Sunday, April 10, 2011

No One is Safe

Below is a post I wrote up in a conversation about the comic book version of the television series, "The Walking Dead." But it serves as a general guide to how I feel about long-running series in horror genres or sub-genres. It also may appears to contradict my often-ranted opinion that no character should ever appear to be "safe" from threats that effect other characters in the story or series. For these reasons, I thought it'd be worth sharing here.

My apologies for any formatting snafus. The iPad browser doesn't work perfectly with Blogger's "Compose" tab and I'm not as adept as I ought to be with the "Edit Html" options.

I don't think this will change any minds, but it may clarify the ish a bit:

In real life, saying that someone died "too soon," means "before their time" or that that person had goals that they wanted to achieve, kids to raise, promotions to attain, or relationships to repair...before kicking the bucket.

When we say that a character in a comic book, movie or television show died "too soon," We don't just mean "before their time." We mean "before OUR time."

The character exists to contribute to tapestry of a tale, which exists to entertain us. When that character dies too soon, that character has fallen short of the entertainment value they had.

There's certainly some existentialist crap in there, precariously suspended by disbelief, when we begin to think of the characters as real people with real lives that ended too soon. And saying they died "too soon" certainly can mean that. For instance, I don't want Carl dead for at least two reasons. One is that I see a character with many stories yet to tell, to keep me entertained. The other, I will admit, is that he is depicted as a child and I don't want to see a child live horribly (i.e. being raped by those bastards who attacked him) or die too soon. I've seen Carl go through some crap, but to feel that there's reason for hope, I need some good things to happen or certain bad things not to happen.

Without that hope, this series can be tossed on the pile of torture porn that's already worn out its welcome with me.

If this weren't a series, but a one-shot, I could watch every character meet a gruesome end, as long as they entertained me doing it. In a series, I need a reason to keep coming back to the same characters I've grown attached to over the *years* of constant stories. And, for those like me, watching them get developed better for the *purpose* of killing them off, just is not that reason.

But hey, if Kirkman introduced and developed Carl just to give him a "Rexplode"-styled premature ending, that's a valid and intensely testicular creative choice. But that death may also kill the reason for some to invest in the character.

The rest of you may be more invested in the genre than the characters (which is not to say that you're not also invested in the characters) so you may have a more mature perspective on how these things "ought" to go.


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Anonymous said...

I very much agree, quite often in horror a character needs to die, or at least advances the story with their death. Of course there is a difference in a "necessary death" and killing of a character just for kicks, so far "The Walking Dead" has kept a very good balance.

A special note for coincidences, I found this from hitting the Next blog button at the top of a horror blog I frequent.

See you around