She’s the Worst

September 21, 2016 § Leave a comment

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Erica writes,

Do you ever feel like you’re not sure if you hate a character or not? Because there used to be a character I liked when I watched a certain popular movie. Like, I thought she was all badass and cool and stuff. But then I saw people online calling her a Mary Sue and since I’m an aspiring writer, I thought, ‘Why on Earth would I love a character who’s so poorly written?’

So I started hating her. Like, ‘I would love it if you died’ hating. I’ve posted awful comments about her and feel like I need to rant about her all the time. But whenever I look at my comments about her, they seem so mean and I feel so bad about what I said that I end up deleting them.

But I keep doing it. A lot. Like, I feel a need to constantly put this character down for some reason. I don’t want to girl-hate, and I still don’t know how I feel about her.

What should I do?

Hi Erica, thanks for your honesty. If you asked my friends what characters or what actresses I can’t stand, they’d be able to make a quick list for you. What does this say about me? Maybe it means I’m human. Maybe it also says that there are better ways to spend my time than reminding people that X gets on my nerves or was poorly written.

Hate is an easy emotion in fangirl world. But it can also be a pretty boring one. The Internet is full of people who love to give you reasons why they don’t like someone, whether it’s television, politics, celebrity culture, whatever. But for better or worse, people who get hate are not on the sidelines. As Brené Brown would say, they’re in the arena. They’re part of the story. And being part of the story means opening yourself up to criticism. Letting fangirls on the Internet say whatever they think about you. Yeesh.

I don’t know if this is you, Erica, but sometimes we distract ourselves with disgust because we’re too scared or anxious to show up in our own lives. We make taking down a character our moral quest, and we forget that somewhere, a writer took a chance, and created this person. There is a place for criticism, but there’s also a place for turning the focus back on yourself. Where is all this reactivity coming from?

If you find yourself stuck on these emotions, chances are there are many other variables that influence this rage in someway. Show up and pay attention to them. You cannot change the arc of this character, but YOU ARE THE SHOWRUNNER OF YOUR OWN LIFE. The more committed you are to really showing kindness to yourself and others, the less energy you’ll want to dedicate to character-bashing or berating someone’s OTP.

Life is short, Erica, and there will be more poorly written characters than you’ll ever have time to hate. So work on yourself, and you might find you’re better able to see the best in others, even in fiction.

 

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