1. esshesse
    Offline

    esshesse Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2016
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    9

    Can the Reader be the Antagonist?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by esshesse, Sep 4, 2016.

    Bizarre and random thought.. but can the reader (or viewer if it's a screenplay) be the antagonist? I was thinking this could be interesting. Like say the novel is a satire of society, implicating each member of society.. or something like that.

    I'm trying to think of an example where this has been done before. The only thing I can think of is the stand up comedy of Sam Kinison who would antagonize his audience.
     
  2. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    956
    Location:
    SC, USA
    I mean, there are definitely games where the PC is the antagonist (or can choose to be), so it's certainly possible is storytelling at large.

    I remember when Suckerpunch came out there were feminist readings of it putting forward that the objectification of the girls was specifically to say "see, THIS is what you wanted" when the text of the movie seemingly condemned said objectification (or at least commented on it?), thus painting the viewer in a negative light. You chose to watch this movie knowing there'd be gratuitous upskirt shots, so you're just as bad as the on-screen villains forcing the characters to strip.

    Ultimately, though, the reader has no agency in the story - they're always going to be a passive consumer, barring games. To me, with Suckerpunch for instance, all I could think was, "Okay ... I'm not the one choosing to shoot this movie like this, though. I'm not at fault". Other people may have different perspectives, but mine is that a passive viewer/reader can't be an antagonist.
     
  3. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    I can only imagine that something like this would be written in second person with rather critical overtones. (ie. You bastard! Look at what you've done!) :)
     
  4. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,661
    Likes Received:
    5,154
    The antagonist needs to play a role in the story... I'm not sure how the reader could do this?

    The reader can certainly sympathize with the antagonist. But to actually function as one?
     
  5. Sack-a-Doo!
    Offline

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    1,511
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    This reminds me of a short-lived movie phenomenon back in the 1970s, the scratch-n-sniff movie. Not that it gave the viewer a way to interact directly with the movie, but at least a way to react olfactorily. :)
     
    BayView likes this.
  6. Mckk
    Online

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    What you said reminded me of a piece of art, and also a film. There was a piece of modern art, which was the figure of a dress, set on a glass shelf that allows the viewers to go under and look up the skirt. On the inside of the skirt, it was covered in spikes, conjuring with it the word "prick" - exactly what you might call someone who would choose to look up someone's skirt without permission. It does kinda put the viewer in an "antagonistic" position, although as you say, the guilt seems misplaced, as though I'd been falsely accused.

    And the film I was thinking of was Hard Candy. I didn't know what it was about, only heard it was good. I watched it with my ex and my dad... :superthink: Gosh that was bad.

    As to the OP - An Inspector Calls is a famous English play that basically criticises society for being apathetic towards suffering and, by not caring, take part in social crime - that each member of society must take responsibility when one individual suffers. In the particular play, it revolves around a girl's suicide. Since it critiques society, one could say the viewer could be counted as culpable.
     
  7. Marlon Manalese
    Offline

    Marlon Manalese Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    14
    That's a very unique and interesting idea!

    If the reader is going to be the antagonist, how would that even work, though? Would it be written in 2nd person describing the evil things the reader is doing along the story? Would you be making some social commentary about the average reader's philosophy?
     
  8. Marlon Manalese
    Offline

    Marlon Manalese Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    14
    Oh that's interesting. Was that the official intention for Suckerpunch or is it how you've interpreted it? I mean the novelty wore off real quick for me. It had a baseless story and although the women were attractive in their attire, and even more so when they fought stuff, it just didn't have much of a story going for it so I fell asleep during it. I want to know if the intention really was to out the pervs with this movie.

    sidenote: sorry for the double post, force of habit from another forum where posting a new message right after posting another combines the two messages into one automatically.
     
  9. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    956
    Location:
    SC, USA
    I could accept that one a little better since it's a piece of art that's more interactive than a book or movie? There is more of an active choice imo in actually taking the initiative to walk underneath. Plus, this piece of art isn't giving the assumed perv what they want - it's not lacy pink panties that call you a prick, it's actually a sort of threat. For me the damning thing about Suckerpunch was that it still did the exact thing it supposedly condemned. But as far as the art goes, I mean, there's still a compulsion to actually EXPERIENCE the art so of course you walk under it. It was made to be walked under. The key to it being effective is the spikes, I think. I'm not sure how you get the spikes in a novel.

    I'm honestly not sure! It was (is?) a popular fan interpretation but I don't think the creators ever confirmed that was their intention. If it was, they failed as far as I'm concerned. It wasn't over the top enough to register as a sort of satire - to me a thing has to actually be distinguishable from what it's critiquing to count and yeah Suckerpunch ... wasn't.
     
    Mckk and Marlon Manalese like this.
  10. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,897
    Likes Received:
    10,088
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Maybe in a Choose Your Own Adventure format... but on a more adult lean? Don't know. I had these books as a kid and LOVED them. It's the only thing I can think of to actually make the reader a participant in a book, even if only in a limited way.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Francis de Aguilar
    Offline

    Francis de Aguilar Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2016
    Messages:
    326
    Likes Received:
    217
    Location:
    Devon UK
    If it were an interactive read, then the reader could be presented with a series of questions every now and then, what they read next would depend on the answers they gave.
     
  12. HistoricalScience
    Offline

    HistoricalScience Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2015
    Messages:
    198
    Likes Received:
    160
    This reminds me of Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone. The story is about a demon that is stuck in the book and tells his story in order to convince the reader to burn the book and free him. He yells at you throughout the story to burn the book. A very interesting read.
     
    Cave Troll and izzybot like this.
  13. cydney
    Offline

    cydney Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Messages:
    1,246
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    This is interesting if you think about it logically. The reader is the audience. So to be the antagonist she'd have to antagonize herself. Who else is involved? Could a reader antagonize herself? Heck, yeah.

    But in most situations, I don't know why she'd want to. I like to enjoy what I read. Not poke myself in the eyeball or burn my fingertips. :)

    I'm not sure what the exact definition of a literary antagonist is but I think I'll Google it.
     
  14. cydney
    Offline

    cydney Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Messages:
    1,246
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Antagonist Definition
    In literature, an antagonist is a character or a group of characters which stand in opposition to the protagonist or the main character. The term antagonist comes from Greek word “antagonistēs” that means opponent, competitor or rival.

    I think, yes, the reader can be one of the antagonists. It's a stretch but even in the since that the reader is not a character in the novel - some folks really really get into what they read.
     
  15. cydney
    Offline

    cydney Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Messages:
    1,246
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Maybe it would work if you had the reader sort of 'choose' which character he identifies with most - sort of interactive, as has been mentioned.
     
  16. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,661
    Likes Received:
    5,154
    I loved them, too... but I'd say the reader was the protagonist in them, not the antagonist?
     
  17. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,897
    Likes Received:
    10,088
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Yeah, in these books you were always the protagonist, but I guess it could be adapted to flip to the antagonist roll? Maybe.
     
  18. izzybot
    Offline

    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2015
    Messages:
    865
    Likes Received:
    956
    Location:
    SC, USA
    If the reader was tasked with making the worst possible choices to try to get the protag killed it could definitely be entertaining. I feel like someone must've done that in the cyoa heyday, right?
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2016
  19. Marlon Manalese
    Offline

    Marlon Manalese Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    14
    If it was just a speculation, then I am convinced that the creators were dead serious about advertising this as the next best thing since sliced bread. I remember it being advertised as such, hot babes and over the top action YAY!!! Of course the movie came out around the time I was becoming more and more aware of how much substance I truly crave from movies, and Suckerpunch lacked it in the most spectacular way ever. Sorry if anyone here actually enjoyed it, but it could not appease even my base brain needs. Not a criticism of you guys, but I often regret trying to turn my brain off for boobs and bullet fests because I just get bored. I don't end up enjoying such media as I intend to. Not trying to sound like a lit snob or anything, but that's just my personal experience.

    That's a good idea! Choose your own adventure would be a pretty good format to kinda trick the reader into thinking they are doing the right thing for the right reasons...until the truth of the story unravels. Just imagine you're reading in the 2nd person POV of a spy, and you think you're working on the right side by killing traitors to your country, and stealing useful gear from huge supposedily evil corporations. But then later you find out that all along, your agency was getting you to start the next world war or wiping out significant players that provide resources to the world--all due to your choices.
     
  20. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,661
    Likes Received:
    5,154
    Is it possible that we're kind of confusing the terms "antagonist" with "villain"?

    Like, I think it's totally possible to have a villainous protagonist, and in that case I guess a CYOA format would make the reader into the villainous protagonist...

    But the term "Antagonist" is usually meant to be the force that opposes or tries to prevent the protagonist from reaching her goal. It doesn't really mean "villain"--it's more of a structural role rather than a moral judgement...
     
    cydney and Spencer1990 like this.
  21. Marlon Manalese
    Offline

    Marlon Manalese Member

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2016
    Messages:
    25
    Likes Received:
    14
    @BayView Right of course. Just generalizing for the sake of simplicity.

    And even in the case of my spy thriller idea, the person still wouldn't be "the villain" if they unwillingly acted out in service of evil.
     
  22. Cave Troll
    Offline

    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    3,800
    Likes Received:
    2,413
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    I think the implication could be done theoretically. But it would have to be written in a very clever way as well as in second POV, giving the appearance of drawing the reader into the story. So interesting in theory, damned hard to pull off.
     
  23. Mumble Bee
    Offline

    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2015
    Messages:
    795
    Likes Received:
    1,308
    Stop reading. Now.
    Please?

    Every word, letter, SPAG mistake you take in makes it worse... just stop.
    I'm not too proud. I'll beg.

    What, is begging not enough? Humiliation doesn't get you off? Does... does torture? Is that why you're doing this?

    I know you're out there, looking at every word, the only solace I have is knowing you'll be just as disappointed as I am in pain.
    Why? Why are you going to be disappointed? Well, you won't be, not if you stop.
    Stop reading.



    But you didn't did you? You're still here, looking forward to me letting you down, but you're going to be let down by the let down, don't you see that?!
    It's because... I have
    Nothing.
    I have nothing.

    You brought us here.
    Why couldn't you just stop.
    Stop reading.
     
    Sifunkle, I.A. By the Barn and cydney like this.
  24. Mckk
    Online

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Haha not a bad way of turning the reader into a kind of "antagonist" - but I sure hope there isn't a novel where the hero's only goal is to get the reader to stop reading... I wouldn't make a very good antagonist in this situation...
     
    Mumble Bee and cydney like this.
  25. cydney
    Offline

    cydney Banned

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2016
    Messages:
    1,246
    Likes Received:
    708
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    This is good. I felt your pain ! (or whoever)
     
    Mumble Bee likes this.

Share This Page