It’s probably a bad idea to watch a movie with me. When I watch movies, I tend to criticize the character development and the writers’ standardized methods of relaying a character’s “strength.” I do it with books, too, there’s just usually no one around to hear me griping at my Kindle. There are five things that especially bug me, hence I have decided to whine about them in a blog post accompanied by Taylor Swift GIF’s because everyone likes Taylor Swift.
Tempers are not awesome. It is one thing to have righteous anger over injustice or cruelty, but quite another to overreact and resort to violence. Writers moved away from this one for a while, but I’ve noticed it coming back—mainly in female characters because men and women should be held to different moral standards (not).
A long list of ex-lovers
Some of my favorite characters of all time are, shall we say, romantically prolific, but the fact remains that being desired and/or sexually active are not the hallmarks of a strong persona! It’s okay to not have a significant other or regular one-night stands, but you wouldn’t know it by the way mainstream media handles it.
Modern literature and film seem to think it makes a character interesting, relying on sex as a plot device rather than using something crazy, like a storyline. There are plenty of shows I could list where if the writers weren’t allowed to incorporate sex involving the main characters, they would run out of material in about two episodes.
A tragic backstory
Tragic backstories are about as common as mud. I have used them quite often myself, but lacking some horror in your past does not make you any less of a character or your input to the story any less valid. Despite this, characters without tragedy in their pasts are usually portrayed as the naive innocent that gets killed first or gruesomely victimized, but that’s just a sign of lazy writing.
A set of fighting skills
I prefer for my own characters to have fighting skills (because fight scenes allow my inner ninja to play), but they aren’t necessary to a solid character—male or female. I wish I could find more portrayals where it’s okay to not be a warrior, but it’s been becoming rarer, especially in fantasy books.
A postmodern mindset
It may sound like a contradiction to some, but it actually is possible for one to believe in traditional gender roles without being sexist. It’s also possible to firmly believe in one’s own religion as the sole truth without hating others and I could go on. However, the characters who are more traditional in their views are generally cast in a negative manner, which is a travesty, because it is an incomplete picture of what real people with similar opinions are actually like.
And that wraps up my rant for the month, but there’s plenty more where that came from. 😉
(As a side note, if you guys can think of any fantasy books that defy these tropes, I’d really like to hear about them.)