Success equals morality?

I think of the oddest things at the oddest times. Usually, a common thread in those things is films for children, animated or otherwise. No worries for people who hate my rants on that subject, this is a lot more general. And also not quite a rant.

Why is it that in fiction, heroes are often represented by high skill or success in some area such as finance, education, or society (class)?

I don’t really presume to know the answer to this question. I just noticed it. In children’s movies, which is what caused me to start thinking about this, many good guys are often shown to be the most capable or the “best” in any number of things. The bad guy in contrast, is made to look like an incompetent fool.

This is hardly good television, as the saying may go. When taken too far, there is nothing for the hero to gain, nothing to improve upon. There is also no conflict. It’s a foregone conclusion that he’ll win. The bad guy is a loser.

This is even the case with stories wherein the main character is meant to be sympathetic to or even a projection of the audience, by being portrayed as some kind of ‘loser’.

I would offer up the movie I saw as an example, but I’m absolutely mortified that I live in a world in which it exists, let alone that I saw it, so I won’t name its evil name. I might invoke a devil or something. But the thought stands even without my specific example.

And it really baffles me. Children actually respond very well to what they watch on telly (a disturbing topic for a much, much later date), and I can see why certain tropes keep on getting recycled. Kids don’t sit in front of a screen in order to ‘get’ anything. They don’t want to be challenged, moved, motivated, or taught.

They just want the moving pictures to send them cues. Laugh, cry, cheer. Get up and demand another. Repeat.

I’m not even being all that cynical, and I’m certainly not ranting off from nothing. Most kids (I have no idea how many are like I was, none that I’ve seen) will draw conclusions based on the movie–but these will quite often contradict what was directly stated in the movie. In every way used to create context. E.g., “He can’t decide which one to shoot” said during the scene in Fox and the Hound when the dog stands between the fox and the hunter.

But I digress. Wildly. Anyway, I brought up that point for one very simple reason: it explains this strange occurrence completely. The bad guy is the loser who never wins first place, always makes angry faces, has an annoying voice, no friends or horrible fair-weather friends, and is openly and justifiably envious of the hero.

This is so that the villain is immediately identifiable and no one has to grab mummy’s leg and ask why everyone wants that person to fail.

The hero is also just as easily identified, often as someone who is either too good to be true or obnoxious. There’s more variation here, but honestly, look to achievement for the fool-proof answer. Even though the villain will sometimes try to fool you by having informed abilities–supposedly the most popular girl in school, even though absolutely no one likes her and won’t go near her, the smartest in school even though he always loses in maths competitions, etc.–the hero will still beat them as easily as… well, maybe it’s related to the Worf Effect.

That’s all I wanted to say on that subject. Still want to do my free-writing, but I’ve been getting headaches again. I hope it’s just a dehydration thing. Even when I managed to write all of that bother up there, I had a nagging ache in my brain. It probably looks like a bunch of blather.

Which it is. Ta.


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