The Importance of Role Models

The definition of a role model is “a person looked to by others as an example to be imitated” (definition provided via Google search). It does not specify gender, race or age, nor does it clarify whether the person is good or evil (and depending on one’s point of view, “good” and “evil” are subjective terms). A role model’s job (as it were) is to inspire those around them to be more than they could be (hopefully for the better and not for the worse). A role model can be anyone – a relative, friend, historical figure and / or a celebrity, whether as themselves or as a fictional character, and the expectations that come with the job are monumental and perhaps overwhelming (especially to those who did not expect or intend to be role models).

So this is a quasi-continuation of last week’s entry, written before the revelation of the 13th Doctor and the Season Premiere of Game of Thrones, so there’ll be some quasi-rambling ranting (though always PG-rated) about the former and mild fangirling (Is that a verb? Well, it is now) about the latter, with a dash of how all of this fits into the writing process.

So let’s dive in.

Spoiler alert – if you don’t know who the 13th Doctor will be, watched any of the 12th Doctor’s adventures, or if you haven’t seen the season premiere of Game of Thrones yet

Though at this point, if you care about either or both of these series, you should know by now.

Really.

Where have you been?

Another warning: possible ranting / venting ahead, based on presumptions and inferences drawn from things that have been posted in seriousness (and not satire).

Anyway.

So the 13th Doctor will be a woman – Jodie Whittaker to be precise – the first time the titular character changed genders (though not the first time a Time Lord has changed genders – and when that happened, there wasn’t a massive uproar of disapproval or spiteful comments across social media or in the press). I’m not really familiar with the actress or the roles she’s played prior to the announcement, but I’m sure she’ll do well, or as well as possible, given the backlash from a certain section of the fandom (though their Tweets and comments have made me question their fandom credibility), both male and female. It seems to me (and I know I’m probably making some huge presumptions about these so-called “fans”) that the men are upset that their role model is no longer a White Male, and the women are not happy that their role model is no longer a potential love interest. This presumption is geared more to those who have seen the show since its revival in 2005 and only know the Doctor through David Tennant’s and Matt Smith’s versions of the Time Lord (with further stereotypical presumptions that they “skipped” Christopher Eccleston and thought Peter Capaldi was “too old”).

It’s amusing and a tiny bit frightening to read the  negative, hateful Tweets and comments that have flooded social media since the announcement when the actress has yet to do anything in the role aside from the minute video introducing her as the next Doctor. It’s also quite ironic since the concept of change is central to the show and its titular character – after all, the Doctor is an alien and can regenerate – change the outward appearance, while keeping the core aspects of personality and memory. There have been female Time Lords throughout the series, so it’s not as if it’s an entirely foreign concept.

Doctor Who fans are passionate about the show and have “their Doctor” (for various reasons), and my final thoughts (for the moment) about this is to see what she does with the role before judging and / or condemning her.

The key is in the writing and the direction new showrunner Chris Chibnall takes the journey of the Idiot With a Box.

I wish Jodie Whittaker all the luck in the universe in taking on such an iconic character.

Steps off soapbox… for the time being.

Onward to Game of Thrones and its season premiere, which opened with a startling (and awesome) scene, and mostly served as exposition for the events to follow. Now that the TV adaptation has caught up with the existing novels, everyone is on an even playing field – no one (aside from the writers) knows what will happen next.  Another journey into unexplored territory, as almost anything can happen.

OK, so not as much fangirling as expected, but the season’s just started – there will most likely be more in the coming weeks.

The North Remembers.

Back to how all this ties into the Writing Process and to the Works In Progress. It is the responsibility of the writer to create fictional characters (of any gender, age, race, creed, etc.) to whom reader can relate and with whom they can empathize, and maybe in the process of doing so create role models. It’s not an absolute requirement, but it would be a wonder if a fictional character can inspire kindness in real people.

What a world that would be.

Not quite sure if any of this makes any sense, but it is what it is. Hopefully there’ll be more coherent updates on the aforementioned works in progress.

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Heroes and Villains

Whilst plotting the ponders and pondering the plots in an effort to build the narrative arc down which the characters must travel (whether they want to or not), the question of casting the characters into the various (quasi-traditional) roles arises. The designation of the Hero, the Villain, and their respective associates shapes how the story unfolds, and the potential plot twists and epiphanies. The relationship between these two archetypes is the foundation upon which the story rests, though the perception of that dynamic can (and often does) vary. It could be proactive, where the Hero and Villain are playing an intricate game of Cat and Mouse, with one (temporarily) gaining the upper hand over the other,  or it could be reactive, where the Hero is staving off relentless assaults (physical, mental, emotional or a combination thereof) of the Villain (or vice versa). Or, it could be a combination of both, with layers and levels the Hero (or Villain) has to go through before getting to that Final Showdown.

Traditionally, the Hero is on the “good” side and the Villain is (naturally) on the “evil” side, though having these designations as their sole attribute leads to implausible, two-dimensional characters. Heroes can have flaws, and villains can have redeeming qualities, whether or not they are acknowledged, and these variants on the norm create complex, three-dimensional characters. The perspective from which the story is told also provides a filter as to who is “good” and who is “evil”, especially if the narration is told in first person (from which Series One of the MASC Chronicles is still told). It’s a well-known saying (though I have no idea who said it in the first place) that “history is written by the winners”, so whichever side the Narrator is on (usually) dictates the focus of the story.

Maybe.

The casting of characters and their role(s) for Series One (subtitled Tainted Blood) remains ongoing, as definitively defining (try saying that five times fast) the Heroes and Villains is complicated and complex, with the potential plot twists that percolate in the midst of building characters’ exposition, specifically the circumstances that brought them to the point at which the characters are introduced.

Yes, I’m still being super vague about all of this, as the concrete has not settled yet, and details not yet ironed out, relative to the other (moving) parts in the process of (alternate / parallel) universe / history building. It would seem more logical that the world in which these characters live and interact with one another should be created first, so the “rules” are definitively defined. The Game of Genres has made a slight comeback return, as the potential for more Science Fiction / Fantasy has increased with the new Rogue One trailer.

But that’s a tale for another time.