Thursday, January 26, 2017

How to Make Me Hate a Fictional Character

Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I'll be watching TV or reading a book and just straight up want to defenestrate a character. And usually when that happens it's for some of the same reasons that keep cropping up over and over again. And it's not just watching TV or reading that causes this, sometimes I'll be sitting in an RP (usually paragraph or chat stream, for whatever reason a lot of these don't tend to happen at the game table for some reason?) and one of these things will happen. Sometimes it's bad enough that I feel the sudden and intense urge to defenestrate the player for about three or four seconds.

Typically, though, the RP list and the fiction list are different. And all of the below listed things are things that make me mad on a meta level, not like "I hate this douche because they're the antagonist" I mean these things just peeve me off when the protagonists do them and we're supposed to like that character.

When there's a situation where they've been personally called out or have every opportunity to do something about a situation but they just stand there so the main character can handle it instead. 

I think this happens the most in anime.

Prime example. Asuna from Sword Art Online. I actually think that anime is complete garbage for a bunch of other reasons than this one, but this is easily the most egregious example of this particular problem I've seen. We are told from the very beginning of the anime that she's supposed to be some kind of sword prodigy. She's so good that she's second in command of her whole guild. But for some reason everybody treats her like she has the autonomy of a new recruit and her bodyguard (if she's so bad ass why does she need one in the first place?) refuses to leave her side even when she tells him to go away.

He's super disrespectful to her. Everything the show has told us about her as a character says she can and should turn around and kick his ass but instead she lets Kirito do it. Because he's the designated protagonist and no one in the whole freaking anime ever gets to do anything but him. It would be less of a big deal if it were just a generic problem and not someone being directly disrespectful to her, but no one that I have ever met with any kind of authority would take that bullshit from some guy that works for them.

This is the kind of thing that won't make me hate the character that suddenly stalls out like they're having a hardware malfunction. It will make me hate the protagonist. It doesn't count if they're already established to be a coward or incapable (or if they're Lina Inverse and just wanted the chance to pretend to be a scared shreiky heroine for the fun of it but it's clear they were never actually in danger) but if the character standing around with their thumb up their butthole should be capable, and stands around with their thumb up their butthole anyway, it's just going to make me hate the character that took their place.

And it's also probably going to make me hate you. Not a lot, just a little. Because it's not the stalled out character's fault, it's yours, for writing them like they're furniture.

When they get super pissed about something so that there's omg more drama but it could have been avoided if they'd stopped and asked a question or gave the other party a minute to explain.

The first example that comes to mind is in one of the Dresden Files books. Harry has a picture of this glyph in his pocket and one of the other characters instead of asking him where he got it or what it was, saw it somewhere else and immediately says "Oh you must be guilty" instead of doing what a friend should do and letting him explain.

Don't get me wrong, I actually love that series. Almost everything in it tickles me. This one particular scene left a bad taste in my mouth and I'm not gonna say who it was or how the situation turned out because I acknowledge some people might not have read it yet, but dear god. It certainly raised the tension but it made that particular character look like the world's biggest douche.

Now if you want your character to look like the world's biggest douche, please, by all means, go ahead and have them be an assuming asshole. But realize it's going to be hard to recover from that.

When they wear armor that isn't actually armor.

Let me preface this. I don't actually mind skimpy outfits sometimes. If your character is, say, a dancer or a wizard, I'm going to be a lottle bit more tolerant of this. But if it's supposed to be armor for Bowie's sake, it should cover all the vital areas.

Worshippers of Elistraee in the Forgotten Realms often go into battle totally nude and I am fine with this because they do it for the mobility. Demon Hunters in World of Warcraft strip to the waist and I am fine with that too because it's for the same reasons. But if you show me a character with huge ass pauldrons and this itty bitty breastplate that literally only covers the breasts and leaves their stomach exposed I am going to assume that it must be because either you are an idiot or you wanted to make them (let's be honest, usually her) sexier.

First of all, I'm going to blame that on you, not her. Second of all, I'm going to stare daggers into the screen waiting for someone to just run by and disembowel her because she's wearing those huge spaulders and slowed by them so how is she supposed to be fast enough to stop them from doing it?

On a separate slightly less related note, I am way into characters that are sexy and use it to their advantage, wear their nudity like it's armor in social situations and own themselves. But when it's like 90% of the female characters in the story and 2% at most of the males that's called a double standard and it's horse shit. And you need to go back to character development school and learn how to make different types of characters.

When they suddenly manifest skills that there hasn't even been a hint they had before.

This is straight up cheating. You have to hint at it at least. Have them talk about it. Best case scenario show them doing it but I'll forgive it if they at least mention it in their internal monologue (I'm guilty of this one to a certain extent in the first Nim book, I was trying to make it a chekov's skill sort of thing and went a hair too subtle but the mention was there).

I'm going to cite Sword Art Online again because it sucks. I would try to be vague about this and not mention who did it but lol I think we all know it was Kirito because if anybody in that show ever did anything it was Kirito, period. Unless that thing is having a crush on Kirito and then it's every female in that show ever. I'm going to stop and get on with my point.

He hacked the game. Did something really super difficult in the span of a couple of seconds using that unrealistic hacker typing speed that characters on TV tend to have (that in and of itself doesn't bother me a story has to be interesting over realistic and I get that) and did this in spite of having shown no interest at all in programming in the entire anime up until this point.

It was, plain and simple, deus ex machina. And I mean that almost literally because he's the most godmoded character ever. If I were in an RP with this character I would want to defenestrate his player.

When they're supposed to be a mentor or teacher or parent or something and one of their pupils does something wrong but instead of explaining themselves and giving constructive criticism they're just a raging dildo and yell or act like a jerk.

Fucking Gurkinn from Pokemon. Okay first of all this asshole's name is Gurkinn. Apparently he aspires to be a pickle or something. But that aside he's gym leader Korrina's grandfather and he's old as balls so you can tell that he's supposed to be like, wise and junk. Tough but fair. Except he's not.

At one point Korrina screws up. And I can't even spoil how she did it for you because I still don't know exactly what she did wrong. She did some unknown thing and he instantly started screaming at her about how horrible it was and how horrible she was and how irresponsible she was as a trainer but he never told her what she did wrong or how to fix it.

Like dude. Teacher 101: Be constructive when you criticize. Just yelling and telling someone how horrible they are isn't helpful. That's the opposite of helpful that gives people a complex.All that tells me is that he's an abusive grandpa and doesn't at all convince me that the writer knew anything at all about how to educate anyone to do anything.

When they do any of these things or anything else seriously douchey and no one calls them out on it. Bonus points if everyone else acts like they're right.

Like ugh. Hard core in RP too, this one counts all across the board and all it tells me is that you yourself don't realize the thing your character did was douchey. Or maybe, you would realize it if it were anybody but your protagonist that did it but you're so up their butt that you didn't see it. Or, also maybe, you did realize it but you're so up their but that you forgave them and expected everybody else to do the same because lol how could they not also be up your protagonist's butt it smells great up here.

Fortunately this is what feedback is for. Someone will point it out to you. Unfortunately it still slips through a lot and people who are prone to doing this nonsense are also prone to not listening when people tell them 'hey that was kind of a douchey thing of you to do'.

If somebody does something douchey and people actually tell them it was douchey and act like it was douchey I'm probably not only going to forgive it but it will make me like them more. I am all for you letting your character do dumb shit but your other characters, at least some of them, should be smart enough to realize it was dumb shit.

Okay that one was a doozy. But it was a therapeutic doozy. Cathartic even. I'm gonna go eat a piece of cold pizza now.

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