Understanding Intent

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Going off of a point I made not too long ago, people are the biggest problem when it comes to being disappointed by characters in any form of media. Over the years they demand so much more from their characters than they can receive. Throwing around the word relatable as if this that one thing every character must have. This could be a TV show or movie and that word always makes and breaks it. They’re used to reading about heroes who are crushed by life and losing all the time. That character who they see a bit of themselves in. Is it so hard to just want to understand them? Why must the person engaging themselves in the book, movie, or TV series feel the need to draw comparisons between them and the character.

There will always be a reason to care about characters or find them appealing, but to think that you personally must have that connection is setting yourself up for disappointment. At the very least you should be able to understand who that character is, what makes them different from others, and what makes that character tick. When you look invest in a character, you should also be willing to see what the writer intended for them. If you know that much, you can see the perspective of that character and that much is most important. Take a character like Andrea from CharactersTWDS3-AndreaWalking Dead(comics and TV), you all blame her for her reactions yet are blind to what she represents. That is a character that you shouldn’t relate to in terms of how you’d act during a zombie apocalypse. She represents the humanity which everyone has all but lost or is going to lose, a character that kept hers till the very end. Don’t blame her for what she would have done because it isn’t what you would have done or what the badass comic version of her would have done, blame her for being humane. Skye from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is looked down upon because she doesn’t “look’ believable as a stereotypical hacker. Hacking is a skill, but it never defines who you are on the inside or outside. Certainly nothing to call for a need to relate to. I mean people also say she isn’t funny at all, but have you asked yourself if she is just weird? Not everyone who tries to be funny in the real world are actually funny. Pulp heroes aren’t relatable and that creates a rift between those who enjoy them and modern heroes.

This is no knock at Batman, but everyone says he’s the best because they say he’s the most relatable. He’s no more relatable than anyone else in his position. You just understand his intentions more and mask it as seeing yourself in him. I don’t like Batman as much as everyone else, but I agree with his stance and what he fights for considering there’s other heroes like him out there who are the same. I can say I understand Cyclops, but I surely won’t say I relate to him, I’m just a fan of the things he’s done for the mutant population. People hate him because they see him as a boy scout or killer of Prof. X, but they are blind to just about everything else the writers have put him through to mold him into someone that can’t be brought down by those two “personal” issues you have with him alone.

Not every hero out there should be ralatable, they should be entertaining, they should be understood. You should know who they are, what they do, their motivations, goals, and let the story progress from there. Anything more is just creating unobtainable expectations. Today that seems to be all that people care about. You ask them what they thought about a book or adaptation, one of the first things they will mention is that they didn’t care about the character. They didn’t connect with them, they didn’t relate to them, they just didn’t like them. This isn’t just some case where you are mad that someone doesn’t like a character you like, this is being able to take the characters for who they are and what they mean to the story in a wider scope. No one likes to look past their bubble of logic and if it doesn’t make sense to them, they won’t try to look for sense to make of it. Is it the writers fault? No. Is it the actor’s fault? No. It’s all you and there really is no other way to go about it if you aren’t willing to open up.

marvels_agents_of_shield_7This includes that idea of wanting a character who is believable as whatever they are portrayed as. Seeing this perfect image of what that character represents and wanting them to match it without question. Not only is it bad, but it comes off as stereotypical, forcing labels onto someone and thinking they can be nothing more than what society sees them as. We get it, you think you know more because you’ve been there and seen everything on that subject so you know what to expect. Yet that’s not what you will always get. In general we should be seeing characters for who they are, not who we want them to be. You have to keep in mind that characters are created to fit the world they live in, not the world you live in. There is never a you to be seen and if you do see one, then you are more than likely the targeted audience. If not, then you are looking for problems in all the wrong places.

Anyone can talk about relating, but in the end, what are you relating to? A fictional character? Do you need that much connection to care about someone who has the initial intent of entertaining you foremost? Be it a hero, character, actor, let them be the key to you understanding the story, and in turn understanding them. Veering off too far to feel like you are that character is unnecessary.


Jideobi Odunze Author

Editor for Geeked Out Nation/Beyond The Panel. Everything is permitted. #TeamCyke l #Reclaimer l #LARPer l Fantasy Geek Follow me on Twitter @Jideobi0. Email at siphen_x@yahoo.com