Of all the media characters in the series that you watch, which one do you most identify with?
|Title:||Of all the media characters in the series that you watch, which one do you most identify with?|
|Date(s):||April 23, 1994|
|Fandom:||Star Trek: TOS, Blake's 7, Wiseguy, The Professionals|
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Of all the media characters in the series that you watch, which one do you most identify with? is a 1994 essay by Gayle F.
It was posted to Virgule-L and quoted here on Fanlore with permission.
Some Topics Discussed
- loving a villainous character
- loving the fanfic character more than the canon character
- propensity for happiness
Of all the media characters in the series that you watch, which one do you most identify with? Not which one do you most like to project yourself into, but which do you feel most closely matches your own character traits? Both [T] and I picked Cally.It's karma time, and you are offered a choice of souls to inhabit for a lifetime. Of all the media characters, which one would you most like to be? This is an interesting question both over all, and fandom by fandom. We discovered that we seldom picked our favorite characters. We even, given a show like B7, opted for characters who were anything but favorites. [T] finally settled on Dayna, because she was the least unhappy, after initially thinking about my choice of Jenna. She is my least favorite among the female crew, but I preferred her over Dayna because of her self-sufficiency. How happy the character was was the single most important factor, but there were moral lines we were unwilling to cross. Servalan has a good time being evil, but I'd accept almost anyone else first.
Moving to WG, Sonny Steelgrave would be a lot more tempting, but for all his redeeming qualities, and all his joie de vivre, I still wouldn't choose someone who does that much damage to other people. Lynn picked Amber. Nobody wanted to be Frank. At the time we talked about this, I was willing to be Vinnie. I felt that for all his suffering, it would still be worth it because of his capacity for love and joy. But the more I look at him in the context of the series, the more messed up he seems. And while I still think he is a tremendous life- embracer, I also think that a lot of his enthusiasm is willfully induced to cover buried conflict. The poor boy is definitely in the wrong career. He should probably marry Amber and get back into the music business, though I cringe to think what he'd inflict on our eardrums.
My top of the list character was Kwai Chang Caine (the original), my second choice, even though I'm only vaguely a fan of the show, was Duncan McCloud. In both cases, I admire the good they do in the world, and emotional serenity that they've attained in the face of suffering. Thinking about them, I wondered if there were some media character who was an artist of some sort, if I would prefer them (impossible to judge on one characteristic) - but then I realized that these two are both artists, martial artists true, but still partaking of that sensibility. Spock, while in this tradition, is much more torn internally, and would be an unhappier choice. I'd take him over Kirk, although Kirk would be easier to be. But one friend, Alana, picked Kirk. My husband, without I think, fully weighing emotional misery as opposed to intellectual delight, picked Sherlock Holmes as his would be.Absolute bottom of the list, character I didn't want to be was Neil Burnside from The Sandbaggers. There were characters far more evil, and ones far more unhappy, but I don't think any of them sold their soul for less.
I was thinking back to K/S, and how for most of the ST fen, Kirk and/or Spock, as well as being objects (or subjects) of desire, represented ideals of "human" behavior. While I was a Spock fan who did not much like Kirk (I much preferred the fanfic Kirk's to Shatner's), I remember one ardent Kirkfan friend calling him "the ideal man," and another referring to him as a "Renaissance" man. In both cases, I thought the praise fit Spock better. I remember some Spock fen talking about consulting with their internalized Spocks whenever they had difficult decisions to make. And, of course, as well a representing individual ideals, they represented the perfect slash romantic ideal as a couple, a complimentary set of souls, perfectly meshed.
Now - does any other fandom work this way? How many of the other individuals characters do we view as ideals. While most slash couples are seen as belonging together, how many of their relationships serve as ideals for their devotees? To a great extent, what you see is what you get to work with. We slash fetishists go fandom scanning, or channel scanning, for new loves (or are, as often, seized unexpectedly by them - Who's THAT intriguing man??!!!). The characters are as presented to us - and there is some magic balance between a type of character that we are intrigued by, and the erotic/emotional pull of a particular actors performance. None of our favorite characters would be the same if played by a different actor, though we might like a different actor less or more (I'd go for Sherlock slash if Anthony Hopkins played Watson to Jeremy Brett's Sherlock). The virtues and flaws of the characters are pre-established, though they may develop in certain ways over the lifetime of a series. Few characters have been drawn on the same epic scale as Kirk and Spock. Certainly Blake's 7 is epic scale, and the protagonists have tragic grandeur, but they are incredibly flawed - both on a grand scale and a small scale. However much we may admire certain aspects of their characters tremendously, I don't think anyone is adopting either of them, as a whole character, as a role model. And while we slashers may work hard to bring them together (or show the impossibility of it), even if we achieve it, I don't think anyone would like to have their relationship. They don't represent an ideal.
In 1988, Patricia Lamb wrote an academic paper suggesting that a lot of fans switched from Trek to B7 because of their changing, darkening world view. Although I was never really a fan of Trek's optimistic outlook, I would say this is true in part for me. But, while I loved B7 for going for a darkness and tragedy that Trek only dabbled in, I am just as actively trying to avoid tragedy in writing WG, although it would be very easy to write moving fiction that went for destroying the characters, even having them destroy each other. [T] pointed out that the more Avon is shattered, the more beautiful he is. And I think that in B7 the tragedy said something about the nature of the universe, which made it meaningful, even in its darkness (meaningful in its meaninglessness?). WG is more human scale, and I just want to help the poor, beleaguered critters out of their desperate straits. At the same time, as with B7, I admire the show for going into darker corners, and dislike the more sentimental tone of the later shows. I know that some people moved from ST to S & H because they wanted something more gritty and realistic, and from there most went to The Pros.
One of the reasons that this particular set of ponders evolved is that Sonny Steelgrave the first slash character that I've been involved with that is definitely a villain in my eyes, however lovable. Despite his many charms, this man is not what I consider an admirable person. He often appalls me. Avon usually occupies ambiguous territory, he quite often crosses over the line, but he is, finally a tragic hero. So, Sonny's a bad guy, but unlike Avon and Blake, Sonny and Vinnie's personalities mesh beautifully. They have a great time together. It is their moral conflicts that prevent a viable relationship. However, to break Sonny to the point where I can imagine him able to be "good" enough to live with Vinnie and make it work, diminishes his fire so much that I am reluctant to do it (however, since I do like to imagine them together, I am considering it for one story, separate from the current series, that would follow the show time line rather than depart from it). Except for trying to work out a way for Vinnie and him to be together, I'd much rather let Sonny dance around being his lovable bad self, than bash him enough to make him a better human being. Interestingly enough, while the most generally reprehensible, he is also the most integrated and emotionally honest of all the media characters I've written.
Do any fen of these or other fandoms feel that they are now more drawn by their characters flaws than my their virtues - by twist of fate or personal preference? Or that however much they deplored a character's flaw, that they would prefer him to keep it, rather than help him overcome it? If so, why? I certainly get annoyed at writers who make everything magically okay twixt Avon and Blake - not that I won't accept a story that can believably introduce a ray of hope! Pros fen - what is the quintessential conflict between Bodie and Doyle? Is there one that the fen generally agree on? What are the particular flaws that the fan writers work to rid them of, or feel are so intrinsic they can't be altered? Can you view them as a perfect couple, or are they basically too screwed up? I took great pleasure in pounding down Kirk's macho attitudes, I remember. Luckily, improving him really did improve him.