Storytelling Musing: 7 Poorly Represented Archetypes

Movies, and books, and TV aren’t like real life. As obvious as this is, it takes some people years to truly grasp this. Usually their lack of accuracy makes movies better. Story telling is about emotional honesty, not how realistic it can be. I wouldn’t recommend telling this to your friends who say that certain parts of Inglorious Basterds were totally unbelievable because of socio-economic trends in German occupied France. Stories are best when they contain some weirdness. This can mean awkward expository dialogue, or explosions in the vacuum of space. These bits of fiction are great for making engaging narratives. A lot of the fake aspects of movies and books are very old, however. Archetypes grow stale, and we are forced to invent new ones. So far as a modern society, people today have been pretty good at this but some pretty great tropes have been totally missed.

7.) The Weird Black Guy

This is my favorite unsung archetype. Black people are stereotyped all the time on TV, and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to stop any time soon. So if we can’t end the racism, why not make it fun?

Sorry Image Not available

I thought it would be best to not include a “fun racism” picture.

The “Weird Black Guy” is a gender neutral person of color raised in a suburban environment. Of all of the presuppositions made about African-Americans in the media, the weird black guy is none of them. He listens to a lot of eighties pop music, he has terrible facial hair/ head hair, he wears fedoras, or he does none of these things, or he is a woman. The Weird Black Guy has no rules. Even with all that said, as soon as you read “weird black guy” you thought of someone in particular. This “guy” is a persona we’re aware of as odd, they are weird but something about the TV telling us black people are supposed to be cool makes this entity all the more strange to us. Between Lando Calrissian and Omar from The Wire we are told black people act a certain way. They don’t talk our ear off about the weather, or misuse common phrases. The Weird Black Guy does, and he does it every day in real life. Why can’t he on screen?

6.) The Chronic Nutcase

I understand that some people have problems, better than most. Maybe that’s not true, but I am very understanding. But we all know the person who kind of digs it. This is the person who likes their malady. While some people have quirky haircuts or interesting senses of fashion, but what sets this person apart is a mental illness. They think their most important trait is their own bat-shittedness.

Crazy Guy Aloe

All you guys ever notice is my new haircut

Any true Chronic Nutcase sets themselves apart from other crazy people because they take pride in the bullshit they put people through. It isn’t just their madness, but the fact that their madness needs to infect the lives of others that sets them apart. Although the problems of a chronic nutcase may change their disorder to fit their mood, something is always wrong. Whether it’s self diagnosed depression today, or self diagnosed hypochondria tomorrow they always have something wrong with them. They are master manipulators whose only goal is to talk about themselves. They are good for nothing other than making themselves seem more important than anyone has the right to be.

5.) The Casual Racist

I don’t live in the south, more like south adjacent. This shouldn’t be too scandalous to say, because I post my location. But as everyone knows, the south is super racist. All of it. Okay fine, that’s not true, but it can be for the sake of this part of the post. Sometimes I think it’s how close I live to that mostly racist part of our country, but I’m starting to think off handed racism exists all over the country. Especially after seeing the comment sections of any website that posted about the Trayvon Martin  or Troy Davis case. But the casual racist thinks everyone else thinks exactly as bigoted as they do.

Sorry Image Not available

Better to stay away from the racist pictures

Casual Racists don’t have any regard for cultural sensitivity and think of it as more of an annoyance than anything else.

4.) A Real Nerd

Nerds are becoming progressively more accepted in modern culture. People are embracing geeks in a way they’ve never done before. The old stereotypes are slowly melting away, except on Big Bang Theory. That shit is nerd blackface

Sheldon Cooper

No words can describe my disdain for this man

Actual nerds are just goofy, weird people who usually have a certain level of charm, or likability. The only thing that actually unifies them all is that they have strange or specific interests. When a geek is charming on TV they it is normally because of their interests. They like video games, but happen to be very attractive so gaming adds kitsch to an already desirable character. In real life a person can be interesting without their appeal stemming from their hobbies. In movies nerds are entirely defined by their interests, rather than their hobbies being a product their personalities. Nerds are people, and the media prefers to see them as caricatures.

3.) The Former Friend

People grow apart. But how the hell do you deal with that? No one knows. Pretty much from birth people are exposed to friends, family, and arch-nemeses. However at some point we grow up, we change, and we are no longer the people we used to be. As our interests and personalities change we start to look for different things in our acquaintances. But we can’t very well tell them that. We have to pretend like we still like them, and give a shit about their band. In your early to mid-twenties this makes up 30-40 percent of your relationships. Between leaving school, starting college, getting jobs, and getting good at things the people you used to hang out with just sort of stay around.

People playing cards

Do you have any “get the hell out?” No? Then I’ll go fish.

Media like books and movies really miss out on this trope. Sure there are all sorts of stories have touched on this, but the Former Friend is truly unexplored staple of modern life. And, Facebook makes this even more complicated, because they truly stick with you no matter how little you care about their bullshit. There are numerous ways to approach this persona and its a little baffling that it hasn’t been tackled yet.

2.) The Teen Mom

          There are too many shows about pregnant teenagers. These people have very human problems that are trivialized and put on display for our entertainment. Sure, worse things are done for our entertainment but teen pregnancy shows and movies almost always gloss over the second most important part of pregnancy. The baby.

Mixed Baby

“Oh Christ! What the shit is that!?” – Television Executives

The thing about being a parent is that you don’t transform. Even if you look at the world differently, or you have more empathy it doesn’t grant you a brand new personality. I’ve known teen mothers, for the most part they’re they same as they were before the baby except now their hair is messy. Writers try to force new abandoned mothers as more interesting than they actually are. For the most part their stories are pretty similar and they have comparable lifestyles. But in the TV shows, they get put out on the street, or develop a drug problem or get abducted by aliens. Having a baby shouldn’t radically change a character, other than make them more boring.

1.) The Legitimately Awkward Person

This is a cause championed all over the internet. There have been literally dozens of articles and posts about the lack of realistic introverts in modern media. For the socially inept, it may seem even more off putting watch Michael Cera charm skinny pale chicks out of their pants and then call himself awkward.

Superbad Michael Cera

About as awkward as Connery’s Bond

The awkward archetype should be completely overhauled. When a person is actually awkward it is because the very idea of socialization is terrifying. It’s not because they are trying to learn how to interact with others, nor are they looking to be rescued, like movies seem to think. They have a certain personality type that is neither a flaw, nor a comedic device. This is why they shouldn’t be in funny movies anymore. To solve the complaints about actors like Jesse Eisenberg playing awkward guys, and then absolutely slaying himself some vag, awkward people should more often spiral into madness as people try to bring them out of their shell. They should play video games, read books, and be generally boring to watch just like they are in real life

If you can think of any unsung heroes from real life that would make great tropes, i’d love to hear about them in the comments. Real life is a rich and lively place to be, and boiling it down into 3 or 5 act stories is challenging some times, but pigeon holing people is a fun and easy way to enhance the ability to tell a narrative. Let me know what you think.

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