The Perplexities of Characters and Why they Ruin Our Livesin 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
Summer from 500 Days of Summer
Daisy Buchanan from The Great Gatsby
Holly from Breakfast at Tiffany's
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.