Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Save Our Heroes!

I miss heroes. For decades now, liberals have waged a war against the idea of heroes. Indeed, they’ve systematically tried to destroy the meaning of the word by defining the most banal and often involuntary conduct as “heroic.” It’s gotten so bad that not killing yourself when you find out you have a disease is now trumpeted as heroic. Give me a break. And Hollywood isn’t helping by stripping heroes of all the things which make them heroic.

In the modern parlance, a hero is someone who undertakes selfless conduct at great personal risk. To be selfless, the conduct must be for the benefit of others, and more importantly, the hero needs to have a choice in the matter, i.e. they must be free to walk away without consequence. If the “hero” has no choice but to act, then they aren’t really heroic because they aren’t acting courageously or nobly, they are acting desperately or out of self-interest. That’s why it’s heroic to stop an armed killer from killing someone else, but it’s not heroic to defend yourself against an armed killer.

Interestingly, while the conduct must be voluntary, there is no requirement that the hero be happy about it. Some heroes, like Superman, happily seek out danger, while others only reluctantly rise to the occasion. Similarly, while there is no requirement that the hero act alone, the more the hero achieves by themselves, the greater the challenge they faced and the greater their heroism.

But Hollywood is changing this formula.

Modern heroes like Perseus in Clash of the Titans 2010, Hal Jordan in Green Lantern, and whatshisname in Tron Legacy are none of these things. For one thing, they have no choice but to act because their own lives are being threatened. Hence, none of them are undertaking selfless, voluntary conduct, and by definition they cannot be considered heroes. Heck, Perseus is even given a sub-motive of revenge. Further, each of these “hero” is supposedly a “reluctant hero.” But unlike reluctant heroes of the past, who were reluctant because of promises they made to loved ones or some other moral qualm, these guys are reluctant because they are slackers. They have no particular opposition to being the hero, they just don’t want to bother. Thus, rather than having a character who must overcome some deep personal conflict, these films use heroes who just need motivation to get off their butts.

Moreover, modern Hollywood has stripped these heroes of their independence. Perseus in 1981 had to solve each puzzle he faced on his own. He had advice from his friends, but they had no special knowledge or skills to help him. The same is true of every other hero in the past -- they all had help to one degree or another, but when it came time to overcome challenges, all the pressure and responsibility was on them.

But compare that to the modern “hero.” In Clash 2010, Perseus’s friends kill all the monsters or set them up for an easy kill-shot from Perseus. They also tell him what to do next -- at no point does he ever work anything out for himself. Basically, he’s a prop for the others to solve the film. In Green Lantern, Hal gets saved time and again by everyone around him. He does finally destroy the bad guy, but again, he does exactly what his Jedi-trainer told him to do earlier in the film. He’s essentially an idiot-proof superhero. Whatshisname from Tron is the worst of the three. He gets led by other characters from location to location until they bring him to where the film ends. Then whatshisname’s dad and Tron stop the bad guy while whatshisname fires a gun which never hits anything. He is essentially a passenger in the hero car.

And these films aren’t unique. In Percey Jackson & the Lightening Thieves, Percey walks around as everyone around him solves all the problems -- lots of deus ex machina. Harry Potter pretty much just hangs out as everyone else does the work. Voldemort even essentially accidentally kills himself to solve the story. Matt Damon is declared a hero by God himself in Adjustment Bureau even though Damon’s actions are entirely involuntary and all he does to “solve” the film is run for his life using tricks the angels told him to use. Alice in Alice in Wonderland is true plug and play as she gets moved from scene to scene and then, in her big fight at the end against the Jabberwocky, we are told that she is merely a tool for the sword she wields. . . anyone could have taken her place. And so on.

Genuine heroes aren’t dead on film, but there is a new breed of slacker-heroes who do little more than move from scene to scene as the smarter, stronger and more motivated people around them set up the final battle and then let the “hero” take the credit. This is pathetic. It’s no wonder these films stink.

180 comments:

tryanmax said...

The "heroes" described in this article are, in essence, politicians. They hold back during the action, but they are quick to step up when it comes time to take the credit. Their superiority to those who do the heavy lifting stems from their chiseled abdomens and perfect hair. Style over substance.

This gives me an idea. It may be interesting to go back over some of the films mentioned here, among others, and identify who the real heroes are. (For Harry Potter, I nominate Hermione Granger.)

"It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit."

K said...

Can't agree with the Potter reference. Potter time and again goes into deadly danger to save his friends or gets smeared while standing up to the establishment by taking a position of principle - when going along would be far easier. I think that tabs with your notion that the hero be "selfless".

Voldemort is the "big boss" of the piece - so Harry has to have lots of good luck and magic beans accumulated to beat him - but has earned them, so to speak, along the way by his previous acts of bravery.

Tennessee Jed said...

In today's parlance, a truly "heroic" story would be "The Natalie Mains story."

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It really is hero by committee these days, with the named hero typically being nothing more than the CEO. The other figures do their jobs and then stand by quietly as the CEO hero delivers the final blow or signs on the dotted line.

And why are they the heroes? Because we're told they are the heroes (there's often a sense of prophecy that accompanies these stories -- you are a hero because you were picked by the film-gods!).

That would make an interesting article, to figure out who the real heroes are in these films.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I'm a bit torn on Harry. He is certainly a brave person and he does go out of his way to save others -- which makes him heroic by definition.

But most of what he achieves is actually done by those around him. He is constantly being given the tools he will need, being given the answers he needs, and having other people sacrifice themselves for him. Also, the reason he fights is largely because he is being attacked/hunted and he has little choice but to fight back. At no point could he really just walk away.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, Yep. It's incredibly heroic to say something all liberals will agree with. . . to use your public position to follow the herd. . . and then to bravely suffer conservatives not liking you as you go from liberal television show to television show crying about how brave you are. Yep. Uber-heroish.

K said...

Andrew, there was Harlan Ellison review of the "Rocketeer" movie. His objection was that the main character has a scene where he acts in a craven manner. He relates the mythology behind the movie's premise as the hero who gets gifts from the gods because he is worthy of them. Subsequently, the Rocketeer was not worthy of receiving the "magic helm" or whatever.

Potter proves himself worthy of the gifts of others - even if he didn't do everything all by himself.

K said...

Devil's advocate: Ayn Rand was big into heroic characters - but they all act in their "Selfish" interest. Even though her characters stick to their principles to the point of being destroyed and they accomplish things which improves the standard of living of everyone else along the way, are they really "heroic" by your definition?

AndrewPrice said...

K, I don't agree with Ellison that heroes need to be perfect, but I think modern Hollywood has pushed the imperfect hero too far. In fact, I think regular people who rise above are the best heroes -- much better than heroes who are perfect from the get go -- because it's fascinating to watch people overcome things like fear or work out inner conflicts. But modern Hollywood seems to have eliminated these inner conflicts and all we are left with is jerks who are too lazy or uninterested to be heroes until it is forced upon them, i.e. they are just slackers.

Potter doesn't quite fall into that category because he does have a worthy character. He is a willing hero and he certainly seems to have "do-gooder" instincts and seems incapable of avoiding involvement. So that is a plus. And in truth, I wouldn't have any problem calling him a hero, except that he seems to fall into this new pattern of hero by committee.

AndrewPrice said...

K, That's a good question whether or not Rand's characters can be considered heroes. On the one hand, they are acting out of self interest. On the other hand, they are presented as willingly letting themselves be destroyed by the those in power in the hopes that others will see their example and change the world. It's sort of the economic version of monks setting themselves on fire.

Are they heroic? I'm not sure. I think the problem with calling them heroic is that while Rand treats them as heroes and hope their example will change the world, the characters themselves are not doing this to help others -- they are doing it to help themselves. That means they aren't really heroic. So I would say that ultimately, her characters don't really qualify as heroes.

ScottDS said...

Hmm... I actually don't have much to add here. (It happens!)

I agree with the article and I guess the best way I can describe it is... the best hero stories stir up some kind of reaction in the audience, and maybe that explains the lack of engagement with many modern hero stories. That and the whole "Hero's Journey" Joseph Campbell thing which we've seen so many times before, it's now possible to predict every major beat and plot point in one of these films.

Andrew, we actually talked about that recently. I read an article that suggested that Hollywood should stop with the Campbell influence for a while. At this point, it's become its own little genre.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I think that is the reason these films are having such a hard time connecting because there is nothing more to them than a slacker who gets special powers and then fights a big CGI creature at the end of the film. There's nothing we can relate to in these guys.

Compare that to the original Superman, where you get to watch him struggle with his interest in Louis Lane and his inability to tell her who he is. Or compare it with Batman who is struggling with his good and bad natures. Those were characters we could relate to and sympathize with their struggles, because had been in similar situations (though not exactly identical situations). Watching Ryan Reynolds or Seth Rogen come to the conclusion of "dude, that thing is going to kill me if I don't get off my ass and maybe the hot chick will like me if I win" just isn't all that interesting.

On the Campbell influence, I don't think Hollywood will stop because that's the easiest way to tell a story. Although shows like Game of Thrones are probably creating a new template for Hollywood to use.

Jocelyn said...

As a Packer fan, I'm highly offended by that Picture! Maybe I could frivoluously sue... Hmm... Now I'll go read the article.

AndrewPrice said...

Jocelyn, LOL! Oops, sorry. It will never happen again, I can assure you! :)

Kenn Christenson said...

Well - you knew this was coming: I really like "Kick-Ass'" meditation on what it means to be a hero. It's clearly not enough to "mean well." You also have to be able to "do well." You have to be willing to put forth the effort (and get the training) to be "the hero" otherwise it's just "good intentions" and we all know where those lead...

ScottDS said...

his interest in Louis Lane

And just which version of Superman did you grow up with? ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, It's been typo-arama around here lately. Half my brain is working on my taxes and the other half is thinking of ways to kill myself to avoid finishing my taxes. I can't tell you how much I hate doing my taxes.

Lois Lane....

AndrewPrice said...

Kenn, Good point about good intentions alone!

I am not completely averse to the slacker-hero. I think that done correctly, they can make for pretty funny characters. My problem is that so many supposedly non-slackers (like Perseus and Hal Jordan) are essentially slackers.

Also, let me point out that the heroes in Kick Ass had genuinely heroic traits. They undertook dangerous tasks because they wanted to help. They weren't particularly good at it, but they were heroic and they did ultimately win out. Compare that with someone like Perseus who becomes a hero because his life is threatened if he doesn't and who has a sub-motivation of revenge. Or Tron-boy who just walks his way through the whole movie. Even the "rebel without a clue" personae they give him is premised on vague, minor, pointless rebellion against a company he owns.

tryanmax said...

Kenn, I also am a fan of Kick Ass and other movies that show a slacker-type becoming a hero. That is a legitimate manifestation of the "unlikely hero" theme. But "heroes" like Perseus 2010 are basically leaves on the wind. Boring.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Slackers becoming heroes is a subgenre and I have no problems with most of them. But those are essentially comedies and play by a different set of rules. It just doesn't work to use the same principles in a more traditional hero story like Clash or Green Lantern. It would be like basing the James Bond character on one of the Marx Brothers and then trying to use the character seriously rather than comically.

Joel Farnham said...

Myth and the Movies is an interesting book in that it delves into some popular movies like, Star Wars and their mythic structures. It also has a way of taking a movie apart and getting an understanding of what went wrong with a picture.

This book creates a longing for the "Myth" types of stories. Like Star Wars [the last three movies] are put into a Myth structure of Science Fiction. I am not sure it has a slacker hero myth structure, but it does have mythic structure of comedy. You might like the book.

Think of it as diagramming a sentence. Except it is diagramming movies.

On the 'slacker' hero, I always thought it should be the guy who thinks he is the hero, but isn't, and the only one who doesn't know he isn't the hero.

tryanmax said...

K, I never pass up a chance to dig into Ayn Rand.

It is my understanding that Rand did not set out to create heroes as much as to project her version of the “ideal man.” In that sense, she was drawing up essentially Aristotelian or Romantic heroes, but not really heroes in the sense we’ve come to understand. Thus, the best answer to your question is that Rand’s and Andrew’s definitions of “hero” do not coincide.

rlaWTX said...

Excellent points about heroes.
I think that's why the newest incarnation of Batman hits home with so many. We see him make his choices to become the hero, and then allowing himself to be undone. Captain America was also still heroic, despite the super-status. He wanted to do his part - his duty - no matter the cost. Yeah, he ended up stronger, but at a cost to himself. And he allows the Army to use him as they see fit, until finally getting his chance to use the strength he was given. The Seals in Act of Valor weren't conscripted, and they volunteered for the track their training took. They continue to volunteer to go.
Hunger Games - Katniss' great heroic moment was when she volunteered for her sister. From then on, she's more of the reluctant hero, trying to survive. I think Peeta trends more toward the heroic when he decides that he's not going to be the victor and works toward not losing himself - not being "just a piece in their game". In the books, Katniss maintains the "reluctant hero" perspective, but Gale and Peeta find their own ways of choosing heroism. [There is an awesome choice of the heroic at the end for Katniss.]

And, unsurprisingly, all of these movies did well at the box office!

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, Thanks for the link! I'll check that out, it sounds like an interesting and thoughtful book. There is a definite "formula" behind the things we like as humans and it's always interesting to see what people have dug up in that regard.

On your point about slacker heroes, I think there are two types. There is the Kurt Russell from Big Trouble In Little China type, who thinks he's the hero but isn't. Then there's the slacker turned hero type of Kick Ass and Green Hornet. They both have their place, but I think they follow very different rules. Russell, for example, had to be over-the-top obnoxious to offset his incompetence so it would be funny. By comparison, the kids in Kick Ass had to stay not-arrogant/not-confident to maintain their characters.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Our definitions do not coincide? I'm going to have to use that euphemism! :)

I'm a fan of Rand, by the way, though I do disagree with some of her ideas.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, Very insightful. I think films with genuine heroes are more interesting and will do better at the box office because people like to feel inspired when they watch movies about heroic action. That was the problem with Clash, Tron II and Green Lantern -- you never felt anything. All you did was watch the movie rather than be part of the movie because there was nothing about these heroes that you wanted to be like. I know Captain America stood out as a sharp contrast with Green Lantern with the public for that very reason -- the hero seemed heroic.

I wonder if we could trace the types of heroes in each modern action film and see how they did cash-wise to see if this is a general rule with the public?


P.S. I still haven't seen/read the Hunger Games, but it is now on my list. :)

tryanmax said...

Uh oh, perhaps I am being to genteel for my own good! Being unwilling let go of euphemism too easily, however, I will say that Ayn Rand has a place on the philosophical spectrum.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I would happily discuss/argue with you about Rand... except that right now my brain is overloading. I'm in the home stretch on my two fricken day tax odyssey and there ain't much left between my ears right now except burning hate for our government. :)

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I just had to turn in my taxes. But I only have to pay $215. And I get a hundred of that back. Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nahhhh....

Kit said...

"Harry Potter pretty much just hangs out as everyone else does the work. Voldemort even essentially accidentally kills himself to solve the story."

I'm with K here, too.


On others sacrificing for him. It's true. But remember the reason: so he could face Voldemort at the end. By being willing to sacrifice himself. And the book makes it very clear how alone he is in that moment when he says (SPOILER) "I'm ready to die."

The whole seven books were basically preparing him for that moment.

And in the 2nd book, he and his friends choose to actively investigate the Chamber of Secrets.

AndrewPrice said...

Watch it, T-Rav. I'm making an enemies list and I have plenty of paper and ink left!

Outlaw13 said...

I find it interesting in a discussion of heroes, Hollywood's presentations of such and its effect on us as a nation and a society at large, there is but one mention in the comments of a depiction of real-world, actual, not made up heroes. If you desire to see heroes that could be an inspiration for us all, the stories are out there. Many books have been written about real men doing extraordinary things at great risk to their own lives, compelling personal stories that could be filmed and put on a screen, but for the most part people obsess about the figments of artists and writers imaginations based on the colored pictures or a word balloon from a comic book, rather than flesh and blood achievements.

I enjoy comic book movies as much as the next guy and eagerly look forward to movies such as The Avengers. But to lament the lack of heroes or the destruction of the hero in cinema and then not even mention real heroes (which by the way was once a staple of Hollywood (Sgt. York, To Hell and Back, Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo) is kind of a half assed effort if you ask me.

LawHawkRFD said...

And then there are the "sports heroes."

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Of the people listed in the article, Harry is easily the closest to the definition. But I still think Harry is very much "hero by committee." Yes, he is the guy who acts at the plot climax, but everything up to that moment is handed to him by everyone else. It's not as egregious as it is in something like Clash of the Titans (2010), but it is ultimately the same issue -- without everyone else doing their thing, Harry wouldn't have survived very long or known how to beat Voldemort. They basically get him to the end of the movie(s).

I will say, however, that in Harry Potter, at least you get a lot less deus ex machina than you get in other stories like Clash or Percey Jackson, where it really takes truly random chance for them to solve the film. For example, in Percey Jackson, the only reason they escape Hades is because Hades's girlfriend decides to betray Hades for no reason whatsoever. Harry Potter never goes to that level. In HP at least, Harry does always solve the crisis.

rlaWTX said...

Outlaw, those movies you mentioned are -um- a few years old. They don't make many like that now. I think the dearth of "real-world" examples in our conversation is reflective of the lack of modern heroes of that type, rather than a lack of effort.

I finally saw The Blind Side last weekend. The family's commitment to Michael is heroic for our day. And enough of an oddity that the NCAA questions them on it.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, You are welcome to write a treatise on heroes at any point, but since the discussion in this article is about the redefinition of the concept of heroism which Hollywood is employing in recent films, there really was no point in addressing the things you mention.

Kit said...

So, what you are saying, in Harry's favor, is that at least he has to show some determination?

And Rowling doesn't pull alot of stuff out of her behind?

rlaWTX said...

Andrew, I started reading the Percy series (haven't seen the movie). And I stopped because that characteristic was prominent in them too. I realize he's a kid, but he whined a lot and was just kind of there for the ride. There is a second series that dovetails with Percy, and it was too much of the same.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, Yep. They should probably be called "sports celebrities."

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I think that's the point exactly, is that Hollywood has changed it formula recently for how they script heroes. And a guy like Sgt. York wouldn't qualify under the new definitions because he's too much of a loner. And that is what is troubling me with this new way of looking at heroes -- they are taking the individual achievement/nobility out of it and replacing it with hero by committee.

Kit said...

"I think the dearth of "real-world" examples in our conversation is reflective of the lack of modern heroes of that type, rather than a lack of effort."

I disagree. It's just that Hollywood won't touch them.

9/11, Katrina, Iraq, and Afghanistan provide dozens of examples of heroism but H-wood for some reason avoids them. To quote Vince Flynn, "I think there is a bias in that town."

9/11 had Father Mychal, Battle of United 93, and God knows how many firefighters, police officers, and civilians whose heroism was amazing.

I'm sure Outlaw could reel of a list of people from Iraq and Afghanistan.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Don't get me wrong, I'm not slamming Harry Potter. I like the series a lot and the character. I think he's a solidly inspirational character. But I am just noting that the new version of the idea of the "hero," the one we are seeing more and more of in films now strips the individual achievement from the heroes and gives that to the people around them.

Potter is nowhere near as bad as the newer characters like this, but he is within the trend because (1) most of what he does until the climactic scenes is to let others tell him how to solve the crisis, and (2) he ultimately has little choice but to be involved because he's being hunted.

Compare that with someone from the past like a Superman or Sherlock Holmes or almost any Jimmy Stewart character, who get involved by choice even though they could walk away because they feel it is the right thing to do, and who then will accept input from others, but must ultimately work things out for themselves.

The new version of heroism in Hollywood takes this away. Now, the heroes are usually forced to act and when they do act, they are largely passive while they are led around by the other characters until the very end.

Potter isn't quite at that level fully, but he's much closer to it than heroes of the past because he relies on everyone around him to give him the things he needs, to solve problems for him, and to lead him to the places he needs to be to be heroic.

I think that if Harry Potter had been written 50 years ago, you would have found Harry to be a much more pro-active character who relied less on people like Hermoine or Dumbledore to solve his problems.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I haven't read them, but I saw the recent film and it just made me want to pull my hair out. All he does is follow the group from location to location as everyone else solves all the problems that come up while patting him on the back for doing nothing. There was nothing inspiring about him.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Agreed. This wasn't an article about why are there no heroes today, as there are a great many. This was an article about how Hollywood is trying to redefine heroes away from what they have traditionally been to being more like administrators.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit and K, One more thing, don't get me wrong -- I love Harry Potter. That was a great series and I really enjoyed it. I was indeed one of those who pre-ordered the books and read them as soon as I got them.

I'm just saying that while Harry is undeniably brave, he has been stripped of much of what it would have taken to make him a "hero" in the true sense of the word in the past. He is more like a team leader.

Commander Max said...

Should we really be surprised about Hollywood's treatment of hero's. After all they ignore basic storytelling elements(like a beginning, a middle and an end). I figure Hero's would be a bit advanced for such an approach.

But they sure understand the villains.
Corporations, small businesses, oil, Republicans, Fathers, internal combustion engines, McDonalds, money, banks, capitalism, Christianity, commercialism, cigarettes, talk radio, conservatives, testosterone, marriage, military, anything nuclear, guns/people who own, babies, fun...

I think there is a pattern here.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, if I'm not already on your enemies list, I don't think I'm in much danger. ;-)

I don't think the "heroes" you're criticizing have to be so bad. What they need is some actual character development. It's okay if the people you mention start out as slackers/uninterested/whatever, but then they have to find a reason to care about what's going on around them and discover some inner strength that enables them to keep fighting even when they could just walk away. That's more appealing in a lot of ways than a perfectly perfect superhero. But that requires good writing and acting, which increasingly seems to be beyond Hollywood's ability.

Kit said...

Here is something you might find interesting from io9:

"Good Character Development Includes The All-Important "F*@% Yeah" Moment"

As you can guess, it will feature profanity. But it has a very good point about how great heroes are created and why you root for them: "The F--k Yeah Moment".

Or as TVTropes puts it: "The Crowning Moment of Awesome" or "CMOA".


--------------

What makes you invest in a character? Is it when you understand their motivations, or glimpse their all-too-human foibles? When they have rich, multi-layered relationships? Sure, those things all help. But what really helps is the all-important "f*@% yeah" moment.

cannot claim credit for discovering the importance of the "fuck yeah" moment. (Sorry, I got tired of reaching to the top of my keyboard for those number signs and @s.) This phenomenon was discovered by blogger, scholar and visionary Dave Campbell, in his much-missed and totally awesome DavesLongBox blog.) Campbell did a great round-up of "fuck yeah" moments from comics, and here's how he defined them:

-The F*@% Yeah Files will spotlight those scenes in comic books that made me as a reader stop and say, "Fuck yeah!" That may not be literally what I was moved to say by a particular scene; I would be just as likely to say, "Oh, hell yeah" or "That's what I'm talking about" or "Kiss my grits!" You get the picture. The F*@% Yeah Files will celebrate the Airwolfness of a particular scene or panel that has moved me in some way.-

(Campbell also developed adopted the Theory of Airwolf, in which one describes things as "Airwolf" instead of "awesome," which has now become standard practice across the Internet. Update: This was actually developed by Ernie Cline, not Dave Campbell. Sorry for the mix-up.)

Anyway, Campbell's examples of "fuck yeah" moments included not just fight scenes, but heroes actually being heroic and saving people, and moments of total awesomeness like Batman schooling Prometheus. He later expanded the concept to include "fuck yeah" moments from movies, like Kirk going "Khaaaaan!" and Sidney Poitier saying "They call me Mr. Tibbs" in The Heat Of The Night. (A line so Airwolf, as Campbell points out, that it became the title of a whole other movie. Campbell adds, "I'd love to see a Star Trek movie starring George Takei called "Target the Center of That Explosion and Fire!" And so would we.)

Here's what I'd like to add to Campbell's all important discovery of the "fuck yeah" moment: It's harder to root for characters who don't have them. In fact, I'd say it's hard even to identify with characters who don't ever make you go "fuck yeah."

. . .

You can mope and stare into space and have tormented montages all you want, as long as you occasionally show why you're the man, or the woman. I can take a lot of angst from a character who busts out some moves when the situation requries it. Just look at Admiral Adama — you can cry, puke on yourself, throw paint, and discuss your bowel movements, as long as you ram a Cylon baseship, or give a "So Say We All"-worthy speech. Or jump a Battlestar into the atmosphere, launch fighters, and jump out again.

------------------------------


He goes on to describe 5 types of "F--k Yeah" Moments and gives examples such as River fighting the Reavers, Batman turning the tables on Prometheus, and Ellen Ripley saying "Get away from her, you bitch!"

Kit said...

Here is the link:
http://io9.com/5503945/good-character-development-includes-the-all+important-f-yeah-moment

I would add the Claw from Toy Story 3, the 9th Doctor telling the Daleks "No", the 11th Doctor evading death at the end of the last season, Carl "seizing the spirit of adventure" in UP, Michael Westen outsmarting a group of British bank robbers in Burn Notice, and others.

T-Rav said...

Ayn Rand....oh dear.

I haven't read all the way through her books (who has?), but while her defense of libertarianism is very good, I wouldn't call her characters "heroes." There's something very cold and merciless about them, and if you don't have some kind of emotion in your makeup, then that kind of misses the point of heroism. They're just not very appealing personally.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, Isn't that the truth! You've provided a veritable Hollywood "enemies list."

I'm not at all surprised and I think there are political forces at play here. I think this is liberalism at work, even if only subconsciously. To go back to Star Trek, by way of example, this is the leadership by committee that they foisted on Picard compared to the leadership by leadership of Kirk. I think liberals have spent several generations now pushing the idea that people should not try to stand out, they should work "within the group," and I think this is that same belief-system creeping into entertainment.

Kit said...

"they need is some actual character development. It's okay if the people you mention start out as slackers/uninterested/whatever, but then they have to find a reason to care about what's going on around them and discover some inner strength that enables them to keep fighting even when they could just walk away. That's more appealing in a lot of ways than a perfectly perfect superhero. But that requires good writing and acting, which increasingly seems to be beyond Hollywood's ability."

Agree.

And that moment when they do become a hero, really one, it often becomes an aforementioned "Crowning Moment of Awesome".

Kit said...

What about these as heroes? Sticking to the last 15 years
-The Doctor (DOCTOR WHO)
-Angel (from ANGEL)
-Buffy Summers (from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER).
-Marlin (FINDING NEMO)
-Flick (Bug's Life)
-Stargate Teams (SG-1, Atlantis, Universe)

Kit said...

T-Rav,

Wasn't that pretty much (one of) G.K. Chesterton's (many) complaint(s) about her?

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I think you hit the nail on the head with this statement: discover some inner strength that enables them to keep fighting even when they could just walk away.

That's where I think the problems come from -- Hollywood is not doing this. Instead, you get guys like Perseus in Clash who never really finds anything within. He just moves around from scene to scene waiting until the end and then swings his sword (or Medussa-head) to end the movie. He never really "grows" or overcomes or anything. Young Flynn is the same in Tron -- he follows the others from scene to scene until the movie ends.

This is my complaint -- that too many "heroes" aren't really heroic, they are time wasters until the credits, and they are only given the title of hero because everyone around them tells them they are heroes. That doesn't give you anything to latch onto or to care about.

And I think it's bad for the very idea of heroism when we are defining heroism down to just being the guy the rest of the group likes the most.

Kit said...

Other heroes. These from Disney's tv cartoon series I watched as a kid:
-Baloo and Kit Cloudkicker from TAILSPIN.
-Aladdin from the ALADDIN cartoon series.
-Scrooge McDuck from DUCK TALES (woohoo!)
-Gargoyles
-Chip N' Dale from RESCUE RANGERS
-Darkwing Duck (my Favorite!)


As well as the Batman and Superman animated series (Kevin Conroy is MY Batman).

Heck, what about Ash Ketchum from Pokemon? (Go ahead, laugh, I was 10!)

tryanmax said...

That's it! The moment of self-discovery. None of these recent "heroes" have that moment. Instead, they are cock-sure pretty-boys who have to be drug into the fight.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, There is absolutely something too that. Every good action film has a moment where they flip the emotions on you and tell you that the hero is about to win this thing.

Interestingly, its the same thing Hulk Hogan used to do. In his shows, he would always let the bad guy beat him to the point that the audience would be certain he is going to lose. Then he would rise to his knees, then one leg, and then stand up. Then he would let the bad guy hit him but wouldn't show any effects. When he did that, the arenas would explode.

What he was doing was manipulating people's emotions, by bringing them down all the way before he started his comeback. That made the emotional release that much greater because you went completely 180 degrees instead of just 90 degrees. It's the same thing with the f-you moments in film. They tend to happen right after the good guy looks like he/she's finally beat. That's when the audience is at their lowest, and that's the time for the surprising resurgence of the hero.


Here's your link: LINK

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Rand makes some excellent philosophical points and I am a firm believer in what she says about how those in power try to suppress others to perpetuate their own existence.... but a world full of her heroes would be a disaster. They are archetypes and lack the moderation which makes human relationships possible.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I like a lot of those heroes. But they are all before the recent development so they still get to retain their independence.

I'm honestly not sure how Doctor Who has escaped this, except that maybe he's just too strong of a personality for the show to let the companions solve everything?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Well said. That is something which is absolutely missing in these characters. I think they tried to give it to Hal Jordan by inserting the faked-irresponsible-slacker bit which he "overcomes" and by a brief speech about him being afraid. But the reality is that both of those things were just for show and were never really consistent with the character's actions, nor was there any moment where he really overcame either -- they just announced that he had changed.

tryanmax said...

My 2¢ about Ayn Rand is simply this: I find it troubling that so many conservatives exercise a lot of emotion regarding Rand, but not a lot of reason. "Objectivism" is little more than utilitarianism with a Romantic veneer. That said, the philosophical spectrum needs an Anti-Marx. That is where Rand fits.

Kit said...

Here are the intros to those cartoons: (Still can't work the link. Just paste 'em in the address box)
-DuckTales (No, it will never leave your head. Ever. Woohoo!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwH1taatvyM
-Tailspin ("Spin it!"): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsQTzxzDYjw
-Aladdin (Cool, eerie opening): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfoZ1xOBwkw
-Gargoyles (Bad. ASS!)*: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT_oY6dox3k
-Chip N' Dale Rescue Rangers: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e5q6ubDlZE
-Darking Duck ("Let's get dangerous."): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=375ENQbru8s

*If Disney wants a great movie franchise, they should try this show! Heck, the theme just sounds Epic!

tryanmax said...

Kit, Gargoyles was a great cartoon, and surprisingly heavy for a Disney Afternoon show. It had an excellent voice cast, too! (Including some prominent TNG cast members, as I'm sure our resident Trekkies already knew.)

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, To me, Rand's biggest contribution is explaining how government becomes a vehicle for "those who can't" to stifle competition.

Kit said...

"Kit, I like a lot of those heroes. But they are all before the recent development so they still get to retain their independence."

Those were all about a decade ago. Not THAT long ago. Atlantis was produced 2005-ish.
More recent? Iron Man, Batman (Nolan films), Carl (Up), Raylan Givens (Justified), Chuck Bartowski (Chuck), and Sherlock and Watson (BBC's Sherlock)?


"I'm honestly not sure how Doctor Who has escaped this, except that maybe he's just too strong of a personality for the show to let the companions solve everything?"
Probably so. And the appeal of DOCTOR WHO is travelling with the Doctor and seeing him solve these problems and save the day.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Here are your links:

DuckTales
Tailspin
Aladdin
Gargoyles
Chip N Dale
Darkwing Duck

Kit said...

"Kit, Gargoyles was a great cartoon, and surprisingly heavy for a Disney Afternoon show. It had an excellent voice cast, too! (Including some prominent TNG cast members, as I'm sure our resident Trekkies already knew.)"

Riker's Xanatos may very well have been one of television's greatest villains.
Heck, he's got his own trope on TVtropes: "The Xanatos Gambit". Where every outcome of your plan ends in a win for you.

Kit said...

Thank you Andrew, for the link thingy.

Joel Farnham said...

T-Rav,

I read all of Rand's books.

Kit said...

Thanks for the links help.

I looked it up. Let me see if I can do this:
Xanatos Gambit Link Test:

The Xanatos Gambit Link Test


Let's see. (Biting nails)

Kit said...

YES!!!!!!

Joel Farnham said...

Han Solo's F$%^ Yeah moments. I think there are only two of them. First one: After Han shoots Darth Vader's Wingman and clears out the three Tie fighters, he tells Luke his six is clear. Second one: After Leia tells Han she loves him. All he says is, "I know."

Kit said...

This is me right now.



I HAVE EXORCISED THE DEMON!

Kit said...

Han Solo shooting Greedo (FIRST!) might count.

"I know" is much better than the scripted "I love you, too."

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I'm glad you've worked out the link issue! LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, I think you're right about Han. Those are the two moments. I don't see one in Jedi.

Interestingly, I can't think of one for Luke at all?

Kit said...

"What he was doing was manipulating people's emotions, by bringing them down all the way before he started his comeback. That made the emotional release that much greater because you went completely 180 degrees instead of just 90 degrees. It's the same thing with the f-you moments in film. They tend to happen right after the good guy looks like he/she's finally beat. That's when the audience is at their lowest, and that's the time for the surprising resurgence of the hero."

That's why everyone cheered the Claw scene gets big cheers.
HEck, the whole audience APPLAUDED!

But that 180 turn around isn't the only way you can have a f--k yeah moment. The hero saying he will keep fighting no matter how long it takes.

A Badass pledge or statement of defiance to a bad guy who has the upper hand, even when the hero still has little shot at winning, such as Liam Neeson's promise to the badguy in Taken, John Shepperd telling Robert Davi's baddie "I am going to kill you", the Doctor telling the Daleks "No"*, the Doctor's epic speech to all of his enemies at Stonehenge, the 10th Doctor pledging to save everyone on the space Titanic, or KHAAAN!!!!!, or

Kit said...

For Luke, maybe "I'm a Jedi, like my father before me" when he refuses to kill Vader.

Though that movies big moment goes to Vader, when he tosses the Emperor down the whatever-the-hell-it-was.

T-Rav said...

Joel, more power to you.

Kit, I don't know about Chesterton, but I can't imagine he would find much good to say about her. Though I think the most brutal dissection came from Whitaker Chambers, who described her whole philosophy regarding the weak as "To a gas chamber--go!"

tryanmax said...

Andrew, agreed, that is her best contribution. But like most people, she is more adept at identifying the problems than their solutions. To that end she offers an ideal, not a proposal. Still, her philosophy is taken as a proposal because that is how it was presented. Whether she meant to or not, that is her error.

Furthermore, her reliance of the fundamental nature of reality as objective is at odds with her reliance on the fundamental nature of ethics as self-interest. If the reality comes from without, how can the ethic come from within? It's dabbling in postmodernism even while it opposes it. But that's getting a bit far afield of real-world issues.

Still, I have to laugh when I come across articles that mean to "expose the truth" about Ayn Rand. Did you know that she opposed welfare, unemployment insurance, and industry regulation? And she believed the only legitimate roles of government were *gasp* law enforcement, defense and courts! How barbaric!

T-Rav said...

Harrison Ford gets a lot of flack (and deservedly so) for some of his weak roles recently, and for glomming on to every Hollywood cause, but he deserves credit for two of the best improvisations in movie history: substituting "I know" for "I love you, too," and shooting the swordsman in Raiders of the Lost Ark rather than trying to swordfight.

Kit said...

Whitaker Chambers, not Chesterton. I meant Chambers.

Get the two confused for some reaosn.

tryanmax said...

Back to heroes, I keep thinking of Achilles in Troy (2004). He starts out as the very kind of hero the article rails against: a cocky pretty-boy for whom nothing is a challenge. But as the story unfolds, he falls in love with Briseis whom he captured as a war trophy. In the end Achilles dies committing what is essentially his first selfless act ever when he rescues Briseis. And in true classical tragic hero form, his realization comes, not in the form of his hidden abilities, but his secret vulnerability.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, True, any huge moment of defiance probably counts. Kirk gets a lot in Star Trek II -- "here it comes," when they lower the shields and "FIRE!" when the Enterprise comes up behind the Reliant.

I honestly can't think of a moment that really grabbed me in Jedi. I like the Vader moment, but it doesn't have the impact to me of things like Han's moments in the earlier films.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Ford really has coasted for years, sadly, because he was such a great actor for a while. But you are right, he absolutely deserves credit for those two moments -- two of the best on film!

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Rand is absolutely a lightening rod for criticism and much of it is unfair. I also can't help but notice that the left is obsessed with her sex life... imagine that.

I think like many philosophers, she is speaking about ideals and much of what she says would make the world a much better place. But as with all ideals, it can't be done 100% because the human race just isn't that uniform -- there will always be people who simply want something different and there will always be forcing pushing back. I think the best thing to do with her philosophy is to extrapolate it and try to use it wisely rather than use it robotically.

tryanmax said...

I hope I keep it fair. I apologize if I don't.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I don't think you've said anything unfair, and besides we're all entitled to our opinions... at least until "The Freedom of Opinion Act" gets passed.

Commander Max said...

This thread sure took off.

Andrew I agree, Libs have been working on this for generations. The fact that people get nuts when you mention conservative politics, shows how well these Libs have controlled the culture. While preaching any point of view is fine, as long as your not one of those Republicans. Groups are real easy to influence, especially if your livelihood depends on it.

I do think some things get out.
Take this quote from the Incredibles-

Helen: Dash... this is the third time this year you've been sent to the office. We need to find a better outlet. A more... constructive outlet.
Dash: Maybe I could, if you'd let me go out for sports.
Helen: Honey, you know why we can't do that.
Dash: But I promise I'll slow up. I'll only be the best by a tiny bit.
Helen: Dashiell Robert Parr, you are an incredibly competitive boy, and a bit of a show-off. The last thing you need is temptation.
Dash: You always say 'Do your best', but you don't really mean it. Why can't I do the best that I can do?
Helen: Right now, honey, the world just wants us to fit in, and to fit in, we gotta be like everyone else.
Dash: But Dad always said our powers were nothing to be ashamed of, our powers made us special.
Helen: Everyone's special, Dash.
Dash: [muttering] Which is another way of saying no one is.

That movie seemed to be response to the Hollywood PC culture. Besides it portraying a traditional family(in a Disney film?), fighting a traditional villain(in the Bond sense) but still hits business/war. But only lightly, it was a vehicle for Syndrome to become powerful. He did start out as an obsessive fan boy, turned to revenge, which shows he was nuts.

But MR. Incredible is the traditional hero. Only placed in the roll of a father dealing with a mid-life crisis. I know that's a simplification.
It is funny to note what Bird got away with.

Kit said...

Speaking of Awesome Moments, here is one from the Justice League Animated Series: the famous World of Cardboard Speech

Dark seid: "Why do you still fight [tosses Batman] Can't you see that it is hopeless?" WHAM!
Superman: That man will not quit as long as he can still draw. None of my teammates will. Me? I've got a different problem.[Wham-Wham-WHAM!] I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard. Always takeing care not to break something, to break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, because someone could die. (Wham!) But you can take it, can't you big man? What we have here is a rare opportunity for me to cut lose and show you just how powerful I really am." (BWHAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!! BWHAM! BWHAM! BHWAM! BWHAAAAM! BOOOOOOM!")

And then . . .
Superman: "Had enough?"
Darkseid: "Not. Quite. Yet."

Chills runnin' down my spine as I type.



Also, another awesome heroic moment, from Batman where after having been mind-tortured by Scarecrow throughout the episode he finally boasts this.

And, then there is his "great heroic act to save Wonder Woman. Batman, you make everything awesome.

Except Bat-nipples.

Or Bat-CREDIT CARDS!!!!!!!!

Outlaw13 said...

For a more recent example see Black Hawk Down. Band of Brothers and The Pacific are others. If you want real world examples of heroes all you have to do is look on the DOD homepage. "A dearth of real world heroes" that's funny.

I apologize for calling the article half assed, but the assertion that there aren't that many real world heroes is laughable at best. The media may not may you aware of them, but they are out there.

Joel Farnham said...

Outlaw13,

You miss the premise of this piece. It is the Movie Hero that Andrew Laments. Not real world heroes.

Real world heroes abound. I had a friend of mine, prior to going into the Navy. He happened upon a burning house. People were standing around watching. So did he, until he found out an old man was still in the house. My friend ran in and grabbed him. Fireman Carried him out and laid him down. Well prior to the EMT's and Firemen arrival. When he told me about it, I just nodded. You see, I only hang around people who are willing to do that. If I was there, I would have done it. I asked him if he was scared. He looked at me funny, thought for a minute and said, "I didn't have time to be scared."

Movie heroes on the other hand have to be Larger than Life or why go out and watch something that your true life enemy could do because he had the recipe to do it?

Outlaw13 said...

The movies USED to honor real heroes with movies, is my point.

Kit said...

"The movies USED to honor real heroes with movies, is my point."

Agreed.

I like to say that if Hollywood was like it was in the 1940s not only would LONE SURVIVOR be adapted to film but they would be asking Marcus Luttrell to star in the damn thing.

From what I hear COP Keating would also be an interesting movie. US Forces beseieged by large numbers of Taliban fighters. Sounds very similiar to the movie Zulu.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, I agree with you about the way heroes were and the fact there are many modern heroes. Unfortunately, the left has been at war with the idea of heroes for a while now. They are literally trying to compare the selfless deeds you are talking about with people who survive cancer and kids who donate cans of food to charity. And modern Hollywood is playing into that by writing these film heroes now who do nothing heroic.

I think we need to push back on this and make it clear that only genuine heroes are heroes.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, It definitely did, but that will happen around here! LOL!

The liberal attack on heroes has been going on for several decades now and I think this is just the culmination of it. But I recall when it started around the time of Bush Sr., it began with feminists attacking the idea of people being heroic. They called it a sexist idea, even though there is no way to you can say this with a straight face. And soon they were calling anyone a hero, with particular emphasis on single-motherhood. Since then, the left has worked hard to misapply the term. I really do think the goal is to strip the word of its meaning.

A lot of conservatives responded very-well to The Incredibles and I think it is because of the very thing you note -- they are traditional heroes. They are in a modern setting, but they are very much "classic" within that setting.

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, What's funny is when you meet someone who isn't wired that way. I've met a lot of people like that (especially in DC) who wouldn't raise a finger to save someone. And they really can't understand why others would. I have no use for those people. Like you, I only hang out with people for whom helping people in need is simply an instinct.

You are right that movie heroes often need to be larger than life to draw people in. The exception is films about real people. And I think those tend to be the strongest "hero films" emotionally because you realize that what you are seeing really happened.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, A return to the 1940s mentality would be a very good thing for Hollywood. I would love to see them go back to dealing with the parts of human nature they've rejected in the name of modernism.

I'm not familiar with "Lone Survivor"?

I haven't seen the animated "Batman" enough to comment. I liked what I saw, but I only saw maybe ten episodes before the Cartoon Network yanked it.

EricP said...

Antonio Banderas in Desperado and Once Upon a Time in Mexico? The Spy Kids movies?

300? More anti-heroes than heroes, but Sin City?

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, I like Deperado a lot. I didn't care for OUTM. 300 is a good question. On the one hand, they are definitely heroes. But they are presented as anti-heroes almost to get them the "cool" factor.

Kit said...

TVTropes has a "Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes"
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/SlidingScaleOfAntiHeroes

Kit said...

Sorry, here is the link.
Sliding Scale of AntiHeroes

AndrewPrice said...

You're getting good at this Kit!

Interesting scale! That's probably a useful way to categories most anti-heroes, and quite a few supposedly straight heroes.

FLoyd R. Turbo said...

Heroes of the last few years...

Marlin in Finding Nemo
The soldiers in We Were Soldiers
William Wallace in Braveheart
Mel Gibson in The Patriot
Neo in The Matrix

etc., etc.

I wouldn't despair too much. Heroes come and have always come in a variety of flavors.

The original slacker hero is Jacob in the Old Testament -- followed by Moses, Samson, Jonah, and St. Peter in the New Testament.

Classical types: Joseph, Joshua, David, St. John (in the NT).

St. Paul is the archetypal anti-hero of a sorts... counter-cultural, shady past, crystal clear mission that he sees through to the end.

United Citizens Council said...

If you read the books, Harry Potter and his 2 pals are the LEAST interesting characters in them. lol.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, Those are some excellent heroes -- but notice that they were all from the 1990s. The latest issue with Hollywood has really only come on strong in the past 4-5 years (though it began in the early 1990s).

St. Paul the anti-hero? Doing God's work... with extreme prejudice! ;)

AndrewPrice said...

UCC, What's funny is that about halfway through I was pretty sure Rowling lost interest in Wesley. He became nothing more than a plot device. Now that the series as finished, she admits she began to hate him and almost killed him off. To me, her dislike of the character became obvious in the books.

United Citizens Council said...

I think I can see that in hindsight. At the end of the Prisoner of Azkhaban[sic] it was only Harry and Granger who went back in time to save Buckbeak and Sirius Black. She also did very little with Sirius Black except to kill him off after Harry gets emotionally attached.

Come to think of it, the series could have been so much better if she had stretched it out and given certain characters and events their own books. I guess she wasn't interested in it that deeply.

AndrewPrice said...

She apparently has admitted losing interest in characters and not knowing what to do with some of them after creating them. I guess that's not unusual for someone writing a series over many years.

The Weasley thing was interesting because you start getting hints that she's at least lost interest in him around the third book -- definitely by the fourth. What you notice is that he tends to show up only when needed, says exactly what is needed to move Harry to the next scene (often acting against character), and then walks right back out of the book. By the fifth book, he's also become whiny and unpleasant and Harry gravitates toward the rest of Ron's family instead of Ron. That's when I realized she really didn't like the character anymore. I thought she might kill him off, but she didn't.

Then about three years ago, she admitted that she came to hate the character and thought about killing him off on several occasions.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Andrew... the anti-hero stuff started out in the 19th century and the nihilistic version really set in with Bonnie and Clyde being the mainstream touchstone for the concept I think. It's been kicked up a notch in the last few years I agree, but the Iron Man, Capt. America, and Batman movies. It will be interesting to see what Scott does with Prometheus this Summer.

We've dealt with the "best stories are conservative" concept before. I wish I had the time to do an analysis of hit movies (say the top 20 box office since 1962), analyze each of the heroes from historic concepts of virtues (classical, Biblical -- even Confucian to spice things up a bit) and see what percentage of those films featured dominantly "classical" attributes. I wager the percentage would be well over 50% (I hate to completely equate conservative with classical, even though they line up fairly well). No one wants milquetoast. The danger of Bonnie and CLyde types is the seduction of dressing that crap up in pretty clothes and wrapping it up in hipness.

I also wonder if people's growing distrust of government (including cops, teachers, et al.) due to the budget crisis and public unions, etc. has made the idea of questioning of what should be legitimate authority more attractive or common -- in addition to a desire to poison the culture by some.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

and on my last paragraph above... I know that since the 1960s a certain segment has distrusted the gov't (well Republican gov't), but that concept has broadened recently -- even if the reasons are different for the various groups (OWS and Tea Party being the obvious examples).

Floyd R. Turbo said...

OWS... point taken, but beside my larger point. They perceive themselves as against a crony-capitalism which to them is "in charge" -- and thus of a type I could call anti-gov't. If scientific accuracy is the standard in language (and it isn't) then the Tea Party isn't anti-gov't either (it's pro good gov't).

My point is more about the zeitgeist of the last 4-5 years.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I agree with you. I think the real nihilistic stuff started with Bonnie and Clyde and it seems that Hollywood has been largely drifting in that direction for a while now. Isn't it interesting that positive emotions are now considered "trite" or "unsophisticated," yet taking over-the-top nasty emotions seriously is considered cool or cutting edge?

I also agree that the government has lost the faith of the people -- left and right. I think, however, the solutions are what is key. The Tea Party wants the government brought back into its position as servant of the people. OWS wants the government to just step up and become the full master of the people.

AndrewPrice said...

UCC and Floyd, I agree that OWS is not "anti-government," they are anti-THIS-government, which they see as capitalist. They want a strong, collectivist government to replace it. It's the same way they call themselves anarchists but then advocate massive redistribution by a strong government. It's just misleading rhetoric.

United Citizens Council said...

"This government", this admin, is handing out billions and billions to friends and allies in the name of "green energy" and such. Corporate handouts by very definition, I have yet to see OWS railing against these. I think it is very clear that OWS knows that these "never to be repaid loans" are distorting the market economy just like the US having the highest corporate taxes on Earth (while Obama praises China for their tax cuts that he says will spur economic growth). I think OWS knows very well that Obama is their guy, bent on destroying the free market system.

AndrewPrice said...

OWS is a bunch of know-nothing hypocrites. They want crony socialism, welfare, free college, free anything else and they want other people to pay for it.

As for Obama being their guy, my guess is they think he didn't go far enough -- but they will pick him over any Republican.

mycrofth4 said...

I think it's interesting that the traditional hero is so very rare in Hollywood, yet that is the model they demand for US foreign policy.
The US is only justified in taking action if it provides no direct benefit to the US.
War in Serbia or Libya? Ok.
War in Iraq or Afghanistan? Must be because of oil.

AndrewPrice said...

mycrofth, That's an excellent point. That is how they demand US foreign policy be. But at the same time, they do also demand that our military never act alone. To the contrary, they're supposed to put themselves under the command of various other countries. Liberals are a mess.

Kit said...

My favorite characters in Harry Potter were Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom.

Especially Luna.
I loved Luna.

Evanna Lynch playing her didn't hurt, either. ;)

(Shame Luna and Neville didn't wind up together)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, You know what? She was one of my favorites too. I especially loved that she was an independent thinker when no one else was and she stood up for what was right even when it was unpopular.

Kit said...

"Harry Potter, you listen to me right now!"

Awesome. Pure awesomeness.

Cooler than any of the fight scenes in the last movie.

AndrewPrice said...

She's even better in the books because they give her time to be herself and you get to hear about all the ways she gets bullied and just lets it roll off her back. And it's clear that she's pushing her father to support Harry when the Quibbler caves in to the government. She's easily the strongest character in the whole series.

If Rowlings ever wants to write a spin-off, she should be the character who gets spun off.

Kit said...

Yep.

She can get bullied constantly yet still looks up.

How can one NOT like her?


Also, Evanna Lynch was perfect in the role. Rarely has there been such perfect casting. Especially with a "child actor".

AndrewPrice said...

I agree. In fact, I think they cast all the roles well in the film. I had no complaints with any of the child actors. And even most of the adults were pretty good.

Kit said...

Also, back to Doctor Who?

Do you think that the Tenth Doctor is a rather Tragic figure?

He starts of hopeful and, by the time he regenerates, he has been nearly broken.

He also has a major flaw (arrogance, especially in Waters of Mars*) and misfortune (Rose and Donna) that gradually chip away at his idealism and optimism.


*which comes back to bite him, big time.

Kit said...

The adults in HP were nearly all accomplished Shakespearean or stage actors.

How could they crap that?

Kit said...

By the way, a lot of actors have appeared in both Doctor Who and Harry Potter.

Including the Doctor himself, David Tennant (Barty Crouch, Jr.)

List of Actors

Did not know about James Potter.

Nor did I know that Dudley is the grandson of the 2nd Doctor and that the Dean Thomas actor is the son of Ian Chesterton.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That is a fascinating list. I would never have recognized Ian's son! Doctor Who ran so long and included so many actors that I think everyone in Britain has been on the show!

Do I think Tennant is a tragic figure as the Doctor? Yes. He's very sad. I think he has some great episodes, but there is great sadness in them and he seems to lose people (both literally and figuratively) much more often than any other Doctor. I think Smith changes that as his version is much more lighthearted again.

On HP, I don't mean that any of the HP adults were bad actors (though a couple were more used to stage that screen), I just mean in terms of how I visualized them. The child actors were 100% spot on -- something very rare for turning books to films. But with the adults it wasn't always true. Snape was 100%, so was Maggie Smith, Hagrid and the original Dumbledore. But later in the series, I felt that a few of their choices weren't right. I actually didn't like Fiennes as Voldemort.

Kit said...

The difference between 10 and 11 may also have to do with the difference between writers Davies and Moffat.

Think about the Moffatt episodes:
-Empty Child/Doctor Dances: The London BLitz episode with the Gas Mask Zombies ("Are you my mummy?"). Also introduced Jack Harkness. My favorite from Season 1.
-The Girl in the Fireplace: Madame du Pompadour. Best part is the scene where the Doctor pretends to be drunk.
-Blink: The premier of the Weeping Angels and one of the most suspenseful in the show's history. I don't think I blinked once. :)
-Silence in the Library/Forest of the Dead: My least favorite of Moffat's Davies-era episodes but the badguys are pretty creepy and the Doctor's "Look me up" line is awesome.

His episodes were, typically, not that angsty(except maybe "Girl in the Fireplace") and they feature some of the most inventine villains/monsters of the new show. He is a real fan of the "Monster-in-plain-sight".

Also, I never thought you meant any of the adults were bad actors.

Kit said...

I think Davies' biggest weakness might have been trying too hard to be British Joss Whedon. Angst, Angst ANGST!

Moffat's weakness may be his tendency to write plots tht would puzzle Rube Goldberg. This is the guy who gave us the phrase "timey-wimey" which has now become the way to describe any complicated time travel plot in Doctor Who.

Interesting, is that though the Doctor has probably lost more battles under Moffat's reign (Victory of the Daleks, anyone?) yet it seems far less angsty.
Maybe its because of fewer character deaths, though he has promised the Ponds' end will be "heartbreaking", or it could be that he balances out the angst with the heroic-kickass factor better than Davies.

AndrewPrice said...

I'm sure it is the writers. I think Davies was much more political and whiny frankly. His episodes always seemed to end with some whiny resolution where the Doctor tried to convince the bad guys to be good. Moffat has a much darker sense and has come up with some of the best episodes in the whole series.

Girl in the Fireplace is one of my favorites -- fantastic and a stellar love story! Silence in the Library is genuinely terrifying. I also like Midnight and then Time of the Angels/Flesh And Stone. And the child from Empty Child is fantastic.

Good stuff!

AndrewPrice said...

"Angst" is a good word for it. Davies' stuff is simply too full of angst. Everyone is evil, no one knows if they are good or bad, and the Doctor frets his way around the universe. Even the bad guys main weapon is calling him a hypocrite. He was also too consumed with injecting gay stuff into the show.

I think Moffat's version is without angst because the Doctor is more sure he's a good guy.

BTW, on HP, could you imagine if they cast the film in Hollywood how crappy the adults would have been? Oh look, Julia Roberts and George Clooney... goodie.

Kit said...

I think one should look at the Doctor's "rampages".
When he has simply had enough and decides that it is "no more Mr. Nice Guy".

For me reason, 10's rampages (Family of Blood, best example) were far more disturbing than 11's ("Good Man Goes to War").

AndrewPrice said...

True, but I think it showed instability. When 10 went on a rampage, it had the feel of someone who was lashing out. When 11 did it, it had the feeling of someone who had decided he could not longer wait to do what he knew he needed to do.

Kit said...

Some of Davies' angst I didn't mind. For example, I liked Davros asking the Doctor "How many have died in your name?" and then showing us flashbacks of deaths throughout the new show. It shows the heavy burden these deaths have put on the Doctor.

But I think Davies sometimes forgot that the angst must be balanced with, to be frank, kick-ass awesomness. Which goes back to the above post on "f--k yeah moments".

You can angst all you want but the more you angst the more awesomness you better deliver.

I agree, Moffatt is a better writer than Davies. Look at the episodes they wrote during the Davies era. Moffat's episodes back then were better than Davies'.

That's not to say Moffat hasn't had clunkers, (Not a fan of his two Christmas specials), but, on the whole, he is a better writer.


"BTW, on HP, could you imagine if they cast the film in Hollywood how crappy the adults would have been? Oh look, Julia Roberts and George Clooney... goodie."

Crap, now I'll have nightmares.

Kit said...

"True, but I think it showed instability. When 10 went on a rampage, it had the feel of someone who was lashing out. When 11 did it, it had the feeling of someone who had decided he could not longer wait to do what he knew he needed to do."

Exactly.

I do think it worked fairly well with 10, largely due to Tennant's incredible acting. He played the crazy aspect really well.

But with 11, there is less emotion and more of a man who has to do what he has to do.

It is humorous to see some viewers on the internet get upset when the 11th Doctor actually kills a badguy in a rather cold-blooded fashion, such as telling the TARDIS to "finish him off, girl" in Doctor's Wife, blowing up a fleet of Cybermen to find out where the badguys are keeping Amy, or sicking humanity on the Silence.

Which is probably why Moffat and other writers have had to repeatedly say "The Doctor is NOT a pacifist".
I cannot count how many interviews I've seen a writer say that!

Kit said...

Its funny how many people seem to believe that because the Doctor abhors violence (he does) and wants people to get along and prefers to, at first at least, want to negotiate, that he is a pacifist.

For me, the fact that he was willing to wipe out his own race to save the universe kinda negates that Pacifist classification.

He always offers the badguys a way out and they almost never take it.
The library aliens are probably the only exception.

Kit said...

Another thing about Moffat that's great. He is not just using Classic Who monsters ,though he uses them very well, but seems intent on creating some new monsters for Doctor Who.

I think the Angels have already gone down with the Daleks and Cyberman as classic Who villains.

Kit said...

Though I think those multi-colored Daleks may have been a bad idea in retrospect.
LINK

I think their problem was that they were given such a big opening and it was never really followed up on.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I can't imagine what HP would have looked like if they'd gone through Hollywood. One look at anything animate these days tells you pretty much who they would have chosen and none of them are any good.

He's not a pacifist. He hates violence, but he has always recognized it's uses at critical points.

I agree, I like the fact Moffat creates new monsters. By and large, I haven't enjoyed the episodes where they used the classic monsters because they haven't been very creative. The ones that really rocked are the ones with the new monsters.

I don't mind the multi-colored Daleks. For me, the bigger problem is that they never used came up with a great way to use the Daleks. They've also made them too powerful for them to be good Doctor Who villains because their schemes now don't make sense -- they could effectively enslave most of the universe without the Doctor stopping them, yet they seem obsessed with Earth for whatever reason.

Kit said...

I liked VICTORY OF THE DALEKS. The Daleks' attack on Earth was really part fo a gambit to put the Doctor in a situation where he would be forced to let them flee.
They used his own love for humanity against him.
They outsmarted him.

Just curious, what are your favorite Dalek stories on the whole? Classic and New?

Kit said...

The multi-colored Daleks and supplemental info implied there was a sort of heirarchy.

But it was never really followed up on.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I got that feeling too that the colors meant something, but they never did follow up on it.

I thought it was clever how the Daleks used the Doctor, but most of the re-use of classic monsters hasn't been that special.

My favorite Dalek episodes are: "Genesis of the Daleks" by far, and then "Resurrection of the Daleks", and then "Bad Wolf".

What about you?

Kit said...

Genesis definately my favorite.

Slow at times but the last episode or two, when the Daleks start Daleking, are pure suspense.

Been trying to watch more Classic Who. Only classic Dalek episode I've seen is Genesis.

OF the New Who, I liked Victory and Bad Wolf.

As well as Army of Ghosts/Doomsday, if for no other reason than the scene where Daleks and Cyberman bicker and the Daleks' reaction when Rose tells them the Doctor is nearby.

LINK

Kit said...

"Five million Cyberman? Easy. One Doctor, now you're scared."

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I've seen all the classics at least twice (except for a couple that were only recently unearthed). It's been a very different show over the years.

I don't care much for the new Cybermen much. Not sure why. Those episodes just don't seem all that interesting to me. The Cybermen's best episode was Earthshock. That's actually one of the best episodes ever.

Kit said...

Where do you suggest one start if they want to go through the WHO series.

I've seen SPEARHEAD FROM SPACE (3's premiere), TIME WARRIOR, and the first season of 4.

AndrewPrice said...

I would start with Tom Baker if you want the most recognizable, easy to like stuff. He really came to define the role.

My personal favorite is Pertwee, but his stuff is much more 1960ish. That means it's slower, it's based on Earth, and it's more "hardcore science fiction" than "big picture science fiction."

The Fifth Doctor (Davidson) had some of the best written episodes, but he's a bit depressed.

I do not like the Seventh Doctor at all. Those were very political, poorly written episodes and I despised his companion Ace.

I would do the first and second Doctors last because they are very, very slow and hard to like. The first Doctor in particular is a coward and a snake and doesn't do much -- Ian and Barbara do it all and it has that very slow 1950s feel to it where they didn't realize yet that action meant actual movement.


So I would say: start with the Tom Baker years, then Pertwee/Davidson (in either order), then Colin Baker, then the rest.

Kit said...

Also, on Daleks.

In Genesis, Davros was a very creepy villain.

His voice was creepy. "That power would set me up above the gods!"

AndrewPrice said...

That whole episode was cool, especially as you knew what they would turn into and yet none of the Kaleds seemed to grasp what was going on -- except Davros.

Kit said...

You've pretty much suggested the route I'm taking.

Watching Baker right now.

Doesn't hurt that Sarah Jane is a rather cute companion. ;)

TIME WARRIOR with Pertwee and Sladen was fun.

ROBOT was meh. Elevated by Baker, Courtney, and Sladen. Especially Baker in his premiere performance.

Kit said...

GENESIS was very controversial when it aired.

One advocate attacked it as "Teatime terror for tots."

(Remember, WHO is a children's show)

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Sarah Jane is awesome -- easily my favorite companion. It's tragic when she leaves the show. :(


Genesis was one of the darker episodes, but it was also one of the best. And I think people get too upset about "scaring" kids. Kids dig that stuff. Fairy tales are very dark.

Kit said...

I think kids like being scared, too.

Why else would I watch a movie with THIS scene in it a thousand times: (My "hide behind the couch" scene)
LINK

And this scene:
LINK

And this:
LINK

And HOLY CRAP WHAT IS THIS?!?! ("Run.")
LINK

Yes, in that first clip, he pretty much STROKES!
Though that 3rd may have been a bit TOO dark for kids (listen to the lyrics). But that magnet scared the crap out of me as a kid.

Same with the appliances singing "B-Movie". (Shudderr

Kit said...

That final one, probably created an early fear of clowns.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Kids have enjoyed fairy tales for generations. It's only been recently with the boomers and their whiny "no one should be exposed to anything unpleasant" attitude that they've decided it's bad to expose kids to scary things.

What the heck is the deal with that clown! LOL!

Kit said...

Never seen the movie IT, but I doubt it could compare with that clown in Little Toaster.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Excellent post Andrew! Great comments too!

In short, the left wants a collective hero so everyone feels like one.

Conservatives want individual heroes which require individual sacrifice and courage.

Now, it is possible for a group of people, say a Marine squad to consist of all heroes but they wouldn't be a separate collectivist hero as a result with a hive mind.

It's shameful that so many folks, particularly on the left have tried to cheapen what a hero is.
As usual they always try to twist the meaning of woprds to mean what they want it to be.
Idjits!

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I like It a lot, and Time Curry does a great job as the clown. The problem is the ending, which is really weak.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I agree with everything you've said. I think it's an attempt to make individual effort seem futile and convince people that collective action seem like the only way to really achieve anything.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

I concur. Plus, in the leftist definition there really isn't much, if any sacrifice involved.

One of my favorite scenes of Captain America was when Steve Rogers (SPOILER ALERT!!!), before he was Cap, hurled his 90 pound weakling body on what he thought was a live grenade to save his fellow soldiers.

Heroism was ingrained in every fiber of his being and he only wanted an opportunity to not be a hero, but to fight the evil axis and help liberty prevail while protecting as many innocent lives as he could.

He wasn't in it for the glory. Indeed, real heroes never are. Real heroes will be quick to say they were only doing their duty to preserve life and liberty, and don't think that what they do is extraordinary or above and beyond the call of duty.

They'll also feel guilty if their friends or innocent civilians are killed on their watch, even though there would be no for them to stop it without knowing the future.

Of course, there are also heroes that don't realize that they will go that extra step and willingly risk or give their lives until that moment comes, as well as the reluctant heroes you guys mentioned, and heroes that eventually overcome their fears or rather work through the fear.

But there really is Steve Roger type heroes out there.
Murphy is perhaps the most famous, being the most decorated hero, thus far in US history.
He was a small man too but he had a giant soul.

An interesting factoid about Murphy:
When they were making To Hell And Back where he played himself, they left out a lot of his heroic acts because Murphy didn't like to toot his own horn for one thing, and it was, frankly, virtually unbelievable to those who weren't there to see it.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I've met a few genuine heroes and none of them seemed to wear the label. They were all pretty modest about what they had done.

Kit said...

Here is a good quote by His Greatness Joss Whedon on heroes:

“The thing about a hero, is even when it doesn't look like there's a light at the end of the tunnel, he's going to keep digging, he's going to keep trying to do right and make up for what's gone before, just because that's who he is.”


I think the quote is supposed to be about Angel as it sums up the themes of the show.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That's a pretty good quote.

Kit said...

And the guy who said is VERY liberal and left-wing. And he's a big feminist.

Of course, he also gave us FIREFLY and SERENITY.

He is also a Genre writer, which means he has to have a basic understanding of heroes.

AndrewPrice said...

Whedon's a liberal? Huh. I'd always heard people say he was a conservative, though I never looked into it. But a look at the Wikipedia tells me you might be right. Interesting.

Kit said...

Oh, he's very left-wing.

Pro-gay marriage, pro-choice*, pro-universal healthcare, etc.

The portrayal of the military in Season 4 of Buffy was just silly. Pity, sandwiched in between two excellent seasons.

But he also gave us FIREFLY and gave Adam Baldwin work outside of Roland Emmerich. But that may have also been because of writer Tim Minear, who from what I know is a libertarian and in an interview with PopMatters described himself as "center-right".

Also, ANGEL's Wolfram & Hart is about as close as you are going to a screen adaptation of "Screwtape Letters".
For proof, here is a little crossover fanfic someone wrote called "A letter from Screwtape to Mr. Holland Manners":
http://www.fanfiction.net/s/224361/1/A_Letter_from_Screwtape_to_Mr_Holland_Manners

There was "Death is your gift" from Season 5 of Buffy, Shepherd Book from Firefly, and probably some others.

*Recent Buffy comic involved the title character deciding to get an abortion after an unwanted pregnancy (didn't work out, long story that involves zombies and robots) but the whole Darla Pregnancy arc in Angel came across as rather pro-life. Hm.

Kit said...

Here is the PopMatters series of articles
http://www.popmatters.com/pm/special/section/spotlight-joss-whedon/

Another thing, he is a sadist. He will create a character, make us love said character, then, just when said character is about to be happy, kill him/her/it off in a brutal manner.

Kit said...

Another article you might like.
Sexual Conservatism of Whedon

Kit said...

My other link:

LINK

Kit said...

The article on "Sexual Conservatism" is done from a left-wing perspective.
A word of caution.

Still, a fascinating read nonetheless.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, That is interesting. Most conservatives seem to think he's a conservative because of the anti-government stance of Firefly, but I've never really looked into his views. So maybe it was the presence of Tim Minear who really drove that show?

I've honestly never looked into Whedon, but you've presented a pretty solid case here.

As for the article, it should be pointed out that not all liberals believe in casual sex either. So I've always found that to be a poor basis to declare someone "conservative" as many conservatives are want to do. In fact, this is the problem with calling romance films "conservative," which lots of conservatives are now doing. Just because the film ends in a monogamous relationship does not mean that they are conservative.

Kit said...

Good point on "sexual conservatism".
I just thought it was an interesting article.

With all this being said about his politics. Let me clearly state that I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon.

Despite the fact that he tends to kill off characters I love (Wash, Cordy, Tara, Joyce, Giles, Fred [OH FRED!!!], Doyle, Book, Jenny, etc.)
In fact, you are not Whedon fan until you've watched something he has done, looked up to the heavens, and shouted:
"DAMN YOU JOSS WHEDON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"





And, no, I have not seen DOLLHOUSE.



Yet . . .

Kit said...

I actually did shout that, by the way.

Seriously.

During an episode of ANGEL I actually stood up and shouted "DAMN YOU JOSS WHEDON!!!"

I really did. True Story.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I'm a casual fan of his work. I loved Firefly and I liked Buffy, I haven't really gotten into the rest.

It was an interesting article. I'm just saying that too often people try to equate casual sex with liberalism and uptight/no-sex with conservatism and I think that's wrong.

Kit said...

ANGEL is pretty good.

Spin-off from Buffy with Angel moving to Los Angeles and becoming a Private Eye specialising in the paranormal who must face/off against an evil demonic law firm (a.k.a. a law firm).

AndrewPrice said...

I haven't seen it. I never saw Doll House either.

Kit said...

I recommend it.

Also, conservative actor Adam Baldwin appears in the last season (as a badguy).

Kit said...

Here is another Whedon quote about heroes, this one from the Buffy musical episode "Once More With Feeling" and sung by the villain, Sweet.

"She will walk through the fire,
Some people never learn."

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