Monday, May 31, 2010

A Date with the Bad Girl: the Anti-Heroes Story

The splendor of the bad girl is is something that seduces our very core.  She's not like us.  She doesn't act like us.  She doesn't even look like us.  She is a monster in deep, uncharted waters.  So naturally, we must have her. Whether she's a singing siren, dressed in black leather with a whip, or is flying down the freeway in a souped up Camaro, she is an undeniably interesting creature.

Recently, as I've been working on plot and character formation, I've been toying around with the persona of an anti-hero.  The anti-hero is not an antagonist, yet is not a protagonist.  The Dark Knights of the world. They may have villain tendencies, but not villain motives.  They are truly complicated creatures.  Which is perhaps why they are so loved by an audience.  They have gusto, moxie, and are grade A badasses.  They are, in essence, the bad girl.  She's not going to kill you, she's just going to shake you up a bit.

But can the anti-hero be the love interest of a story?  Can the anti-hero aid the main character as they take on their journey?  Or should they just pop in for a cameo now and then?  Well the best part is, the anti-heroes are the center of their own story.  Granted, this is true for every character.  But the anti-hero takes it to a new level by being completely free to explore all aspects of morality (or lack there of).  I think that the answer to all of these questions is "Yes!"  In fact, I think the answer to any question about what an anti-hero can do is "Yes!"  They're so versatile its incredible.  She can be the damsel in distress or the one who tied the damsel in distress to those awful railroad tracks.  Now maybe I'm using the term anti-hero to loosely.  No, if they're constantly the damsel in distress they are probably not the anti-hero; or if they're always hopping from town to town trying to get trains to run over people, then they're probably just a sadist.  But it's the beautiful middle ground that makes up the anti-hero.  She may not be afraid to rough someone up or take lives.  She may manipulate anyone she can to follow her goals.  Or she may just like to cause utter mayhem.  Whatever the case, she plays be her own rules.  That's what makes the anti-hero so enticing.

So as I explore the anti-heroic world and attempt to write the character, I can't help but reflect on some of the worlds greatest anti-heroes.  My personal influence is Batman.  A caped crusader who gets the job done any way he can.  He's not afraid to (literally) bash some skulls.  He walks in and out of dark alleyways at night looking for trouble.  With every step he takes he's feeding his dark side.  He's helping Gotham, but he's also getting a thrill from it. But he's a super hero right?  Yes.  But look at him, really look close.  If he's anything, he's a super anti-hero.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"You say that I've been changing, and that I'm not just simply aging"

You know, I opened this blog ready to make a deep post about life, love, and loss.  I've rethought that.  I think, in this particular scenario, it's best to keep it simple.  

The fact is that time changes everything.  Including us.  We're constantly learning, adapting, attempting to make ourselves better.  Along this path we may fall down a rabbit hole and find ourselves in a series of situations where we have no idea what to do.  So we change.  A lot of times we turn ourselves into what others want us to be.  You think Alice would have made it out of Wonderland if she gave in to the Queen of Hearts?  No, she wouldn't have.  She was true to herself and her values.  We need to be the exact same way.  I guess what I'm really trying to say is that it is only natural for us to change throughout life.  I don't blame people for changing.  We all want to experiment with our image.  It's just so important that when we do change, that be we be careful not to hurt the ones that still love us.  If you want to become someone new, don't do it by hurting your friends.  Don't do it by being selfish.  As long as you think about the effect of your actions, everything will turn out just fine.  

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Earlier tonight I finally finished reading the novel The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan.  This was certainly a book that struck me; I'm just not sure if it's positively or negatively.  For any of those that haven't read this book let me quickly fill you in.  It's a post-apocalyptic romance adventure.  It reminded me of a toned down Davinci Code meets I am Legend.  Mary and her village believe they are the last ones on earth.  They must be constantly wary of the blood-craving zombies that lie in the fenced off forest that surrounds their village.

It was certainly an interesting book, however I found my reaction to it odd.  This book was dark to say the least.  I personally love dark books and don't have an issue with addressing the emo elephant in the room.  I know there are books a lot darker than this but let me just give you my interpretation.  Within the first 3 or so chapters the main character, Mary,  is forced to watch her mother die then "return" as part of an infected living dead known as the Unconsecrated.  Since her father is too an Unconsecrated she is left an orphan with only her older brother to care for her.  Mary's brother, Jed, then decides to throw her out of the house because she did not kill their mother before she joined the zombie army surrounding their town.  Wow, talk about a bad day for Mary.  I know I was a little spoilery but trust me it's relevant to my point.

To start the book off the reader sits with Mary as she goes through a life changing reality.  I pity her.  I pity her mother.  I pity her father, and her brother, and her friends, and the entire world at this point.  As the novel progresses so does the sense of hopelessness, fear, and anguish.  I remember thinking multiple times throughout the book that if I were her I would have just let myself die.  This is of course a sentiment to Mary's determination to live.  However, as a reader, by the end I was emotionally exhausted.  As the pages kept turning I kept praying there would be some good fortune sent Mary's way.  In large part there was not.  Life is truly a bitch.  I feel I just have to ask the question: how much is too much?

Throughout the novel I sat through a lot of depressing interior monologues.  I read a lot about love that made me feel it just wasn't worth the risk.  And I said goodbye to a lot of characters that I truly didn't want to say goodbye to.  Now I believe if I read a novel and every single character comes out unscathed (in every sense of the word) the author was just being too lovey dovey to their readers.  But on the flip side, (no spoiler alert, I'm just speaking hypothetically) if only one character out of an entire cast comes out kicking is there something wrong here?  Now I understand the entire point of a book is to give the reader an emotional experience.  And don't get me wrong, I got one, but the emotion I felt when I put down that book is not one I like to feel often.

Pain is not comparable, it's a philosophical truth.  We don't live in the world where everything has a quick fix and we always feel good all of the time.  It's cathartic for us to feel sad and upset.  However the intense emotion this book gave me did not bring back pleasant memories.  This is a huge compliment to Carrie Ryan; It takes a wonderful writer to bring this upon me.  I just can't shake the thought that reading this book wasn't worth the pain.

I'm sorry to say that I don't have a definitive or specific point to my little philosophy lesson.  Maybe I would have enjoyed this book more if I was a real zombie fan (the living dead scare the bejesus out of me, and not in a fun way).  Maybe you just have to be in a certain mood to read this and I wasn't in that place.  I don't know, I just felt I needed to address it.  Have you read the book?  What'd you think?  I'm a moron or a speaker of truth?  Let me know!  Thanks for listening.  Hope you were able to get something from my babble.