The Shapes and Movements of Characters and the Stories that Bind Them

In my brief lifetime, I’ve noticed a trend among my peers and those lightly older, they really don’t know the difference between the types of characters. Stepping aside from things like protangonist, antagonist, etc.; the confusion almost unilaterally lies with flat vs. round and static vs. dynamic. The latter in the two comparisons is usually considered superior characterization. For those unaware of the differences, a flat character is one that doesn’t/isn’t given more than one characteristic and the difference between a static and dynamic character is that a static character stays the same throughout the story and a dynamic character goes though changes, be it maturation or losing one’s noble traits. The problem with considering round and dynamic superior characterization is that fact that not only does it vary in the storytelling about how effectively they’re used, but they also carry stereotypes that need to be shattered for better literary understanding.

Benjamin Button from the David Fincher film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is normally seen as a flat (incorrect) and a static (correct) character. The reason he’s viewed as a static character is because he’s a passive character in his world. Someone like John McClain for the Die Hard franchise however is seen as a dynamic (incorrect) character because he’s charismatic, entertaining, exciting, etc., but while he may be dynamic in the literal sense of the word, he isn’t dynamic in the literary sense of the word. This is a critical distinction to make, because as we all know if we’re not using the same terms when discussion a topic the conversation becomes muddled and will not progress. Add that on top of the fact that if we’re using incorrect definitions, than it doesn’t matter if we’re all on the same wavelength because we’ll come to incorrect conclusions. Sort of like playing soccer with a football. You’re entire team may be kicking the ball, but it’s the wrong game.

The critical issue that comes from the stereotypes is that it also obscures our understanding and expectations of storytelling. Storytelling being a key distinction from the actual story (narrative).  And despite possibly everything you’ve been told, the story is not one of the most important parts of anything that has a story. Because as anyone who is familiar with ‘storytelling circles’ the best stories and the worst stories can often be one in the same. The thing that separates the two, is how the better ones are told.

Now the important issue to note is whether or not characters blend into that particular storytelling style. We should not worry about arbitrary issues like how well rounded that particularly character is because obviously the point of the story could be that they don’t change and excitement, dred, boredom, or any other reaction could be crucial to what that particular storytelling style is trying to convey. To go back to Benjamin Button, the character is often passive in life taking a backseat to observe what is happening. Many people took issue with this because he happens to be under extraordinary circumstances. I will go into the themes of life experiences, a defense the movie and things of the like on a latter date (2012 with the way I’ve been posting). That character perfectly fit the way David Fincher was attempting to tell the story however. Now if you find that boring or what have you, that’s fair enough. But to argue it was the wrong direction or even a faulty direction is absurd.

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About panamaenrique

Afro-Latino film lover in NYC. I love blues, jazz, soul, funk, and everything else under the sun. Any questions, comments, or concerns about anything I say, feel free to hit me up. My contact info is there and I'll be sure to give you a lengthy response about what I said and why I said it.
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