Saturday, October 18, 2014

Football Counter-Programming #8

It's another week of Football Counter-Programming here on WWYG?! (Sorry I was a bit later than normal in getting this out there, but I was having some fun with Grace and also spending some overdue time in the yard earlier in the morning.

But that doesn't matter now. Now I've got to get my thoughts out there on the internets and try to get you to think about something other than University football and whether or not State will beat College. And maybe you'll read this instead of taunting your alumni friend who bet you that Ole Miss was better than Georgia Tech. Or whatever. . .

I know it's a losing battle. But its a battle I'm determined to keep fighting.

This week, we're fighting against the tyranny of Saturday football with an examination of dualities.

I was taking a shower a few days ago and was thinking about how dual characters who are often flip sides of the same coins are often presented in movies and books. And so I started to list some of them in my head. For example, Han Solo and Luke Skywalker demonstrate this pretty well. Luke was the fair-haired naive kid that you would not be afraid to bring home to mom and dad.

But Han? Well, he's the dashing rogue that is a bit dangerous (though maybe with a heart of gold). He's the guy that give you that little thrill that you're transgressing.

You know what I mean.

How about Veronica and Betty? The two girls from the Archie comics? Betty is the "sweet" blonde (the Luke) and Veronica is the "dangerous"brunette" (the Han). Archie is always in conflict over which of the two he is going to choose and the two girls are constantly in conflict with each other over him. I think this may be the first duality set of this type that I was introduced to when I was young. (Though, of course, I didn't really understand what I was looking at during that time.)

There was, however, another option from my childhood that is cut from the very same sort of dual nature and you are most likely already yelling at me because I didn't start the examples with this one. It is, of course those two desert island girls from Gilligan's Island--the farm girl versus the Hollywood sexpot. The girl next door versus the dreamboat.
It's Ginger versus Mary-Anne.
Now, most guys have sat around (probably in college) and had this discussion. And I'm pretty sure that I always chosen Mary-Anne. Because she seemed nicest and most interested in Gilligan as a person. Ginger was always in the middle of some scheme and you always felt that what SHE really wanted was the get something for herself and eventually get off of the island and back to her career in Hollywood. She didn't really care about Gilligan at all.

Heck, she never even made him a coconut pie. Mary-Anne was making pies for Gilligan all the time!

Do you want some other examples?

Let us go more modern this time. But we're still going to stick to the good GIRL/bad GIRL scenario. But we'll cross titles rather than stick within one universe. What better example than Hermione Granger versus Bella Swan.

If you look up "Hermione versus Bella"on the Internet, you'll find plenty of fan-generated evidence to prove why Our Ms. Granger is so much better than Bella Swann. Heck, you can probably type the phrase in the search field on Why Won't You Grow?! and find several instances where I've ranted on this this topic over the years. I know I've said before which type I'd want my own girls to grow up to be like.


But let's move away from the girls. How about some guys (other than Luke and Han) that might fit the bill? The first one's that came to my mind were John Locke and Jack Shepherd--two of the main leading men of one of my favorite shows, LOST. Dr. Jack Shepherd was often shown on the program as the Man of Science. Jack believed in Reason and how effort would lead to results. That through logic and choice you could fix your problems.Sometimes this worked and sometimes it very definitely did not.

John on the other hand? Well, he was the Man of Faith. He believed in  (and fell victim to) leaps of belief and mysticism. He let him emotions and his hunches guide him through many, many decisions. John fought his way through many problems in his life and he felt that his belief and his innate "specialness" was what gave him the rewards provided by the Island. But it also made him vulnerable to the manipulations of others (and Others).

Jack, I think, relied on his emphasis on reason and logic because deep inside he didn't think he was special at all. And some of that was due to his father's difficult upbringing methods. Since Jack had not strong faith within himself, for himself, he has to rely on outside forces and choices to guide his decisions.

There was also on LOST the other famous dual choice between Jack and Sawyer. This was a more classic example of the Good Guy/Bad Guy option. Or . .  at least it appeared that way in the beginning. Jack the Doctor versus Sawyer the crooked con artist. But as the show progressed, we certainly got to see that both men had character flaws big enough to drive a Dharma minibus through. And neither one was a cut-and-dried as they seemed to be in the beginning.

And isn't that the point with these kids of characters? It helps quickly set up a visual short-hand for the viewer when introducing a new show and finding ways to signal intent without lots of verbal expeditionary word salad. It relies on what we know, what we've seen. It's the modern day William Campbell stereotypes for the pop culturalist. Through time, these characters might be allowed to change, to grow, to deepen and embiggen themselves into more than just a collection of ticks and wardrobe clues. (At least, with good writers and enough time, you hope this might happen.)

But . . . what about your thoughts? Can you think of other examples that fit? Men and women dual pairs? Something from a genre other than television and movies? How about religious figures? Leave your thoughts.

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