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Virector
09-04-2008, 12:23 AM
I know AW isn't the most ideal place to be asking for help for a school assignment, but I figure you are the most 'appropriate' group of people to help me with this, being as you are fellow writers:

I have to do a presentation for my English class about a text or film we've studied and I've chosen the film Apocalypse Now, because I want to explore the anti-hero, Willard. There lies my problem; I can't think of any interesting or thought-provoking things to talk about with regards an anti-hero. I'm fascinated by anti-heroes, since most of my own protagonists are anti-heroes, that's why I'd like to take on the subject. So please, I humbly implore you-- may you please give me some ideas on interesting perspectives from which I could look at the topic of the anti-hero, or possible topics I could expand on, on this subject A.S.AP? Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Willowmound
09-04-2008, 12:33 AM
What makes an anti-hero more interesting than a hero?

alleycat
09-04-2008, 12:37 AM
How about . . .

Why the anti-hero became the MC in books and films at a certain period in time (the late sixties). What were the social aspects that occurred to make the anti-hero a hero, so to speak.

Why are certain people fascinated with the anti-hero as subject? Why are they drawn to an anti-hero?

How do a typical anti-hero's goals and motivation differ from a typical "good guy" character?

katiemac
09-04-2008, 12:39 AM
Have you checked out the TV Trope page for anti-heroes or done a quick search on Wikipedia? They aren't the best forms of research, of course, but I find a quick skim can sometimes put my thoughts in order.

newbiewriter
09-04-2008, 01:30 AM
What makes an anti-hero an anti-hero? What separates him/her from a hero or a villan?

Soccer Mom
09-04-2008, 03:05 AM
Compare and contrast him to the classic heroic ideal. How did the classic hero appeal to societal norms of that time and how does the modern anti-hero appeal to modern society.

Virector
09-04-2008, 07:19 AM
Thank you all!!! You are life savers!!! I am in your gratitude once again!

AmusingMuse
09-05-2008, 12:11 AM
I've seen time and time again where an audience will actually cheer on an anti-hero as opposed to the hero of a story. Often times, they will feel sorry for him/her when their lives end, they get caught. Perhaps this is a reflection on how twisted our society is becoming where we actually hero worship the "bad guy" and take glee in seeing the hero struggle. Society seems destined to be intrigued by the gore and guts and torture a human body can take, watching fascinated, eyes glued to the screen as unexplicable acts of terrifying venues are applied to the limits of a human life. Society's critics scream foul! Yet, we see titles hit the screens like Saw II and wonder how this is possible.

How about you dip into this world of twisted anit-hero worshipping and approach the topic from this angle. Why are we so fascinated with destroying our idea of "hero" and substituting it for anti-hero worshipping death, blood, guts, and gore or finding the next extreme way the "bad guy" can destroy the human body, spirit and soul?

Yeshanu
09-05-2008, 12:26 AM
I'm not sure I'd call it "twisted anit-hero" worshipping, AM. I think what's happened is we've grown tired of heroes who are too perfect. We can't relate, because we're human, and humans have dark sides.

We can understand the anti-hero better than we can understand the hero, so we side with him or her, even if the anti-hero is on the wrong team.

AmusingMuse
09-05-2008, 12:43 AM
Not sure I would agree about the relating comment. I would not want to be pinned as relating to any anti-hero. I'll stick to heroes.

JoNightshade
09-05-2008, 12:51 AM
AM, I think your idea of an anti-hero is a little confused. You seem to think it's sick or twisted to like someone who isn't a traditional "perfect" hero. Is that what you think about, say, Han Solo? Or any number of Clint Eastwood heroes?

But I think the anti-hero is very relevant to our society - particularly in the sense that nothing is hidden. A politician runs for office - and instantly everything he's ever done is on the news, up for speculation. As a society, I think we've had to come face to face with the fact that nobody, not anyone, is ever good ALL THE TIME. We're constantly seeing our "heroes" fall. So the question then is, can a flawed human being still be a hero? And how many mistakes or slip-ups can one make and still be considered a hero? Does the type of mistake matter?

Toothpaste
09-05-2008, 01:12 AM
Actually considering AM referred to both anti-hero and hero in one story, I think she might be confusing anti-hero with villain.

AM - an anti-hero is the sort of hero similar to the character Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye (one of the most famous examples). He's the modern hero, imperfect, flawed, unsure of himself. The classical hero type, which was the type for a long time, was perfect, strong, handsome, moral and wise. Modern literature got tired of this and decided to create what is called the anti-hero. But the anti-hero is still the hero of the tale. Often the anti-hero is facing off against a villain.

Now, you are quite right that there are anti-heroes that have been made so anti that they are really repugnant, the author may have gone a bit too far in trying to make him flawed. And it is ridiculously popular now that every hero be an anti-hero type.

That was why I loved watching the Horatio Hornblower series (also a series of books). Horatio was a good old fashioned upstanding hero type. It's become so unusual to see this that the old fashioned hero has become the anti-anti-hero as it were.

JimmyB27
09-05-2008, 02:05 PM
Actually considering AM referred to both anti-hero and hero in one story, I think she might be confusing anti-hero with villain.

AM - an anti-hero is the sort of hero similar to the character Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye (one of the most famous examples). He's the modern hero, imperfect, flawed, unsure of himself. The classical hero type, which was the type for a long time, was perfect, strong, handsome, moral and wise. Modern literature got tired of this and decided to create what is called the anti-hero. But the anti-hero is still the hero of the tale. Often the anti-hero is facing off against a villain.

Now, you are quite right that there are anti-heroes that have been made so anti that they are really repugnant, the author may have gone a bit too far in trying to make him flawed. And it is ridiculously popular now that every hero be an anti-hero type.

That was why I loved watching the Horatio Hornblower series (also a series of books). Horatio was a good old fashioned upstanding hero type. It's become so unusual to see this that the old fashioned hero has become the anti-anti-hero as it were.
See, I see the anti-hero as a bit more than just flawed. To me, he is effectively a villain.
FitzChivalry, from the Farseer books, is a flawed hero. He gets things wrong, he stumbles, he doesn't come out of every fight with his hair still perfectly coiffed and his clothes still immaculate. But he's still a good guy, he's still the hero.
Compare that to Harry Flashman from George MacDonald Fraser's books. He's a coward, a cad, a bounder, a liar, a cheat. In short, he's not a nice person at all. But he still makes for a wonderful read. We still root for him. He's an anti-hero, imho.

As a side note - if a hero and an anti-hero come into contact, will they annihalate each other?

Toothpaste
09-05-2008, 04:32 PM
You may see an anti-hero as such, but the definition is:

antihero |ˈantēˌhi(ə)rō; ˈantī-|
noun
a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.

Now you may wish to attribute more to what an anti-hero is, create your own definition, but that doesn't change the fact that truly what an anti-hero is is someone who is not traditionally heroic.

This is what always confuses me, people want to have debates about semantics so often on these writer boards, but these terms actually have meanings in the literary world, dictionary definitions, are taught in a certain way: an oxymoron for example, is an oxymoron is an oxymoron (though I will always remember with fondness a guy in my English class insisting it was pronounce "oximerin"). Just because you always thought anti-hero was something else doesn't make you right. It may mean you have taken the idea and gone further with it, but to come here and tell me my definition is wrong because of your opinion . . . it's simply not true.

JimmyB27
09-05-2008, 04:50 PM
You may see an anti-hero as such, but the definition is:

antihero |ˈantēˌhi(ə)rō; ˈantī-|
noun
a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes.

Now you may wish to attribute more to what an anti-hero is, create your own definition, but that doesn't change the fact that truly what an anti-hero is is someone who is not traditionally heroic.

This is what always confuses me, people want to have debates about semantics so often on these writer boards, but these terms actually have meanings in the literary world, dictionary definitions, are taught in a certain way: an oxymoron for example, is an oxymoron is an oxymoron (though I will always remember with fondness a guy in my English class insisting it was pronounce "oximerin"). Just because you always thought anti-hero was something else doesn't make you right. It may mean you have taken the idea and gone further with it, but to come here and tell me my definition is wrong because of your opinion . . . it's simply not true.
Okay, so let's talk about what 'conventional heroic attributes' are.

hero (hr'ō)
n., pl. -roes.
1)In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favored by the gods.
2)A person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life: soldiers and nurses who were heroes in an unpopular war.
3)A person noted for special achievement in a particular field: the heroes of medicine. See synonyms at celebrity.
4)The principal male character in a novel, poem, or dramatic presentation.

'Great courage', 'strength', 'bold exploits', 'nobility of purpose'. Nothing about being without flaws. So, the anti-hero is someone who lacks these attributes. I.E., someone who is weak, a coward, ignoble and so on. Which is pretty much what I think I described.

AmusingMuse
09-05-2008, 06:00 PM
Kudos to both my fellow writer friends for their opinions. I am not an expert in the english language, and in fact, I'm still a student and probably will remain one for the rest of my life. I do and say this to avoid falling into the category of smugness and claiming that I know all there is... as I do not or ever will.

The anti-hero is still a hero if I understand you correctly.

I will have to disagree. I disagree on the usage of the preffix involved. With that aside, let's take a look at what you've described and what has been defined all over the internet and here before I explain my thoughts.

No matter how you choose to dress him up or down, he is just another aspect to heroism, misnamed because the "word" sounds cool, but none the less the hero in the end. Good girls have been drawn to him, and his rougher charisma compared to the "knight in shining armor" for years. There is an inherent dark attraction to these characters, filled with an excitement I'll never understand. But to deny it's there as a writer, would be foolish, so I don't. Those who idealize and label the would-be "anti-hero" have had the hopes that deep down, under that darker exterior, lies the man they know could be the hero for them. Often an "anti-hero" is placed as a secondary character to help the hero, often times sacrificing himself in the end for his friends-- is this not a hero? As writers, we are finding the "anti-hero" is more fun to write about, to exploit because, hey... he's already bad right? This bad boy illusion is what confuses people, but still he is the hero, just dressed differently in character. He looks bad, must be bad. We must give him a cool, bad name.

However, the villain doesn't do things relying on the normal, moral fibre heroes would. If he doesn't eventually do good, then he is the villain. If he fights the hero, he is the villain. What you are describing is a character description, and you or others have labelled this character description with "anti."

Since we are looking at definitions. Allow me to point out, "anti" meaning against, opposite or opposing, to the contrary ...

anti hero = against the hero, opposite the hero, opposing the hero, contrary to the hero... a.k.a villain

anti-war does not mean a more darker form of supporting war, it means against war, opposing to war, contrary to war... a.k.a peace

we could then move on to anti-christ and use the same example, etc., etc.

If we as writers, have stuck the word "anti" in front of hero to describe the darker attributes this hero has as opposed to the "traditional" hero values heroes have been known to have, then I would recommend that writers think in terms of descriptive pronouns, and pick another.

As one who likes to try and see both sides of a good debate, I would offer this information about an excellent paper written by Robert Van Rooy, detailing his thoughts on the overuse of incorrect word descriptives and misuse of language surrounding pronouns. He discusses pronouns "used referentially and refer to the speaker's referents of their antecedent indefinites, or descriptively and go proxy for the description recoverable from its antecedent clause." It's a bit dry and he likes his sentence structuring.. but I think his thoughts are interesting and may add extra fuel for the debate.

And as they are his words and thoughts, these are mine and not meant to be anything but that. Whether they are wrong or right, is always open to opinion. But remember, an opinion is just that.

So that brings me back to why I had stated earlier, and not out of confusing anything and keeping in mind my thoughts above, I could never relate to the "anti-hero" as I see him as a villain. I may PMS occasionally, but I am not a villain.

Bottom line... you say tomato... I say tomoto...

I imagine we could all agree to disagree...:D

Virector
09-06-2008, 06:23 AM
My take on this is that anti-hero does not mean "against the hero" as such, because in most cases, the anti-hero is actually 'against' a villain who is, well, worse than he/she is. I understand why you would think anti-hero means "in opposition to the hero", but I don't think you should actually look at the "anti" and the "hero" separately-- anti-hero is a word in itself, describing a 'not-so-good' hero who is fighting against some 'bad-as-well-but-worse-than-me' character (I hope you get what I'm trying to say, here...) An anti-hero is more like "a hero" who is not exactly... a "hero" type character, and yet he is being "heroic".... I'm not sure if you understand what I'm trying to explain. Let me give you an example using comic book heroes:
Superman is a hero-- powerful, bold majestic, noble, standing for good, that kinda thing-- I'm sure you all know that.

Now, who is an anti-hero from comic books who you might know? Rorschach from Watchmen? No, not too many people are familiar with him....... Aha! I'm sure you're familiar with the X-Men? Do you know Wolverine? That is your typical anti-hero, because he's with the 'good-guys', the X-Men, and he ultimately helps them battle the 'baddies'... but let's examine Wolverine-- he's not a noble character, and we are not even sure if we could rightly say he stands for 'good', and yet he is one of the most prominent members of the 'good-guy-team', the X-Men. He is bad tempered, and he seems to disregard those around him to a large extent, and a lot of his actions are objectionable, but ultimately, he is still a 'hero'; THAT is an anti-hero to me. Quoting Wolverine himself's catch-phrase (from Wikipedia):

"I'm the best there is at what I do, but what I do isn't very nice"

However, sticking with the X-Men, look at Magneto-- typically he is the 'villain' and yet if you really look at it, Magneto is in fact an anti-hero; I guess that is more like what AmusingMuse is trying to describe where an anti-hero is a villain. Magneto to me is an anti-hero, because if you examine Magneto's motives-- all he's trying to do is to unite all the mutants and uplift them in society... at the expense of normal humans like us. So, he is anti-heroic, because he wants to unite and ultimately help the mutants, but he is a villain, because he wants to crush the puny little humans in the process... there comes in Wolverine, the 'not-so-noble-hero', and the less interesting characters like 'Cyclops' *yawn* and the other heroes to stop him.

Sorry for all this "X-Men this- X-Men that" crap and for the long post; I'm trying to explain my perspective of the anti-hero using a literary universe I'm familiar with, which I'd like to think a lot of people are familiar with as well. In conclusion, I'm only re-enforcing and agreeing with what Toothpaste, Jo Nightshade and others are saying:

An anti hero is not necessarily a villain. He, or she (as in the case of The Bride from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies-- another classic example of an anti-hero; she is an assassin who kills people and is, well, bad, if you really look at what she does, but she wants to take down the people who tried to kill her, who are bad people, and yet she is not exactly the most noble character either, but she's the protagonist-- the anti-hero... I'll go no further on this because I think I made my point already and I'm boring you with all my emphasis on personal opinions).... Now where was I before I opened my Kill Bill bracket?... Oh, yes, I was saying in conclusion, an anti-hero is a hero who normally wouldn't be a hero. I mean, c'mon-- I bet Superman would have been trying to stop Uma Thurman as much as all the other bad guys in Kill Bill if he was thrown into that movie because he's such a 'hero', and he'd look at the "anti-hero" and the "villain" in the same light. In that regard, I can totally understand how anyone would confuse the two terms. 'Nuff said.

Virector
09-06-2008, 06:45 AM
Another thought I'd like to add is that "anti-hero" is not "against-hero" (a.k.a villain) but more like "negative-hero" (a.k.a Wolverine, Rorschach, The Bride, Captain Willard-- in my original context, the movie Apocalypse Now). Just my thoughts, in case anyone did not understand what I'm asking for opinions [I]about, in my original post.

Toothpaste
09-06-2008, 07:19 AM
AM - fair enough. I see your point about your perspective of the term.

Nonetheless this is a term and how it is used in literary circles, and certainly you are free to gather every author, english teacher, professor, etc and explain to them your reasoning and ask them politely to never use anti-hero in its literary meaning ever again. But, I just think that would be rather time consuming.

Here's the thing, you are free to use the term however you want, but it will make it incredibly difficult for you to converse with anyone else in the literary world who uses it. Because they will certainly be using the definition offered here by most in this thread. For example in this thread alone you have actually not helped the OP at all (who has returned to explain that your meaning of anti-hero was not at all what he was talking of) with your definition. You have gone off on your own tangent, a discussion about word origins, interesting, but not really what this thread was about.

Second, words take on the meanings that have been attributed to them. Here's an example. In the acting world there is the term "strike". This in the acting world means to remove set pieces from the acting area, to clear the acting area of anything, ie "Could you please strike that chair?" Now you could insist that "strike" only means "to hit", or "to walk out in protest about something". But you will still find, in every single theatre in the English speaking world, artists using the term to mean, "Could you please remove that chair?" You can argue with each of them about it, tell them that they ought to use a different word, but in the end, you will only end up frustrating yourself.

We use words in the literary vocabulary in different ways than you might wish to define them. Magical Realism certainly does not mean realistic magic. "Point of View" does not mean "opinion". Nor does "anti-hero" mean the negative hero, the opposite of hero. It does not mean villain. Villain means villain. Anti-hero means what the rest of us in this thread have defined it as.

A discussion of semantics can be very interesting, but truly this is not a matter of how I choose to pronounce tomato vs your preference. This is a matter of an established term, one that has existed for generations, that is used to mean something specific.

You might not like that, but it doesn't change its definition. It just makes it a bit harder for you to communicate with others in the literary world should you choose to ignore its defintion.

And yes Virector, I think you've given some great examples there. I'd also offer a very simple example of the difference between Hero and Anti-hero:

Superman = Hero
Batman = Anti-Hero

Sunshine13
09-06-2008, 07:56 AM
Virector, maybe this is another idea for your paper. People's opinions on what an anti-hero actually is :D -hugs everyone-

Toothpaste
09-06-2008, 08:03 AM
(it really isn't a matter of "opinion", some things in life simply aren't subjective, but I appreciate your desire to calm the air! Do you think people not in the writing world have any idea about the debates we get into?! lol!)

rugcat
09-06-2008, 08:06 AM
.That was why I loved watching the Horatio Hornblower series (also a series of books). Horatio was a good old fashioned upstanding hero type. It's become so unusual to see this that the old fashioned hero has become the anti-anti-hero as it were.Have you read the books, or just seen the TV series? (Some of my all time favorite books)

Hornblower is certainly not an anti hero, but he's not a hero in the classic mold, either. He's plagued by self doubt, terrified of battle, (although he always behaves admirably) and is downright neurotic. One of the most complex and nuanced characters in series literature, I think.

Toothpaste
09-06-2008, 09:32 AM
Yes I only saw the series, in which he is far less as complex as you have described. I actually really want to read them, the books are definitely on my "to read" pile! I know I know, naughty author, but I likes my tv as well . . . and movies . . . and . . .yeah.

Sunshine13
09-06-2008, 09:46 AM
TP, I know, I know, I was just trying to find a neutral way of saying it.....perhaps it really wasn't neutral after all :P My bad.

Virector
09-06-2008, 12:23 PM
I'd also offer a very simple example of the difference between Hero and Anti-hero:

Superman = Hero
Batman = Anti-Hero

Spot on! I don't know why I didn't think of Batman. Anyways, I don't know if you're into graphic-novels and such, but in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns this hero- anti-hero conflict is brought to light when Superman and Batman actually fight because of their heroic differences-- I won't go into too many details on that. However, that's a classic example because, you see, Batman and Superman are both heroes, but as the former is an anti-hero and the latter is a hero, they ultimately have a battle to settle their differences as heroes... I loved that; that's why The Dark Knight Returns is a classic amongst graphic novels. :D

JimmyB27
09-06-2008, 05:02 PM
And yes Virector, I think you've given some great examples there. I'd also offer a very simple example of the difference between Hero and Anti-hero:

Superman = Hero
Batman = Anti-Hero
I think you are misunderstanding me. And I think it's my fault. :( Some writer I am.
By your dictionary definition of anti-hero, I actually think we are both correct. At least in what I think we are trying to say. But I also think your original claim that an anti-hero is just a flawed hero is far too simplistic.
Example of a flawed hero, who isn't anti-hero. I'll take Fitz again. He's flawed, especially when compared to the uber-heroic Superman. Fitz fights like a crazed berserker, his magic is either reviled by the people, or doesn't work properly. He gets things wrong, he hurts people through his mistakes. But, imho, he's still a hero. To use the definition of hero - he does have great courage and strength; he is noble and bold. The flaws don't make him an anti-hero, they make him a person. Incidentally, this is why I've never liked Superman as a character - he doesn't feel like a real person to me.
But Batman isn't just flawed, his actions are downright illegal, and often morally questionable. But his motives are still good.
And that's what I mean by the anti-hero being almost a villain. Remember the old writing advice about creating believable villains? The one that says to write them as if, from a different viewpoint, they could be the hero. I think it would be very easy, for example, to write a piece in which Batman was the villain - much harder to do the same for Fitz.

Toothpaste
09-06-2008, 07:22 PM
No no hon, I think we basically agree, that is why I commented back only to AM, but I can see now how my not replying to you could look like we don't.

The thing is, back in the day, heroes really were flawless. They were perfect, meant to be almost more than human, like Superman (though recent incarnations of Superman have tried to give him more flaws). The anti-hero really was an innovation once upon a time, the idea that a hero could have flaws at all was a big deal, let alone bigger ones as you describe.

But I think in this day and age your definition is probably closer. Most every hero these days has some kind of flaw, so what is the anti-hero? Probably these days now a much more flawed character than just having one or two vices. The typical world weary detective, who drinks, smokes, sleeps around, that is more of our modern anti-hero.

But yes hon, we do agree. I am sorry I didn't respond.

katiemac
09-06-2008, 09:09 PM
Spot on! I don't know why I didn't think of Batman. Anyways, I don't know if you're into graphic-novels and such, but in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns this hero- anti-hero conflict is brought to light when Superman and Batman actually fight because of their heroic differences-- I won't go into too many details on that. However, that's a classic example because, you see, Batman and Superman are both heroes, but as the former is an anti-hero and the latter is a hero, they ultimately have a battle to settle their differences as heroes... I loved that; that's why The Dark Knight Returns is a classic amongst graphic novels. :D

Just to reiterate, I think you're spot on with Rorschach, Wolverine and Batman (especially when you line him up against Superman in DKR).

Are you sticking to comic book characters for you project or using other literary forms?

Virector
09-07-2008, 04:38 AM
Are you sticking to comic book characters for you project or using other literary forms?

I plan to mix it all together, using comic books and recent movies, since I'll be talking in front of a class of teenage peers, I think they'll better relate to what I'm talking about, and they'll also enjoy it more. I'm still trying to build up sources and actual issues to address, but thanks to the help I've received here, I've pretty much got a good ground foundation for my speech.:)