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tgoyetteStereotypes in Fiction?2013-12-02 05:32:15
tgoyetteThe damsel in distress, the unflappable hero, the rogue, and others are stereotypes that all are alive and well in the work of fiction. They are easy to write and are familiar to the reader. There are also anti-stereotypes like the maiden who kicks butt and the indecisive hero. What are some of the best and worst of these that you have come across?2013-12-02 05:32:33
mark211Great question! And one to which there are many answers, but my first is those cringe-makingly unfunny 'little folk' - sometimes it's a gnome, other times an elf or smurf or chipmunk or similar - but you know the type: it has a squeaky voice and is usually clumsy or craven or both. There were two hideous examples of this stereotype in Terry Brooks's 'Magic Kingdom for sale - SOLD!'that fairly made my eyes burn and skin creep just reading the scene. Apparently, it's going into production as a movie at the moment. As if Despicable Me's squeaky minions weren't enough already (Bah humbug). 2013-12-02 15:25:05
IronspiderStereotypes are great shorthand for short stories, but just annoy me in longer works. If you have the time in a narrative work on the characters, give them some details, breathe life into them. And I don't mind authors who initially employ stereotypes as a way of subverting our expectations. From a 'modern' perspective it's easy to criticise earlier works of science fiction or fantasy as being very basic and the characterisation poor, but if you read them with an uncritical eye (and ignore the scientific failings) they have a charm of their own. Conan, John Carter, Flash Gordon are laughed at as a stereotypical action heroes, but a lot of our appreciation of the written character is biased by terrible film adaptations - Arnold Schwarzenegger is not Conan (Jason Momoa looked the part - terrible script); Sam Jones is not Flash Gordon. Taylor Kitsch may or may not be a good John Carter (though I did enjoy the film). A character is defined (in the Oxford Dictionary) as: "the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual" or "a person in a novel, play, or film". In good writing the former should be the definition followed, not the latter.2013-12-04 00:00:15
micheledutcherHonestly, if a book reaches my eyes, it's usually well-written enough to have avoided stereotypes. Anymore, with all the kid's books like the hunger games, the stereotype is for the girls to be bold and heroic, saving the guys. And mark211, I just wrote a small work of fiction for a different e-zine with two gnomes that are wisecracking and brassy...sorry about that chief.2013-12-07 08:14:13
mark211"you know the type: it has a squeaky voice and is usually clumsy or craven or both" ... "two gnomes that are wisecracking and brassy" - no worries on this reader's part with that there - wiseacres with a bit of bravado sounds good to me : - )2013-12-07 20:26:28
rwhegwoodPersonally I hate the "iron maiden" trope. How dare some strapping young hero on a grand quest dare to use is cunning or prowess to free a damsel in distress and her be grateful and love smitten. It's still ok for the hero to try...but the lady has to contribute significantly to the rescue effort and/or end up...surprise surprise...having to rescue the hero. That hasn't been done to death a bazillion times over since 1983...no indeed. Witness the latest iteration of this reversed trope in the persons of Katness and Peeta (still don't know if that name is clever or annoying...baker's son called Peeta...get it). Kat saves him in the games, saves her boyfriend from a whupping and in the next movie saves everyone (Granted Peeta and boyfriend get to do a little saving of their own...Peeta plays nursemaid...boyfriend is a transport jockey so there is some balance...still the core trope is Katness saves the day) Which is fine...good story. Good movie...but just dare make it the old fashion way, where Peeta is the bad boy hero and Katness gets to look pretty and occasionally play nurse...see.. Time for some guy heroes again and ladies in distress that are not omniskilled and actually could use a guy to rescue them. People haven't seen it in a generation and a half...might be blockbuster material2013-12-08 20:44:04
mark211"That hasn't been done to death a bazillion times over since 1983 ..." I think it goes back long before that, no? The wisecracking dames of B&W movies from the 40's and 50's and Princess Leia from Star Wars 1979. While you're right, it can be very annoying, when it's done well (Carrie Fisher in the first Star Wars for example) it can actually make me laugh ... actually, I guess that's it with all of them - I can cope with any number of cliches and stereotypes so long as they are done 'well' (however that can be defined!)2013-12-09 02:11:05
mark211Am starting to get a bit sick of being told a character's got an eidetic memory - Sheldon Cooper, the rebooted Sherlock (with Benedict Cumberbatch) and Elementary (Johnny Lee Miller) and now the guy in the latest Sleepy Hollow too. (All movies/telly, not fiction though of course).2013-12-09 02:13:48

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