Occasionally, someone who has read my book The Act of Laughing will track me down on Facebook and tell me how much they related to one of the characters.
It’s never the two with redeeming qualities, either. It’s always Evan.
Evan is a snarky, lazy comic book artist with a massive ego and a strong sense of entitlement. He’s an atheist, and is an asshole about it, often interjecting his lack of belief into other people’s religious conversations. That’s super obnoxious behavior. I don’t like him at all. He’s the kind of person who annoys me.
That’s just me, though. People project things onto him that I didn’t consciously put there. That’s cool. I like that. They don’t even think he’s an asshole.
Some people think I’m an asshole, and I can be, when I’m in the mood to be one. I can be a major asshole. I don’t read books with asshole characters and relate to them, though. Maybe they weren’t even meant to be read as assholes and I’m just perceiving them as such. Who knows?
I don’t feel the need to relate to people in books, movies or TV shows, though. Don’t get me wrong, relatability can be cool at times, but I’ve binge-watched shows on Netflix that are full of characters I wouldn’t want to know in real life. If they have an interesting story, though, I want to hear it. Do the people seem real? Does the dialogue sound authentic? Is the story compelling?These are the things that excite me about characters, not whether or not I like them or relate to them.
Characters I want to relate to, though? That’s a different story. The characters I most want to be like are heroic. That’s when I actually look for common traits. Don’t often find any, though, and that’s just fine by me.
Deep down, I know these characters are all the products of someone’s imagination. They aren’t real. I’d rather relate to a living, breathing human being, or maybe a long-dead one. I certainly relate to a lot of real people. I don’t relate to Indiana Jones, y’know? But I love Indiana Jones.
Still, I’m fully aware that I’m in the minority here, and that’s why I wouldn’t sit down and tap out one of those stupid “This is how you should enjoy things” blog posts or articles that people often waste internet on. If you need to relate, relate away. I’m glad people relate to Evan Barnes. Maybe he’s not as much of an asshole as I thought.