This is a tale, not about any current events, but about the importance of a Lack of Morals.
You could call it hypocritical of me to criticize putting morals into stories, considering that I do it all the time, but there’s an important difference: I’m right, and you’re wrong, so there.
Once upon a certain era of a certain Galaxy, the Universe began to have more complicated relationships with its heroes. (And damn all Heroes, by Jiminy! But that’s beside the point.)
Heroes often stand for something: Truth, Justice, Apple Pie, Apple Pie With Whipped Cream, Kindness, Loyalty, Apple Pie Made With Different Kinds Of Apples, Backup Apple Pie In Case The First Apple Pie Runs Out, Freedom, and other such noble causes. But now they were being tumbled into stories and told to not simply fight for those values, but to be those values. Consider “I will punch you because you are committing Injustice and I want it stopped!” – versus “I will punch you because I am Justice and what I do is right!”
This creates stories whose arc and curve were often bent beyond recognition in an effort to make Platonic Ideals out of characters. I hate heroes, but usually, stranding them somewhere difficult is lovely… I mean, not just because I’d like to see all Heroes left on a desert island, but because stranding a Hero without a story creates glorious misfits—but these poor souls weren’t intended as misfits, they were intended as suave leading roles.
This was a great pain unto all of the misfits of the Galaxy, who looked to the anti-heroes and the fishes-out-of-water for their role models, and who wouldn’t have known a suave leading role if it hit them with, well, a pie.
Whatever would we do for misfits if we were told that all former misfits were now just like everyone else? “Just like everyone else” was exactly what we were running AWAY from.
These poor characters, bowed and stooped under the weight of painful expectations, clearly wanted to just be themselves; to simply run around as who and what they were, taking part in the story; but those who championed them would never let them be normal, never let them be anything other than figures on a pedestal. (It is not clear, in this metaphor, whether each figure was on an individual pedestal, or they were all crouched sharing one pedestal together. Either way, it wasn’t comfortable.)
Occasionally, when the camera lights were off, some of these plucky Hero figures would go confront their inner demons. “I want to be me, not all things like me! I don’t want the burden of being the evangelist of a given tribe to the strange arena of this film. I might not have belonged to that tribe to begin with. There isn’t ROOM for that much of my story; if I try to fit it in, some of the rest of the story will suffer.”
But, despite being told that they were the heart and soul and core of the new enterprise, they didn’t get a whole lot of respect (read: any) from the script.
And so they fought often valiant battles, only to be given strange false hope by their superiors, mockery by the fans, and most of all, the cold metaphorical shoulder from the existing work, the prior art.
Oh, how they persisted, and the fans responded with the most brutal warfare available:
they left the field, and the story had to tell itself alone and unwatched.
If a tale has no listeners, does it still exist?
Yes. Yes, it does. It just becomes very, very sad.
The moral is: Making good stories doesn’t guarantee success. Making bad stories for good reasons does guarantee failure.
My name is Jeff Mach (“Dark Lord” is optional) and I build communities, put on events, and make stories come into being. I also tweet a lot over @darklordjournal.