Tag Archives: miffed monday

Miffed Monday: Surprise! Your favorite character is now dead.

It usually happens during a battle scene.  The tension is high, the fighting has been fierce, but things have finally turned around for the good guys.  You’re just about to breathe a sigh of relief…and then, without warning, a significant-yet-somehow-disposable character gets killed.

And, if your luck is anything like mine, it’s usually your favorite character that bites the dust.

In some cases, I can understand why it happens.  Without naming any specific titles, in one example that comes to mind, the character who dies is about just about to win his fight against one villain when another villain suddenly appears…and stabs him.  He doesn’t die instantly, which means that he has plenty of time to reflect on his life via a heart-wrenching montage and, in so doing, make peace with his allies, who he just finally recognizes as friends / the first people who ever fully accepted him.  He dies with a smile.  His friends, of course, are not smiling, but they win the fight, and his death becomes another motivating factor in battles to come.

When a character’s “surprise” death has meaning, I can accept it.  I still hate it.  It still makes me mad.  But I can accept it.

In other cases, however, I can only conclude that the storyteller behind a given tale gets some sick, twisted joy in killing off characters he gets bored with.  In another example, the group of heroes is desperately attempting to outrun a significant enemy.  The chase is intense, but finally, it appears as though they’ve reached safety.  One of the heroes is pretty much in the midst of breathing a sigh of relief when…oh look…an enemy weapon just killed him.  No warning.  No chance for him to say goodbye.  No real purpose, even, except to say to the audience, “You thought they were safe?  Ha!  We sure fooled you, ROFL.”

Now, I understand that the second scenario is more realistic.  In the real world, we are not guaranteed a 5 minute goodbye scene when we die.  But that’s the real world, and if I wanted the real world, then doggone it, I’d look outside my window or turn on the news.  More often than not, I’m immersing myself in a fictional world because I want to escape reality for a little bit.  (Especially if, as in the case of my example, the fictional world is clearly fictional and has little basis in reality, anyway.)  Yes, there can be tragedy — even though, on the whole, I don’t prefer tragic stories — but at least let me see a tragedy with meaning, okay?  Let me see that the characters left behind have a chance to mourn, or that there was some purpose in the disposed-of-character being, well, disposed of.  At least try to soften the blow.

Or, better yet, stop killing off my favorite characters unless you absolutely have to.  *angry glare*

Anyway.  Admittedly, I’m not sure if I’ve ever run across this in a novel.  Either I’ve never read a book that has a similar scenario in it, or I blocked that part out of my memory after I finished.  Or, it just doesn’t exist in written form, and is an unfortunate phenomena restricted to movies, anime, manga, etc.  If, however, anyone reading this knows of a book example, let me know.  I’m a little curious.  Also, bonus points to anyone who can figure out where my examples came from based on what I already wrote…

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Miffed Monday: Talking Down

I really can’t stand it when an author arrogantly presumes that he’s smarter than I am.

This sort of thing occurs more often in nonfiction than in fiction, really.  The closest thing that exists in fiction is when the writer makes some snide, pseudo-sneaky jab at a group of people who hold a particular belief, when the comment has absolutely nothing to do with the overall plot or purpose of the story.  That’s not quite what I’m getting at, though.

What I’m referring to is when a nonfiction author, in an attempt to make his own opinion seem valid, begins his argument by cutting down the intelligence of anyone who holds an opposing belief that happens to be more popular than his own.  When I was in college and my nonfiction reading consisted of literary criticism and scholarly analysis of great literature, it didn’t bother me as much.  Sure, it existed, but I really couldn’t get myself worked up when someone proclaimed that Symbol A, which is widely accepted as meaning Idea B, really means Idea C, and anyone who still believes it means Idea B must lack the literary genius to see otherwise.  Eh, fine, whatever.   Even if I think Idea B does make more sense, I don’t really care about it enough to bother feeling insulted.

When I read a nonfiction book on a topic of my choosing, however, things change.  It’s a topic that I’m already invested in and, therefore, already have some opinions on.  When an author implies that I’m stupid for having those opinions, I’m less inclined to really give his own opinions any honest consideration.  It’s fine, of course, if the author disagrees with my opinion or holds a different point of view.  Odds are, I gathered that much by their title, book summary, etc., and simply decided to read their book in hopes of gaining a better understanding of their beliefs.  That doesn’t mean said author needs to insult my intelligence in the process of validating his own.  Setting that tone tells me that, really, cheap blows is the best that author is capable of.  And if that’s the impression the author gives me by his own words, then why should I bother to finish reading his book?

Example time.  I recently started reading a book about the relationship between science and ethics.  Basically, the book is supposed to show that people can use science to form a moral code.  I’m a Christian, so my own code of morality comes from my faith, and I tend to believe that morality overall depends on a divine source.  But I also know that atheists/agnostics/etc. are perfectly capable of holding themselves to a moral standard.  I also know that some use science to justify their beliefs.  So, I decided that I wanted to read how that worked.  I had no intention of changing my own beliefs, but I was still genuinely curious.  Within the first few pages of the introduction, however, the writer essentially said that anyone who turns to faith/religion as the foundation of moral truth is backwards, dangerous, incapable of rational thought, and would ultimate doom us all.  (Not his exact words…but close.)  Oh?  Is that so, Mr. Author?  Well, I guess you’re just too smart for all of us, then.  Too smart for me, too.  Guess there’s no point in reading the rest of your book…

This begs the question:  why do people — authors, in this case — who think they’re so smart feel the need to insult a group of people who don’t see things their way?  I mean, are they that insecure in their own opinions that they need to clarify, before they do anything else, that anyone who disagrees with them lacks intellectual capability?  Because I’m pretty sure that if you insult anyone who disagrees with you, you probably won’t convert any of them to your opinion.  Which means that, basically, an author who relies on that method will only be making points to an audience who already agrees with him.  That’s fine for what it’s worth, but then, said author probably shouldn’t be framing his book as though it’s meant to turn minds and stimulate thought among people who think differently.  Just sayin’.

Sheesh.  And I thought I was supposed to be the stupid one…

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Miffed Monday: Love Triangles

A brief note:  For anyone who happened to read my first post and happens to recall that this wasn’t my original Monday title…I changed “Monday Monstrosities” to “Miffed Mondays” because the former sounded strange. Well, this sounds strange, too, I guess. Oh well. Don’t be surprised if I change the name again.

Now then. Onto more important matters.

I’ve really begun to loathe stories structured around love triangles. I admit that I was never fond of the concept in the first place. (Do I fail as a girl for having never possessed a desire to have multiple guys simultaneously vie for my affections? Is that really so appealing? Because I’m just not feeling it…) But with each cliche love triangle set-up I ran across, my initially mild dislike deepened, slowly gnawing away at my vague sense of feminine pride. And now, every time I read the something along the lines of, “Which hott guy will Mary Sue end up with?” I throw up a little inside my mouth.

Because, let’s face it, folks: without even opening the book or watching the movie, we know which guy Mary Sue will choose. And it’s rarely ever the one she should choose. Rather than the dear, close friend who would pretty much sacrifice his life for her, Mary Sue would rather spend the rest of her days with the bad boy, the dangerous guy with no future who treats her like garbage a good 80% of the time but really, really cares about her deep down…in an obsessive, somewhat possessive, and frequently creepy way, of course. Fine then, little miss Mary Sue. Fine. Go have fun ruining your life.

Yes, yes, I realize it’s all fiction and nothing I should be getting so worked up over. But if fiction is really rooted in reality, anyway, then isn’t this trend sort of indicative of something? Are girls and women of all ages really that hung up on chasing after bad boys? I certainly hope not. If anything, most (single) girls I know tend to complain that they can’t find any good, decent guys. So what gives? Why do the good guys in contemporary books and movies get slighted so often?

Granted, I’ll admit that not every love triangle works this way. Sometimes, the girl is forced to choose between two good guys. Those are more tolerable scenarios, but I still usually feel bad for the guy who doesn’t get chosen. Well, unless the reader is given some indication that the non-chosen guy will fall in love with another girl or live an otherwise happy life even without doing so. I am then sufficiently appeased, and can count the story as a happy ending.

There are also those love triangles in which the guy who seems to be nice at the outset is actually a scumbag, while the awkward, initially hard-to-deal-with guy turns out to be amazingly kind-hearted and generally awesome. In these situations, the heroine, as soon as she discovers the truth about both guys, wisely chooses the latter without a second thought. Far from disliking these stories, I actually tend to like this set-up.

So I guess I’m not miffed with every love triangle I run across in fiction. Just a certain type. An unfortunately very common type…

Maybe it’s just me, though. Am I the only one who finds it annoying when a fictional heroine chooses the bad boy over the nice guy? Or does anyone else get irrepressibly irked by it, as well?

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