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[personal profile] lookingforoctober
Connor sits in the same place in the story as Mordred in a lot of ways. (I've seen as many sympathetic versions of Mordred as I have unsympathetic, just to note.) I'd never quite made that connection before, but he was born from a union that should never have been, raised by someone unsympathetic to his father, goes on to betray his father...except it didn't turn out to be permanent, so that's where S4 is right now (I am still planning on watching the rest, I've just been busy).

Holtz, on the other hand, sits in the same place in the story as Sterling in Leverage (I'm still is S3 of Leverage, no spoilers please). Sterling is the antagonist, but he's also, if you look at it from outside the story, sitting in a place that's not wrong. Sterling tries to catch thieves. Just because we're rooting for the thieves in Leverage doesn't make Sterling wrong. Holtz, the same thing. If the story was a little different, Holtz would be the hero, which makes him a terrific antagonist/villain. He's not entirely evil (though treating Connor like an object to be manipulated is), he just wants revenge.

Sterling is also selfish and not really an admirable person. Holtz is inflexible and goes too far. Do you have to do that -- make them unattractive/unheroic in some fairly obvious way -- in order to have a satisfactory antagonist who's not wrong?

Date: 2014-05-20 04:22 am (UTC)
yhlee: (AtS no angel (credit: <user name="helloi)
From: [personal profile] yhlee
Do you have to do that -- make them unattractive/unheroic in some fairly obvious way -- in order to have a satisfactory antagonist who's not wrong?
I've wondered that myself. It seems to be the usual case, which I find frustrating, but I'm under the impression that viewers/readers sometimes get annoyed when they're not given a clear person to root for, and having an overly sympathetic antagonist confuses the issue.

I too have seen both sympathetic and unsympathetic portrayals of Mordred. I came to Angel after the show had done airing, and was actually surprised to hear that Connor had been largely unpopular because it seemed his situation was so clearly not his fault--I felt that given his background he was as sane as you could expect (admittedly not very).

I agree that Holtz was a terrific villain, for the reasons you cite. Also, I loved the actor's voice, but I am shallow. :D

Date: 2014-05-24 03:31 am (UTC)
yhlee: (AtS no angel (credit: <user name="helloi)
From: [personal profile] yhlee
(I know you're at Wiscon, and hope you're having fun! I'm just noodling, feel free to ignore or whatever.)

I'm intrigued by your suggestion that it's related to suspension of disbelief; that's not an angle I would have thought of. When I read/watch things, I can sometimes be open to really unsympathetic protagonists. Right now I'm watching The Good Wife and there's practically no one in the major cast (...albeit a pretty darn large major cast) that I actually like; I find many of the characters interesting but not likable. I don't really require them to be likable, though; I turn off faster if the character's annoying or egregiously stupid. (I recognize this is probably a minority position.) My husband, on the other hand, really needs his protags to be at least nominally heroic or trying to be good people. By suspension of disbelief do you mean the psychology of the characters? I don't personally feel the need for characters to be clearly opposed by making one "good" and the other "bad" for them to feel plausible, but it's definitely an interesting thought.

The "absorb the damage" thing makes sense too. It wouldn't surprise me if a combination of factors was involved!

I'm not surprised anymore that Connor was disliked, but I just remember that initial bewilderment. I didn't feel strongly about Dawn when she showed up, although since I have a little sister myself I sort of defaulted to "must protect the little sister." :p

Date: 2014-05-26 02:43 am (UTC)
yhlee: Night Vale clock (Night Vale (credit: <user name="busaikko)
From: [personal profile] yhlee
Detailed response later, but quick reply to apologize! I mistook you for someone else at Wiscon whose DW username also begins with L. /o\ I apologize for lack of brain.

Date: 2014-05-30 02:41 am (UTC)
yhlee: Angel Investigations' card ("Hope lies to mortals": A.E. Housman). (AtS hope)
From: [personal profile] yhlee
That makes sense, and it's really fascinating; thank you!

I guess when I read/watch, I have two things going on: I need a sense that there's a moral compass in the work (not necessarily the protagonist, more anon) and I need the character to not do really obviously stupid things. I actively find characters self-sabotaging, or making tactical errors, really hard to watch. In fact, an intelligent villain is sometimes more tolerable than a protagonist who's protagging incompetently. :/

So I can deal with antiheroes or even actively evil protagonists (a pretty pure example is the protagonist of the sf novel Kaleidoscope Century by John Barnes, which I don't believe I've ever recommended to anyone although it's a brilliant novel; I'm trying to think of a TV or movie equivalent but haven't watched widely enough), but I need to have some sense that the authors--the work--has a moral compass and that the evil character is, in fact, being presented as evil, as opposed to an evil protagonist whom the work appears to be trying to excuse. The anti-example that comes to mind is Vampire Diaries, where--and I think suspension of belief is, in fact, more apt than I realized--I lost the ability to buy in the show trying to present Elena and her friends as "the good guys" when they pal around with serial killers and cover up a lot of really bad stuff. Damon is the big offender here; Ian Somerhalder is very, very pretty, but I find it very hard to buy that anyone with any kind of working conscience could so easily paper over the bad things he's done. Stefan has a pretty checkered past too, but he's easier to swallow because he tries to do better.

I think "clues" is a good way of putting it: the ways that the narrative frames what's going on so you know what to handwave and what is actually significant in the schema of the story that the authors want to tell.

Date: 2014-06-01 02:50 pm (UTC)
yhlee: (AtS no angel (credit: <user name="helloi)
From: [personal profile] yhlee
Every single person I've ever run into on the internet who has read that book has hated it passionately, so I'm not surprised! In fact, as far as I can tell, I'm the only person who wasn't an actual professional book reviewer who liked the book (and I don't like it because I like the characters). It's actually kind of baffling how Barnes sold the novel in the first place because I'm not sure who the target audience is! If you didn't like the first 20 pages or so, there was no point in continuing. :]

I was reading Cyteen so carelessly the first time that it wasn't clear to me that the rape had occurred. Whoops. But I've heard from people who were so put off by it that they gave up on the book. I love Cyteen, but yeah, I can see that happening. I actually found the sequel, Regenesis, tougher to deal with because the plot isn't as compelling and Ari Junior is so highhanded with people without ever attaining consciousness of it.

I've read the Coldfire trilogy and liked it a lot, although it's been some time and I think the third book fell down some in the execution. But then I have a high tolerance for intelligent sociopaths. (Part of why Damon annoys me in The Vampire Diaries, I guess, is that he's sometimes clever but he's not really...smart.)

A friend of mine calls the "hard" choices thing you're describing "the romance of hard choices" and I agree, that can be pretty hard to take, especially when the situation seems to have been artificially set up to make the character do the "hard" thing when there could have been some less awful resolution.

I have mild embarrassment squick and my husband has major embarrassment squick; it seems pretty common! I was fascinated to encounter someone on DW recently who actively enjoys embarrassment squick in their fiction. :) Now I know who those scenes are for!

Date: 2014-06-03 03:31 am (UTC)
yhlee: soulless (orb) (AtS soulless (credit: mango_icons on LJ))
From: [personal profile] yhlee
I've heard that Barnes has incredible range, which can be discomfiting! I now cannot remember whether I read Orbital Resonance or Kaleidoscope Century first; event/history-wise they're in the same setting, but the two could not be more different in tone. I would be perfectly fine with the lizard reading Orbital Resonance. I would tell her to come chat with me first before Kaleidoscope Century, and I am normally really, REALLY lenient about what the kidlet is allowed to read (usually, anything she wants to read, I assume she can handle--she knows where to find me if she wants to talk).

I think Cyteen worked better for me because the identity/power/social structure imbalances were one of the things being interrogated by the narrative. In Regenesis (this is not really a spoiler) this felt like it was much less the case. I haven't read a ton of Alliance-Union; I think you'd get most of it from having also read Downbelow and Forty Thousand in Gehenna and Cyteen. But yeah, Cherryh tends to be dense reading. I gave up on the Foreigner books years ago because I couldn't keep up and I have started avoiding open-ended series. My memory just isn't good enough for this stuff anymore.

I basically remembered what happened to Tarrant but checked it against this wiki entry to refresh my memory. I liked Tarrant; he was a fascinating character; but as a reader I feel that he kinda got off light, considering. I mean, he's already lived out a lifespan-plus.

Re: embarrassment squick; I can't remember the exchange but I was using the term, not they. My bad! If they used it, it was only because I introduced the term first and they were probably mirroring. It's likelier they said something like "that kind of situation."

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