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#486607 - 02/17/13 10:38 PM Antiheroes
Emilio Largo Offline
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Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 122
Antiheroes in print and on screen are as interesting to me as villains are. I invite you to draw attention, on this thread, to a favorite of yours. Any medium and any genre is fair game.

On another thread I defined an antihero as a character who performs actions normally considered bad, for reasons normally considered good. That's pretty broad. Breaking the law, for example, is normally considered bad, regardless what law is broken. Cheating on our taxes breaks the law, spraypainting a building does too, and so does shoplifting. Some pretty interesting stories could probably be told about characters who did such things so as ultimately to help someone, or balance the scales of justice, or fulfill some other philosophical ideal. I can't think of any examples, but that doesn't mean there aren't any, and if there are, I'll stand by my assertion that the protagonist is an antihero. Still, I would wager that not all laws carry the same moral weight in most minds. Rape, torture, murder, or robbing someone so thoroughly as to leave that person destitute, must surely be perceived by most of us as morally worse than my first set of examples - yet any of these could conceivably be done by someone whose ultimate motives are mercy, justice, or some other high-minded principle. We may adamantly disagree with the character's moral reasoning, but even if I personally did, I would stand by my assertion that here we have an antihero.

I deem it likely that most Satanists find it easy to identify with antiheroes. This is because our moral reasoning is, to say the least, complex. (Foregoing paragraph heavily edited from original version.)

I think, for my selected character, I'll pick the low-hanging fruit, the banally obvious choice, since he is, in fact, so obvious that I'd be shocked if anyone didn't think of him. I'll get him out of the way. And then I'll wait to see what anyone else comes up with.



Edited by Emilio Largo (02/17/13 11:01 PM)
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#486619 - 02/18/13 05:42 AM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
Emilio Largo Offline
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Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 122
Here's another, then, since it appears the antiheroes concept is less immediately "magnetic" with regard to drawing comments than the villains concept was.



And yet another. I especially like this fellow. So far, then, this thread has offered for consideration three characters, all of whom kill, one because he psychologically must yet who limits his targets to those who themselves are killers; another who kills any violent criminal so as to right the cosmic scales after his family was murdered in cold blood; and finally a third who kills if necessary as he strives to undo the wrongs his father helped perpetrate.

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#486623 - 02/18/13 08:13 AM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
Emilio Largo Offline
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Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 122
A little more on my concept of what is, and isn't, an antihero. In the most simplistic terms, devoid of all nuance, we have the hero, who does good things for good reasons; we have the villain, who does bad things for bad reasons; and we have the antihero, who does bad things for good reasons or, I suppose, good things for bad reasons, if that makes any sense, and I'm not sure that it does - it just popped into my head this second. Notice anything in all of that?

My concept differs from what sometimes is presented in movie reviews or television program reviews. This is because some reviewers conflate the meanings of the words hero and protagonist. Apparently, in their minds, every protagonist is the hero of the story, or at least the antihero. Thus, for example, Tony Soprano would be an antihero. That, to me, is absurd. Tony Soprano is a villain. He does bad things for bad reasons. He's our protagonist and he's a villain. Otherwise, by the logic of these reviewers, if DC published a comic book story about the Joker - a tale in which the Joker was the protagonist - he would suddenly need to be labelled an antihero! And that would make Batman - what? The antivillain? How stupid can we get, I wonder. No, a Joker-centered story has a villain as the protagonist. Simple as that. If Batman is in the story, then a hero is the antagonist.

By sticking to my way of dividing the concepts, we are forced always to consider a character's reasons for doing whatever that character does. A focus on reasons is and shall ever be the beginning of all maturity, all sophistication, all depth and all discernment in the realm of moral judgment. Nothing could be more Satanic, however much this statement might surprise and baffle an outsider.
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#486628 - 02/18/13 09:03 AM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
Zaftig Offline
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Registered: 09/23/06
Posts: 3406
You have far more advanced considerations for these things; I have always simply placed anti-hero/rebel-hero in terms of likability and/or our desire to suspend disbelief and hope our protagonist makes it through.

Tony Soprano is likable. We root for him. We want his enemies to die. We want him to win. We suspend disbelief because a man like him in real life is dangerous, and we want him behind bars. Same for Frank Underwood.

As for villains we actually like, the category gets fuzzier, because many a Satanist sees Satanic themes in the ideas presented by The Joker or Wolf Larsen. We see the concepts of good and evil as nuanced and highly subjective, whereas your rigid type of hero has an absolutist stance, and considers things in terms of universal goodness or badness.

We like the grey areas. It is an unvarnished reality to accept that good and bad are mere illusions. And we champion any character that can see this reality, whether he's the hero or not.


Edited by Zaftig (02/18/13 09:03 AM)

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#486630 - 02/18/13 10:24 AM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
verszou Offline



Registered: 09/05/07
Posts: 1812
Loc: Denmark
Originally Posted By: Emilio Largo
A little more on my concept of what is, and isn't, an antihero. In the most simplistic terms, devoid of all nuance, we have the hero, who does good things for good reasons; we have the villain, who does bad things for bad reasons; and we have the antihero, who does bad things for good reasons or, I suppose, good things for bad reasons, if that makes any sense, and I'm not sure that it does - it just popped into my head this second. Notice anything in all of that?


To me the antihero is the central character in the story, but he is not heroic, e.g. his motives are not based on being morally right or his outward appearance is not what you would normally expect of a hero. John Wayne is a hero, Clint Eastwood is the anti-hero in western-terms, which is where I first got my ideas from.

My own favorite anti-hero is Wolverine from the X-Men. He appears outwardly as the opposite of the heroic characters, being short and hairy. He drinks and smokes. He will kill, but not indiscriminately, he may perform heroic actions, but he is also the one people turn to in situations where things need to get done like for instance in the new black ops X-Force.

Another interesting take on the antihero is the series Thunderbolts, which was originally conceived by Kurt Busiek. At the time, most of the heroes in the Marvel universe had died and a new team turned up. Eventually it was revealed that they were actually all villains trying to get into the good graces of the government and exploit that position. But along the way the need to act heroic also affects their personal morals. So they would be an example of doing good things for bad reasons.
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#486631 - 02/18/13 10:47 AM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
Drake_Bamboozle Offline
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Registered: 06/25/02
Posts: 10562
Loc: England
Meursault, the central character in The Outsider by Albet Camus. Is one of my favourite anti-heroes.

Though in fact he serves as a personification of the central theme of the novel. "Any man that does not cry at his mother's funeral will be condemned to death."

In the end, his trial and subsequent conviction for the murder of an Arab becomes more about him being one of society's outsiders than for the killing itself.

A dire warning for all the anti-heroes amongst us.
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#486636 - 02/18/13 06:38 PM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Zaftig]
Emilio Largo Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 122
In what follows, I'm deliberately applying a naive moral relativism. Our society thinks altruists are good and oppressors are bad. I'm intentionally leaving that perspective unchallenged as I apply it to the stories we read and watch. Otherwise I'd have to philosophize about ethical truth, which is the last damn thing I would ever want to do.

Witch Zaftig, you raise something very interesting in your notion of likability with respect to the protagonist. So now we have three aspects to consider: (1) position in the narrative; I.e., central, supporting, or peripheral; (2) morality; I.e., paragon, fiend, or average schmuck; and (3) charisma; I.e., likable, unlikable, or dull. I may have more to say on this at some point, but for now I'll just note my interpretation of what you've said. I think you would consider any likable central character to be the hero (or antihero) of the story, even if he or she is an absolute fiend, dining on children and kittens, just so long as the author somehow managed (perhaps impossible in my ridiculous, extreme example) to make the central character likable.

Verszou, you raise yet a fourth consideration, namely, physical appearance and other surface attributes. I doubt I would ever have given these a second thought, had you not held them up for inspection, so I'm glad you commented. Here again, I'll just note my interpretation of what you've said. I think you would consider any protagonist to be an antihero if he or she was ugly, smelly, ignorant, ill mannered, etc., etc., even if the character was morally a paragon, risking life and limb to rescue the innocent from the clutches of the malevolent. I should note that a character could be ugly, smelly, ignorant, and ill mannered, yet still be likable, given an author of sufficient skill.

Reverend Bamboozle, you raise yet a fifth consideration, and one that is near and dear to my heart, being one that I discussed in another thread: indifference. You didn't use that word, but I think it applies to Meursault, and I'm certainly not the only one who thinks that. Meursault doesn't cry at his mother's funeral - why? Because he's indifferent to her death. Certainly his indifference not only to that but to nearly everything makes him an outsider in human society, and not merely the fictional society we find ourselves reading about in the story, but any society anywhere in any historical period. No human society can assimilate such broad indifference. We're always and everywhere expected to care about certain things, or suffer the wrath of the multitude. I'm glad you referred to the story as The Outsider, rather than The Stranger. I share your preference as to how the title should be translated.

Reverend Bamboozle brings us back to my brief preface to this rather long comment. Moral relativism, unchallenged, affords me the convenience of labeling the socially unacceptable as morally bad, which in turn facilitates my application of terms like paragon and fiend to my arguments. But look! Reverend Bamboozle went straight to the heart of the matter. He specifically called out Meursault's failure to cry at his mother's funeral. Morally bad? I doubt many would say so. But socially unacceptable? Indubitably! This concept pulls together a couple others. First, as already implied, a fiend is nothing more, nor less, than someone who does deeds his or her society cannot under any circumstances accept. Second, in most cases a character who is presented as ugly, smelly, ignorant, ill-mannered, etc., etc., is really being presented as emphatically unacceptable to society.

If being a socially unacceptable protagonist is our best criterion for being an antihero, and I think probably it is, we have arrived, then, at an interesting place. For what is Satan, if not socially unacceptable?


Edited by Emilio Largo (02/18/13 06:43 PM)
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#486637 - 02/18/13 06:55 PM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
Shade Offline
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Registered: 07/08/06
Posts: 6133
Loc: A Trailer Park
Vigilantes fall into this category for me. They hurt bad people so what they do doesn't feel wrong. Vigilantes, real or fictional, rarely leave me morally conflicted but I know they should. Harry Brown (Michael Caine), The Limey (Terence Stamp) and The Horseman (Peter Marshall) are the first and best examples that come to mind.

But I think what really draws me to anti-heroes the most is that they don't want to be heroes. They don't aspire to it at all and sometimes they actively avoid it. A lot of the time, they're just normal guys.

I think that's why I like Foster (Michael Douglas) in Falling Down so much.



I just ached inside when he said,

"I'm the bad guy? How did that happen?" ... I mean, I can relate.

-----------

Then there's Bronson. My hero, the ultimate anti-villain. Which my accomplice describes, "if an antihero is a hero that lacks heroic virtues and qualities, an antivillain is a villain who is unquestionably evil but so likable you can't help but root for him."



The anti-'s really defy categorization, don't they.
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#486638 - 02/18/13 07:00 PM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Zaftig]
Shade Offline
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Registered: 07/08/06
Posts: 6133
Loc: A Trailer Park
Originally Posted By: Zaftig
We like the grey areas.


smile
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"What happens in the shadow, in the grey regions, also interests us – all that is elusive and fugitive, all that can be said in those beautiful half tones, or in whispers, in deep shade." ~ The Brothers Quay

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#486640 - 02/18/13 07:14 PM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Shade]
xjoeh801x Offline


Registered: 12/28/12
Posts: 11
Loc: Utah
Charlie Bronson aka Michael Peterson what a fantastic example of the modern anti-hero.

Another one for me is the character Travis Bickle played by the great Robert DeNiro in the movie Taxi Driver
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#486647 - 02/18/13 11:59 PM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
Emilio Largo Offline
CoS Member

Registered: 02/12/13
Posts: 122
I wanted to find an example of a socially unacceptable protagonist who wasn't a vigilante (as we've had plenty of examples from that category) and wasn't bad enough to be a villain in most people's eyes - though I've accepted the unassailable logic that, if an antihero is defined as a socially unacceptable protagonist, period, no other conditions or qualifiers, then the same character could be both antihero and villain. I won't agree that Tony Soprano, to take the example we were discussing, ceases to be a villain by virtue of being a protagonist, but I will agree, and in fact must, that he is simultaneously villain and antihero, given my current definition of the latter term.

But an antihero who is neither villain nor vigilante - that was my quest. I decided a lawbreaker might not necessarily be bad enough to be deemed a villain, yet could still be socially unacceptable in most people's eyes, even people who tend to be permissive. I settled on a pickpocket as a good candidate. And it turns out I hit the jackpot. Here's the trailer.



I haven't seen this film. Yet. But I found it online and plan to watch it. It isn't on YouTube or any of the other choices provided by this message board software, so all I can do is post a link.

Pickpocket (1959) by Robert Bresson - on Gloria.tv

Oh, and I just read the synopsis provided, which mentions a fellow of some repute here on this forum:

"Michel (Martin Lasalle) is a petty thief who, after being arrested and then released, starts discussing the rights and wrongs of crime with the police inspector. The only way he can find a place for himself in society is to engineer a head-on collision with it. It gives him a reason to live. In that way, picking pockets becomes an exciting, almost sexual adventure. It is a kind of pact with the Devil."
A Robert Bresson film.


Edited by Emilio Largo (02/19/13 05:21 PM)
Edit Reason: Spelling.
_________________________
"Like your friend you've been a little too clever, and now you are caught!"

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#486648 - 02/19/13 12:29 AM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Drake_Bamboozle]
Drake_Bamboozle Offline
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Registered: 06/25/02
Posts: 10562
Loc: England
Also... 'baby boy' Frankie Bono.


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#486659 - 02/19/13 12:20 PM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
Bill_M Offline
CoS Reverend

Registered: 07/28/01
Posts: 11532
Loc: New England, USA
How about a whole race of antiheroes?

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#486663 - 02/19/13 01:23 PM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
Poetaster Offline
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Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 2333
Loc: East Coast, USA.
Pharaun Mizzrym; possibly the greatest character ever conceived by R.A Salvatore. I've long held that Mizzrym should have been Salvatore's main character development, rather than Drizzt Do'Urden.

I won't go into a long and arduous post, but Mizzrym's ruthless self-preservation, coupled with his profound commitment to any task that furthers his terrestrial dealings always appealed to me. Certainly he's cruel and fickle, but his decisions are filtered through a dynamic set of morals nonetheless.

Any list of antiheroes would not be complete without Pharaun Mizzrym, I'm afraid.
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#486667 - 02/19/13 02:59 PM Re: Antiheroes [Re: Emilio Largo]
StabAvery Offline

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Posts: 714
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He lived the American dream. He waged his own way through life and he did whatever it took to make it straight to the top.

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