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When is a geek not a geek?

26 Jul

Apparently, I’ve lead a sheltered life.

But I know why.

First, a rec from the man behind Wesley Crusher:

http://wilwheaton.net/2013/07/nothing-to-prove/

I have only been aware of this misogyny-in-geekdom problem in the past year or so via blog links and posts on the topic. The short version is Continue reading

Confessions of a Hero Whore

30 Mar

dresdent_files

More often than not when you ask me who my favorite character in a book, film, or television series is, it’s the hero. Not that I don’t appreciate the grayer characters, the morally ambiguous types–tricksters, shady allies and informants, double-agents, self-serving baddies with sympathetic pasts and motivations. But I think sometimes those grayer characters get overvalued, proclaimed “way more interesting” than the heroes, who are decried as boring and predictable when the do the right thing, and lambasted when they make a mistake. Similarly, fans who like hero characters are made to feel like throwbacks to 1952.

But where would we be without the heroes? A story full of characters whose primary motivations are self-serving or up for grabs may make an interesting read/viewing experience, but an abundance of stories like that leave me feeling ungrounded. Morally gray characters are like icing without the cake. I need to have someone in the story who I can root for without feeling like I washed myself with a dirty rag. Someone far from perfect, but who shows genuine courage, and who I know is trying to do the right thing, even if they mess it up a lot along the way. Even if, in the end, they fail.

An engaging hero character requires work on the part of the writer. Many heroic characters face odds so steep that their success, or the traits they possess that allow their success, make them larger than life and difficult to relate to. Giving them flaws that humanize them, though, is tricky. If a hero character is flawed in ways that make him or her unlikable, a reader/viewer can feel manipulated by the narrative–as if they’re “supposed” to like them, even if they don’t.

One thing to remember, though, is that there is a difference between the viewer/reader rooting for the hero even though s/he’s a better man than you, gunga din, and being able to “relate to” him or her. I often don’t relate to the heroes that I find myself rooting for. I can’t imagine being them. But I root for them nevertheless, because the writer has made them sympathetic, human, and likeable.

It’s a bit embarrassing, though, to be asked who your favorite character is and have to “admit”:

Oh, Highlander? Duncan Macleod
Harry Potter series: Harry Potter
Merlin BBC: well, Merlin, of course
Angel the Series: Angel
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Ben Sisko
Once Upon A Time: Emma Swan
Harry Dresden: Harry Dresden

…and so on.

It’s not always the case though. My favorite ST: TNG character was Data. But of course, he was the epitome of the awkwardly sincere trying-to-be-the-best-of-humanity. And my favorite character on Lost was Hurley, but y’know, Everyman with a Heart of Gold, he was. On ST: Voyager, I liked Be’lanna Torres. I have a thing for the fucked-up tough girls. But I’m not sure I would have stayed glommed onto the angry, screwed-up babes if they weren’t flawed-but-trying-to-be-a-good-person. To wit: Faith on BtVS/AtS. Although she was never my favorite character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I never really had one, except possibly the foursome of Buffy+Giles+Willow+Xander. The collective heroic.

Do I get points if my favorite Anne Rice vampire was Armand? He was no saint. I could never stand Lestat, but I liked Louis quite a bit. I prefer my vampires with a soul.

Introductory post

9 Mar

I don’t think I’ve ever done an introductory post before, seeing as I’ve known most of my flist for years and have survived internet kerfuffles, raging forest fires, and DoubleMeat Palace viewings with them. But I recently gained a few new flisties from a Merlin fandom friending meme and apparently an introductory post after that is what All the Cool Kids Do.

So if you know this stuff already, feel free to move along.

Masquerade the Philosopher: a primer

Bridge over troubled waters

18 Aug

So I finally, finally finished the latest Dresden Files novel, Ghost Story. I think I am the last one on my flist to do so. Some folks gave it enthusiastic reviews, others were less than impressed. I have to admit to slogging through some tedium at times, which is part of the reason I took so long to finish it. The other part is, I only read non-interweb stuff for a short while before bed each night.

But see, there is a reason this book wasn’t the Best!DresdenFilesNovel!Ever! It was a bridge story. And bridge stories are traditionally kind of mediocre. Thar be spoilers beyond here!

Why, to this day, “Wrecked” still doesn’t work for me

16 Dec

My understanding of Willow’s Season 6 journey, and correct me if I’m wrong here, is that she is addicted to magic for the power it gives her. But she spends this episode having things done to her. She is not the agent, she is the passive recipient. If this is supposed to be the episode where she really “turns a corner” into darkness, it fails to understand the core of that darkness completely and utterly. “Smashed” did a much better job of illustrating what her problem was.

Time flies when you’re having fun

14 Jun

Ten years ago today, there was a heat wave in San Francisco. 103 degrees when I went for a stroll through the Haight district during my lunch break (this is a city that sends out “heat advisories” for 79 degrees). I’d been toying with an idea that was being pushed by several email correspondents who were readers of my website, All Things Philosophical on BtVS and AtS. They wanted to meet each other to discuss the show at deeper levels than could be found on other discussion boards they frequented.

So I did the research and set up one of those canned forums and the folks that came to hang there did the rest.

It’s been quite a ride. Thanks for making it fabulous, guys! Looking forward to this weekend.

Shameless self-pimping

9 Jul

I’ve been “getting my geek on” over at the past few weeks, letting my viewage of BtVS season one inspire some essays in the good ol’ ATPo style:

Vampires and the Clarity of Evil
Of Vampires and Souls
A(n Un)Natural History of Demons

Take a peek, and indulge your inner geek!