Tuesday, June 5, 2012

My Heroine is Not Me

So anyway, while my arm was bad we went to see the third MIB movie, which was better than you expect a second sequel to be (and in any case sitting in a movie theater is excellent bursitis therapy as long as you don't strain your arm by eating popcorn). And at one point - those of you who've seen it know which one - I thought: "It's a good thing the fate of the world is unlikely ever to hinge on my ability to jump off the Chrysler building, because I couldn't do it."

Generally speaking, we don't know what we'd do till we do it, but I'm pretty confident on this point.

Occasionally, I will criticize a character for doing, or not doing, something in a particular situation. Those old-style movie "heroines" who can't do anything but scream in a bad situation, for example. Once in awhile, somebody'll call me on it by saying: "Oh, like you'd do any better."

But that is just the point. I don't want to follow the adventures of someone who can't do any better than I could. I apparently can't sew a bunch of tank tops without injuring myself - I am crappy heroine material. What I want is someone flawed enough that I can identify with her, who nevertheless pulls it together and does what needs to be done in a way I'm pretty sure I couldn't.

There's room in our big diverse world for other kinds of protagonists; but this is the kind I want, myself.


  1. I have been in difficult situations in the past. Sometimes I did spectacularly well. Sometimes I looked at a set of options and chose the very worst one, both practically and morally. I would definitely prefer a hero who always does what I would do on one of those good days.

    One further thing, though: People do in fact learn from examples in the entertainments they absorb, and I think examples of good behavior sink in better. When the guy said there was surely no point in continuing with CPR, it was the voice of Sergeant Preston of the Yukon that came out of my mouth, saying, "We will continue until we are relieved!"

  2. And the relatives and friends of the person you were working on thank Sgt. Preston, and you, too.

    I imagine the degree to which a positive or negative example sinks in varies with the audience. Certainly there are enough negative role-models in folklore (many Trickster stories are cautionary tales, too, and then there's that guy in the sagas, oh what was his name, the one who was always violating the rules of hospitality and winding up burning the steading down and so on?

    And then there's all the time the author models good and wise behavior and the audience rejects it, cf the "Jo should've married Laurie" contingent. I owe a great deal to Jo for not marrying Laurie...