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Old November 25 2012, 12:19 AM   #16
Sci
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
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Kai Winn is a great character and it is all about her flaws. Dukat is an utter sociopath which is surely a huge flaw and he is an epic character.

I think people admire the flaws of villains but you have tread carefully with the flaws of heroes.
Was he? Dukat treated Kira's mother quite wel.
He enslaved her world, oppressed her people, and forced her to become his personal concubine. And, no, it's not "treating her well" if he has the legal right to rape her, which he did.

It's like Chris Rock talking about the relationship between Sally Hemmings and Thomas Jefferson. "People are calling it an 'affair.' 'Thomas Jefferson had an affair with Sally Hemmings.' Bullshit. It's not an affair if you can't say no. The word for that is 'rape.' "
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Old November 25 2012, 12:28 AM   #17
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Is there historical evidence that Jefferson coerced Sally?
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Old November 25 2012, 12:30 AM   #18
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
Is there historical evidence that Jefferson coerced Sally?
She was a slave. She had no legal rights, no legal capacity to refuse. Everything Jefferson asked her to do would by definition be coersion.
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Old November 25 2012, 12:34 AM   #19
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Jefferson wa not an average Joe and if they were romantically involved that could not had been possible if ''Sally was forced to love him''.

I only know about this because a miniseries i watche a long time ago. Didn't he bring her to Paris on vacation and wrote letters to her?
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Old November 25 2012, 12:42 AM   #20
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

sbk1234 wrote: View Post
Not simply having flaws, but showing how the character can deal with them, and overcome and/or learn from them, I think, is one element that can make for a truly interesting character.
I'd say this is a fair asesment. The problem with TV today though is that characters have flaws for the sake of having flaws, and don't learn from them or try to overcome them.

Writers (and viewers) seem to have a problem with heroes anymore. I have no idea why that is.
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Old November 25 2012, 12:57 AM   #21
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Personally I loathe McCoy and have never understood why people like him. He's flawed to the point of generally being unlikable.

To me, a great character is one that not only has flaws but is able to overcome them and change and grow over time. One of the best characters in Trek overall was Nog. He has the most well rounded character development of anyone in Trek.
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Old November 25 2012, 12:59 AM   #22
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
Jefferson wa not an average Joe
So what? Being rich doesn't make slavery okay to practice.

and if they were romantically involved that could not had been possible if ''Sally was forced to love him''.
What on Earth makes you thinks she would have had any choice but to do whatever he wanted her? He was her slave. It's not like she could call the police if he tried to force himself on her. She had no legal rights.
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Old November 25 2012, 01:11 AM   #23
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Gotham Central wrote: View Post
Personally I loathe McCoy and have never understood why people like him. He's flawed to the point of generally being unlikable.
Gotta disagree there. McCoy is one of my favorite characters in Star Trek. He's colorful, cantankerous, humane, emotional, funny, and never boring.

"You are a hedonist, Doctor."

"Damn right I am!"

I seem to recall an ancient article by Harlan Ellison in which he stated that McCoy was the only Trek character he would actually want to have dinner with . . .

When it comes to fictional characters, "boring" is the only flaw that really matters.
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Old November 25 2012, 04:06 AM   #24
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Gotham Central wrote: View Post
Personally I loathe McCoy and have never understood why people like him. He's flawed to the point of generally being unlikable.

To me, a great character is one that not only has flaws but is able to overcome them and change and grow over time. One of the best characters in Trek overall was Nog. He has the most well rounded character development of anyone in Trek.
While I don't agree with your take on Dr. McCoy, I have never thought about Nog that way, but I do have to agree. His character definately grew. One of my favorite bits with him is when he's explaining to Sisco why he wants to join Starfleet, and how he doesn't want to turn out like his father. Really good stuff.


But McCoy is still awesome!
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Old November 25 2012, 04:14 PM   #25
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Flaws don't make a good character. The over coming of flaws make a person worth remembering. Its the notion of why Batman is better than Superman. If your perfect then doing great things is to be expected, because its easy for them. But if your mortal and suffering and still manage to do right and great things its speaks more about who you are. Kirk is a bit of a horn dog, but he manages to rise about his biological tendencies to be a great captain/man, a symbol for other starfleet officers to inspire too. He shows that character can overcome our human weakness.
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Old November 25 2012, 04:45 PM   #26
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Honestly, I think it has less to do with making a character more heroic or likeable or a good role model than about making them more realistic and believable.

In real life, very few people are perfect and without flaws. So good, believable characters shouldn't be too perfect either.

Give me interesting over nice any day.
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Old November 25 2012, 04:51 PM   #27
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Generally, discussion of characters in terms of "flaws" is hopelessly confused. There are real flaws, the kind that normal people have. If you believe realism or tolerance for humanity or both are desirable, these are the well-written characters. You might call them great characters if you find yourself invested in their struggles with their flaws, because their struggle speaks to your own life.

This is not quite the same as liking them. A character like this might in fact arouse many mixed emotions, which is usually an unpleasant. This may seem the opposite of good writing, or entertainment. But reallly, can anyone really explain how a roller coaster doesn't mix quite unpleasant emotions into a whole that many regard as entertaining?

A tragic hero can come to a bad end, and insofar as we identify with him or her, how can that be entertaining? See Aristotle for a start on this answer.

On the other hand, there are fake flaws, like Kirk's caring too much for his ship. Or crew. (Was the distinction really that clear?) In particular, the flaws of villains are generally fake, because the great villains of today possess one overwhelming virtue: They are strong. Winners are strong. Winners are the people you want to identify with. Sure the villainous might get their comeuppance at the end, to resolve any interior issues with any residual morality. But til then you get to identify with their acting out all the impulses we must suppress, or face the consequences.

Villains of this sort exemplify the kind of moral values upheld by businessmen and all the different kinds of people who support empire. As might be expected then, the businessmen who make TV and movies, and the businessmen who buy ads, and their employess, official and unofficial, therefore tend rather to extol this kind of villainy. And antiheroes are favored as well.

If you look at the ratings and audiences, it is not quite so obvious that flaws are so highly regarded by the majority of audiences. There are plenty of reactionary heroes, but, is it really true that they have flaws? In fact, I'm not at all sure that many even have fake flaws, the kind that really turn out to be disguised virtues needed for victory, the only true value...for some.

There is an esthetic divide. Some people dislike anything about reality, or about losing, or about pretty much any human being they cannot personally identify with (both fictional and real, sad to say.) These people tend to sharply reject any real flaws in both heroes and villains. Other people tend to prefer reality, and at some level prefer that even their entertainment on some level should connect them to others, instead of leading them to self-absorbed daydreams.

Heroes and villains with fake flaws or none, whose appeal lies in their badassery, their coolness, are more apt nowadays to be hailed as great characters, aping the semiofficial views of the commercial media.

However I must note that even on a technical level, the distortions of plot and dialogue required to make the hero/villain (there's not really a distinction for this kind of writing) so badass, so cool, generally are Rube Goldberg devices. It is hard to see how anyone can defend that kind of writing in good faith. Which is why the confusion about "flaws" is so essential, lest discussion imply your or my taste is inferior.

On the one hand, the honest proponents will clearly say that reality means that morals are an obstacle. On the other, the honest proponents will clearly say that the implication of an inferior taste and misunderstanding of humanity (or worse, deficiency) is indeed implied.
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Old November 25 2012, 06:00 PM   #28
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Sci wrote: View Post
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Jefferson wa not an average Joe
So what? Being rich doesn't make slavery okay to practice.

and if they were romantically involved that could not had been possible if ''Sally was forced to love him''.
What on Earth makes you thinks she would have had any choice but to do whatever he wanted her? He was her slave. It's not like she could call the police if he tried to force himself on her. She had no legal rights.
She had no legal choice but i am pretty sure Jefferson gave her a choice otherwise there wouldm had been no romance. I doubt Jefferson needed to go around and rape women, he proabably had plenty of willing sex partners.

So what? Being rich doesn't make slavery okay to practice.
It does not make it so but he probably had more nuanced views about blacks despite being a slaver himself.
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Old November 25 2012, 07:11 PM   #29
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

The DNA evidence available does not prove Jefferson fathered Hemings children. Therefore some people have hypothesized the father to be another Jefferson, one visiting the household. Apparently they envision Hemings as a freely available amenity, like a candy on the pillow. I have no idea how that wouldn't be worse for Jefferson's humanitarian reputation. Like it or lump it, Jefferson's republicanism had an inconsistency on race, which was merely glossed over.

The endless variety of human beings is such that Sally Hemings may have been bold enough to say no, knowing that Thomas Jefferson would, despite his legal "rights", have taken "no" for an answer. She may have been tacitly accepted as a family member (she was if I remember correctly Jefferson's wife's half-sister) and felt comfortable in a kind of sororate marriage in her sister's place. Or she may merely have felt that this way her children would have a chance at freedom, so put up with unwelcome sexual congress, which would not destroy her virtue thus making her worthless. She may even have had sexual appetites that she satisfied by the nearest most attractive male.


Any of these things would have felt less like rape to both parties. None of them may have taken place, and maybe Jefferson bit her breasts and bruised her vagina every time he performed on her, leaving her weeping in pain, fear and shame.

The question is whether an inability to give legally valid consent means any intercourse is therefore rape. By this view, the victim is always nothing but a victim. One implication is that the victim should have been courageous enough to fight back. Another implication is that the victim doesn't have any power at all, which is not literally true, and devalues the humanity of the people. And another implication is that the the victim should have no sexual feelings, which really dehumanizes them.

Also, the black and white view of rape tends to diminish the impact of the term by overuse. Inequality of power is the rule in history and practical constraints on consent are still very common. If a woman having intercourse with a husband she doesn't really love because she's going to keep his paycheck in the family, by this standard she has been raped. But what do we call assaults marked by violence, sexual sadism?

And if we merely go by the legal capacity to give consent, then no Jefferson was a rapist, because Sally Hemings had no consent to give or deny, being a slave. But a horny sixteen year old girl can't give consent, and therefore is raped every time she has intercourse.

Jefferson was a slaver. Every minute he abused every slave he owned. But singling out Sally Hemings as a special victim has more to do with puritanism than anything else.
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Old November 25 2012, 07:27 PM   #30
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Re: Do flaws make good characters great?

Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
Sci wrote: View Post
Drago-Kazov wrote: View Post
Jefferson wa not an average Joe
So what? Being rich doesn't make slavery okay to practice.

What on Earth makes you thinks she would have had any choice but to do whatever he wanted her? He was her slave. It's not like she could call the police if he tried to force himself on her. She had no legal rights.
She had no legal choice but i am pretty sure Jefferson gave her a choice
On what basis do you conclude that a slave-owner would do such a thing? If he were big into giving her choices, he would have freed her.

otherwise there wouldm had been no romance.
What makes you think there was a romance? On what basis do you conclude that Jefferson ever felt the need to obtain the consent of the women he held in captive bondage?

I doubt Jefferson needed to go around and rape women, he proabably had plenty of willing sex partners.
The desire to rape someone has nothing to do with not being able to find willing partners.

So what? Being rich doesn't make slavery okay to practice.
It does not make it so but he probably had more nuanced views about blacks despite being a slaver himself.
"More nuanced views about blacks?" To what do you refer?
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