Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#21

Oskatat Wrote:
Runt147 Wrote: I believe Jayne from Firefly would like to have a word with you.



could you elaborate on why you think so? Otherwise, talking about it is rather fruitless since it's very vague what the point is you're trying to make

It's also nice to do so for people, like me, who haven't watched a show you're referring to


Jayne is a...well, flawed individual to be sure, but he comes off as one of the toughest individuals in the show. His philosophy is kind of "If trouble starts then shoot first, don't bother asking questions, and don't take handouts from anyone."

He also manages to reference his father or mother on a regular basis. "My dad said that if somebody can't find work, they ain't looking very hard." And at some point he get this hat from his mom in the mail and he immediately switches out his old one for it. Everyone else looks at him in kind of a different light for a second, and the captain says something along the lines of "Well I always knew you were tough Jayne, but now I understand that you're actually fearless."

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#22
Don't know if you want recommendations, but I've got a story where the parents of two MC's have been happily married for thirty years and are supportive of their children. It's only four brothers, not five, so I don't know if that counts for your third point. Two out of three MC's are actively working to better themselves as people (while also making the country better) and the third one is already a fairly moral character, whose main personal issue is that he's a werewolf, which he can't do much about. 
Their goal is to go back to a (slightly) better system which their country had in the past. I'll admit, I did use the "evil cleric" trope, but I guess three out of four isn't bad?

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#23
The OP is absolutely right.
Yes, there are exceptions, which are seemingly more and more exceptional as time goes by. But the main point is spot on.
There was a video I saw recently on the character of Superman that ties in very neatly with the trend the OP is talking about.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6YsDwg0HiY
To illustrate this attitude further, just look at how legends are adapted in the modern era. Mulan can’t be a story about familial piety any more than Beowulf can be an actual hero. This is why my fiction consumption is increasingly becoming old and indie. And why I think manga overtook comics in America (yeah, I know. It’s a matter of degrees though).
PS In the spirit of shameless advertising, let’s see how my own fiction fits the OP’s points. (The spoiler tag is really there to keep the comment a reasonable length though some people might prefer going in completely 'blind').
Spoiler :
My own MC is an ‘anti-hero’, but he’s more in the mold of Clint Eastwood’s ‘Man with No Name’ than the ‘modern’ idea. He has strong convictions, but he doesn’t wear them on his sleeve and his methods are pretty pragmatic.
I don’t want to spoil his character arc too much (it’s not even finished, there is one more book to go), but I don’t think you’ll anything like what the OP is criticizing in it. His goal is not just ‘to get stronger’ at any point in the trilogy. (Not unless you include ‘stop coughing up blood during exertion and at random times’ in ‘to get stronger’).
There is a happily married pair of prominent side characters portrayed positively in book 1, they don’t have five or more kids but they’re working on changing that.
There is a wicked priest in book 2, but that happened because I wanted to take a swipe at the ‘safe’, vague knock-off paganism you see in a lot of fantasy. He takes some ancient pagan practices and beliefs and runs them to their logical conclusion.
That said there is an entire city of Paladins who, while feared and mistrusted at large mostly due to their ‘cult’, are mostly known for using their unusual skills and knowledge to hunt down monsters and other evils. They are pretty zealous though, as befits holy warriors.
The MC has no desire to remake anywhere in his own image and in fact (for reasons that I won’t spoil here) finds the idea repulsive. His goals for books 1 and 2 are largely 'restorative' for lack of a better term.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#25
They are only because the same type of anti-hero  is being created and regurgitated over and over again. There are different types but usually you get the typical cynical and sarcastic versions of the anti-hero.

And don't get me wrong, I like anti-heroes,  however they shouldn't all be designed nearly the same way, and shouldn't be the only characters used for main characters. It makes thing very boring and tired.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#26
I think the problem is that if you wanna use parents, then you have to make them quirky.  Otherwise they're just boring.  Most scenes with a happily married couple would be one of those horribly painful to read chapters where they talk about the weather.  

Personally, I just start a story and if I mention the parents, I mention that they're dead.  Better to not have anything tying down the protagonist.  Parents in general just aren't fun to work with.  

A large part of the problem is also that things like parents, priests, etc are really good at moving the plot in an unexpected direction.  People just let their guard down around them.  I don't know if you've ever read Bloody Monday but when we learned that the kids parents poisoned their own child to advance the cults purpose...

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#27

DarkD Wrote: I think the problem is that if you wanna use parents, then you have to make them quirky.  Otherwise they're just boring.  Most scenes with a happily married couple would be one of those horribly painful to read chapters where they talk about the weather.  

Personally, I just start a story and if I mention the parents, I mention that they're dead.  Better to not have anything tying down the protagonist.  Parents in general just aren't fun to work with.  

A large part of the problem is also that things like parents, priests, etc are really good at moving the plot in an unexpected direction.  People just let their guard down around them.  I don't know if you've ever read Bloody Monday but when we learned that the kids parents poisoned their own child to advance the cults purpose..."



  This is such a limited view. Parents are in no way inherently boring or hard to write. The issue comes when writers who don't WANT to write parents are stuck with them because, you know, everyone has parents. 

  Parents are the same as any other character in your story. They can have things they want. Faults. All sorts of nuances. And they can have conflicts too. You say a happily married couple is unwritable or boring, but that doesn't have to be true. You can have more conflicts than intramarital.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#28


The Wrote: I think the problem is that if you wanna use parents, then you have to make them quirky.  Otherwise they're just boring.  Most scenes with a happily married couple would be one of those horribly painful to read chapters where they talk about the weather.



As someone who has a main character who is the father of the main character, you don't have to make them quirky. He doesn't fall neatly into it, but he is designed to be anti-hero of the classic variety. Not quirky in the least but I wouldn't call him normal or ideal. And yes he's married. Happily so and as a married couple, I've yet to write him and his wife in a scene where they are talking about the weather. That would be beneath them not to mention a waste.

The way you write a parent characters is by actually treating them as actual characters. You go into writing parents character as one dimensional props and one note caricatures, then that's what you're going to get. However, if the parent character is dynamic with motivations, and conflicts to sort through, then they'll be just like any other main character.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#30
A lot of anti-hero MCs are edgy kids who are just looking for excuses to get mad and be edgy. It certainly doesn't help when the whole "good-guys = bad/bad guys = misunderstood and good" trope is so popular. Then there's the typical cartoonish portrayal of good vs evil in some stories., although thankfully I don't notice this as much in western media as opposed to asian media, but that could also be selection bias or w/e it's called?
  • Oh no, the church has some corrupt priests? Better become an apostate blasphemer because my faith is so weak that just because some else was corrupt, I lose my faith, too
  • Broken family, mother is dead and dad doesn't care.
  • Evil step-parent, biological parent is a brain-dead imbecile who still claims to have "loved" his first partner, despite treating their child as if they don't exist.
  • Big family means that the MC is a useless, unwanted child, not that they have a lot of love and support
  • Oh no, the child has poor qualifications for magic or whatever? Better just throw them away as if they are completely useless, familial love? Pah! Something something bloodline strong.
Maybe you just can't have a nice family because it gets in the way of adventure? Now that I think on it, "settling down" does seem to have its own heavy connotations. I mean, it might also explain why there are so many lesbian female protagonists since the odds of them having babies is rather... low, so no pesky "settling down"?

It might even come down to popular styles? As much as I enjoy something like "good guy does good even though everyone else is evil" like the lone priest doing what needs to be done and so on, it's just not that popular these days.

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#31
The sweet irony of this is that I am publishing a story I wrote four years ago. It is the same thing, yet somehow not.

Is the protagonist an anti-hero? Kind of...? It's a lot more like the Villains just trademarked the name "Good Guys" first, and everyone outside that very narrow definition kind of raised an eyebrow and said "I guess this just means we're the villains." Just like in the real world today, the villains were the first to proclaim their virtue out of pride (which is well established among philosophers as the single greatest vice). As regular every-day people, the so-called "Bad guys" took a deep look inside themselves and found all sorts of flaws and things they could do better at. So...of course they're the villains. It makes perfect sense when you look at it from that perspective.

I based much of Glacierwaif on the problems of today, especially the ever-changing definitions of words to match the politically correct "newspeak" that gatekeepers use to keep unwanted opinions suppressed and to always change what is "moral" to fit the parameters of whatever they themselves are doing this week.

So everyone outside of the vacuous, self-righteous moral busybodies simply adopted a different sort of lexicon. Morally good became "Cool", morally repugnant became "uncool", and they left the aforementioned busybodies to parade around in the skinsuit they had crafted out of the phrases "Good", "clean", "virtuous", and "Bright".

So good and evil are still in the story, and to anybody watching, it's obvious who the good guys really are. 

Re: Anti-heroes only: art has become predictable and boring.

#32

Runt147 Wrote: When was the last time you read a story where the priest was a devout (if imperfect) man trying to give reasonable advice to people, not a fanatical zealot or a disingenuous hack?

When was the last time you read a story where Mom & Dad were happily married, had been for years, and proud of it?

When was the last time you read a story that didn't portray a large family (5+ kids) in a negative light? 

When was the last time you read a story where the heroes actually wanted to become better people, not simply stronger people?

When was the last time you read a story where the heroes were trying to put the world back to the way it was, not recreate it in their own image?


I can't find any. From a thousand different authors, they are all the same story, and I know how all of them go. For a long time, I was writing the same story. But the counter-culture is now mainstream. Anybody seen that meme, where a hundred punks wearing leather and chains with spiked hair all look at the one guy in a suit and tie and they're all like "Ha! What a conformist!"

Feels like that aptly describes the literary world recently.



Part of writing an engaging plot is subverting the readers' expectations. The evil priest is a perfect example of this because traditionally priests are viewed as pure and good. If too many people write evil priests, expectations change, and now you subvert them by writing a good honest priest.

I get that you're annoyed that the pendulum has shifted, but I'd say it's for the best, and in this case the pendulum probably won't shift back. Take Lord of the Rings, a story people have correctly brought up on this thread as an example of pure characters who seek to restore the world to the way it was. When Tolkien wrote it eighty years ago, that flew fine. Today people recognize that it's more complicated than that. Tolkien was a well-off academic at Oxford, and his good honest hobbits were romanticizations of peasants scrabbling to make a living in the English countryside. Consider a writer like James Herriot who also wrote about farmers in the countryside and also depicted them as good honest people, but without suggesting that their lives were idyllic or that we should envy them. James Herriot lived in the countryside with the people about whom he wrote, not Oxford, not wealthy towns. All this isn't to say that Tolkien was bad or his writing was bad, but that the way we look at writers and stories has grown. This also ties into your last point about fixing the world. All societies are broken in some way, and restoring them to the way they once were is hardly a triumph. In fact, I'd say it's more cynical, and that an idealistic writer does strive to have good heroes who try to make the world better as they see fit. This is the essence of the anti-hero: not necessarily an angry Punisher type, but someone willing to acknowledge the world's complications. Take Ursula LeGuin, or China Mieville, or even Frank Herbert. Heck, go back to Greek mythology. Their heroes were often sociopaths and mass-murderers. For every Jason, there must be a Medea; for every Aragorn, there must be a Paul Atreides.

As to your point about family, I'd say that's a result of the teenage market. If you're writing a story about teenagers, it's probably for teenagers, and they aren't reading to explore home life or good parenting. If you read more about adults, you'll find more depictions of families, possibly even good ones. That said, stories thrive on instability and conflict. In television, the husband and wife who bicker but ultimately realize they still love each other is such a weary trope that I welcome less wholesome depictions.

Your point about heroes wanting to be better people instead of just stronger is puzzling as I admit I've never encountered a story were this is the case. Even Dragonball Z has more depth than that. Perhaps there's something I'm missing.

Anyway, not to drag this into politics, but I remember an article a few years back arguing that Gen-Z types were becoming more conservative as a reaction to the more left-wing millennials. I have no idea if that's true, but it is the case that the younger generation will typically try to subvert whatever expectations have been established. If cynical shows like The Boys exist, it's only because of the popularity of The Avengers. If cynicism becomes the norm, wholesomeness must follow. The empire long divided must unite, long united must divide and all that.