1. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    Why is it that chracters with emotion=emo?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Gammer, Jan 26, 2009.

    This question comes from my years just hanging out on fantasy, sci-fi and anime forums, And it seems like every time a character (most times a main character) shows any hint of uncertainty or just general sadness over what's happened to them in the story, the guys on forums cry out "oh he's so emo!" or "what a whiny little bitch!" etc....why is it that people feel that way? I know when see/read the character's situations I can usually feel for them, or like that they can pick themselves up later and fight on. But the people on forums just keep saying that they're emo or whatever. I know it isn't an age thing, cause I know some people on forums were about the same age. So what is it? BTW I couldn't figure out in what section to put this in.

    Good examples I guess would be

    Anakin Skywalker
    Harry Potter
    Frodo
    Shinji (Neo Genesis Evangelion)
    Sasuke (Naruto)
    Spider-Man

    and plenty others but can't think of anymore. So thoughts?
     
  2. Shadow Dragon
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    Shadow Dragon Contributing Member Contributor

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    For some reason, a large number of people seem to want perfect characters that never doudt themselves or show emotion. I've always prefered characters that show emotion though, it makes them more human in my opinion.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    More often than not, the emo label is applied incorrectly. Emo is more than emotional with a motif of dark clothing.
     
  4. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    I like it when characters present emotion in a believable (or at least not annoying manner). Too much angst is boring. About Anakin, I think the backlash about him was because of his softer portrayal in the prequel movies, which went contrary to the badarse Vader we had come to know and love. Harry Potter does whine a lot, specially after the 5th book, but kind of justified because he just has the worst luck. Shinji had all the right in the world to whine. The qualification of emo for angsty characters is incorrect, as Cogito pointed out. A better adjective would be 'annoying'.

    Perhaps they just can't empathize with the presented character?
     
  5. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Not Emo: Frodo, Harry, Anakin (until he goes all psycho and what not in Ep III. He's sort of a little emo there). Spider Mans not emo, though he was sort of about half way through the third movie.

    Sasuke and Shinji are definitely emo. Neon Genesis Evangelion is defined by emo characters! Kaji was probably the only one on the show who wasn't emo, along with that weird kid with glasses. They were pretty much the only normal people in the series XD. You can't argue Sasuke isn't emo. All the time he spends brooding and complaining about how much his life sucks he is the definition of an emo character.

    I don't have a problem with Emo characters if they're done in a non-annoying fashion. A lot of the times I see emo characters acting like spoiled little brats who just annoy me so much I can't stand to read about them. You got to handle them right and manage their natural annoyances so that the reader/viewer doesn't get turned off by them. Shinji was probably an emo character done well. The overall feel of the series probably helped. Sasuke is ok. At the svery least he's a bad arse so his annoying "my life sucks" moment aren't so infuriating.

    Otherwise though when the emo angst and brooding depression gets overplayed I really can't stand the characters and want to avoid them at all costs.
     
  6. Gone Wishing
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    Gone Wishing Contributing Member

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    Perhaps the problem lies not with characters that readily display emotion, but the emotional maturity of the people discussing it? Emotional maturity is something some people never gain, no matter how old they get. (By the way, I don't intend to suggest that all fantasy, sci-fi and anime forumers lack emotional maturity, either).
     
  7. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    The term might be applied correctly at times, but based on the tone of the comments you offered ("What a whiny little...!" etc.), I'm guessing these are just people who happen to dislike those particular characters. That's life. Some people won't like something no matter how it's presented, and when people don't like something they tend to start namecalling, even if it's unwarranted.

    I recall once in school when I was being pestered by one of the snobs (and yes, this too is namecalling), I said in a rather neutral voice, "Leave me alone." The girl then commenced bawling in this really loud, whiny voice, "Leave me alooooone! Leave me alooooone!" even though I hadn't said it like that whatsoever. When people are confronted by something that annoys them (for example, in my case, snobby people), they're going to put their own spin on it, color it with their own prejudices, even if it's not like that at all. (And I know for a fact I can be quite whiny a lot of the time--that just wasn't one of the times.)

    Another case in point, I stopped a lot of personal journaling online because every time I had something positive to say, there would be no reaction, yet every time I complained about something, I'd get total strangers carping at me to stop whining "all the time." Never mind that I was usually just grousing about things that bother me, I didn't do it all the time, and a more outgoing type of person would just be called ranty--for some reason I was viewed as whiny rather than ranty. (And said readers never noticed the entries where I WASN'T complaining.) Everyone sees things differently, and a lot of times people misapply a term to something they don't properly understand. Some people really do think that displaying any sort of negative emotion = emo.

    Frustrating, but true. There isn't much one can do about it but write the best, most convincing characters they can, and forget the people who have no clue what they're talking about.
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Especially with characters like Frodo and Anakin, I think it's partly a case of an immature attitude and a simple lack of empathy. They can't fathom just how much those people are suffering and how much they are being controled by a darker power. And there is the whole seemingly sudden change with Anakin. With him, he was so sweet and risiliant as a nine-year-old, but miserable and greedy as an adult. What people missed in the first movie is that he was never told how lucky he was to be freed and given the chance to be a Jedi, so he got greedy and developed a sense of entitelment.

    I see it with immigrants from poor counties all the time. If they don't get how lucky they are to be in such a rich country, they get miserable pretty quickly when they don't get exactly what they hoped to get by being here, and always want more. (Please don't slash me, I'm not making a generalization. I live in a city where half the people were not born there, so I have lots of people I could observe and know that most are not like that).
     
  9. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know I'm guilty of throwing that word around. The way I use it isn't the textbook definition of "emo." I use it to mean overly-emotional or prone to sudden, unnecessary changes of mood, and it has little or no relation to actually being Emo (capital "E").

    Unfortunately, some people seem to think having a wide range of emotions and going through them all in a matter of minutes is "emotional maturity." And some writers seem to think that injecting emotion into scenes where it's neither wanted nor feasible is "mature writing." It's not.

    Anakin's shift was sickeningly emo. Considering all the years that pass between the third and fourth movies, the writers should have left him to mature off-screen, rather than try to shift him from nice guy to angsty jerk to deformed monster in one film. The end result was a character who changed moods as often as he changed clothes.
     
  10. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    The change to Anakin did not happen in one film. The frustration and fears that lead to change existed beforehand. He was already under Palatine's influence at the beginning of movie two, and he began the shift when his mother died. The timeline of movie three was probably also a lot longer than it appeared to be.
     
  11. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    I simply say it's just that those people are a immature. I don't even know where that made up word came suddenly and it is seen by a lot of youth that weakness is weak or pathetic.
     
  12. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Emo is short for emotional. It defines behavior that is exaggerated or overplayed (it's also a sub-genre of punkrock). Also, weakness is weak and pathetic (Its sort of the definition of the word "weakness"), which is how Emo individuals and characters usually come off to me. The problem with them isn't that they show emotion it's that their emotions are heavily exaggerated or overplayed. The word is also interchangeable with moody or depressed. I only consider it negative when use to reference exaggerated emotional states.

    The word is overused though. It's become interchangeable with "dumb" or "stupid." Anywhere were you can put those two words you'll find "emo" in their place often.

    I agree with Mouse about Anakin. His change was somewhat built up, but in the third film I found it so sporadic and shifting and then BAM out of now where. It was hard to watch and came off as horribly unbelieveable (that, or I'm just pissed he killed Mace Windu XD). I could have bought it better if Padme died first, then he went to the dark side in grief and dispair. I could run with that and it would have been much more believable.
     
  13. BatCountry
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    BatCountry Senior Member

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    Cogito is right
    The term 'emo' is used without lax and incorrectly as **** these days, you can't listen to like, black metal or something without someone calling you emo. you can't have long hair over your eyes or someone will call you emo, you can't wear skinny jeans or someone will call you emo, and then everyone thinks emo people cut themselves and isolate themselves from society and blah blah blah.

    Anakin wasn't really emo, even in Ep.3, the setting might have been dark and goth, but Anakin himself isn't

    Harry Potter????? Little teenage wizard who flies on a broomstick???? do i have to say anymore?

    Frodo is mostly scared, doesn't clasify as 'emo'

    Shinji is emo, especially in ep. 26, where he's like, i'm useless and i suck, and i fail at life, and i have no identity etc

    Don't really watch/read Naruto (i have seen what he looks like and the reason why people call him emo is because of his black hair hanging over his eyes)

    Spiderman? emo my ***
     
  14. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh, pass as Emo?

    Even his tail used to fall off (did he cut it off?) okay forget the later, thats the sterotypical bit ;)

    He was an emotional bucket though.


    EDIT -Just did an internet search (so has to be right, hahaaar)

    [​IMG]
    By speedyjjj at 2009-02-02
     
  15. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    We don't like emo because we get sick of characters complaining to everyone else and the reader about how much their life sucks. We don't like complaining, however legitimate, when it's someone real, much less when it's a fictional character. We want them to either shut up and get over it or else go and do something about it, neither one of which emo characters tend to do.

    A simple way to avoid writing a character like that is to show us why their life sucks (in moderation) instead of telling us.
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's an easier way. Emos surrender to misery, wallow in it. If your character refuses to surrender to it, he or she is NOT emo.
     
  17. lostpyrate
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    lostpyrate Member

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    Personally, I think the Urban Dictionary nails this one...

    An entire subculture of people (usually angsty teens) with a fake personality. The concept of Emo is actually a vicious cycle that never ends, to the utter failing of humanity, and it goes something like this:

    1. Girls say they like "sensitive guys" (lie)
    2. Guy finds out, so he listens to faggy emo music and dresses like a dork so chicks will see that he is sensitive and not afraid to express himself (lie). He dyes his hair black, wraps himself in a stupid looking scarf, develops an eating disorder, and rants about how "nobody understands".
    3. Now an emo guy, he meets Emo chick and they start dating, talking about how their well-off suburban lifestyles are terrible and depressing (lie)
    4. Emo guy is just too much of a pussy. His penis is too small, he's too depressed to bathe, and has more mood swings than emo chick, and he doesn't even have a menstrual cycle. Emo chick dumps him, saying "It's not you, it's me." (lie) as she drives off with Wayne, the school jock and captain of the football team.
    5. Emo guy goes home and cries, proceeds to write a weak song and strum a single string on his acoustic guitar. Another emo chick sees how he is so in touch with his feelings, and the cycle continues.

    This is the sad truth of the emo lifestyle/music, and now that I look at how pathetic it really is, maybe the emos DO have something to cry about!
    When she sees how sensitive and emo I have become, she'll definately go out with me!

    ALSO

    A group of white, mostly middle-class well-off kids who find imperfections in there life and create a ridiculous, depressing melodrama around each one. They often take anti-depressants, even though the majority don't need them. They need to wake up and deal with life like everyone else instead of wallowing in their imaginary quagmire of torment.
    Emo conversation!

    XxSlavetoAnguishxX: omg my gf just left me
    acidburnedsoul: that sux man
    XxSlavetoAnguishxX: i blame myself only i'm such an ass *cries*
    acidburnedsoul: dude come over to my house and we can cut ourselves together
    XxSlavetoAnguishxX: okay *cries*
    acidburnedsoul: omg dashboard confessional has a new cd, i preordered it already
    XxSlavetoAnguishxX: dude they're my favorite band to self-mutilate to
    acidburnedsoul: i prefer to cut myself while watching Napoleon Dynamite on my bigscreen
    XxSlavetoAnguishxX: dude that movie is so deep. i cry every time i see it
    acidburnedsoul: me too. i hate myself
    XxSlavetoAnguishxX: yeah we're such tortured souls, nobody understands how hard life is for us
    acidburnedsoul: yeah we got it tough dude. pass the tissues
     
  18. lostpyrate
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    lostpyrate Member

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    More to the point, I prefer characters who struggle in the story. It's true to life and I can relate better to the character and the story as a result. Emotions are necessary. Exaggeration of emotions is ridiculous. I'm with Lord of Hats on that one.
     
  19. Gammer
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    Gammer Active Member

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    So where's the line between emotional characters and characters with exaggerated emotions?

    I ask because in the story i'm working on the MC kills for the first time and it's going to bug him for a while, and later he has to fight his older brother who left the village before him, and his brother got sucked into the villain's doctrine.

    So I'm trying to get the MC's range of emotions down to a believable level so that he won't come off as "emo" or "whiny"
     
  20. Gone Wishing
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    I think, as is somewhat evidenced by the preceeding discussion, that even though there's a generally agreed upon definition for emo, the dividing line is slightly more subjective.

    Whiny to me is someone who spends much more energy complaining about a situation than they do on getting something done about it; embracing a victim of circumstance mentality and keeping the focus remaining on how these circumstances affect them (and generally only them).

    I don't have a problem with emotional expression, but when it comes to characters in a story, I'm going to paraphrase a quote from a poem - by all means make your characters cry, but make them cry with an agenda.

    Yesterday I Cried - Iyanla Vanzant
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In something like the "first kill" scenario, and in fact in many emotion-laden event, te Kubler-Ross five stages of grief come into play: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I won't go into details, but if you google Kubler-Ross or grief stages, you can find many great explanations and examples.
     
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  22. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here's the thing: what if the character has a mood disorder or mental illness? The fake personality is one issue. It's another thing entirely to be clinically depressed, bipolar, or have an anxiety disorder (which can lead to being depressed). You can say all you want that they can cry, just cry for a reason. I can tell you right now that people who are depressed as a result of biological factors do feel like crying for seemingly no reason at all.
     
  23. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    Doesn't make it any less annoying. Sorry. Super depression if handled poorly is just annoying and that's how the cookie crumbled. I think there are ways to probably micromanage that so that the character isn't as annoying, but constant unending complaining and wallowing in sorrow in a character is never something I'll find attractive in a story, emo or disordered otherwise. I hate to sound broken record-esque, but it's annoying. A reason or not doesn't make the basic trait less annoying. Again though, I think thee could be ways to write such characters in a more interesting way.
     
  24. Gone Wishing
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    An emotional disorder would be a reason though, wouldn't it? The only way it wouldn't would be if the writer couldn't convey it believably. The person may not know why they're crying, but the writer and subsequently the reader most definitely should.

    EDIT: I should also add that I paraphrased that specific quote, but intended for 'cry' to exemplify emotion in general - and that I said 'agenda', not 'reason'.
     
  25. Ashleigh
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    Ashleigh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's quite arrogant of an author to actually expect someone to read about 50,000 words of some guy whingeing about the plot we're supposed to be following.
    It's hardly believable that the character could be part of an exciting story if all they do is moan about it. Nobody likes an overly emotional character; it's imature.
    So I guess they just link imaturity + constantly whining with Emo's
     

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