Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Least Favorite Character

This was a really hard week for me.  After all, there are so many characters and, do I pick one that I just dislike because they're poorly written, or do I pick one that I loathe when I read about them?  It was made worse by the fact that I'm pretty sure that I know who Alex is going to pick (and so should you if you've read this blog like.... at all.)

Joffrey is the only character I can remember feeling extreme feelings of hatred for when I read about him.  I mean, the more I read, the more I saw of him, the more I HATED this guy.  Just plain hated him.  I have never wanted a character to be killed off so much in my life as this guy (which, if you've ever read Games of Thrones, you'd realize why this isn't an entirely unreasonable expectation on my part.)

But, like Alex was talking about last week, despite my loathing for Joffrey, it's not because he's a badly written character.  In fact, my disdain for him is because he's so well written.

I have more of a category of characters I dislike, but I don't know what to call them. I do know how they fit together, though... they remind me of one classic character. So I'll just talk about him: Holden Caulfield.

If you hadn't noticed, Cassy and I read a lot of young adult fiction. While there are amazing authors doing incredible things in that genre, it's also a minefield. Teenagers are hard to write. If you are one, you usually don't have the distance and perspective from the experience of teenagerdom to make it relatable to a broader audience, and if you're an adult, it's difficult to honestly remember what it was like to be inside the mind of a teenager.

Holden Caulfield is everything I hate about bad teenage characters. He's that jerk you knew in high school and college who thinks he knows better than everyone and he's really smug about it. He's a distant cynic who hates everything and everyone.

There's a reason that having a character say that their favorite fictional character is Holden Caulfield is a way to demonstrate that your character is a pretentious tool. No offense to anyone who actually likes Catcher in the Rye, but that's what has happened to this character.

Other characters I put in this group (to varying degress) include, but are certainly not limited to Charlie from Perks of Being a Wallflower and Augustus from Fault in our Stars. But don't mistake this character type for just any cynical teenager. The good ones are funny, or learn to be less cynical (or at least pull their heads out of their nethers and take a gander at the world around them), or find something or someone to make them happy, even just a little bit. Prime examples of this would be Daria, or Susanna Kaysen from Girl, Interrupted (no less a good choice because she's an actual person).

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