Character Lovers Anonymous.

The Perplexities of Characters and Why they Ruin Our Lives
in Addition to Making them Worth Living

Part III: Words: The Most Infallible Love Potion

Hey there. Welcome to the last post in this exhausted series. And when I say, "exhausted", I'm mostly talking about my brian. Also my brain.

Meeting leader: Welcome everyone. I'm glad you are all here. Let's take a moment and introduce ourselves, shall we? Let's start with you. You, with the frizzy hair and the bags under your eyes. What's your name, and tell us why you're here?

Me: Hi everyone. I'm Lexie. And I… and I fall in love with characters.

Meeting leader: Ahh yes. I think we call can relate to this. Why don't you explain.

Me: Oh geez. Where to begin? Well… let's see… I think the best place to start would be the Disney Princes. I mean, how could you not fall in love? I was so young, too. You've got Aladdin with his adventurous and lively personality, and Prince Philip with his quick wit… Prince Eric never really did anything for me, but once the Beast shed his growly wall of defense…I was a goner. There was no going back. They all have such chiseled jaws too. Sigh. 

And then of course there was every male character in Harry Potter. I think I've had a crush on every one of them at some point (with the obvious exceptions of Dumbledore, Hagrid, Karkaroff, Pettigrew, Crabbe, Goyle, and the majority of the Death eaters. Oh and Colin Creevy). I realized the depth of my attachment to characters through my HP journey. That was really a wake-up call. 

And then there was Darcy of course. He still causes me to go weak in the knees (which is perhaps one of the most embarrassing side effects on account of me not being a mushy gushy, lovey dovey type person). Basically every P&P based story causes me to fall hard, e.g., Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail and Jimmy Stewart in Shop around the Corner.

Jim Halpert. My ideal. Absolutely. He is the reason I have given up hope on ever finding love. I'm almost sure no one will ever compare. Which is really heartbreaking. Oh please, someone (some man out there), prove me wrong. 

Is that a good overview? Is that enough to go on for now? Is there anyway you can help me through this? Please? I'm begging you. I need help. 

You have to know what I'm talking about. I know you do. I'm pretty sure that every female ever, who ever read a book or watched a movie, has fallen in love. At least once. You can't hide from this truth. You have to acknowledge and accept it! That has to be the first step in coping. It has to be.

Why do the men we read about or watch on the TV seem so desirable? Why do they seem so perfectly charming, talented and flawed in all the right ways? Why? Why does this happen to us?

It actually concerns me a little bit. It's unfair to the men in the world. I'm not saying that book or movie characters can ever compare to real people, but I think that sometimes…sometimes they set high standards. Unreal standards. And I think it's hard to let go.

I don't know the answer to this problem. I love characters. I love getting lost in their worlds. I just wish it was easier to emerge back out.

It's like when you take a really long, hot shower on a cold winter morning. Coming out of the shower into the cruel, unforgiving, crisp air is excruciating.

Coming back to reality after immersing yourself in a book or movie is like that.

And it's really upsetting.

(Male bloggers, how does this work for you? Do you often fall in love with characters as well? I'm thinking you must.)

And that concludes this miniseries. I hope you didn't die of boredom and/or lack of creativity.

Tomorrow: We conquer the beast.


"I go to seek a Great Perhaps"

The Perplexities of Characters and Why they Ruin Our Lives
in Addition to Making them Worth Living

Part II: The Legend of the Reckless Heroine

I love strong, vibrant female characters. I find it easy to look up to them. They have traits that anyone would want.

But I've noticed, recently, that some writers take it a step further. A step toward the unstable, or the impulsive.

Let me explain. I'm sure you've all read the Hunger Games. Yes? Well Katniss is an example of an independent, intelligent and admirable female character. She, in a way, empowers women. Or at least that's how I see it. And I love her.

I also love John Green. A lot. But. I sometimes have an issue with the way people view his characters. In Looking for Alaska, the main girl, Alaska Young, is certainly a stand-out character. But not in the same way Katniss is. She's headstrong, but reckless. Wild and enigmatical. And big. And Miles, the narrator, falls for her.

Looking for Alaska is a beautiful story, and I wouldn't change it, but I just have a hard time believing in Alaska.

I have never met anyone like her. Have you? And I really can't relate. I'm not saying I have it all together. No, quite the contrary. It's just that I find it really hard to relate to so dynamic and self-descructive of a character. She's larger than life. And she makes it look desirable almost. Tragic and insufferable. But desirable. She's a paradox. I love that such a character could be created, but I have yet to find her in life.

And maybe that's part of the beauty of it. A book is an escape. Right? But like I mentioned yesterday, we seek to find similarities between ourselves and the characters we read or see. And maybe I'm the only one, but I don't understand Alaska. She's a mystery. Which could be, perhaps, what the author intended.

But Alaska isn't the only one who fits this description. Multiple books and movies display this type of female lead.

Clementine Kruczynski is desperate, careless and impulsive. Scarlett O'Hara is self-serving, vain and incredibly loyal. Summer Finn is quirky, distant and flaky. Daisy Buchanan is selfish, shallow and effervescent.  Holly Golightly is lost, charming and naive. *

*Clementine from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Scarlett from Gone with the Wind
Summer from 500 Days of Summer
Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby
Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany's

I love all most of these characters dearly. For the most part, they're real. So real. And that's what I love about them. But they also have another quality. An air of mystery. Something not so easily described or portrayed.

Basically what I'm trying to say is that these characters are messed up. Most of them even admit it. But the "perfect" (notice the quotations) guy falls in love with them anyway. They make normal seem overrated.

And I use the term "normal" loosely. What I mean is that most of them make wearing a straight jacket look alluring. It's like the only true way to make a guy fall for you is too be as ambiguous or reckless or irritating as possible. It will give your relationship passion. That will surely win him over.  I just have the feeling that people think, the only way to be an interesting person is to be like Alaska Young.

And I think that's the completely wrong message.

People. Just normal people. Are messed up in some way. This is what being human is all about. And these female characters exemplify this well. But almost too well.

I can't speak for the whole world, but I'm going to anyway. I think we love these characters because they are so different from the norm. They are infecting. And beautiful in their own way. They don't set lofty standards for people. They allow room for failure. I can definitely appreciate that. But they make this failure look flawless. Which I always thought was impossible.

People want to be them anyway.

Sometimes it's hard. It's hard knowing that these are the type of people we seem to love (minus Daisy, because honestly she sucks).

Because I can't be Alaska Young for you. And I don't want to.


"I'm nobody! Who are you?"

The Perplexities of Characters and Why They Ruin Our Lives 
in Addition to Making them Worth Living

 Part I: People Who Think They are Characters

These posts are coming to you from a female perspective. I mean, it's not any different than usual, but it just might seem more glaringly obvious this time. Just keep that in mind when you feel the need to disagree, male bloggers. Keep that in mind.

Do you know why we love characters of books, movies and television shows? It's because we notice similarities between these characters and ourselves. We see visions of who we could be, and what we could amount to. We admire them. We can relate. We get the feeling that we aren't alone. That someone understands. We are always in search for connection. And definition. It's a component of the human condition.

I could sit here and tell you about all of the characters I think resemble myself (and there are a fair few), but I won't. Why? Because it would annoy the freaking hell out of you.

It irritates me to no end when someone compares themselves to a character because, essentially, this is what they are doing:

1) Stealing a bit of that character from you. 

2) Flattering themselves undeservedly.

3) Being pretentious.

Hmm let me address all of these separately so you don't think I'm unreasonable.

1) I don't want to share characters. That sounds ridiculous, because of course you have to share them. First, you have to share them with the actual writer who chose to share them with you. Second, you have to share them with the entire world. Fair enough. But here's the thing, I bet you don't want to share them either do you? Every one of us has a favorite book or movie that is special to us for a personal reason. We each have our own personalized version of characters we love and characters we hate. We make them our own. But then guess what? Something like this will happen.

Person: Hey you know that book called "[Blankety Blank]"?

You: DO I? That's my favorite!

Person: Yea well, [Blank], the main character and hero of the novel, is basically my clone. We are so alike, it's ridiculous.

You: Die.

It's especially awful when this person is someone you often feel like punching. How insulting to that poor character to be compared to this person?! There is no conceivable way this person is anything like that character. Not in your head, anyway. And now they have corrupted what you held dear. And it's heartbreaking.

2) It takes a lot of nerve to go around telling everyone how closely you can relate to well-known, famously appreciated characters. A lot of the time, these are characters that society looks up to, and they have admirable qualities. How incredibly conceited do you have to be to go around boasting about how you think you are just like that character everybody likes?

"Yea, you know Cool Hand Luke ? That's basically my life."

"I can totally relate to Rachel Bilson's character form the OC. Our lives are, like, the same. We're the same. For real."

"I just realized, I'm totally Chandler Bing."

"As I was reading, I couldn't help but notice just how similar Lizzy Bennet and I are. We are both dragged down with loads of bratty sisters, we both read constantly, and we are both really sensible. And strong-willed. And beautiful." 

Wow. How great for you.

I think it's perfectly fine to find similarities between you and characters. It's the whole point. But once you find it necessary to proclaim how "awesome" you are, well then we have a problem.

3) There was once a guy I knew who wore a red hunting hat similar to Holden Caulfield's hat, for like a month (even indoors), because he thought he was Holden Caulfield. HE THOUGHT HE WAS LIKE HOLDEN CAULFIELD, one of the most, relatable, real and well-known characters of all time. How original. Please. Save it. You aren't the only person who finds parts of themselves in a character. 

We can have discussions and rants and be consumed in all things WRITING. But let's not lose sight of what matters. If we should be lucky enough to find words that really speak to us…words that seem to just know… then of course we should soak it up or spread the word… But I think people often find themselves in the more shallow end of the "character appreciation spectrum". Of course I love finding characteristics of myself in characters I like, but I'm not going to croak to the world about it. Because, frankly, no one cares.

From reading this, you can probably guess that I spend a lot of my time around really obnoxious people. The things I complain about are trivial, but what else am I going to do with all this time on my hands? 

Whohoo! Four mintues to spare! Take that BEDA