posted by Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy
Last night, I finished watching the DVDs of the HBO series Rome including the “Bonus Features.” During the latter, a comment made by one of the show’s creators really resonated with me. He said that people were attracted to the show because of the characters. One minute, viewers would say, “Wow! Those people are just like me!” Then five minutes later they would say, “Wow! Those people are nothing like me!”
I couldn’t agree more, and I believe the same duality is true of all fictional characters. The audience needs to be able to identify with a character’s traits and actions, but at the same time, the character must go far beyond most ordinary human beings.
In Rome, it’s easy to identify with and like the character Lucius Vorenus. He is honorable, courageous, and highly moral in all his deeds. We would all like to think we too could be as noble and upstanding, and we love watching his character.
However, I know I’m not the only one who finds myself even more intrigued by Vorenus’ comrade and nearly polar opposite, Titus Pullo. Most of the time, Pullo is ultra-violent, killing and maiming anyone with seemingly no conscience. He is an amoral, drunken, whoring brute who never seems to think about his actions beyond how he can be instantly gratified. His character is exaggerated to the extreme, and he is not like someone you would ever hope to be! And yet… he is infinitely fascinating to watch! The few moments within the series when Pullo showed his sensitive, caring nature, or when he actually understood something beyond his own immediate need were my favorites.
Am I alone in my weirdness?
Think about some of your favorite characters. Were you drawn to them because they were just like you? Or did the attraction lay in them being nothing like you?