Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Sympathetic Characters

There are two types of people in the world. When watching a movie, the viewer either envisions himself as the main character or actually superimposes himself into that movie. Which one is more egotistical? You got me.

However, I don’t think there is any other way to be entertained by something than wanting to be involved in it. Honestly, as I sit here and attempt to think of any other option, I can’t, which makes me believe this is a pivotal point in how the entertainment industry works. It is also the answer to the question, “What is a sympathetic character?”

Classical plays and novels tend to be of the utmost boring things that anyone has ever read, consistently, which doesn’t make any sense because they are the incorporation of a thousand different generations, a thousand different cultures, a thousand different writers and voices and opinions, and contain so much variation in the actual way of being made that some may assume that the only connection between all of them is me being the reader, so it must be my problem.

I’d like to point out that I am not the only one who hates most of the classics, even Mark Twain stating, “A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read."

Sifting through the 1001 works of literature that is considered some of the greatest work in the world, I have found a great correlation between what I despise and those that I can actually tolerate or even like.
Great dramas are absent of likable characters. For the most part. This is what, in the literary world, one could call a “sympathetic character” or a person that the audience can relate to.

For a while, I had determined that in order to have a sympathetic character, it requires another member of the roll call to like that character. Loyalty, my friends, is what it’s all about. What is the difference between the jerk and the rebel? A grouping of followers. The character can be likable if they have a certain level of loyalty from their friends. Honest loyalty, not the writer imposed kind, or the very self-deprecating sycophant kind in which the minion follows around the great hero like a puppy. I mean the kind of loyalty that is not necessarily consistent, but is there when it matters; such as Wilson on House whom will play pranks and tell the titular character, “No,” but will eventually end up helping his friend in the best way possible. And the other factor in this would be that the hero, on some level, would do the same.

For a while I believed that this was an idea centered around the mindset that the audience does not decide things without knowing what they are supposed to. But now, I contend that it simply has to do with the level of egotism that allows us to have our fun delusions and say that it is merely because no one wants to be in a world or be a character in which no one has any friends.