, touch, smell.

As the old saying goes, "Out of sight, out of mind."

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The single technical criteria of what constitutes an antihero is conduct of a non-heroic nature. Heroism is not a matter on its face of courage or cowardliness, nor wickedness or evil, per se, only that an antihero not intentionally bother to contribute to the common good.

Arguably, any number of real- and fictional-world individuals history has deemed villains and at the same time deemed their actions by their supporters as noble. Neither qualifies per se as heroic or antiheroic. Even a misguided states-person to some degree endeavors to serve at least a greater good, no matter how wicked overall or in part the service or the greater good is. The service is itself heroic in that at least the individual perceives she or he selflessly sacrifices for noble ends, albeit the means are less than noble.

In another area, an individual of more modest status no less per se is heroic; that is, humbly, without undue complaint, selflessly participates in and contributes to the common good, mindful the individual gives due care to the self in proportion to gives care to the common good. Otherwise, the individual would be unable to give care to anyone let alone the self.

This then is the antihero: gives exclusive care to the self. However, then the archetype would be fixed in the one criteria and immutable and dull. By proportion then, antihero self-service spans a gamut between extremes of exclusive selfishness and exclusive selflessness, with antihero criteria falling toward the former's end and heroism criteria toward the latter. Actually, the complete antihero, or hero, is impossible anyway: No individual is an island, nor can long survive, or even be born, physically if not emotionally-mentally, without at least contended, if not codetermined, participation in and contributions to and from the common good.

Posts: 5094 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Heath Ledger's Joker as anti-hero.

The movie coming out, SUICIDE SQUAD, has a Joker figure, but I'm *sure* it won't be like Heath Ledger's Joker, or Jack Nicholson's Joker.

But imagine one of the other J's as anti-hero. What would be his motivation? The interesting aspect of the anti-hero is that he doesn't have to be trying to accomplish good, just that in his actions good has been accomplished. An alternate timeline in which the U.S. government unleashes J on Syria to bring down the president. Narrative-wise, it would be a difficult story to write.

But you can't send a Batman to Syria to take down the president. It's actually something a hero, by his very nature, can't do. They don't assassinate, but even kidnapping a foreign leader of a country has to be something that lies outside of their code of conduct.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Robert Nowall
Member
Member # 2764

 - posted      Profile for Robert Nowall   Email Robert Nowall         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm sure the Joker would consider himself the hero of his own story.

As for something being outside their ethics...well, ethics change, and sometimes what's acceptable isn't necessarily at some later time.

I remember the Doc Savage pulp magazines / books from the 1930s and 1940s (mostly from the Bantam reprints in the 1970s, collected (but not completely) by me in the 1980s.) Doc Savage is kind of the ancestor of the comics superheroes we know.

Now, one thing Doc Savage had was a secret lab where he sent criminals for what we would probably call "reeducation." Actually it involved him operating on their brains to make them into decent normal citizens.

I don't know how it played when these were published---but when I came across it, it seemed barbaric to the extreme, horrifying, even. I mean, to change a man by slicing up his brain...well, lobotomies were kind of the rage in that era, and this kind of operation (apparently more effective) seemed right with that.

Times change...morals and ethics shift. Some of the superhero comics of World War II vintage did put them against Hitler and Tojo...and, I suppose, the American people would have endorsed sending genuine assassination squads against them. (Certainly attempts against the enemy leadership were made; some successful.) Later, I suppose, people had a different view of the matter.

Posts: 8714 | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Batman's Joker is an archetype, variably construed, of one basic nature, the bomolochus, who was in Greek times outwardly a buffoon -- the ludicrous type, not per se the gross and ill-educated or stupid type. Internally, the archetype represents an individual of average intelligence who favors simple and plain-spoken cleverness and often messes up backward. Other versions have been the court jester, the coyote prankster, and, in recent times, the comedian.

A bomolochus is neither, per se, a hero or antihero, rather, plays the humor effect function of a seemingly hapless fool -- again, not per se foolish, rather, the roll of fool as apparently ludicrous, non-serious, uncaring, indifferent and wants to make a joke out of seriousness, caring, concern, etc. The bomolochus is sarcastic about moral vice and virtue, though ironic to intend social commentary that instructs about "proper" moral conduct.

A Joker-like and antihero character on a mission to Syria to fix that long-time dysfunctional country would have an overt intent to break the country's society altogether. No need for that, though; the country and the Assad regime broke itself. A Joker, instead, would somehow put the country together again, only more socially and globally responsibly. The extent to which corruption had reigned in the country is seen by realization the Assad family controlled or directed every sector of the country's economy -- government, military, legal system, commerce, contraband and graft, transportation, energy, recreation, religion, food and factory production, etc.

A Joker antihero then would be a counterpart to a heroic Syrian every-person who's frustrated by and attempts correction of Syria's widespread corruption. The Joker would spoil and spoof the hero's efforts. Being a visually and behaviorally, etc., repugnant and pitiful individual, the Joker would be loathed in favor of the hero's heroism.

Covertly, the Joker, though, intends to prank and satire the Assad regime by being appearance and behavior-wise a ludicrous caricature of Assad's circle. Whoops, though, serendipity ensues, the Joker makes the hero look salt-of-the-earth noble and the Assad regime look ludicrous, and the self appear vile. Huh, an occasional barrel bomb that spreads manna instead of explodes, for example, the rubble cities that used to be buildings now seen as a miser's treasure hoard of ruin, a soldier's rifle now a rusted shelter for vermin, roaches, and rats, and so on, to wit, ludicrous. The Syria Joker practices ironic misdirection -- the fine art of noble dissimulation, or is really an eiron rather than a bomolochus or alazon (boastful excess of ludicrous self-importance).

[ March 10, 2016, 02:05 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

Posts: 5094 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by extrinsic:
Batman's Joker is an archetype, variably construed, of one basic nature, the bomolochus, who was in Greek times outwardly a buffoon -- the ludicrous type, not per se the gross and ill-educated or stupid type. Internally, the archetype represents an individual of average intelligence who favors simple and plain-spoken cleverness and often messes up backward. Other versions have been the court jester, the coyote prankster, and, in recent times, the comedian.

A bomolochus is neither, per se, a hero or antihero, rather, plays the humor effect function of a seemingly hapless fool -- again, not per se foolish, rather, the roll of fool as apparently ludicrous, non-serious, uncaring, indifferent and wants to make a joke out of seriousness, caring, concern, etc. The bomolochus is sarcastic about moral vice and virtue, though ironic to intend social commentary that instructs about "proper" moral conduct.

I have a personal fondness for the trickster archetype, Coyote especially.
Posts: 719 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
walexander
Member
Member # 9151

 - posted      Profile for walexander   Email walexander         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is all philosophical and brings us down to our basic nature. The difference between those who believe that order can contain chaos and those that believe there is no containing it.

Evil happens because it's primal, dark and light, ying and yang. Even if a person manages to keep them self and maybe their family from chaos the world around them does not stop. It's a "What's the point of life" question, that every human inevitably asks themselves. Everything on this planet is in a constant state of predator and prey. Even the best fairytale love is subject to envy and jealousy. So the question is, do you define the predator as evil. If you do then there is evil in all of us.

If you kill a million ants to make your life easier and your home more livable, are you evil? You just killed a million living things? Or is it only humans we care about? A million cows. A million chickens? A million fish? what about a whole forest of trees and plant life that have been around far longer than we have. We use their bones to build our shelters and don't even blink an eye or give thanks for their sacrifice. It's usually within our own warped philosophies that anti-heroes tend to counter the views of the hero's, pointing out hypocritical thinking.

And war brings out the worst of this hypocrisy, and breeds anti-hero's. Because in war you truly see how far humans can sink, and in that horrific quagmire you quickly understand, if their are Gods and devils, They don't give a damn, just like we don't care about the ants. We are left to accept, it's not demons or gods that force us to do such evils to each other, but just us, mortals, playing out our primal nature, the same as cells and viruses fighting over a host body, in the end, both sides lose, time kills everything.

I won't even touch on religion and the gruesome tortures and killings throughout time done in the name of divinities. Anti-hero's tend to be non-religious, finding folly in such things. Kind of funny how most real villains tend to think their actions are divine.

Since we are using star wars, To quote Han Solo, "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid."

Soldier's in general are anti-hero's because they must often kill with extreme prejudice. The enemy is whoever their superiors declare, and to challenge that brings a sentence of death. The man you kill across from you could be a loving father, a good husband, loyal to his friends, pillar of the community, but if he is on the other side it is your job to kill him if he is out to oppose you. This is why life often dosen't make any sense, and we as writers have so much material to discuss and ponder over.

W.

Posts: 482 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Han Solo would have made a good anti-hero. And really, 'Revenge of the Jedi' is mainly Harrison Ford's movie, anyway. Generally, that one is considered the best of the series, where we have Luke Skywalker doing almost nothing much except training with Yoda.

Soldiers as anti-heroes sound good in theory, but I think it would be a difficult story to write without settling into melodrama. I could never get through Joseph Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS, but if it shares similar themes as 'Apocalypse Now' then its main character would be anti-hero. Another solider book I never read but only saw the movie was FIRST BLOOD. I have heard, though, that the Rambo in the book is a lot more violent, and there's a significantly higher body count than in the movie.

I saw Brad Pitt's movie 'Tank' on the plane going home, and I suppose his character was anti-hero.

As I think of these examples, my favorite anti-hero still remains Alucard from the magna HELLSING. Creating such an evil (though exceeding cool) character, and somehow weaving a narrative that uses him as an instrument of good, is quite clever.

I've said it once, I'll say it again. Japanese magnas are examples of some of the best writing in modern history. If I ever end up teaching creative writing in university, I'm going to assign a magna series every semester.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Disgruntled Peony
Member
Member # 10416

 - posted      Profile for Disgruntled Peony   Email Disgruntled Peony         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Denevius:
Han Solo would have made a good anti-hero. And really, 'Revenge of the Jedi' is mainly Harrison Ford's movie, anyway. Generally, that one is considered the best of the series, where we have Luke Skywalker doing almost nothing much except training with Yoda.

Soldiers as anti-heroes sound good in theory, but I think it would be a difficult story to write without settling into melodrama. I could never get through Joseph Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS, but if it shares similar themes as 'Apocalypse Now' then its main character would be anti-hero. Another solider book I never read but only saw the movie was FIRST BLOOD. I have heard, though, that the Rambo in the book is a lot more violent, and there's a significantly higher body count than in the movie.

I saw Brad Pitt's movie 'Tank' on the plane going home, and I suppose his character was anti-hero.

As I think of these examples, my favorite anti-hero still remains Alucard from the magna HELLSING. Creating such an evil (though exceeding cool) character, and somehow weaving a narrative that uses him as an instrument of good, is quite clever.

I've said it once, I'll say it again. Japanese magnas are examples of some of the best writing in modern history. If I ever end up teaching creative writing in university, I'm going to assign a magna series every semester.

I think that's actually 'The Empire Strikes Back' you're talking about. But, yes. Han Solo as antihero definitely works.
Posts: 719 | Registered: May 2015  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
extrinsic
Member
Member # 8019

 - posted      Profile for extrinsic   Email extrinsic         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Hans Solo makes a number of overt heroic self-sacrifices. Initially, Solo is non-heroic and self-interested, antihero selfish, though he soon makes heroic, noble, selfless overtures. Two events in particular from episode IV -- Solo aids Skywalker's rescue of Leia, conflicted, however, by promise of a greater reward; and Solo aids Skywalker's successful attack on the first death star, entirely selfless heroism.
Posts: 5094 | Registered: Jun 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
walexander
Member
Member # 9151

 - posted      Profile for walexander   Email walexander         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
lol,

I don't know about that E.

Han gets a big medal for coming in at the last minute of a large battle, everyones dead, even R2 is shot up, and han sweeps in while vader is aiming at luke and takes him out without going down the trench on a fly by. Actually, Han misses! It's the pilot next to vade that takes him out. He should have got the medal. Luke still has to make the shot but hey, good work Han. Chewy, doesn't even get a medal and he was probably either shooting or flying at the time.

And of course there's Han's famous line to leia. Leia: I love you. Han: I know.

What an As* That was empire.

W.

[ March 16, 2016, 01:27 AM: Message edited by: walexander ]

Posts: 482 | Registered: Jun 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Denevius
Member
Member # 9682

 - posted      Profile for Denevius   Email Denevius         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You know it's funny, I started to write a very similar response. Han Solo waits until it's as safe as it could be before sneaking up behind Vader and basically sucker punching him. Not exactly selfless heroism.

I didn't, though, only because I could imagine the length and density of a response to this observation, and figured, why bother.

Posts: 1216 | Registered: Nov 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2