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Anti-Heroes - moonspinner
moonspinner
moonspinner
Anti-Heroes
Is it just me or did anyone else lose complete interest the Beast (in Disney's Beauty and the Beast) after he became Prince Charming?  Why is it that Lex Luthor's descent to evil in Smallville is more compelling than Clark Kent's?  Or that Harry's death in Spider-Man 3 was so tragic?   Is it just me or do we tend to empathize more with the Anti-Hero, the guy for whom good ness isn't second-nature  than the Hero who does no wrong?  

I've been thinking about it, and in the end, it's all about empathy.   I like my heroes with a dark side - Batman, Faith, Elizabeth Turner - because I can empathize with them.    It's a fact that we all face temptations.  It's also a fact that the real heroes and saints are the ones who fall and still pick themselves up.  It's easy to become the villain when life's dealt you a bad hand - Voldemort, anyone?  It's not easy to fight against nurture - and nature - and still try to be a better person.  And when those not-quite-heroes do fall and fall forever (the Anakin Skywalkers, the Lexes, the Irina Derevkhos), it's an even greater tragedy. 


Or perhaps, it's just because anti-heroes tend to be snarkier? :p

ETA: The poll couldn't launch in this entry for some strange and inexplicable reason so I posted an addendum here.

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Comments
indiefic From: indiefic Date: August 2nd, 2007 03:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
The anti-heroes are definitely more accessible in a lot of ways. Especially when they've fallen farther than most. You feel like that could be you or that even if you can't reach their heights, you probably won't fall to their lows either.

It's harder to be the perfect hero. Luke Skywalker, in a lot of ways for me, is so damn boring. Same with Yoda. And pre-DH Dumbledore. And Superman, oi, he's like watching paint dry. Yes, you're the mentor, great. You're above temptation. You always take the right path, even when it's the harder, less glamorous path. It's definitely admirable. But it's not very fun and it's ... well ... boring. And, to a large extent, inaccessible.

Obi-Wan became a hell of a lot more interesting after A New Hope. After you found out he had some serious baggage and an agenda full of duplicity.

Luke, when you get the glimpses in the EU stuff where he skirts the edge of the dark side, of true temptation to do The Wrong Thing(tm). Those are incredibly compelling moments. Buffy, for all her good girl attributes, had her Achilles heel with her bad boys. She could never manage to do the right thing when it came to her love life, and that flaw made her so accessible, so human.

And then there's anti-heroes like Han Solo or Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly or Snape from HP. Heroes who aren't necessarily White Hats. Who are human and who are prone to base emotions and who may just shoot you in the back. But at the end of the day, they probably will make the tough decision and sacrifice their own happiness for the greater good. (But then again, maybe not.)

And yes, a lot of times, they are just more fun.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 09:51 am (UTC) (Link)
I like the word 'accessible' that you use. That, I think, is the main difference betweeen, say, Alladin and Prince Eric. It's the difference betweeen the audience going "What a great guy!" and "Hey! That could be me!".

Obi-Wan became a hell of a lot more interesting after A New Hope. After you found out he had some serious baggage and an agenda full of duplicity.


That is so uncanny! I like the real, 3-dimensional Obi-Wan who tells lies and manipulates people. It's the fangirl's version of the Saint Obi-Wan who does no wrong that grates on my nerves.


Buffy, for all her good girl attributes, had her Achilles heel with her bad boys. She could never manage to do the right thing when it came to her love life, and that flaw made her so accessible, so human.


I agree. Buffy didn't have the perfect life. Her calling always cost her. Plus, she had this whole thing with Bad Boys (tm). So while she was a Hero, who consistently did the right thing for others, she made a lot of bad choices for herself and that made her accessible. It's also what makes the character of Padme so accessible to me otherwise she so easily could have been a too-good-to-be-true heroine.



But at the end of the day, they probably will make the tough decision and sacrifice their own happiness for the greater good. (But then again, maybe not.)


And perhaps, it's that unpredictability that makes them even more fun. You just don't know what to expect.


P.S. I'm sorry it took me so long to reply this. I really wanted to take my time and respond to your points and then real life kept getting in the way.
atanone From: atanone Date: August 2nd, 2007 03:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
not that I would ignore your polls,but I¨m clueless about most of mentioned*blushes*
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 2nd, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Don't you worry dear. There's something wrong with the poll anyway so I'm editing it as I post this. Perhaps I'll add a few more familiar characters for you. *g*
atanone From: atanone Date: August 2nd, 2007 04:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
hehe..will you find some?..I'm a "Randall+Hopkirk" generation,lol:)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 07:58 am (UTC) (Link)
he he. I did my best though to include Harry Potter, Pirates at least. I've put the poll up again here: Poll #1039452
atanone From: atanone Date: August 15th, 2007 04:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I took my part..but as i don't know many,I only voted for the few they're known to me :)
knight_ander From: knight_ander Date: August 3rd, 2007 12:48 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not familiar enough with all of them either, but if you're going to have to add some characters, you've got to add Luke vs. Han, a classic Hero/Anti-hero combination.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 07:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I took that into consideration when I made the poll again. You can find and vote for it here: Poll #1039452
r0ck3tsci3ntist From: r0ck3tsci3ntist Date: August 3rd, 2007 12:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Anti-heros are simply cooler to read about - meeting a real one kinda sucks ( I had a b-friend once who was a self proclaimed anit-hero and ass****).
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 08:15 am (UTC) (Link)
lol! Self-proclaimed anything is usually a bad sign.
laariii From: laariii Date: August 3rd, 2007 06:05 am (UTC) (Link)
I like Snape more than Voldemorte.
Morty is a typical bad guy - trying to live forever , kills loads of people without a second thought ect. Snape is more complex in that he actually has a conscience & regrets.
To me Morty is more like Palpy whereas Snape is more of an Anakin/Heathcliff character. I suppose I'm a sucker for Byronic heroes.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 08:16 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree, but technically, Voldemort and Palpatine are villians not anti-heroes.

P.S. Sorry it took me forever to reply this. I'm just getting back.
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 6th, 2007 06:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hmm... I seem to be unable to actually submit the poll, so I guess I'll answer here. :)

Luke/Han: Well, I guess you know I love Luke. Actually, Luke is one of my three favorite fictional heroes of all time (the other two being Frodo and Alyosha). But what I really love about Luke is his relationship with his father. In my book, Vader/Anakin and Luke don't really exist independently of one another. And I've always been a sucker for a good redemption story.

Which is not to say that I don't really like Han, as well. Actually, I'm quite fond of him too.

Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon: Well now, that depends a great deal on which Obi-Wan you mean. ;) If you mean prequel!Obi-Wan, then I'd have to say I prefer Qui-Gon. But if you mean Alec Guinness!Obi-Wan, he is definitely my pick. I like the older, sader, a bit wiser but still ultimately deluding himself Obi-Wan. I think there's a lot of depth to that character that is missing in his prequel incarnation.

Buffy/Faith: No opinion, as I've never seen the show. I know, I know. ;)

Sydney/Irina: See above. ;) I don't actually own a TV.

Faramir/Boromir: In the books, I'd have to say Faramir. I was half in love with him, I think. ;) But in the movies, my vote goes with Boromir.

Superman/Batman: Batman all the way. A superhero ought to be dark. ;)

Clark/Lex: I've never actually seen Smallville either, but in all of Superman's other incarnations, I've always preferred Lex Luther, so I think I'll vote for him here, too.

Lily/James: Did I mention I really don't know a thing about Harry Potter? ;)

River/Kaylee: River, definitely. I love her creepy psychic personality. ;)

And for the last, definitely Pre-Disenchantment Beast. He was a lot better looking then, too. ;)

But what's this about Anakin Skywalker falling forever?
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 7th, 2007 12:34 am (UTC) (Link)
An addendum about Luke. :)

I don't see Luke as that squeaky-clean hero figure it seems a lot of other fans see. He definitely has his dark moments, and a great potential for darkness. What I like about him is the way he overcomes his own darkness (physically embodied in his father, but also given a very real presence in him, especially in ROTJ). So, I suppose I love Luke for his complexity. ;) He seems more human to me.

All right, I'm done now. That was probably way more information than you wanted. ;)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 15th, 2007 08:27 am (UTC) (Link)
I've been AWOL for a while and I'm just getting back. I'm sorry it's taken this long to reply to your comment. :( (And I'm sorry for spamming your Inbox because I needed to post this like 3 times to get it right. :( )

Hmm... I seem to be unable to actually submit the poll, so I guess I'll answer here. :)

The poll in this entry is jinxed! I finally made the thing work here but you'll have to vote on another entry. What a nuisance. :p

Still I think I like your way better. You're right, Luke isn't the Typical Square-Jawed Hero. I just put him there because he starts off as one, in comparism to Han (and knight_ander asked me to *g*).

I meant prequel Obi-Wan, who I think is so snottily perfectly good, he's almost a villian.

I can't believe you've never watched Alias or Buffy! :O :O

Yah for Lex Luthor, Batman & River!


And for the last, definitely Pre-Disenchantment Beast. He was a lot better looking then, too. ;)

Now, that is just Mean!

But what's this about Anakin Skywalker falling forever?

I just put that for the sake of argument. And if you take the prequel as a complete story, his story ends with him in Hell.
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 15th, 2007 08:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's okay. I've been gone quite a bit too.

And now for some discussion. :D

You're right, Luke isn't the Typical Square-Jawed Hero. I just put him there because he starts off as one, in comparism to Han.

Well, I wouldn't say Han is an anti-hero, either. ;) He's just a different type of hero. The Scoundrel with a Heart of Gold (tm). Which is actually a classic type of hero in mythology and fairy tales. He even marries the Princess. Luke, on the other, starts off as a fairly typical Hero In Obscurity (tm), but ends as something of a Hero Who Goes Beyond (tm). Or the Saint/Shaman Hero (tm). He has the perfect Joseph Campbellian journey.

I meant prequel Obi-Wan, who I think is so snottily perfectly good, he's almost a villian.

Now that seems a little harsh. Obi-Wan in the movies (as opposed to various fanboy odes masquerading as novelizations) is far from perfect, and you can see in the OT that he's realized this. Actually though, I blame Yoda. Really, everything that Obi-Wan is as a Jedi is a result of the way he was raised to be as a Jedi. The Jedi Order is essentially the product of Yoda's way of thinking. And if there is any failure in that way of thinking, and especially in the effects of putting it into practice (as there certainly is), then the blame lies most strongly with Yoda.

Batman is teh awesomeness. But actually I like Adam West's Batman the best. ;)

I chose River mostly because Kaylee's giggling annoys me. But actually I don't even really like that show. My sister forced me to watch part of it, and I concluded that Simon is the only character who is even remotely interesting/tolerable.

Now, that is just Mean!

Is it? *innocent face* But he was nice-looking as a Beast!

I just put that for the sake of argument. And if you take the prequel as a complete story, his story ends with him in Hell.

And now I fear I shall have to argue very strenuously with you. ;) I don't think the prequel can be taken as a complete story (though I'd argue that the OT can). There's too much in the PT that is clearly building up to the OT, or referencing the OT, and much of it is dependent upon your knowledge of what's coming in the OT. Anakin is Darth Vader (OT Vader), and you can't escape that. (And just in case you could, George is always throwing hints towards it.) But the most important thing is that ROTS ends with Luke. And it does that because everyone watching knows that he will be the one to redeem. So yes, ROTS may end with Anakin in hell, but it's very clear that he will be given a way out. In a sense, he's created the means of his own salvation.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 16th, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's okay. I've been gone quite a bit too.


That's sweet dah-ling, but Ah-m afraid that doesn't Compah. I've been gone forevah!

*g*


Well, I wouldn't say Han is an anti-hero, either. ;) He's just a different type of hero. The Scoundrel with a Heart of Gold (tm). Which is actually a classic type of hero in mythology and fairy tales. He even marries the Princess. Luke, on the other, starts off as a fairly typical Hero In Obscurity (tm), but ends as something of a Hero Who Goes Beyond (tm). Or the Saint/Shaman Hero (tm). He has the perfect Joseph Campbellian journey.


Ah well. I'm defining Han as anti-hero by the fac that he doesn't start out as wanting to be a hero, the way Luke does. And remember, the anti-hero is still a hero - just not a flawless one. I know Luke has his dark sides in RotJ but he's the closest thing in the movie to a the Perfect Hero.



Now that seems a little harsh.


Too harsh? Moi? *bats lashes*

Yes, we know Obi-Wan is far from perfect in the PT. But I think that not only does he think he is, for a long time, the majority of the Jedi Order also regard him as perfect so he definitely makes the grade of Perfect Hero. He's also a very good example of why the Perfect Hero isn't always the Popular Hero.

As for Yoda... Don't let me get started on that old troll. I won't call him a Hero at all, but a cold, manipulative, in-love-with-his-ideals puppet master whose only redeeming quality was the fact that he was on the side of the Light.

By the way, I would love to see a story where Yoda was a Sith Lord.


I chose River mostly because Kaylee's giggling annoys me.


Good lord, I thought I was the only one!



I don't think the prequel can be taken as a complete story (though I'd argue that the OT can).


I did say for the sake of argument. And to be honest, I don't think either of the trilogies can be taken as complete standalones. I never appreciated the OT (or liked it very much) until I had seen Anakin's and Padme's stories.

*bounces* I missed our discussions!
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 16th, 2007 09:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, good news! My family's house now has DSL! :D So for the next week or so (until I move to Atlanta) I'll actually have decently fast internet. And when I move to Atlanta, I'm getting high speed cable. :D

And remember, the anti-hero is still a hero - just not a flawless one.

Well, actually that's the point I'd have to argue. ;) There really is no such thing as a flawless hero, except maybe in some way oversimplified fairy tales. Classically, the hero is the one with flaws. It's the fact that s/he overcomes these flaws in someway that makes her/him a hero. Luke is a good example of this, and actually, so is Han (just a different type). A tragic hero is one who is ultimately unable to overcome her/his flaws. Anakin and Hamlet are excellent examples of this type. An anti-hero is someone who may even have the classic markings of a villain, or somewhat like the archetypal trickster. S/he doesn't usually have traditional hero qualities. S/he could be bordering on a villain, or could simply be mediocre. Some examples of classic anti-heroes include Loki the trickster/villain or The Stranger from A Fistful of Dollars. Han may have started off trying to be an anti-hero, but he wasn't very good at it. ;) And before ANH had even ended, he'd already given up the attempt. :D

I will continue to maintain that the Perfect Hero (tm) has not and will never exist. :)

As for Yoda... Don't let me get started on that old troll. I won't call him a Hero at all, but a cold, manipulative, in-love-with-his-ideals puppet master whose only redeeming quality was the fact that he was on the side of the Light.

Hallelujah! I was beginning to think I was the only one who saw it. :D Glad I'm not.

By the way, I would love to see a story where Yoda was a Sith Lord.

Your wish may be closer than you think. ;) And it's all your fault. When you asked for Jedi!Palpatine and evil!Yoda in my one sentence meme, it seems that you spawned a monster. I've been writing snippets in that universe ever since (though I haven't posted anything yet). But it's now turned into a whole story, with a rather convoluted plot. Yoda isn't a Sith, actually: he's technically Light Side, but that doesn't mean he's good. ;) He is ruling the galaxy for its own good, and he's made everything perfect. But Jedi Palpatine disagrees with his version of perfection, and now a couple of upstarts from Tatooine have decided they want to be Free. Enter Anakin the Vergeance and Kitster Banai the revolutionary. :D

And yes, Kaylee's giggling is very annoying... *grits teeth*

I never appreciated the OT (or liked it very much) until I had seen Anakin's and Padme's stories.

I will respectfully disagree. ;) But that's half the fun, isn't it? I've really missed our discussions, too. Glad they're back!

*points at icon* Time for some pirate/revolutionary Anakin.
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