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View Full Version : Good/True to Authorial Intention Characters vs. Good Role Models



Schilcote
06-22-2012, 12:45 AM
I was reading an article (http://shine.yahoo.com/parenting/three-biggest-fears-raising-boys-today-025400779.html) on the internet, and watching its accompanying video, and it mentioned that boys today are likely to look to popular culture for role models.

Now, as producers of pop culture, or perhaps merely unpopular culture (such is the case with myself), I would like to ask the AW community this: is it more important for a character to be a good (as in quality, and as in adding to the quality to the work, not moral allignment) character, and/or true to the author's original idea of the character, or a good role model?

Let's have an example. Say I become a television writer- my secret dream. Now, I have a character called LS-01. He's a robot, a war robot to be exact, and he has an intrinsically violent nature. He tends to solve problems by violence simply because that's the way he's programmed, even despite his attempts to change. This character is portrayed as a "good guy", the hero, the leader, the- well, role model.

Now, as an author and a human being, is it more important for me to stay true to my own ideas and my work, introducing flaws and internal conflict into the character for the better of the story, or is it morally imperative for me to alter my character for the good of the younger generation, especially if my show would be targeted towards the younger demographic (note that even if it wasn't, some parents would still let their children watch it)?

Channy
06-22-2012, 01:02 AM
I think you need to stay true to your own ideas and your work. Characters need flaws, it's what helps propell them through the story, it's what helps us gravitate towards them. No?

Your example makes me think of a videogame, Xenosaga. The MC KOS-MOS, is an android who is supposed to have morals and save the betterment of humanity against an entire alien race... however several times she kills regular people if it increases the probability of suvival of her creators, which is her prime directive.

Having a flaw like that, in that type of situation, reminds us that they're not human. They do what they're programmed to do, what's part of the story. It's highly unlike that a robot who's designed for war, would have a change or heart for the sake of being a role model, no? I mean, isn't that what also made Asimov's book's memorable, not only for being a book of it's time and what it was addressing, but also that these supposedly helpful machines would be overridden (overwrought? hacked I suppose, haha) to kill.. which is more likely than a war machine being hacked to help.

I may be wrong, but that's just my observation.

TL;DR, do what you WANT to do with your characters. Not what you think you SHOULD do.

Kerosene
06-22-2012, 01:57 AM
Role models are just character we believe are larger than what we truly are. But as you grow up, daddy's shoulders get shorter and shorter and one day, they aren't the highest place in the world anymore.

I wouldn't necessarily say that people strive towards a character. They might take some trait from them, that they sympathize with and emulate it. But in no way will someone "look up" to one of your characters as a role model.

Don't worry too much about it. Character are just characters, written words that we (as writers) believe are real. I would be more worried about how our own characters change us. And this has happened to me before.

SomethingOrOther
06-22-2012, 03:06 AM
I don't think it's close. Story >>> role models, for me. If my characters also turn out to be good role models, that's fine. But whether my characters are role models or not is not something I think about or care about.



Now, as an author and a human being, is it more important for me to stay true to my own ideas and my work, introducing flaws and internal conflict into the character for the better of the story, or is it morally imperative for me to alter my character for the good of the younger generation, especially if my show would be targeted towards the younger demographic (note that even if it wasn't, some parents would still let their children watch it)?

The problem with this example is there's no reason a great role model can't have lots of flaws and internal conflict. The question in the OP is structured around a false dichotomy.

You should also consider that if you try to create a good role model and aren't willing to sacrifice some didacticism for the better of the story, when you need to, you'll run the risk of creating an uncompelling character, which will reduce the likelihood of your "lessons" sticking with the viewer.

lorna_w
06-22-2012, 03:37 AM
Simplistic role models (or slogans) only serve to briefly instruct or entertain most children, I think. They grow up; they get smart; they become familiar with their own failings.

But if you're writing MG or Saturday morning cartoons, if your intended audience is children only, I could see an argument for role model characters, easy "bad guys" and easy "good guys," broadly drawn. (And it would be easier to write, I guess.) As a kid, though, I was drawn to kid characters who messed up a lot or were weird artsy or brainy outcasts. Goofus and Gallant work for some child audience members but not for others.

sunandshadow
06-22-2012, 03:41 AM
Don't forget that "bad guys" can also be good good role models in that they are examples of what not to do or how not to do it.