This title of course is thanks to Ozoneocean who came up with it in our quackcast (whcih you should totally listen to) last week, and I loved it, so here it is :D
Last week I talked about how a hero or a villain don't need to have “gray areas” in their heroing or villaining to be interesting, entertaining and engaging as characters in webcomics, films or novels.
Instead, what should be focused on is making them relatable- and that can be achieved by putting them through paces and situations the audience can relate to from their own experiences on some level:
Use Murphy's Law on them- (if something can possibly go wrong, it will) and have them work to overcome the setback. Both if they're a hero or a villain.
Use pedestrian situations to which they react (either giving the audience vicarious satisfaction by having them do what the audience wouldn't ever do, or have them react in the predictable manner one would react in a situation such as that which you've set up), such as a traffic jam, being on call waiting for too long, being unable to sleep because the noise is too loud upstairs, and so on.
None of these situations are exclusive to a hero or a villain (or to a drama or a comedy) but the way they react, depending on their personality, will make them engaging to the audience, be it a reaction by a villain (nuking traffic off the street) or a hero (yelling profanity in his noise-proof car or trying yoga music and meditation).
Which brings me to heros.
Often if they aren't written as anti-heroes, they come across as boring, blunt straight shooters, there only to be the background to a great villain, or to advance a story that offsets something else, but not him/her.
In my opinion this happens because generally the hero does things only because he's supposed to be a hero, not because he earned the ‘right to react’ in the heroic manner he is, and also because he lacks the flavour of relatability i mentioned earlier. It has nothing to do with the fact that he's a straight up hero, because the exact same thing can (and does) happen with villains.
In the (old but classic) film “It's a Wonderful Life” the main character George Bailey is a straight up hero. But he's not blunt at all. He's interesting and we root for him because he is engaging. He goes through trials, tribulations and misgivings that all of us have to a point or some level experienced. He never goes into grey territory as a character.
Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a hero, interesting without ever turning a bad leaf o being controversial, exactly because he goes up against and react to (and has clear motivations for) what he does and so the audience identifies and engages with him.
Same goes for a wide range of “all hero” type characters who don't have villainous traits, from Oskar Schindler in “Schindler's List” to Spiderman.
Of course it doesn't mean that heroes always make the right choice or do the right thing. But the reason they drop the ball, if the creator chooses to right a straight up hero, is due to circumstance, not motivation or personality.
Dropping the ball also is an engaging hook for an audience.
So what is left? We looked at the Black, we looked at the White, now is the Gray's turn! But next time.
Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, April 21, 2018
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