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Anti-Heroes (addendum) - moonspinner
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moonspinner
Anti-Heroes (addendum)
Addendum to the original post Anti-Heroes. Here's a second attempt to put up the poll.


Poll #1039452 Heroes vs. Anti-Heroes - which do you prefer?

Star Wars

Luke Skywalker
13(68.4%)
Han Solo
6(31.6%)

Star Wars

Obi-Wan Kenobi (PT)
8(42.1%)
Qui-Gon Jinn
11(57.9%)

BtVS

Buffy
8(66.7%)
Faith
4(33.3%)

Alias

Sydney
7(58.3%)
Irina
5(41.7%)

LotR

Faramir
12(85.7%)
Boromir
2(14.3%)

Comics

Superman
4(23.5%)
Batman
13(76.5%)

Smallville

Clark Kent
6(37.5%)
Lex Luthor
10(62.5%)

Harry Potter

Lily
10(62.5%)
James
6(37.5%)

Firefly

Kaylee
5(38.5%)
River
8(61.5%)

Cartoon

Pre-Disenchantment Beast
14(93.3%)
Post-Disenchantment Beast (Prince)
1(6.7%)

Pirates of the Caribbean

Will Turner
9(47.4%)
Elizabeth Swann
10(52.6%)



We all love our heroes – the Supermans, the Sydney Bristows, the Will Turners of this world. They’re brave, kind, just and unfailingly good.

So is there any truth to the words of the Green Goblin: ‘There’s nothing people love more than a hero, than to see a hero fail.’?

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Current Mood: curious curious

23 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
atanone From: atanone Date: August 15th, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
I only voted for the few I know.. :)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 16th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC) (Link)
That's OK and thanks!
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 15th, 2007 08:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
I explained the Luke/Han thing before, so I'll not bore you again. But I must say that I don't really consider Sydney Bristow or Will Turner to be heroes as opposed to anti-heroes. They're certainly not heroes in the traditional "brave, kind, just and unfailingly good" sense. For that matter, I'm not sure anyone on this list is, except possibly Faramir (book version) and Superman. But oh well.

I guess what we really need here is a clear definition of what we mean by "hero" and "anti-hero."

By the usually definitions, most of these people would actually fall into the hero category. An anti-hero is usually someone who is almost totally self-centered, out for themselves and no one else, and usually lacking in traditional heroic qualities, such as loyalty to other people. Most classical heroes (e.g. Heracles, Jason, Sigurd, Arthur, etc.) actually become failed/fallen heroes at some point: it's part of the hero's story arc. I can't actually think of any classical hero that is unfailingly good.

The anti-hero, by contrast, would often be classed as a petty villain if not for the fact that they are a POV character. Or they might simply be the type that only looks out for "number one." Jack Sparrow is a classic anti-hero type. (Whereas both Will and Elizabeth are types of the hero.)

Now, the real question is, do you prefer anti-heroes, or straight out villains? ;)
knight_ander From: knight_ander Date: August 16th, 2007 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
Yes, a clear definition of "anti-hero" is needed. I see Han Solo, Jack Sparrow, and probably Batman as anti-heroes as the more classic examples: a protagonist lacking certain heroic qualities (ie. morals, courage, selflessness).

Smallville's Lex Luthor is not an anti-hero by that definition, or any other in my opinion. He is an antagonist: the guy that makes things difficult for the protagonist and opposes virtually everything the protagonist stands for. In short, Lex is a villain, not an anti-hero.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 16th, 2007 06:57 am (UTC) (Link)
OK, here's the anti-hero definition according to Wikipedia. (In other words, take with a pinch of salt):

An anti-hero in fictional works will typically take a leading role, performing acts which might be deemed "heroic" (at least in scale and daring), but by using methods, manners, or intentions that may not be so--they could even be considered underhanded or deceitful.


Characters that I think fit this category are: Smallville's Lex Luthor (up until Season 5, Lex was one of the good guys and Clark's dear friend); Elizabeth Swann's Kiss of Death; Qui-Gon Jinn's trick of the dice; ole Beastie's blackmail of Beauty; James Potter; and River.

The word itself is a fairly recent invention, and its primary meaning has changed throughout the years. The 1940 edition of Merriam-Webster New International Dictionary listed the word but did not give a definition. Later sources would call the anti-hero a persona characterized by a lack of "traditional" heroic qualities.[1][2]

Batman and once again the Beast.


Anti-heroes as central characters in works of fiction will frequently deal with their flawed characteristics and on those of the characters they meet along the narrative. Another form an anti-hero may take is a character who avoids any idea of heroism, not out of a sense of humility, but due to a genuine fear of danger, or even risk. Therefore, typically, an anti-hero is a protagonist that lives by the guidance of their own moral compass, either striving to define and construe their own values as opposed to those recognized by the society of their world.

Han Solo, Faith


One problem with determining if the characteristics of a character fits being an Antihero is that there are multiple definitions, each allowing a different group of characters to be considered Anti heroes.

And that I think is the problem you and fialleril have with the poll, right? *g*
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 16th, 2007 10:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
And that I think is the problem you and fialleril have with the poll, right? *g*

That'd be it, yup. ;) I suppose I'm coming at it from a more classical perspective. Too much Latin and all that. ;)
knight_ander From: knight_ander Date: August 17th, 2007 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Same here, but without all the Latin stuff. :p
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 17th, 2007 02:12 am (UTC) (Link)
LOL!

(Nice icon, BTW.)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 16th, 2007 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
I think Sydney does fall into the role of perfect, good-intentioned hero, sans the square jaw. *g* Will - I think relative to his other 'heroes', he's the closest thing to the traditional perfect hero. And there's a good argument that his more underhand tactics are born out of necessity and are against his nature.


I really wish you watch Buffy because Faith is, I believe, almost the classic anti-hero archetype. Her character was created to be the dark! Buffy - a slayer who believed that her calling made her above the law, an ends-justifies-the-means hero. I don't think the anti-hero is the same as villian even outside the story's PoV. But I think that the anti-hero tethers closely to that borderline of villian than a true hero ever does. Faith actually becomes a villian in a Buffy season, then she goes through her own redemption and returns as a slayer to fight by Buffy's side --- and sometimes against Buffy because, as they both come to agree later on, two slayers were never meant to exist at the same time.


Elizabeth Swann is not a typical hero. No. Just no.


Now, the real question is, do you prefer anti-heroes, or straight out villains? ;)


Well I can't say which I prefer because they play different roles in the story. I like stories about anti-heroes who become villians. (Smallville's Lex Luthor; Faith up until her redemption; Anakin Skywalker... *g*).
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 16th, 2007 10:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
Will - I think relative to his other 'heroes', he's the closest thing to the traditional perfect hero. And there's a good argument that his more underhand tactics are born out of necessity and are against his nature.

True. But then, doing something for the sake of necessity, regardless of any moral values, is often one of the marks of the anti-hero. ;) (Just playing devil's advocate here.)

Elizabeth Swann is not a typical hero. No. Just no.

Well... :D I never said typical. But then, there really isn't one typical hero type. If you watch the writers' commentary on POTC 1, they have a very interesting discussion of Elizabeth as the hero figure who goes through Joseph Campbell's classical hero-development. Or maybe that was on their blog... Oh well. But somewhere, they talk about it.

She does actually follow a very nice hero story arc. Hero receives the call to adventure, leaves home, meets others who will accompany hero on quest, crosses the thresholds between the worlds (either literally or metaphorically), often rescues a friend or lover, overcomes the odds (and the villain) either by force or trickery, is crowned king, and breaks a curse. Of course, this is typically the male hero-archetype, and Elizabeth also has elements of various female hero-archetypes, as well as more modern ones. But the basic elements for the hero are all there.

I actually tend to prefer villains. :) Especially those who will be redeemed, but also those who are just plain evil. But the hero in the process of falling actually doesn't interest me much. Probably why I've always much preferred OT Vader to PT Anakin or PT Vader. That and James Earl Jones has the most amazing voice. ;)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 17th, 2007 07:52 am (UTC) (Link)
True. But then, doing something for the sake of necessity, regardless of any moral values, is often one of the marks of the anti-hero. ;) (Just playing devil's advocate here.)

I noticed. ;) However, you could also argue that Will only tries to play the end justifies the means game and he tends to fail more often than not. On the other hand, Elizabeth does it almost too well.


I agree that Elizabeth follows a hero's arc but like I said, that may as well be an anti-hero's arc. :p

I actually tend to prefer villains. :) Especially those who will be redeemed, but also those who are just plain evil. But the hero in the process of falling actually doesn't interest me much. Probably why I've always much preferred OT Vader to PT Anakin or PT Vader. That and James Earl Jones has the most amazing voice. ;)

Ah! That explains a lot actually. *g* I think the hero in the process of falling is the 'tragic hero', right? Good old Oedipus, and the rest of them?






fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 18th, 2007 12:27 am (UTC) (Link)
On the other hand, Elizabeth does it almost too well.

That's true. It's probably why I rather dislike her. *cringes away from your wrath*

I agree that Elizabeth follows a hero's arc but like I said, that may as well be an anti-hero's arc.

I think you could probably make an argument for Elizabeth as a type of the trickster-hero. But even when she's being her most underhanded, it's always for the sake of her loyalty to those she loves, which is a hero's trait. I still maintain that Jack Sparrow is the true trickster-antihero here. :)

I think the hero in the process of falling is the 'tragic hero', right? Good old Oedipus, and the rest of them?

Yes, that's the tragic hero. Hamlet is also an excellent example. (And Anakin, of course.)

Ah! That explains a lot actually.

Does it? :P

I just find villains fascinating: their motivations, their thought processes, the way traits we would normally consider good can be twisted... And I find them all the more fascinating when their background is mysterious.

That was what I loved most about Darth Vader in the OT: you don't know what he was like as a "good man," and Luke has only his own conviction that his father can be redeemed to go on. He doesn't even have any evidence to support that conviction. And Vader himself is that much more fascinating for having an unknown past. Enough hints are dropped that you get the sense of some grand, tragic vista opening up in the distant past, but again, you never know for sure what it was. Which means that each viewer is free to have their own idea of who Vader was before he fell, what made him fall, what his tragic flaw might have been. And I loved that idea, because it meant we could all find ourselves in him. Until the very end, you don't know what's behind that mask. But you almost don't need to, because as Luke discovered, what's behind the mask is yourself.

Perhaps that explains a bit of my disappointment with the PT, huh? ;)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 20th, 2007 07:03 am (UTC) (Link)
That's true. It's probably why I rather dislike her. *cringes away from your wrath*

No cringing required, dear. I'm rather proud of the fact that I was always heart the unpopular characters - Elizabeth Swann, pre-Vader Anakin, Lana Lang... *g*

But even when she's being her most underhanded, it's always for the sake of her loyalty to those she loves, which is a hero's trait. I still maintain that Jack Sparrow is the true trickster-antihero here. :)

It's a hero's trait only to the extent that she stops at hurting/betraying other people for a few - actually just one person that is important to her. Beyond that it becomes the anti-hero's trait because she's doing lots of heroic things for very anti-heroic motivations.

I agree that Jack Sparrow is the true trickster character. However I think that over the course of the movies, Elizabeth becomes an even better trickster than he does. (As shown when she kills him).

Perhaps that explains a bit of my disappointment with the PT, huh? ;)

I think so. It's like... using a Harry Potter example... when Harry finds out that his father used to be a bully in secondary school. Up until then, Harry had had this mental image of his father as a matyr hero and now he discovered that he was just like everyone else at that age. That's the same way, I think :p , that lots of OT lovers had a mental image of how the PT really happened. Our crafted gods will always have clay feet. ;)
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 20th, 2007 05:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm rather proud of the fact that I was always heart the unpopular characters - Elizabeth Swann, pre-Vader Anakin, Lana Lang... *g*

Well now, I wouldn't call pre-Vader Anakin unpopular. Unless of course you discount the fangirls. ;) Out of curiosity, though, I have to ask: how do you feel about Palpatine?

However I think that over the course of the movies, Elizabeth becomes an even better trickster than he does. (As shown when she kills him).

Definitely have to agree with that one. But see also this post for my mythological take on Elizabeth's Kiss of Death (tm). The girl is certainly crafty.

It's like... using a Harry Potter example... when Harry finds out that his father used to be a bully in secondary school. Up until then, Harry had had this mental image of his father as a martyr hero and now he discovered that he was just like everyone else at that age. That's the same way, I think :p , that lots of OT lovers had a mental image of how the PT really happened. Our crafted gods will always have clay feet. ;)

Well now, I think that's a pretty good example for a lot of people I know who were OT Vader fans and disappointed with the PT. But I think my reasoning is slightly different. I never actually had any clear (or even vague, really) image of what Vader was like before he was Vader. What I liked was that he could be anybody, and so he was a kind of Everyman. (An evil Everyman - even better!) And in that sense, watching him could be almost cathartic: that is, it was a way for the viewer to acknowledge that darkness within her/himself. Because like I said before, as Luke found out, what's behind the mask is always yourself.

So the thing is, even if PT Anakin had been exactly the way I might have imagined him, I still would have been disappointed. Does that make sense?
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 21st, 2007 06:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Well now, I wouldn't call pre-Vader Anakin unpopular. Unless of course you discount the fangirls. ;) Out of curiosity, though, I have to ask: how do you feel about Palpatine?

pre-Vader Anakain is unpopular. Strangely enough, the majority of the fangirls seemed to be camped in the Ewan M tent.

I have a healthy respect for Palpatine. He was a manipulative old crow whose most powerful weapons were his mind and his patience. I was extremely dissapointed with the whole 'battle' between Sidious and Yoda in Ep 3 because I was of the impression that Palpatine worked best with his mind, not his fists.

Definitely have to agree with that one. But see also this post for my mythological take on Elizabeth's Kiss of Death (tm). The girl is certainly crafty.


*goes to read*
*is back*

Ooh, that's a good one! :D I've actually come across that theory in a couple of PotC communities. How well written is 'The King Must Die'? I mean, apart from the mythological themes, is a good read? It seems fascinating but I'd like a recommendation before I buy...


blockquote>So the thing is, even if PT Anakin had been exactly the way I might have imagined him, I still would have been disappointed. Does that make sense?</blockquote>
Yes, it does. I think, for example, no matter how well the HP movies were made, they'd still have let me down.
fialleril From: fialleril Date: August 22nd, 2007 02:55 am (UTC) (Link)
Strangely enough, the majority of the fangirls seemed to be camped in the Ewan M tent.

There seems to be a healthy number of Hayden/Anakin fangirls on tf.n. All for the wrong reasons, I suspect. ;)

I have a healthy respect for Palpatine. He was a manipulative old crow whose most powerful weapons were his mind and his patience.

I have recently developed a great deal of fondness for Palpatine. It's mostly your fault, too. I've been writing this whole Jedi!Palpatine universe that you inspired, and I think Palpatine may now officially be my favorite of all the Jedi. Go figure! ;)

Of course, I'm also very fond of him as a villain. What you said about the Yoda/Sid fight in ROTS is another of my great disappointments with the PT. I always thought Palpatine was so sly, so very good at scheming, and so...well, evil, for lack of a better term, that he wouldn't even own a lightsaber. It's just beneath him. I really think Force lightning (or whatever you want to call that) ought to be his only weapon, when he chooses to resort to physical violence at all. And I suspect that's rather rare. He has much better methods. *evil grin*

How well written is 'The King Must Die'? I mean, apart from the mythological themes, is a good read? It seems fascinating but I'd like a recommendation before I buy...

It actually is quite well done. Especially if you like a story with no really clear hero/villain. :D There are shades of grey to everything in this, and all of the characters are wonderfully human (though some of them are at the same time something rather more than human). I'd really recommend it, actually. I ought to reread it soon myself, too...
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 24th, 2007 07:05 am (UTC) (Link)
There seems to be a healthy number of Hayden/Anakin fangirls on tf.n.
Maybe the tide has changed now but I can assure you that that was not the case for a long time and I still think the number of Obi-Ewan fans (pun intended) eclipse Anakin fans.


I have recently developed a great deal of fondness for Palpatine. It's mostly your fault, too. I've been writing this whole Jedi!Palpatine universe that you inspired, and I think Palpatine may now officially be my favorite of all the Jedi. Go figure! ;)
Oh wow! I can't wait!
frostbit_sky From: frostbit_sky Date: August 16th, 2007 01:38 am (UTC) (Link)
I couldn't vote on all.
I mostly whet for the anti-heroes.

Is Qui-Gon supposed to be an anti-hero?
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 16th, 2007 06:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Well I guess compared to PT Obi-Wan, he does tend to bend the rules more than a little. Even Lucas called him a rogue Jedi.
deaka From: deaka Date: August 16th, 2007 12:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting poll! I clicked in the fandoms I'm familiar with. Being a Luke fangirl I had to go with him for OT, though I do like Han as well. Went with PT Obi-Wan, because I'm not a big fan of Qui-Gon. His character has never really sat well with me, not entirely sure why. He seemed a little selfish to me, despite the fact we were obviously supposed to think he was a wonderful Jedi. I've mellowed a little in that view with time, but I'd still go with Obi-Wan, easily.

I only know Superman and Batman through pop culture and the recent movies, but Batman strikes me as much more interesting. Mm, tragic backstory. ;)

Firefly - Kaylee was a little too cutesy for me, so I went with River. Again with the angst and tragic backstory...

James/Lily was hard, but I went with James, because Lily doesn't interest me that much as a character. She's just a little *too* perfect. James was a bully, true, but from all evidence, he had redeeming qualities too, even if they were more or less off-screen.

And I probably would have gone with Will over Elizabeth, before PotC #3, but she's Pirate King now, how can I not vote for her? She annoyed me for most of the first two, but by the end of the third, I actually liked her a lot, while I was a bit 'meh' with Will.

I think the risk with heroes is that they can become boring if they're *too* perfect. As an audience, we need some flaws to identify with in our protagonist. Generally with heroes, the flaws work in with that person's positive qualities - ie Luke might be impulsive and over-confident, but he's not selfish. Whereas anti-heroes, like Han in ANH, have qualities that are more likely to be seen as negative but do heroic things despite them.

Hm, now I'm pondering whether PT Anakin would be considered an anti-hero or a hero, up until he becomes a villian. Probably have to be anti-hero, I suppose. *thoughtful*
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 16th, 2007 02:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Went with PT Obi-Wan, because I'm not a big fan of Qui-Gon. His character has never really sat well with me, not entirely sure why. He seemed a little selfish to me, despite the fact we were obviously supposed to think he was a wonderful Jedi. I've mellowed a little in that view with time, but I'd still go with Obi-Wan, easily.


I think your reaction to Qui-Gon is very much the reaction that one should have to his character. He's very much an anti-hero, the 'ends justifies the means' type of hero, rather like Obi-Wan in the OT. The way I see it, the anti-hero is not universally loved, but his is usually the more interesting character to watch/follow.



I only know Superman and Batman through pop culture and the recent movies, but Batman strikes me as much more interesting. Mm, tragic backstory. ;)


But the funny thing is that Superman is actually a tragic character - alien, last of his race... However, he's not portrayed as one, or having any kind of neurosis because of his tragedy. I remember Singer's 'Superman Returns' getting some backlash from the critics because he made Superman 'too dark' yet even Singer didn't dare make Superman an anti-hero.


Word on Kaylee. Enough with the giggling already!


I understand what you mean about Lily. She certainly strikes one as too good to be true, loved by all, never meant to harm anyone, sacrificed herself for her son... I tend to see her more as a symbol than an actual person. I daresay the 'real' Lily had her flaws but in the memories of those who loved her - her son, Snape, even Petunia - she'll always be a Saint.


I'm still surprised at how evenly the votes line up for Will and Elizabeth. I almost didn't include them in the poll because I was afraid that they'd be stacked entirely against Will. I've always liked Elizabeth's character. To my over analytical way of thinking, she's the perfect female anti-hero archetype (as opposed to the anti-heroine archetype if that makes any sense).



I think the risk with heroes is that they can become boring if they're *too* perfect. As an audience, we need some flaws to identify with in our protagonist. Generally with heroes, the flaws work in with that person's positive qualities - ie Luke might be impulsive and over-confident, but he's not selfish. Whereas anti-heroes, like Han in ANH, have qualities that are more likely to be seen as negative but do heroic things despite them.


Oh well said. And sometimes, whether the hero likes to admit it or not, you need that unconventional, slightly-against-the-law way of thinking to get out of some sticky situations.



Hm, now I'm pondering whether PT Anakin would be considered an anti-hero or a hero, up until he becomes a villian. Probably have to be anti-hero, I suppose. *thoughtful*


Definitely an anti-hero to Obi-Wan's hero. I deliberately omitted him from the list because I was afraid people would confuse PT Anakin for Vader.



r0ck3tsci3ntist From: r0ck3tsci3ntist Date: August 17th, 2007 03:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I have to say Han Solo was my first anti-hero fandom love anywhere. I'm actually a very simple person. It made me sad when he didn't shoot first.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: August 17th, 2007 06:06 am (UTC) (Link)
As far as I'm concerned, Han did shoot first and the second version was the 'cleaned up' report of New Republic PR.
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