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  1. #11
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Default Perhaps I have been reading too many of Sass's posts but --

    I think the reason people glorify assholes in pop culture and the media is that secretly (or not so secretly) a lot of people want to be assholes. Same with 'the bad guy'. Everyone fantasizes about being the one who can beat the system, get the girl, and the cash, and ride out into the beautifl sunset.

    Or people fear they will always be victims and figure it's better if "you can't beat 'em (jerks), join 'em". Or else they are so honestly puzzled by assholes and find them fascinating, both IRL or better from the comfort of the couch.

    I also think people wish there were redeeming qualities about assholes. Like rewriting your bullies from childhood traumas into 'fleshed out complex human characters' and basically making them likeable and not as scaryin some way. Anything so you can wrap your mind around it and feel comforted.

    Some of this is understandable, some of it is just BS IMHO. Asshole glorification just ends up propping up real life bad behavior in individuals and more over entire systems of...um...undesirability?

    Jerks in pop culture tend to follow very similar archetypes meaning stereotypes, like womanizing misogynists who are actually sensitive loving men with trust issues ( ), ball busting bitches who are too strong to be loved by men and just want to be held like a woman (), hateful racists who love their children and their dogs () Brilliant priveleged white men who just can't understand people beneath them () etc. etc. etc.

    I hate assholes. I hate caricatures. I hate people who revel in their privelege. And I hate bad writing.

    I especially hate that society in general can't step up and just call people on bad behavior and always have to make excuses, find 'good points'. It's like we somehow became a nation of enablers and cowards.

    So....no, I'm probably not one for identifying with "complicated jerks" in popular media. Do I like the benign bad guys? Or the bad guys with cool character design and costumes? Sure. I like Bizarro Superman and that cheetah girl (rooowr -- Wonder Woman's nemsis in Justice League). I generally automatically dislike any bad guy that you are supposed to like, unless they are really campy (like

    In fact, the reason I continue to watch Nip/Tuck is just to watch horrible things happen to the two main characters. And I don't even care enough to follow it regularly. I got sick of their antics midway season 2. They are both self-indulgent, self-abosrbed, pompous, hypocritical assholes who hurt everyone around them, feel sorry for themselves, and mess up people's lives and then feel more sorry for themselves. Especially Troy. How can you not love to hate a walking veneral disease of a misogynist?

    I think there is a lot going on when it comes to why people like villains that goes beyond just sympathizing with characters. I generally have not seen nor do I see myself in any characters in TV or movies, I think partly this is due to the fact I'm not really a visible part of pop culture in general.

    People also glorify serial killers IRL as well, I think the reasons why people do that and why people like 'bad guys' in entertainment overlap, probably in complicated ways that make people look not so flattering way.

    When I do like 'bad guys' they generally really are the bad guys and not meant to be sympathetic at all. I basically hate the stereotyped, smarmy heros and want them to meet a tragic completely un-Hollywood ending but this will not happen. Which makes me hate them even more. I'm rooting against stereotypes, against all the institutions and people invested in the status quo and Hollywood, and rooting for the underdog.
    “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde

    "I'm outtie 5000" ― Romulux

    Johari/Nohari

  2. #12
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    No, I don't need to approve of a character to appreciate them.

    (I think I did mention Michael from "Lost" -- I despise him... but at the same time I think he was one of the best characters in the show, because it was clear what was driving him, and he relentlessly pursued his goal even at the expense of others. Wow.)
    This is pretty much how I feel about Locke. I have serious problems with his actions, which just seem to be getting more and more tunnel-visioned as the show goes on and he loses his center and perspective. Yet, it is those very things that make him a really awesome interesting character.
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  3. #13
    Senior Member TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Some of my favorite characters, in any form of media, are NOT very sympathetic. Or, maybe more to the point, not immediately and apparently sympathetic. But they are still very compelling characters. A totally good or totally bad character is flat, but one with both flaws and redeeming qualities stands up on the page/screen (especially if the redeeming ones are hidden away).
    I can relate to that idea. Some of my favorite TV characters are the ones where I have to watch them a bit to understand the motivation of the character, then I can understand their point of view and see that they are doing whats right through their eyes. I've only watched House a couple times, but that is an example of a character where I can watch him and feel that hes doing what he perceives right within his internal moral framework - he is being true to his own beliefs regardless of how it affects others around him. I think I do need some degree of sympathy to like a character (it may be a strange disconnect, but I can like a character for the role they play int he story even though I would despise such a person in real life (I think "appreciate" may be a better term than like in this case)), but I also find it pretty easy to sympathize with most characters if I can get a sense of whats motivating them and what their values are (even villains have personal values - they might be negative values like power or greed tho).

    Two other examples that come to mind (both minor characters from CSI)
    Conrad Eckley and David Hodges

    Aside from examples like that, most of the characters that I find most likable are ones that I see bits of myself in and/or are more like what I'd like to eventually be more like. The only one that comes to mind that I suspect may be an INFP is Megan Reeves from Numb3rs. The rest of the ones I think are NTs like Gil Grissom (xNTJ?) of CSI, Charlie Eppes (INTP?) and Larry Fleinhardt (ENTP?) of Numb3rs. Basically, I think strong displays of Ne, Ni, Ti, or Fi are what make me like and relate to a character.

  4. #14
    Senior Member TenebrousReflection's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    When I do like 'bad guys' they generally really are the bad guys and not meant to be sympathetic at all. I basically hate the stereotyped, smarmy heros and want them to meet a tragic completely un-Hollywood ending but this will not happen. Which makes me hate them even more. I'm rooting against stereotypes, against all the institutions and people invested in the status quo and Hollywood, and rooting for the underdog.
    (if you have are familiar with these) Where would you put these in the villain scale...

    Keyser Soze from "The Usual Suspects"
    Magneto from X-Men movies and comics
    Joneleth Irenicus from Baldur's Gate II (computer game)

    Those are examples of some of my favorite villians. I can't really sympathize or relate to Keyser Soze, but like him for just how clever and devious he is. The other two, I can relate to somewhat and its easier to sympathize with.

  5. #15
    mrs disregard's Avatar
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    Ah, yes.. Keyser Soze was an incredible villain.

  6. #16
    Emerging Tallulah's Avatar
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    I always liked the obnoxious characters that I'd never want to be around in real life. Two of my favorite tv characters of all time are Mrs. Oleson on Little House on the Prairie and Phyllis Lindstrom on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It's fun to see people that are just completely self-absorbed and get to create a little havoc in the lives of the sometimes boring lead characters.

    I always gravitated towards the villains and the outcasts, too. I think it really all boils down to the question of who is the most interesting character, and not their function in the story. Another thing is, sometimes you can sympathize with a character and not necessarily approve of their actions from an across the board moral standpoint. But you understand how they got to that point. I remember taking a lot of flak in college classes for sticking up for Hedda Gabler and Madame Bovary. :rolli:

  7. #17
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    What about you? Do you need to be able to approve of a character to appreciate him or her?

    That's a tough one actually. Usually, yes but not always. And then, I don't have to approve but I do have to relate on some level. There has to be some facet of the character that I can connect with enough to appreciate not them but whatever is being played out by them.

    Kevin Costner's "Mr. Brooks" comes to mind. Who can relate to a serial killer? Certainly not me. But, I can relate to being addicted to something or someone that I disdain. I know that struggle. As an involved party, I've also been through the fear that a child would inherit a trait from their parent.

    I think what I experience that way is the same as the actor. I've heard many say that they have to find some part of the character they can relate to in order to play them.

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