1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Characters as Rolemodels

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Killer300, Jun 2, 2011.

    Not sure where to post this, so I'm doing it here for now because it's about characters. Okay, first off, do you take a character as a role model? If so, why? Do you empathize with them, do you wish you you could be more like them, or what?
    With that in mind, should we write characters knowing that someone might take them as a rolemodel? Should we do so especially if we write stuff targeted towards younger, and apparently more impressionable, audiences? If so, what does that mean?
    To me, that means characters that are... well, not perfect but not passive. Role models should have flaws to remind people you don't have to be perfect or even superhuman to change things. This is why for me Sato is better a role model than Superman, even though the former is both a college dropout and a hikikimori. Why? Because he has the flaws, not despite them, he shows one can still conquer their problems. In my case, I actually empathize with many of his problems, and find him particularly so for that reason. Superman, on the other hand, has virtually no personal flaws, making him not only non-sympathetic, but I would argue sets standards for people that they can never reach, which isn't something you want to do.
    So, further thoughts?
     
  2. Lilithmoon
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    Lilithmoon Member

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    Superman is an excellent role model because he chooses to be one. He holds himself to the highest standards because he knows and cares that others look up to him. He is nearer to perfect than any human can ever hope to be but in spite of that he constantly strives to do better. He is the epitome of justice, compassion and selflessness. He has almost limitless power and chooses to use it for the betterment of mankind. He could easily use his abilities to control the world but chooses to protect and serve instead. If everyone followed this example the world truly would be Utopia.
     
  3. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Rolemodels = obsolete.
     
  4. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Hmm, interesting answers. Can't wait to hear more.
     
  5. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I think certain characters embody traits that I'd definitely love to have and wish I was. I've often wished I was more like a certain character in a few books. :)

    Atticus Finch has been cited by many real-life lawyers as a role model, and I think he's the consummate literary role model.
     
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  6. Laura Mae.
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    Laura Mae. Member

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    You can't really choose who you idolise as a role model, sometimes it just happens. Think about it relative to everyday life. Some people are expected to look up to their parents, for example. They don't really have a choice, as it's kind of forced on them to look up to them. Think about if there parents were less than savoury characters who dealt drugs or were violent or something. That kid, whoever they may be, may not choose to look up to his wayward parents, but is nurtured in a way that society enforces this 'respect your elders' thing, and so he looks up to them even if they aren't the best role models.

    You can write what you want, you can create the perfect human being and some people will look up to them based on their own situation, e.g. lots of little boys look at Superman and think 'wow, I wanna be just like him', whereas in reality that's not so common. But then again, if it's fiction you're writing you can say whatever you want.
     
  7. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    Ahahahahaha! This sentence made me laugh: people who defend assassins and criminals for money as role models...
     
  8. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Interesting, although the Nurture Assumption is a book that does well at deflecting traditional child psychology, but that's different.
     
  9. IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer
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    IfAnEchoDoesntAnswer Member

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    You have absolutely no idea who Atticus Finch is, do you?

    Or, if you're not just talking out of your you-know-where, what specifically do you find objectionable about Atticus? He always seemed like an admirable guy to me.

    .
     
  10. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Atticus Finch is always awesome. :p

    I think there's plenty of room left in the world for role models... And we see them all the time. Whenever there is a character we admire who has some inherent good in them no matter what any of their other traits are, then we're setting them up in some way to be a role model. It's probably a more pronounced thing in younger people as they're still growing and learning, but I know plenty of adults who go on about their deep admiration for someone - usually in the same profession rather than literary characters, so perhaps a musician would have a role model in Beethoven or something. I don't know. :p

    Still, there are plenty of great characters out there, and they're all great because in some way we aspire to be like them, because that's what makes empathy in fiction work - the sense of connection to the characters comes from imagining yourself with them, or even as them. When cool characters do cool things, we're delighted and may as well be feeding off of it.

    When writing a character you probably shouldn't always be trying to make them into a role model though because they'd get too conscientiously good and you might cheat yourself out of some really cool plot and character things because you're too worried about what the impression of the character will be... Really good characters do dumb/stupid stuff, and you still love them afterwards.
     
  11. StrangerWithNoName
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    StrangerWithNoName Longobard duke

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    I don't know this Atticus Finch person and to be honest, I don't care, I've known many lawyers in my life and all of them made their living thanks to somebody else's problems, that's the point of being a lawyer.
     
  12. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds like the breadth of your experience is limited.
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Atticus Finch was a lawyer in the novel _To Kill A Mockingbird_. He risked his safety and reputation to defend an innocent black man in a bigoted time and place.

    ChickenFreak
     
  14. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also it's a really good book so you should probably go check it out. :p
     
  15. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    That may be true of some lawyers, but Atticus Finch has always been one of my favorite characters because he put so much on the line defending a black man wrongly accused of a crime in a time when this country was a very bigoted place, especially in the South where the book takes place.
     
  16. wallomrslug
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    wallomrslug Member

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    Writing with the intention of making your characters role models runs the risk of your book appearing preachy.
    If you can write a role model naturally, then I don't see why not.
    But I personally, would find this very difficult.
    Some characters can just be too goody goody than it can actually annoy the reader.
     
  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Any time one's mind is confined to caricatures and stereotypes, you get this sort of thinking. It is convenient, and takes little energy, but in my experience, whether dealing with lawyers, doctors, teachers, construction workers, or any other people grouped according to a profession, you get the entire range of humanity that you'd expect, from good to bad.
     
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