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The Manchild can be a fun character or they can be pathetic. They're a staple of comedies because they're an adult that gets to act immature and childish, without the restraint and responsibilities imposed by adulthood. This can make a great contrast; “The adult man acting like an immature child”, John C Riley and Will Farrel have always done that extremely well, as did Chris Farley back in the 90s. It can be be portrayed as pathetic and sad when the person can't seem to be able grow up or take on any responsibilities. They're often characterised by people with “childish” interests, like the cast of the Big Bang Theory, or with a childlike love of something like sports like Kevin in Kevin can F Himself.
This trope was particularly dominated by male characters until recently when female characters have finally been able to join their ranks. My theory was that the majority of writers always used to be males and so were much better at portraying women from an external perspective; i.e. as what they mean to males: desirable, caring, scary etc, rather than an internal perspective showing what it's like to BE them, as they did with male characters. A good example of this is the Simpsons where Homer is usually a manchild while Marge is generally a responsible mother who holds the family together.
But now we see more instances of women allowed to be silly, immature, pathetic, childish and funny, just like their male counterparts and it's really good to see that balance being restored; All about Steve with Sandra Bullock, most Melissa McCarthy and Rebel Wilson films, Muriel's Wedding, even Fleabag depicts a womanchild character, although in a very self critical light.
In the end though I think the trope resonates with us because we are all really still children inside, underneath the superficial trappings of adult responsibilities, restraints, and tastes are the same childhood exuberances and joys. The biggest, meanest, bearded, hairy man or the old white haired bespectacled woman are still the same kids inside that they were when they were growing up and this is something that we all have in common. The older I become the more I look back at the facile childhood aspirations to adulthood -things like wanting to drive, to drink, take drugs, fight in a war, lose one's virginity- as being the epitome of immaturity and childishness. None of those things are about growing up or adulthood in any way, in fact they're exactly the reverse. Adulthood is about responsibilities. The womanchild and manchild characters can allow us to vicariously enjoy adult life without responsibility, whether it's in a positive way like The Dude or negative like Zach Galifianakis' Alan in The Hangover series.
Do you agree? What are your fave Womanchilds and manchilds?
This week Gunwallace has given us a theme to Zeitgeist B-Side - Dizzy, dreamy, acoustic guitar, throwing moods and colour. This takes us from a minimal white apartment, to the twilight shadows of the evening in a forested wood. Night surrounds and pervades.
Topics and shownotes
Banes' Newspost Manchildren - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/jul/21/the-manchild/
The Waves Inside - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/news/2022/jul/26/featured-comic-the-waves-inside/
Zeitgeist B-Side - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/B_Side/ - by ISTKY, rated M.
Special thanks to:
Gunwallace - http://www.virtuallycomics.com
Tantz Aerine - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Tantz_Aerine/
Ozoneocean - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/ozoneocean
PitFace - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/PIT_FACE/
Banes - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/Banes/
Kawaiidaigakusei - https://www.theduckwebcomics.com/user/kawaiidaigakusei/
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