Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Characters, Emotions, and Other Issues

The to-do list was supposed to shrink, not grow! But I remembered stuff I'm supposed to be doing in the next two weeks. And then there are the simple projects that have taken on a life of their own. I had to adjust my plans for the week when I finally looked at the fall ballet schedule, since classes start this week. We've always had class on Tuesday nights, and I assumed that was the case, only to learn it's on Thursday now. I'd planned to go visit my parents on Thursday so I could stay a couple of days with them and come back Saturday in time for a meeting/get-together. So now it looks like I'll either skip the first week of class or go to my parents' house on Friday and come back Sunday morning, skipping the meeting. I like to have at least a whole day to hang out with my parents without having to travel, so I want to spend two nights. It's just a case of figuring out which event to skip.

In the meantime, I'm going into video production mode. My book is part of one of those subscription box things, and they've asked me to make a video for subscribers. I've watched some of the things other authors have done, and it looks like most of them just chat a bit on their webcam. I may escalate it a wee bit. I don't have time to do a full-scale production, but beware the person with a TV news degree and a Macintosh. The last time I made a video, we got the insane safety briefing video for FenCon. I think I'll be myself this time rather than playing a slightly deranged flight attendant.

On another note, I've found a couple of articles that have fit in with thinking I've been doing about characters and the way they're portrayed. First, there's this essay about the recent live-action Cinderella, getting into the concept that what's really radical about it is that it plays the story straight, without deconstructing it or questioning it. I think that explains a lot about why I loved it. Yeah, I like putting twists on familiar tales, but I think even when I'm twisting them, I'm keeping the heart of the original in mind rather than really deconstructing them. I'm not doing anything crazy like making the villains heroes or showing that the heroes are actually the ones to blame.

Then there's this list of stupid characters that now seem to be in every movie (language advisory -- the writer seems to think that profanity makes his point stronger). That would explain why I don't see a lot of movies these days, and especially explains why I didn't bother with the latest Terminator. To quote a passage from the article: "In 1984, Kyle Reese was wiry, desperate, and had PTSD flashbacks thanks to growing up as a feral child in the middle of an irradiated robot apocalypse. In 2015, Kyle Reese is a swole-up supermodel exchanging good-natured jabs with an aged robot dad who represents the waking hell of his entire childhood."

I think a lot of my problem with recent movies -- and even a lot of recent TV -- is that the characters aren't allowed to have normal human reactions to what they go through. Yeah, heroes are supposed to be better and braver than the rest of us, but that doesn't mean they don't have normal emotions. They just don't let those emotions stop them from doing what needs to be done. They still get scared, hurt, and angry. We care more about them if we see them getting scared, hurt, and angry, and we're more concerned about their outcome.

I've also noticed that "kickass female character" trend -- the woman portrayed as awesome and filling out a checklist of "awesome" traits who ends up playing very little role in the actual story. She's kickass window dressing instead of useless window dressing, but she's still more scenery than she is pivotal.

And now I think I need to bring my BluRay of the original Terminator with me to my parents' house to watch on their new big TV. And maybe Aliens. I seem to be in a mood for 80s science fiction action movies all of a sudden.

No comments: