fengi: (Mr. Fengi)
[personal profile] fengi
For now, I'm avoiding fiction with something like this in the title: "Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness."

I'm tired of the chosen one narrative. Especially in an era where the Great Man narrative in real life is an obstacle to progress. It's unhealthy for a single person to represent a movement or ideal, because then it isn't strong or stable. A shit ton of people were responsible for Eliot Spitzer's legal and political strengths and his dick managed to undo or set back a remarkable amount of their work. When Mayor Harold Washington died, Chicago's reform movement just imploded. Chicago's ability to benefit from a corrupt machine rested upon Mayor Daley whose municipal loyalty eroded until he did the parking meter deal which funnels millions out of the local economy to international investors. Now Mayor Rham has no loyalty save global finance, and even if the voters turf him out there might be nothing left. And it might not happen just because the entire city turns on the concept of The One Guy. Nelson Mandela was awesome, but his party coasted on his presence while letting its future be determined by Jacob Zuma.

So the chosen one is becoming a wee grating. I enjoy stories with a single protagonist, but that protagonist doesn't have to be utterly singular to be interesting. When The Doctor was an exceptional person he was amusing, when he's constantly the focal point of saving the multiverse, it amplifies the weaker aspects of the character. Two series I did enjoy - Odd Thomas and Repairman Jack have fallen apart as their characters shift from quirky talents who stumble into an epic situation to the Once And Future Hero (particularly Repairman Jack, it was clear Koontz was going to dump some boring Jesus shit on Odd).

Not saying all such material sucks or will never be read, but I'm over it for now.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-21 06:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] browngirl.livejournal.com
I hear you, both on this particular topic and on getting sick of particular narratives because of how damaging their overuse is to both fiction and reality.

Although I did find that the universe can be amusing about that. I swore off both Confederate analogues and thieves-as-heroes for similar reasons… and the next year Firefly came out, and for all its massive issues I fell in love.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-22 05:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fengi.livejournal.com
I only saw a few episodes of Firefly (it's still on my "to watch" list as I really enjoyed Serenity), but I just didn't process the Confederate analog. Which is doubly uncomfortable because it's pretty obvious and my own privilege which allowed me to overlook it. Did Joss ever acknowledge or comment on this?

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-22 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] browngirl.livejournal.com
I don't know if he ever did. To be honest, I'm afraid of what the answer would be if he did, so I haven't looked very hard.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-21 06:18 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] tx-cronopio.livejournal.com
I tend to agree.

I'm much more interested in books about absolutely normal people caught up in events.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-21 08:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] robby.livejournal.com
I'm peeved about so many novels being one of a series. I've even read a few with no resolution at all; they abruptly stop, and then I guess that I'm supposed to run out and buy the next one (if it's written yet) to continue.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-22 06:17 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] fengi.livejournal.com
The most recent Repairman Jack has this problem. Wilson is writing three books about the character's early years and didn't even try to make it a trilogy - it's just the first several hundred pages of a single story.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-21 11:59 pm (UTC)
sabotabby: (books!)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
Oh yes. I hate Chosen One narratives.

A good antidote, if you haven't read it already, is China Miéville's Un Lun Dun. It takes the whole trope, turns it on its head, and then smashes that head repeatedly.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-22 05:34 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marlowe1.livejournal.com
Oh yeah. I loved that bit. I'm glad I was familiar with China Mieville since otherwise I might have expected his chosen one to get back into the narrative after page 40.

One of the things I like about The Dance of Dragons is the fact that it takes all the expected narrative about Dani and Jon Snow being the Chosen One(s) and shows them with power and fucking up in a big way. It was painful to read but I realize now that it's the same deconstruction that was happening when he pulled the RW and hit that Son-Avenges-Father trope on the head.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-22 11:44 am (UTC)
sabotabby: (books!)
From: [personal profile] sabotabby
Agreed.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-22 05:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] marlowe1.livejournal.com
Oddly enough, I heard a pretty cool lecture on Martin Luther King on Shabbos (the rabbi was sick, the rabbi's wife filled in even though she finds that particular trope silly - but she does have a PhD in history so I find her more interesting than the rabbi) mostly about being more honest about who he was and enriching his legacy. Her two main points concerned the non-violence coming from Xian beliefs and it was becoming increasingly unpopular and the Civil Rights movement hit a plateau when the Freedom Riders pushed it further.

So basically, MLK was amazing but the movement was more than one man.

It also reminded me of what I hate about Helen Keller narratives that see her as an eternal 17 year old girl learning to communicate and completely ignores WHAT she was communicating for the rest of her life (radical socialism, feminism, etc.)

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-23 11:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adam-0oo.livejournal.com
Yep, Harry Potter, as is frequently pointed out, was kind of a sucky chosen one, it was really and truly a team effort to get that no nose guy.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-01-23 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] adam-0oo.livejournal.com
Anakin Skywalker was a chosen one and was EVER so annoying.

Luke Skywalker was a chosen one and Han Solo and Lando Calrissian were the ones to blow up the Death Stars (Deaths Star?).