January 5th, 2011

Granny Tyrell

That character bashing discussion

This has almost nothing to do with the original discussion, just something I wanted to jot down in connection with character construction.

Those  debates on which character is "better" are very common in fandom and I regret every time I got pulled into one. Mainly because I couldn't care less who's the "better" character. I love my characters bad! I love them flawed! I love to see them fail morally in interesting ways.

I'm currently fascinated with Breaking Bad and I couldn't be more in love with it's irresponsible, drugcooking, sometimes outright delusional main characters. Why is that? Because they are remarkably well constructed, their actions are downright horrible sometimes but they are understandable. Their motives, complex and muddled as they may be are human, they make sense, they draw from emotions and state of minds I'm familiar with, same goes for show Buffy most of the time.
Not a fan of her teflon epiphanies but otherwise she used to make sense. S6 Buffy, dark as she was, totally made sense to me. Show Spike was downright evil at times but I loved how brilliantly his motivation and psychological make up was designed.

So that's the first point I need:

1) Motivation, understandable background for the character's actions

The comics fail here completely. They give me nothing. Buffy (and Angel) seems to be part mind controlled, part brain damaged but I have no handle on her motivation whatsoever.

There is however something else I need for a character to work:

2) Evolution and Consequences

I need the characters to be affected by their own actions. By which I decidedly don't mean that some dire fate has to befall them for their wrongdoings. By no means. Sorry to bring up BB again, but at the moment it is my standard for good writing. Here the characters do a lot of terrible things and think they can get away with them. And law wise they really can. But of course they can't escape what their actions leave within themselves. In order to live on as a murderer a character has to harden. Giving up on one moral standard leads to clinging to another so that somehow one can still think of oneself as good. Relationships between some characters deepening estranges others. Stuff like that is what I mean by consequences.

In this case show Buffy already had several problems because she had the same developments over and over and forgot about them, there are however some that stuck. She did grow up a little.
Other characters worked better that way, Spike being the prime example. His learning curve, properly motivated every step of the way and always resulting in new developments in the character is one of the things I love most about the show.

In the comics I get nothing of the sort. The characters seem to immune to learning and consequences. At best they show a little self pity. And really I can't even wish for consequences to actions that were pretty much random insanity and mind control in the first place.

So in the end I think  for me train where I could even morally analyse comic Buffy's (and other's) actions in the comics is long gone. The writing is so bad she doesn't even register as a character to me any more, just walking talking failure of the writers.