Yes, yes…let’s all calm down. Hold the applause.
So, today is my two year anniversary on WordPress.
You’re really under no obligation either way.
If you think about it (or if you don’t), me being here is like the equivalent of going somewhere with someone, and then, at some point, that person is like, “Hey, I’m leaving.”
And, logically, I should’ve been inclined to be like, “Oh, well…kind of dumb for me to hang out here then. This is your crowd. I only came here because you were here.”
But instead, I was like, “Oh, uh…yeah, ok. I mean, gimme a sec, k?”
And then, next thing I know, they’re gone and I’m still just hanging out like someone in a store that can’t decide on a throw rug because, I mean, will it clash with the decor? What color woodgrain DO I have, anyway? I should’ve taken pictures. Yeah, then I’d be able to color-match more effectively.
But that’s how shopping goes, eh?
I was thinking about something today – and it’s not at all “I’ve been here for two years” related, but I thought I’d write about it anyway.
But then I was like, “I’m not planning on posting anything new until all my old posts are back.”
There’s still like, 700+
And no one tells you, “Hey, if you pull all your posts and decide to put them back – even with a backdate – anyone who gets notifications will STILL get notifications.”
So that’s cool.
Lesson learned, I suppose.
Don’t revert all your posts to drafts unless you’re really committed to keeping them there. Or, as the poet once said, “If you’re not prepared to get hit by cars, don’t play in traffic.”
Someone has surely said that. Or not. I dunno.
So my friend Bella recently told me to watch Outlander, so, naturally, I started watching Outlander.
I’m not going to talk about Outlander, of course. That’d be silly.
I, did, however, notice something while watching Outlander and it occurred to me that I see this sort of thing happen quite frequently: The longer a story is, the more likely it is that a main character/protagonist has money, power, or both. If they have neither, they actually have at least one, but they have it via proxy.
Not a revelation, but something that just got me thinking. And I’m sure there are exceptions, I just couldn’t think of any. Again – this is for long-running stories. Anything that is single-instance (i.e., one movie, one book, a miniseries) is less likely to be beholden to this logic.
Let’s look at Outlander first since I said I wasn’t going to talk about it.
Claire is a nobody…except she had a very rare type of childhood that gave her knowledge and skills that most people never have. They never say she comes from wealth, but it feels like she does. Frank definitely seems like he comes from wealth. They’re on a second honeymoon in Scottland when it starts. Clearly, money isn’t a problem. Time travel! Jamie seems like a nobody. Except he’s not. He’s a laird. But he’s not a wealthy one! Except he has connections with everyone. But then they have to flee the country! Now they’re in dire straits! Except that Jamie has a relative in France…who’s rich…and lets him live in a mansion…and run his wine business.
Harry Potter. Easy one, he’s a wizard. The Dursley’s seem like they’re certainly doing okay. Oh, but they treat Harry like he’s a red-headed leper! But then he goes to Hogwarts, and his parents were loaded, and they left him all their money. Literally, a room filled with gold.
Frodo. He’s a hobbit. Hobbits are the most non-power, non-wealth having folk in Middle Earth. Except he has the One ring, which is one of the most powerful items in existence. And he’s in league with a wizard, of which, in Middle Earth, there are five – and they’re all supposed to be pretty big deals. And then he has an entourage of people who represent nobility in all its various forms. So…nope…still the same thing.
Star Wars? Jedis…I mean, it’s pretty much magic.
Comic book heroes? Money, superpowers, or both. Even the ones that seem like exceptions aren’t good exceptions. “He’s actually just a normal guy!” “So, him versus any of his peers is an equal match?” “Oh…well…no, he’s like, the best there’s ever been and ever will be.” “I see…so…he’s just…inexplicably better than everyone else…almost like…he’s…special…or something…”
Here’s one…the Before Trilogy by Richard Linklater. Now, both characters are no one and I don’t just get the impression that either or both are obviously wealthy. But…by movie number two, Jessie is a famous writer. Boom. Money. Granted, still good movies. And almost painfully honest in their depiction of relationships. But, I digress, it still caters to the “let’s remove this pesky hurdle that is money” construct.
I think that, in truth, this is a go-to element in writing because no matter how much “suspension of disbelief” we can offer up, some part of us might eventually go, “Wait…who’s funding this? How are they paying for that? Don’t these people have jobs?”
Obviously, jobs and bills and taxes and all the day-to-day minutia of life get in the way of a story. So, easy solution, we just…get rid of those problems by going “Yeah, he/she is like…rich or something…and/or has like…powerful friends or family or whatever and like…they’re also a sorcerer with…uh…eidetic memory…yeah. Look, no one wants to see these people worrying about what they can afford at a convenient store, ok?”
It’s the same mental process that finally led to people looking at sitcoms (and, likely, other shows by extension) and saying, “Wait…they do WHAT for a living? And they live in THAT? How’s that work? They should be in an apartment where you can reach the front door while they’re still in the bathroom.”
Shorter stories and single story-arc movies, however, seem more prone to offer up characters who aren’t special. Not wealthy. Not powerful. Not special. Just a person or persons with an interesting story. But we also don’t need to be concerned with a long-running narrative and how it keeps going when this person is obviously poor and has no friends, let alone friends of any real importance.
But it means that a lot of stories are about people who are special. They’re richer than we are. They’re more powerful than we are due to social/political clout or because they are actually supernatural in some way or another.
I’m not complaining about this and I understand the logic. I even do the same in my first book where there is a strong focus on people who are not “the center of the bell-curve”.
Naturally, there is also the obviously psychological element of “People don’t want to read or watch stories about the boring crap that fill their own lives. They want to see people going places that they most likely never will, having adventures that no one ever could.”
I mean, I primarily read fantasy/fiction and a big reason why is, “Why the hell do I want to read stories that are on par with real life? If I want that, I can read the news.”
It’s just one of those odd things, you know? Like, you know that you notice it, but you don’t really pay much attention. And then you’re suddenly like, “huh…that’s weird, eh?”
So, anyway, like I was saying.
You’re really under no obligation either way.