Today I like: Getting back on the horse
Not so much: Headaches
I’m about to sound off on one of the great conundrums of our times….not healthcare reform…not Afghanistan….not gay marriage. I mean the Katniss/Bella debate.
Full disclosure: I’m coming at this from a skewed viewpoint. I love me some Katniss…do not love Bella, because Bella does not have many redeeming qualities. Of course, there’s the argument that Bella’s appeal is in her banality. She’s living the dream of every shy, plain Jane high school girl (or grown woman) who hoped the most unattainable boy in school would just open his eyes. See her as special…beautiful…wonderful. And let’s not forget about the second most attractive boy in school…two hot guys fighting over one average girl! Yes, I get the appeal…but I think as writers we have a responsibility to give our readers something to aspire to while we entertain.
That’s why I love Katniss…she’s a near perfect protagonist for the modern girl (or woman…like Twilight, The Hunger Games defies an age-specific audience) to emulate. She’s tough and smart and she’s a survivor. At the same time, she’s flawed in very believable ways. Being a survivor lends itself to selfishness and manipulation. There were times Katniss really got under my skin. The way she treated Peeta made me want to climb into the book and slap her around a bit.
I’ve talked a lot about flawed characters (see my posts on the Prince Charming archetype and my seemingly nonsensical love of Eminem). The Bella/Katniss debate gave me some new insight into crafting balanced personalities. It all goes back to forcing the reader to like someone despite the person’s inherent flaws…and much of that can be summed up in one word: Respect.
I respect Katniss, even if she can be a selfish bitch at times. Bella, on the other hand, is not a character that commands respect, either from the reader or her fellow characters.
So this brings me to the question, what do women really want in their fictional female role models? My favorites, Elizabeth Bennett and Scarlett O’Hara, are more in line with Katniss than Bella…but I’m sure many a novel has ridden the road to success on the train of a more simpering gown. I guess I just can’t remember any that I enjoyed…
And what about us, ladies? Do we emulate Bella or Katniss in our real lives? And which archetype is more appealing to men?
I’ve been conducting an admittedly unscientific poll of those of the male persuasion…what attracts you to a woman? Overwhelmingly they came back at me with some version of confidence/independence/comfortable with herself (a nice butt seemed to be up there, too, but that’s another post).
This seems more in line with Katniss than Bella…yet still the Bella ideal lingers in our collective female consciousness. Maybe it just takes less effort to be a Bella, to sit back and let the guys do all the work and be worshipped for mediocrity. I have two girls, however, and I’m going to steer them in the Katniss direction. We all have our flaws, but if I can help it, they’ll be the rescuers…not the rescued.