Monday, August 09, 2010

The Hero Project #7: Two More Rare Categories

I realize that the sort of chart I laid out yesterday, identifying Nine Types of Heroes, may seem totally OCD, quantifying judgments that are inherently qualitative, so I won’t spend too long on it, but first allow me to get even more nitpicky...

After I worked up the chart, I circulated it at a gathering of smart people and asked if there were any heroes who weren’t covered by these categories. We came up with two types and I realized that there was a whole vector that I hadn’t factored into the chart: experience. Now sometimes, that falls under “qualified” but sometimes it doesn’t. I quickly concluded that four vectors (and the resulting 16 categories) would be too much, so instead I identified two rare subcategories:

You’ll recall that category three was “The Well Trained Rookie” but I was assuming there that the only unqualified people who were nevertheless on the job and in their element would be people who had just started. But what about…

3a: The Holy Fool

  • This hero is also on the job, in their element, and unqualified, but unlike the Ambitious Rookie, however, they can’t blame a lack of experience. They’ve been doing it for years, but they’re just really stupid. These are always comic heroes, and they succeed through sheer bumbling:
  • Examples: Inspector Clouseau, Austin Powers, Buzz in the Toy Story Movies, even Chaplin in Modern Times, to a certain extent.

Then I realized that I still hadn’t included one of the three main heroes from one of my original examples, Pirates of the Caribbean. Elizabeth Swann has never been to sea, but she does just fine when she’s there because she’s read up on piracy beforehand, so I added…

5a: The Book-Taught Amateur:

  • Like the exile, they are qualified even though they are not on the job and not in their element. Again, it’s a difference of experience. The book-taught hero has learned everything about this problem in advance from reading and then successfully applies that knowledge in the field.
  • Examples: Knightly in POTC, Redford in Three Days of the Condor, Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
Tomorrow, I’ll get to the whole point of the chart: figuring out which heroes need skills and which ones don’t...

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