Ironic how many of my posts begin with discussions with either Professor V.J. Duke, Liam, Head Phil, or Rosalie… No? Nobody even noticed?! That’s kind of… *shrugs* Ah, well.
Anyway, I was talking with… well, any or all of the above… and with Eric, and also with Iris (the other big one in my blogging inspiration life), at some point, probably… Well, actually, I have probably discussed this with everyone I’ve ever met who shared a fandom with me… And the one big topic (well, problem) of fandoms (other than outside characters or whether Han shot first) is character distortion, or, even worse, character assassination (to which, we fear, Obi-Wan may fall victim in time, or from which he may have an abominably narrow escape, now that Star Wars belongs to Disney… *ominous music starts playing* Yes, I’m a Disney fan only when I’m kicking and screaming. Got a problem with that? :-P).
Now, that is not to say that outside or original characters are actually a problem, per se–it’s only when they go to the Sue Side that they get really bad. Or if they’re underdeveloped. Never mind that, though. (Also, I believe that Han really did shoot first. :-P)
To get onto the real topic of this post, I’m addressing out-of-character syndrome. OOCS, for short, is a very serious condition that really affects an author more than a character. This often happens when a fanfiction writer dislikes a character so strongly that they don’t bother to make them true to themselves, or worse–when they really see such-and-such a character as the way they portray them.
Then, there is the gap (sometimes slight, sometimes very significant) between a character as they are in the canon, and a character as they are in the fanon (yes! Erin is finally learning fan-speak! yaaaaay!). A good example is Mace Windu.
Seriously, why does everyone hate Windu? He’s cool!
In the Star Wars movies, Windu is the man with reservations and mad skills with a lightsaber. However, in the fanon, he seems more repressive and colder, and is often presented as the chief antagonist of Anakin (and sometimes Obi-Wan) within the Jedi Order, despite the fact that Anakin is comfortable enough with him to confess to him in Revenge of the Sith that Palpatine is, in fact, Sidious, and that he takes almost a fatherly attitude toward Obi-Wan in the movies. Also, there is the added evidence that, in the Clone Wars TV series, Obi-Wan actually dares to sass back to him after Windu inadvertently sets off a trap: “You certainly stepped in it this time!” (Many’s the time I’ve wanted to do a fan-dub of this scene, but changing Obi-Wan’s line to “You certainly put your foot in it this time!” I thought it would be funnier… *notices Obi-Wan looking over her shoulder* Whoops, sorry, off topic… *blushes*)
What in the name of the sweet ever-living Force?!
Yeah, you got that right.
I can only assume that the fans mistook Windu’s hardcore and occasionally almost harsh ways for dislike of other people, even though there is good evidence that they weren’t.
Another example would have to be Elrond. In the movies (recurring theme here!) he is repressive and stern, even grumpy. I can only assume that they mistook his impressiveness in the books for grumpiness.
You see, in the books, Elrond was a wise, hospitable half-Elf who had a cameo in The Hobbit. In The Lord of the Rings, he made a huge comeback and was given a bigger part. Stern Elrond may be, but humorless he certainly is not; when taking Frodo to see Bilbo, he even goes so far as to tease Bilbo, saying, “Awake, little master!” when Bilbo was not really asleep. Believe it or not, he actually smiles at his council, and though he does want Aragorn to reclaim his inheritance before seeking Arwen’s hand, this story line is not as relevant to the movie due to a difference that I will discuss in a minute. Arwen and Aragorn’s separation was entirely due to an agreement between them, not due to jealous father’s intervention.
Now, for that divide of realities I mentioned a moment before.
Elrond wanted Aragorn to reclaim his patrimony before returning to court Arwen. However, in the books this wasn’t really an issue because, unlike in the movie, before the story even began Aragorn had foreseen what he would have to do and knew that he was going to return to Gondor. He didn’t have quite the same lack of self-worth in the books, though he still felt ashamed of Isildur. It made for a great source of angst, sure, but was it actually necessary? (Though it is kind of hard to imagine the movies without it… oh, I feel like such a traitor now…) Believe it or not, they actually knew where they were going from the very start. They had more foresight than in the movie! MWAHAHAHAHAHAH!
These are my two biggest pet peeves when it comes to character distortion. The other pet peeve (bad Obi-Wan fanfiction) I will not even start on, else I’ll drive everyone away, I fear. Normally Obi-Wan isn’t so out of character (unless we run into one of those horrid Obi-Wan haters who misunderstand his motivations and actions at every turn…), but he normally takes a smaller part, which makes it just feel sort of wrong, since Obi-Wan should be taking a larger part and it does not make sense if he doesn’t, since it’s slightly out of character for him not to be in the middle of things. He can’t just leave things be, y’know?
Oh, and then there’s Anakin. He lends himself well to humor or heartlessness or idiotic blind jealousy very well. No offense, Anakin. But you were the one with “Most likely to get drunk and end up in a tree” in your yearbook.
Before I finish, there’s something to be said for humor–or crack, as some incarnations are known. (Crack is the version that’s not meant to be taken seriously at all.) Slight out-of-character-ness is to be expected, and here, it’s not taboo. The key is to be just funny enough without weirding your readers out. 😉 However, in my opinion, the best funny stories are the ones where everyone is in character, and humorous things just keep happening. 😉
What character distortions plague you the most? Who do you feel is consistently portrayed as being out-of-character in the fanon you adore?
Thanks for reading, and God Bless!