TV Tropes Tuesday: TV Tropes: Designated Heroes and Designated Villains

Today is TV Tropes Tuesday, and I will talk about two of my favorite tropes, which are the Designated Hero and the Designated Villain.  

Most stories have a hero and villain.  However, we’ve all seen or read or heard stories where the heroes are not very heroic, and the villains are not very villainous.  The heroes are meant to be sympathetic, but come across as unsympathetic, and possibly even actual villains; on the other hand, the villains might come across as sympathetic, and maybe even heroic, especially if they never do anything that is truly wrong.

In my attempts at developing stories, I have had trouble with this issue.  I’ve wanted to depict my characters doing bad things, but then I’m told that they sound too unlikable.  It’s hard to strike a balance, but I’ve always wanted to depict bad people doing bad things; I tend to find unlikable characters to be the most interesting.

For example, with my character Luna, I’ve intended for her to be an anti-hero trying to get through life while living in a town where she is completely and utterly despised by almost everyone; to distinguish from the designated hero, my intention is that she is still the hero of her story has at least generally good intentions, although she does some morally questionable things, but I’ve realized that some of the things I’ve imagined her doing go too far and would likely make her unlikable and unsympathetic.

I’ve thought of several ways to fix that issue.

I could tone down her bad behavior and try to make her more funny and sympathetic, instead of just an insufferable brat.

I could also depict her as receiving disproportionately unfair punishments; to expand on that I have created story lines where Luna received unfair punishments for lots of things.  For example, her story begins after she has spent the summer in Juvie after the cheer leading squad jumped her.  Even though, she was defending herself, she was charged and sentenced.  I also have Luna regularly being a victim of bullying and harassment, and the school staff does nothing about it, as they hate her.  Yet another story line focuses on Luna getting her first car, and then is arrested for driving ONE mile over the speed limit. Luna is selfish and spoiled, and she doesn’t always do right by her family and friends, but that does not justify being treated unfairly by the justice system or being ignored by her school when she is bullied and harassed.

This is my attempt to avoid making Luna into a designated hero.

Interestingly, I have also considered doing other things, like making Luna so unsympathetic, that the audience is rooting against her and is happy when she is justly punished at the end; this would make her a Villain Protagonist.

I’ve also imagined Luna being unfairly treated by someone, and her antagonist is portrayed as being in the right.  This is interesting because in a way Luna is a Villain Protagonist, and her opponent is a Hero Antagonist; however, the way in which I imagined would make them Designated Villain Protagonist and Designated Hero Antagonist  One story line involves Luna being reunited with someone whom she accidentally outed as gay to the entire school, leading to them dropping out to avoid being bullied.  This person decides to get revenge against Luna by framing her for saying derogatory things about the LGBT community.  When Luna proves her innocence, the person is called out harshly for their actions, but then Luna loses her support, when the others out what she did to the person. The message is that if someone outs you, you have the right to do whatever you want to destroy their life.  Not a good message.  An audience might not like that story, so I will try to make Luna more sympathetic, rather than expecting the audience to root against her.

Moving on, my show about teachers, I have imagined several major story lines where they do lots of bad things, like sabotaging each other, the principal public shaming her bad-behaving daughter, a teacher accidentally injuring a student and covering it up, two teachers destroying each others’ house, and all sorts of things.  Now, I’ve tried to make things not so harsh, and to include humor, but many of the characters could be regarded as designated heroes, and I’ve gotta do work to make them more sympathetic.  I’ve at least made a mean character nice to certain people and supportive of mental health issues and the LGBT community.

The next paragraph has spoilers.

To end this blog post, I will talk about an example of a designated hero that I have seen.  I enjoyed the Hulu original series East Los High, a teen drama which focuses on the students of a high school in the predominantly Mexican-American neighborhood of East Los Angeles.  One of the characters, Jessie, is dating a jock named Jacob.  When Jacob becomes close to Jessie’s cousin, Maya, Jessie becomes jealous and sleeps with her dance teacher (who seems to be about the same age as her), Cristian after spending lots of time alone with him.  Jessie shortly afterwards has sex with Jacob to avoid losing him to Maya.  Jessie had unprotected sex with Cristian (he failed at using the withdrawal method, which anyone who took comprehensive sex ed should and would know is an unreliable birth control method, and that many boys and men often can’t and don’t know exactly when they will reach orgasm and ejaculate, and may not withdraw in time, but I digress.), but Jacob used a condom when she had sex with him.  Jessie finds out that she is pregnant, and tells Jacob that he is the father, when Christian is actually the father.  This leads to Jacob foregoing a scholarship to play football for a college in Indiana, and at her mother’s insistence, he asks Jessie to marry him.  Leading up to the wedding, Jessie never expresses any guilt over lying to Jacob and causing him to give up his future to be a young father and husband.  Eventually as they are about to exchange vows, Jessie feels guilty, refuses to go through with the wedding, and pulls Jacob aside to tell him the truth.

What I noticed on the comments of the episodes is an expression of contempt for Jessie for her dishonesty, infidelity, and for causing Jacob to give up his future.  Yet, through it all, she does not express guilt until the last minute, and the show depicts her sympathetically.  While I personally don’t hate Jessie as a character, I can understand all the negative comments about her.  Perhaps, the show’s writers should have and could have depicted Jessie struggles with her guilt; it would have made her more sympathetic.

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My Short Film: New Clothes for a New Season

I completed my first short film on last Friday.  It was hard, of course, and I while I would make so many changes, I’m glad that it happened at all.

 

My Experiences Shooting My First Short Film

This past Tuesday, November 19, 2013, I finally shot my film for my Digital Filmmaking Class.  However, it was a long and difficult road to get there.

First, I needed to find a cast and crew.  I made attempts to find actresses for my film, but there were many dead ends.  I used a smartphone app called Circle (meant for finding people to to find people in the area to be in the film.  I found two people interested.  I gave them all of the details I had, but only one was interested in actually moving forward.  Later on, I attempted to use that app two find more actresses for all three of my characters, but there was no luck.  I had to constantly tell the one actress I did find, that I had to delay shooting the film.

My professor wanted us to be done filming by the first weekend of November 2013; however, that was not a possibility for me with all of my issues.

I told him about my issues with assembling a cast, and he told the rest of the class about it asking if they could help me.  A woman in my class agreed to play one of the roles.  But I still needed to two more people.

I made several attempts at making casting call flyers and submitting them to find actresses, but they were all rejected.  My main problems were that I submitted them at too short notice and I had plans at the time of filming at home; people might not be comfortbale going to a stranger’s home shortly after meeting them.

I made a renewed search for filming locations on campus and I asked my cousin to play role of Luna; I would have my classmate play both Luna’s mother and aunt.  I found some places, and it seemed like I was set for filming last Friday, November 15, 2013; but then I had to postpone because my cousin had a school assignment.  I let my classmate know, and we rescheduled for the afternoon of Sunday November 17, 2013; however, there was a huge thunderstorm and other severe weather including tornados throughout much of the state of Illinois and the Midwest.  My area just had a thunderstorm, but due to the weather my cousin was not available for filming because she was getting her hair done when the storm hit, and she left for home in the middle of the storm for the sake of safety; she later return to get her hair done after the storm cleared up, but she did not know when she would be done getting her hair done.  Therefore, one again, I had to delay filming.  My cousin did, however, guarantee that she would be available on Tuesday November, 19, 2013, and therefore, I scheduled the filming for that day.

That Tuesday afternoon, I set up the rented filming equipment, while waiting for my cousin.  When she showed up, I introduced her to my classmate, and then we began filmng the first and third scenes, which were set in the same location; there were mistakes of course, but the process was fun.  However, there was a mistake.  I did not check to make sure that I was recording sound; fortnately we later on, we re-recorded the dialogue to edit into the film in post-production.  We filmed the second scene in another location, and then we were done.

The experience was rewarding, and while I have already made several mistakes that I would re-do if I had the chance, I am so proud that I have finally shot a short film.

Screenplay for My Short Film for My Digital Film-making Class

This fall, I enrolled in a digital film-making class.  The objective of the class is to learn the entire film-making experience.  This includes things such as conception, screenwriting, story-boarding, lighting, filming, finding actors, and editing the film on a computer.  This is quite a challenge, and yes, I am struggling, but regardless, I am committed to making best possible short film that I can make.

The film has to be two to five minutes long, and it has to be original to the class.  Anything done outside of the specific class (including the screenplay) whether done for another class or on one’s own time , would not be an acceptable project under most circumstances.

This project involves my character Luna .  In this story, she wants clothes, but does not have any money for them.  Her mother refuses to give her the money, saying that she does not need new clothes.  Luna decides to find the money another way, and in the process, she learns about what really matters.

Enjoy.

New Clothes for a New Seasom
By
Ellis Sutton, Jr.
INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
It is nighttime. ALMA, a forty-something businesswoman,
walks into the living room from outside. She is tired and
sits down on the couch.
ALMA
Oh, what a day!
Seconds later, LUNA, Alma’s fashionable teenage daughter
walks downstairs. She hugs her mother.
LUNA
Hey, mom! How was your day!
They stop hugging and Luna sits down.
ALMA
Ugh! So busy! I can’t believe my
assistant accidentally deleted the
files we needed. Almost set us
back!
LUNA
Sounds bad. Can I have some money?
ALMA
What in the world for?
LUNA
Clothes. I need new stuff to wear.
ALMA
But, Luna, you just got clothes for
Christmas a few months ago.
LUNA
Yeah, I know. That was my winter
wardrobe. Now, I gotta buy my
spring wardrobe.
ALMA
What about the clothes you got
right before school started last
fall? It’s warm enough for those
isn’t it?
LUNA
That was my fall wardrobe.
ALMA
Luna. There’s nothing wrong with
your clothes.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 2.
LUNA
Um, yeah there are. They went out
of style. I can’t show my face at
school wearing them.
ALMA
Sorry. The answer’s “no.”
LUNA
But, mom, I really need them. I
mean, sure, I liked my clothes when
I got them, but lots of things
changed. Like, no one wears those
boots Dad got me for Christmas
anymore.
ALMA
Luna, honey, you’ll just have to
learn two things. Appreciate what
you have. And there’s a difference
between needs and wants. You don’t
NEED new clothes; you WANT them.
LUNA.
No, I DO need them.
Alma stands up and walks away.
ALMA
I’m done! I’m gonna take a shower
and go to bed.
Luna takes her cell phone out of her pocket.
ALMA (O.S.)
And don’t even think about asking
your father for the money!
Luna puts her phone back in her pocket and shakes her head.
INT. CONDOMINIUM LIVING ROOM – THE FOLLOWING AFTERNOON
A MIDDLED-AGED WOMAN, Luna’s aunt LUCY is sitting at her
living room table typing on her LAPTOP. She hears a knock
on the door. She gets up to answer the door. It is Luna.
LUNA
Hey, Aunt Lucy!
LUCY
Luna! I’m so glad to see you. We
had a great Christmas!
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 3.
LUNA
We sure did! Thanks again for the
dress!
LUCY
Of course, honey! I know how you
always like to look good!
LUNA
Yep, that’s me!
LUCY
Please, Luna, sit down down! Would
you like something to eat, drink!
LUNA
No, I’m good.
Luna sits down next to Lucy on the couch.
LUNA
So, how’s Al been?
LUCY
Your cousin’s been fine. The
University of Chicago’s lucky to
have him.
Lucy then frowns. Luna notices.
LUNA
What’s the matter, Aunt Lucy?
Lucy sighs.
LUCY
It’s just that pay for Al to go to
college has been so hard
LUNA
(confused)
How do you mean?
LUCY
Well, with tuition and housing and
all of that, it costs almost
$60,000 dollars per year.
LUNA
(shocked)
Wow!
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 4.
LUCY
Yeah. And to be honest we can’t
really afford it. And with the
fact that Al wasn’t accepted
anywhere else and his father losing
his job, it’s been mostly up to me
to make ends meet.
LUNA
All up to you?
LUCY
Pretty much. I’ve been doing all I
can to make sure Al can get an
education. I mean, I’ve gotten two
extra jobs, I’ve cancelled the
phone and TV services, and I’m so
close to cancelling the Internet
too.
LUNA
(shocked)
The Internet?! How can you deal
without the Internet?!
LUCY
I don’t know. But I don’t have a
choice, really.
LUNA
You know, Aunt Lucy.
LUCY
What?
LUNA
Well, I got lots of clothes I don’t
wear anymore. I could sell them
and give the money to you.
Lucy gives Luna a big hug.
LUCY
Luna, thank you, honey for that. I
really meant it. But I can’t
accept that.
LUNA
But why? You need the help. And I
can do it.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 5.
LUCY
Yes, I’m struggling. But I don’t
want you to have to give things up
for me. You’re young. You deserve
to have fun until you grow up and
have to deal with all this
adulthood trouble.
Luna and Lucy hug.
LUCY
Now, I don’t mean to send you away,
but I’ve gotta get ready for work.
It was nice seeing you Luna.
Lucy gets up.
LUNA
It was nice seeing you, too, Aunt
Lucy.
Luna then gets up and leaves.
INT. LIVING ROOM – NIGHT
Alma is sitting in the living room at the couch with a
laptop and numerous papers and folders. Luna walks in.
LUNA
Hi, mom.
ALMA
Hi, baby. How was your day?
LUNA
It was fine.
Luna sits down next to Alma.
LUNA
Mom, I just wanna say that I’m
sorry about yesterday. I was a
spoiled brat. You’re right. My
clothes are fine. I don’t need any
new ones.
Luna then hugs Alma.
LUNA
I just wanna say thanks for being
the best mom in the world. I love
you.
(CONTINUED)
CONTINUED: 6.
ALMA
I love you too, Luna. And baby, I
want you have the things want, but
I also want you to know there’s
more important things.
LUNA
I know that now, Mom.
ALMA
What do you say I take a break from
all this work, and we watch some TV
together.
LUNA
Sound great, Mom!
Alma moves her papers, folders, and laptop to the side and
turns on the TV.
TV ANNOUNCER (O.S.)
Today, hot new designers reveal
their spring fashions.
Luna taps Alma
LUNA
Mom? Can I have some money for
that dress?
ALMA
(frustrated)
No! I thought we already went over
this!
LUNA
But, Mom! I need that dress! It’s
perfect for me!
Alma just shakes her head.
FADE OUT.