Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Guest Post and a Rant

Originally, I was going to just announce that I have a Guest Post over on Indies Unlimited about how played out and exhausting The Chosen One trope is. Maybe include the first paragraph with the link to read more. But then I did what every arsehole who's ever clicked opened up Internet Explorer warned against and read the comments.

Read the article and a few comments if you'd like. I'll wait. This is a rage that's set on eternal simmer.

First, I figure I need to lay down some back story. My hatred of the chosen one wasn't born in a bubble. I didn't dig a stick in the ground just to stir up controversy for book shit. (Though if you really think I'm wrong and also a super Hitler for my opinion but want to buy my book, I won't stop you.) It began, oddly enough, this past January under a plethora of ads for a movie that fast became my arch-nemesis: The Seventh Son.

It's alright if you don't remember it. That piece of shit deserves to rot in an unmarked grave. It was everything I railed against in the article. Chosen one. Mentor who can easily save the world but won't because vague reasons. Woman who's just there for love interest and eye candy. The same shit over and over and over again. You can seem like a psychic by predicting how these movies will go without having to pay one cent to see them.

But because I dared to question a trope, rattled against the mythical ivory tower, I must be wrong. After all, Harry Potter!

Let's look at Harry Potter, especially that ending. An ending that makes even the most fanatic Muggle lightly shake her head and change the subject. It's established that someone is prophesied to take down old Moldy Voldy, but not stated who. In fact, two options are presented - our titular hero who's basically good at lucking the shit out - and Neville - character that was treated at first as laughable and a joke, but who grew and strove and found his place.

And who winds up being the chosen one? Not Neville. That would have been interesting, the character who clawed his way up from nothing instead of having it handed to him like every other chosen one. That would have been new. That would have freaked people the shit out.

People just want the same shit over and over again because it's a familiar, boring blanket they can while away their years in. Oddly, I turn to the wisest quote ever to come from Fry on Futurama:

It's why people throw a colossal shit fit about something new, why publishers cranked out thousands of Harry Potter and then Twilight clones. People say they think outside the box, but when you open the door for them they glare at the outside world and curl up in their safe haven. The same is comfort, it's safety, it's boring as shit and that's why they like it.

But this isn't just about people who like tropes but can't admit it. There's something else at play that's like rubbing a cheese grater against my nerves, then dousing it all in lemon juice.

You probably noticed, despite keeping my name androgynous I had to use an author photo revealing my gender and also the gender of the first commenter who had to say I was wrong, then restate the same shit I already did.


It doesn't matter what evidence I provide, what examples I hold up, how well I form an argument, Johnny cum Dickhole only needs to trounce his way into the argument and, by dint of his dick, have his words given a gravitas a woman's can't.

This is such a well documented phenomenon that I shouldn't have to prove it, but I know, I'm a silly girl and you can't really believe me. How about starting here? That'll lead you to a dozen articles you can claim ownership of as you insist all the authors are wrong.

Believe me, women are used to it. There a damn good reason Cassandra - who can predict the future but no one believes - is female. All women feel like Cassandra at one point in their lives.

Women are taught their word is nothing. Any man, no matter how ignorant of the subject or life in general, is looked to as a beacon of expertise. The woman holding a doctorate in the subject is thought to be acting "hysterical" and "overreacting" for correcting him.

I'm so fucking sick of it. Sick of being talked down to, talked over, treated like I have the mind of a child when I just ran mental laps around the mouth attached to a dick.

I have no idea what the solution is. Boys are still taught from the day they hit the ground that girls are lesser, female things aren't as good as male, that a woman's word means nothing next to a man's. This is epidemic to the point people can't even see the problem, don't want to see it, and certainly won't come out of their cozy bubble to try and fix it.

Anyway, my point is Chosen One tropes are fucking stupid and no one should use them.


Larry Kollar said...

I'll go even farther. The Chosen One trope is like a trap for writers: so enticing, but if you take the bait, SNAP! You're stuck, and your story is stuck.

I had to consciously avoid the trap when I started Accidental Sorcerers, and I'm glad I did. Instead of having to follow a particular path, I've been able to explore gender roles, culture shock, PTSD, create my own folklore, and have a ton of fun along the way. I was also able to elevate the "love interest" to a co-equal role, which has in turn liberated the storytelling further.

I don't know if you intentionally intended to mock the Chosen One trope in Tin Hero, but I thoroughly enjoyed the spin(s) you put on it there. (And yeah, I still need to find that draft review and post the effer....)

Anonymous said...

OK, the thing with Harry Potter is that everything that works about it works in spite of the Chosen One trope. In fact, I would argue that Harry being the Chosen One is the one thing about the series that just flat-out *doesn't* work. (I love the HP books, but think the Harry-is-destined-to-defeat-Voldemort stuff seriously crimps the storytelling possibilities. Also, Hermione was always way more awesome than Harry because she *chose* to fight evil when she didn't have to.) Ditto for The Wheel of Time, which I eventually gave up on because Rand was so boring to me.

My favorite heroes are the ones who become heroes as the result of their abilities and decisions.

Sabrina Zbasnik said...

And it's not like Harry Potter was born on the Chosen One. It didn't even kinda pop up until Book 5 (which I had to slog through - fucking teenagers). Even then it was kept vague. But like Larry said the damn thing becomes a trap and it become a paint by numbers plot.

Hero learns skills from mentor. Hero sucks at everything her does. Set back where mentor dies. Hero suddenly awesome. Defeats bad guy. Gets girl.

It's practically etched behind the eyeballs it's so common. What's funny is if one looks back at the old chosen one stories what made them more interesting is that the chosen one had hubris. Often times he'd do something that caused his own downfall. That little bit made him human. But now we need our heroes to be pristine, picture perfect. That kind of box makes the chosen one trope even more idiotic.

You don't have a character, you have a god in human clothing.