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RE: =MECH= Motivation, Backstory, and Everything Evil

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8/22/2009 12:16:49   

Actually, ASoIaF is one of the most morally ambigious works around. Paraphrasing someone on another site, the /reason/ it's so cynical is because the people who commit those atrocities are not complete monsters. The only complete monsters are the ones Rational and I mentioned (Joffrey and Gregor), and neither of them are the main villains.

Y'know, as of today, I've come to the conclusion that literature is less progressive than we think. Complete monster characters--or at least the semi-monster types like Voldemort--are still more prevalent than anti-villains. Look at the major fantasy novels. Do any of them contain main villains that have goodness? Shai'tan from Wheel of Time? Literally the Devil Incarnate. The Crimson King from The Dark Tower? Revealed to be a dottering old fool, but still bares resemblance to Satan. Sauron from LotR? Galbatorix from Inheritance? Never even given appearances, so there's no way for them to be anything short of monsters. The above-mentioned Voldemort? Perhaps not literally the impersonation of evil like the other examples, but he is the character that /best/ exemplifies how some evil simply cannot be redeemed. Darken Rahl from Wizard's First Rule? I'm only a third through the book, but other than the fact that he's pretty, he seems even worse than Voldemort.

Not to say that every one of those above were complete monsters, but they're much closer to monster than anti-villain. I applaud Martin for being one of the few--and yes, it's still few--people who write morally grey characters. The bottom line is, we can say whatever we want here in L&L 'cause we're all big readers and wannabe writers, but in the /average/ reader still wants to see simple, black-and-white stories.

Among other writers, I get a nod when I say I like morally grey characters. Among regular people, I get a raised eyebrow.

And yes, in case my tone didn't make it clear, this black-and-white thing displeases me. I can see why it's appealing, but I shake my head whenever people yell about how anti-heroes and anti-villains are becoming cliche. The truth is, antis are still much rarer than people give them credit for.

< Message edited by Firefly -- 8/22/2009 12:18:58 >
AQ  Post #: 26
8/31/2009 23:25:04   


Well, there were some cases where I did want them to utterly demolish the hero, but that's another story.
Hahahaha! xD

Well, in my opinion, Voldemort isn't a monster either. Well, having everything dictated by a prophecy is kind of out of control, though there is the possibility that it's a self-fulfilling one.
He's a Big Bad and not a Complete Monster, true, but the "everything dictated by a prophecy" thing is all in his head. He's causing it to come true simply because he thinks it will. Mind Over Matter, indeed.

I don't like shoving characters into boxes/roles and I don't like telling the reader what to think about specific characters. The characters are people, with their good points and their flaws. No one is all right and all wrong, and no one possesses the right to arbituarily declare what is "wrong" and "right." So I let my hero do whatever fits his personality, and the audience is free to think of him as a knight in shining armour or a psychopath. Tricks like deliberately giving the villain only a semi-sympathetic backstory because the author is afraid the audience would sympathesize /too/ much... no. I rarely if ever pull those tricks, and when I see it being done, it often baffles and annoys me.
Most extreme-type character tropes are subjective, actually. I, for example, might not think that Lex Luthor is a Complete Monster (because Evil Has Standards), but you might.

I think what makes characters like Voldemort and Xykon "complete monsters" is that there is no reason to what they do. They are just Evil. There's no catastrophic event that turns them evil, they don't have a good cause for why they're evil. They just are. It's frightening because it's completely unrealistic, as no one in the real world is evil like they are, and they are over-the-top. These characters cannot be redeemed, because there never was any good in them to begin with. Doesn't mean they aren't human or complex, but they are simply evil.
Voldy is a prideful bigot and serial killer, but I find him human enough to count just as a very scary Big Bad, rather than a complete monster. He's still completely, irrevocably evil, but he's not quite where I lose all sympathy for him.

Among other writers, I get a nod when I say I like morally grey characters. Among regular people, I get a raised eyebrow.
Amen. I like varying shades of gray. Most of my characters have grown up on the street, so they kind of have to be that way, but I (hope I) can show a chick who's a female Jerk With A Heart Of Gold in a fairly neutral (though, since she's my Mary Sue, leaning toward the brighter shades) light.

I think my first thread in this section is going to be a HP discussion. xD Thanks, Motivation, Backstory, and Everything Evil thread!
AQ DF MQ  Post #: 27
11/8/2009 20:21:53   
Constructively Friendly!

*arrests title* There ya go, Firefly. ;)


Trust me, there are times when I support the villain just 'cause the hero sucks.

^ Agreed.

I think an "absolute monster" would be a character that inspires revulsion in the reader to the point of practically screaming, "Enough!"

Other kinds of villains are just that--another kind.
Post #: 28
12/17/2009 3:44:33   

To me, absolute monsters are what they are: absolute monsters. Not a shred of humanity in a creature would be my definition. However, there are those rich, spoiled, murderous villains that would go on the border so that they can be eaten by the absolute monsters. People that treat others like lab rats and torture them until they're satisfied, for example, or perhaps those who derive epic lulz from things like mass murder (Anonymous doesn't count because they haven't, as far as I know, murdered anyone). People are people, not monsters. They may be borderline (half-breeds, anyone? :3) or purely repulsive, but they're human. There's always, perhaps even in a not-so-great story, a reason to sympathize with the villain. Parents? Genetic disorder? Mental problem? Even nations that want to invade a country may be fine, depending on whether or not they need anything. Just about anything goes for me (That would make me an absolute monster, super-sympathizer, or an idiot. Interesting... <.<). But that's just my opinion based on personal beliefs. :)

Regarding morally gray characters. I think they're interesting, but that's probably because I examine human behaviour in my free time (that's right). Also, I believe that the anti-heroes/anti-villains are indeed becoming commoner, maybe due to darker outlooks in life in the general population (think: hippy -> grunge). It's human nature to be gray, and I personally believe that black and white characters are just too unrealistic and not very interesting. People want to be interested, to be stimulated. Way back, people told stories. When that was common, people moved on, making things more and more complex.

That was a huge ramble... I hope I stayed on-topic. 7.7
Post #: 29
12/18/2009 10:23:35   

It's a hard question. I'd have to say I draw the line between Villain and Complete Monster whenever the hero in a book comes in. If the bad guy is a Villain he'd send out two or three people to stop him/her, whereas a complete monster would just kill him and get on with it. Here is a comparison of two bad guys - Darth Vader (StarWars): Villain, Sauron (LOTR): Complete monster. Darth Vader saves Luke in the end but Sauron fights a war, dies, comes back to life, tries to conjure the world, makes another war, forces a lowly peasant to fight and THEN dies. As if we didn't see that coming. So a complete monster is just a terrible, disgusting, deathly villain, whereas a villain is, well, a villain .


Light and dark interfere in nothing. Weapons are useless. Martial Arts tops Assassination. Ten fold. MARTIAL ARTISTS FTW!!!!!
DF  Post #: 30
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