Unconventional Love

Hope you had a pleasant Valentine’s Day. Now, don’t groan at me for mentioning the day. I spent part of it not in the conventional, eating-in-a-restaurant-while-gazing-into-my-date’s-eyes way, but eating chocolate and watching Justice League Unlimited episodes from 2004–2005. (It’s okay if you run away in horror. There will be slight spoilers soon, so go if you must.)

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Since it was Valentine’s Day, an episode called “Double Date” (written by Gail Simone) seemed very appropriate and helped me realize something else later. The episode involved these members of the Justice League:

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Huntress and the Question

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Black Canary and Green Arrow

It’s okay. You don’t have to care who they are. (Click here if you want to find out more about the members of the Justice League.) The episode wasn’t a conventional double date, since Huntress and the Question weren’t a couple (at least not right away) and all four were on a stakeout for various reasons. Black Canary and Green Arrow, however, were a couple. I grew up reading comic books in which their relationship was mentioned. Though they’re superheroes, they’re more conventional. I mean look at them. Both are pretty. And we like looking at pretty people, don’t we? Okay, I’ll speak for myself. Better still, I’ll let these images speak for me.

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Prince Zuko from Avatar and Stephen Bishop from Being Mary Jane

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Takeshi Kaneshiro in House of Flying Daggers and Chris Evans as Captain America

Getting back to the Justice League, I have to admit that the Huntress and the Question were more interesting to me than Black Canary and Green Arrow, because H and Q were labeled as “unstable” by their colleagues. Toward the end of the episode, Huntress asked the Question why he agreed to help her in her vendetta against the man who killed her father. When he finally gave his reason—“I like you” (as in “I like like you”)—I melted faster than chocolate in a microwave. And though the action in the picture below (top right) caused Black Canary to say, “I’m sorry, but ewww,” I was totally down for it. They were broken people who found a connection.

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So, what did I learn? (See the first paragraph, where I mentioned that I learned something.) I learned that I love characters with baggage. Not the psychotic serial killer baggage, but emotional scars nonetheless. I can relate to them because of my own issues. A character can be as pretty as a picture. But to really get my attention, that character has to have a wound of some kind.

28da5770f2c53556e75b4356fde68ebaThat’s why I still love Moonstruck, a 1987 movie written by John Patrick Shanley and starring Cher as Loretta Castorini and Nicholas Cage as Ronny Cammareri (photo at right). Everyone in the movie has baggage. One of my favorite quotes related to baggage was spoken by Ronny. I’m sure I’ve used it before in a post. Here it is again:

Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn’t know this either, but love don’t make things nice—it ruins everything. It breaks your heart. It makes things a mess. We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die.

“Love the wrong people”? Been there, done that! “The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us!” Truer words were never spoken.

Which character(s), if any, really resonated with you recently? Why?

Huntress and the Question from pinterest.com. Black Canary and Green Arrow from caballerodecastilla.blogs. Prince Zuko from twitter. Stephen Bishop from cocoafab.com. Chris Evans in Captain America: The Winter Soldier from movie.anonforge.com. Takeshi Kaneshiro in House of Flying Daggers from pinterest.com. Cher as Loretta Castorini and Nicholas Cage as Ronny Cammareri from pinterest.com. Valentine from dvd-ppt-slideshow.com.

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27 thoughts on “Unconventional Love

  1. I tend to prefer characters with baggage too. I always loved the Spider-Man/Mary Jane relationship (May it rest in peace and Quesada burn in Hell’s pizza oven.) Thinking about it, don’t most heroes have some type of baggage? Dead family members, overdeveloped sense of responsibility, and various other things that mold them into a character worth paying attention to. Guess their hero persona is how they cope too, which we’d never get away with in the real world.

  2. Sounds like a fun evening of chocolate indulging and show binging, two of my favorite pastimes! You know, if we all went into our relationships thinking the way Ronny did, we would not suffer as much. We would go into it expecting imperfections and not being let down. 🙂

  3. You brought up an important point for writers to remember. Readers don’t like perfect (perfectly boring) characters. We want our characters to have suffered a little (or a lot). We want them to have all the faults and scars and weaknesses we have.

    • Very true, Nicki. I have the hardest time writing a character who suffers when I’m suffering in reality. Going with the character on a painful journey is too difficult then. But once I can separate my own pain from that of my character’s, I can make progress. Is that how it is for you?

  4. I always put a novel down if the characters are too “good” or don’t have any problems. Problems are a realistic part of people’s lives. There’s no story without conflict and resolution! Of course, for me, reading great characters is easy….creating them is s different story! I love Scout in “To Kill a Mockingbird” because she is so inquisitive and curious. She is attentive to all that’s going on around her, but inside she’s just trying to grow up and understand the world. 🙂

  5. Awww. Poor Question. No guy likes to tell a girl he likes her only to have her be grossed-out by it.

    I had this discussion with my eldest, recently. Sort of. She wants to write a story about a heroine who kind of does the Eowyn thing, inspired more, however, by real life heroines of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars than Eowyn, though. She started reading off her character’s traits and there was nothing truly bad in them, at all. So we ended up having a pretty long family discussion about how characters need to be modeled after real people or they won’t resonate with readers, and how strengths can also be flipped to be weaknesses (she was already doing well flipping “weaknesses” into strengths). It was interesting. 🙂

    To answer your question… Hmm… No one springs to mind, though i know I’ve had Yes! That! moments. Oh wait. I sympathize with Gollum in a huge way. (Don’t ask.) I’m trying to think of a woman, too, but I prefer actiony things to dramas and most of the heroines of actions are over-the-top in so many ways they’re almost impossible for me to connect with.

    • Wow!!! I’m so glad your daughter wants to write a story with an Eowyn-like character. Eowyn is one of my favorites. What a great discussion. I love juxtaposing a hero(ine)’s weaknesses with an antagonist’s strengths, but hopefully not in a contrived way. I also like my hero(ine) and antagonist to have a similar drive so that each almost gets what he or she wants or fails in a similar way.

      I sympathized with Gollum in the books more so than the movies where certain aspects were changed to make him less pitiable.

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