A while ago I told my wife about the American Writers Podcast and that Tom Ochipinti is a great teacher and puts together an interesting show. I told her that his fourth show was about "The Shadow in the Hero" where he describes that a good antagonist in a story is just the polar opposite of the hero of the story. The Shadow character (of Jungian psychology) is the hero's worst potential, the doubt in oneself. Darth Vader is so horrible because he is exactly what Luke would become if he turned to the "dark side," Gollum is so horrible because he is what Frodo would become if he tried to use the evil ring of power for good. It's the hero's internal conflict that makes the story interesting. Tom does a great job of explaining this and sums it all up by saying that, in essence, when a hero battles a shadow character he is actually battling himself.
I told this to my wife and she said, "That's the cheesiest thing I've ever heard!"
I said, "Yeah, it's cheesy but it's true. It's a model of story telling that works. And it only seems cheesy because you break it down to its cheesy elements. It's better when you just hear the story."
"I don't want to hear about how cheesy it is," she said.
The other night, we finally went and saw the new Batman movie. The Joker stole the show and of course Heath Ledger is dead now, probably because I admitted that I'm starting to respect him as an actor in my earlier review of Brokeback Mountain fatally mixed with the fact that everything I love turns to dust.
The movie probably wasn't as good as I expected but it was still in the "great" category. It seemed like the bad guys had more victories than the good guys. When the movie was over, my wife kept saying, "WHY didn't Batman just kill the Joker? He had several chances!"
I said, "Don't you remember Tom Ochipinti? The Joker is Batman's shadow character. Batman is crazy-good and The Joker is crazy-bad. Batman can't kill The Joker because it is completely against his character. He's a hero. He doesn't solve problems by killing people. If Batman kills The Joker than he has failed."
She said, "And what's with Two Face? What is he then?"
I said, "Two Face shows you someone that starts out good on the level of Batman and then descends to the level of The Joker. That's what would happen to Batman if Batman killed the Joker."
"Oh. Nobody would mind if Batman killed The Joker." Which is another way of saying, "You are no fun to watch movies with."