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    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Default The Toppling Archeype: The Incredibles, Orangutan Island, and Good vs. Evil

    I was watching Orangutan Island and the Incredibles today and had a N-gasm. When good battles evil in stories* like the Incredibles, good is never making peace with evil, but battling it. The roles are pretty consistent across stories: The bad guy is a person who wreaks havoc and exploits on subordinates and acts out of regard for themselves, only. The good guy is often an underdog, a normal/middle class person who stands up against injustice and topples the central figure.

    The good guys aren't necessarily looking for peace, though. They use violence to overthrow their opponents. Freud interpeted the struggle between good and evil as a struggle between superego and id. But watching orangutans battle for dominance raised another possibility.

    Could the "evil" character really represents the dominant figure in the community? The battle between good and evil could be one of overthrowing and replacing the dominant figure, reclaiming that position for the subordinate. The plethora of the "Toppling Archetype" (if you have a better name, lets hear it) across culture, therefore, can be seen as the expression of a wish, not to conquer the id, but to conquer the dominant figure and claim supremacy. It's popularity could be explained by the fact that statistically, there are more subordinates than dominants in any society.

    One problem with this idea is that the contender, once he topples the dominant figure, usually restores order, not chaos. Why is that? Perhaps it's because the story has maximum value/appeal/fitness** when the subordinates are pampered and elevated, rather than trashed. There is no shortage of stories where the contender mistreats and punishes the dominant figure and their own group. Another "problem" that could be addressed the same way is the theme of sacrifice -- bad for the individual, but good for the group. The dominant figure still gets toppled, the subordinates are saved. Jesus dying for people's sins and restoring order would be a good example (but who would be the dominant figure that gets toppled?).

    What do you think?

    I would love some help in collecting some stories like these. The basic framework seems to be: disorder, disorder pinned to central figure, figure is villified, figure is battles, figure is toppled, order is restored, new central figure is crowned. Some examples: Biblical wars?, Shrek I, tabloids!, Spiderman, Star Wars.

    What are some other stories that have this pattern embedded? (More places to look: most popular books, most popular songs, popular folk tales and myths, heroes (the reluctant hero is the perfect set up))


    *Modern myths?
    **I'm using fitness in the evolutionary sense, to mean that a story/meme with the most appeal will be the most popular and survive and "reproduce" in future generations and across various groups.

    cross-posted at INTPc

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    This does seem to make sense with the pattern of the bad guys being the the types who can plan things out to the smallest detail, as those are the types more expected to be in charge.

    It does seem possible that it just follows the usual method of telling a good story, where the bad guy is as powerful as possible so that the good guy seems more powerful for winning, though it may go the opposite way as well, with "good stories" coming from the types of feelings that create these stories.

    a lot of these stories, but the "toppling" ones, and "preserve the current setup" ones seem to come from a mindset useful for competition, where people would frame however they were competing on one of these terms, or people who could frame it one one of these ways, would be better able to work themselves up for competition and justify it to other people. (See various gossip and complaints in small talk: On the one hand you have "underdog" versions where the boss is the bad guy, on the other hand you have egotistical celebrities who are getting too big ideas compared to where they should be compared to more established ones.)

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    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    I see the appeal of tabloids as being interconnected with toppling the dominant figures. Brad Pitt, Jennifer Anniston, Britney Spears, etc.

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    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    It does seem like this is the case. As if the bad guys are usually exaggerated examples of government control, and the good guys are representations of a virtuous person everyone wants to identify with. It's an interesting way of looking at things.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatsWhatHeSaid View Post
    I see the appeal of tabloids as being interconnected with toppling the dominant figures. Brad Pitt, Jennifer Anniston, Britney Spears, etc.
    Tabloids are concenred with "toppling" just because they are writing about people already at the top, but hearing about celebrity gossip in general does seem to have a lot of elements of both "toppling" and "keeping things as they are". (Gossip in general has both elements as well.)

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    Senior Member ThatsWhatHeSaid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zergling View Post
    Tabloids are concenred with "toppling" just because they are writing about people already at the top, but hearing about celebrity gossip in general does seem to have a lot of elements of both "toppling" and "keeping things as they are". (Gossip in general has both elements as well.)
    It goes along with psychologists' definition of aggression into high-level and low-level:

    High-level aggression: Assaults, intimidating, taunting
    Low-level aggression: Teasing, harassment, ostracizing, taunting, gossip, baiting, hazing, cursing (source)

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