Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Straw Men, Cyphers, and Paper Tigers?

Nolan asked on Facebook today for responses for an art project he's starting:

What/who is a character from a movie/book/story/comic/tv show/etc. that for some reason you have always felt some weird connection with? Like you always felt you related to them on some strange level or knew how they felt. Or someone that represents who you are, how you feel or felt, etc. This doesn't have to be some well known character. It can even be a pee-on or some really minor, insignificant character.

My answer:

Rhoda Morgenstern?

When you watch "The Office" you always hope you're a Jim and not a Dwight
or a Michael... but you're not... kinda like hoping you don't relate to anyone
in "Shortbus"... but you do.

The only character in "Catcher in the Rye" that I could stand was Phoebe,
the little sister.

Virgins in slasher movies? The extras in shows who scream when the little
margarine tub airbags drop from the ceiling in scenes on airplanes? Henchmen in
jump suits working in Volcano hideouts for super-villains in Bond films?

I think there's a lot of characters we all see ourselves in/as/through. Different names came to me all day for different reasons. Dorothy Zbornak. The "Tales of the City" series made me empathize with Mary Ann Singleton and Michael Tolliver in equal amounts (though when I re-read it, I really wanted to be like DeeDee). Saffron Monsoon (possibly the most pathetic character ever on TV). Jim Halpert. Kitty Pryde was my favorite X-Man as an adolescent. When it comes to which of your friends is which "Sex and the City" character, I'm a Miranda through and through. I'm more Scully than Mulder, but I think I'm a Mulder. Heather Hudson from "Alpha Flight," but before she put on that fucking suit. Anyone who watched "Freaks and Geeks" and winced frequently can relate to this line of thinking. I was always exceedingly fond of Anya from "Buffy," mostly the overly literal dialogue that generally matched my blunt inner observations about others. That voice you never let out.

Mostly though, we are all everyman, and by everyman, I mean Charlie Brown.

The whole point of most narrative is to tell a story others can relate to. What is fiction for if not to learn something about the contents of your own mind (as that is where "The Human Condition" resides)?

I tip my hat to Nolan for inspiring a great day of reflection for me (so much nicer than actually attending to my work) and hope his project (a painting) will be a smashing success.

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