Making the world a better place, one show at a time.

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I guess you would like to know a little bit about the person making all these proclamations upon good taste and horrid characters. I'm Andrea and when I was 15 I fell in love. An hour after meeting "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" I was forever altered in the way only love can, and I never questioned for one minute afterwards that television offered me an amazing chance to experience lives and moments that I could never imagine. So now, when I'm not getting distracted by my real life, I write about TV. I also read, am finishing a Master's degree in English Literature, travel, am attempting to learn vegan cooking, am the 5th of 6 children, and drive my roommate nuts by constantly cleaning our already clean apartment. Now that we're old friends, time for you to take my opinions as the be all and end all.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Fictional Throwdown: Character/Moral Understanding

Now everyone has had a little more than a week to contemplate the abilities of the two competitors, and I hope you have all been taking a great deal of time to seriously consider what I have so far presented. I even gave you an opportunity to declare your opinion with only limited input from myself. Not surprisingly, of the 10 votes cast 7 went to Peter, meaning he has 40% more support from my readers than Sam. Well, power isn’t everything. Environment and perspective can be the deciding factor in a fight. So, what kind of world do these two boys live in, and how do they understand that world?

The First Competitor: Sam Winchester

The cosmos Supernatural posits that there is evil outside of the human. The show does not deny the existence of God, Sam believes, Dean doesn’t (but he wants to), but over all the show operates on the premise that evil is readily evident, whereas good is mysterious. The treatment of demonic possession is interesting. I was taught that invitation on the part of the possessed is necessary for demonic possession. In the show, they bypass this, addressing it more as the necessity of “openness.” It seems like anyone can be possessed (Sam is during one episode) which indicates an argument that we are all fallen creatures, no one is purely innocent. Therefore the various planes of existence interact with each other. Sam works to save the lives of those who are in danger from that which is outside themselves, but is particularly attached to them. His goal is always twofold: save the life by eradicating the evil. To do so requires Sam to find out two things: what is the nature of the evil and why is it attached to the person. For Sam, planning is key. I said before that Sam and Dean were raised to be warriors, and they always do what has to be done to finish the job. When action is required Sam delivers (he beheaded a guy by wrapping barbed wire around his neck and pulling it with his bare hands). Sam know that what is right, or necessary, is rarely pleasant. But they, especially Sam, don’t fall back on a Nuremberg-Defense type of life. Sam questions his own choices, and what type of person he is based on those choices. Sam’s willingness to examine himself indicates that reflection is part of his nature, and a requirement of retaining ones humanity. For avid viewers the question of whether Sam is evil is a deeply troubling one. I am taking the January 31st episode for my answer. Sam is changing of his own volition; he is not minus one soul. Sam’s potential for evil is actually only slightly greater than any other person’s (you, me, dude down the street). His choices make him who he is, and he makes those choices informed by his understanding of a universal context.

The Second Competitor: Peter Petrelli

Heroes is kind of a different story. Within the parameters of the show there is no order other than the human. The powers the characters have result from spontaneous evolution. I personally don’t believe in spontaneous evolution, but I do believe in divinely guided evolution. I mention this because there is a very fine line between interpreting a work (in this case a TV show) and imposing ones own belief system upon it. As much as I would say that the Heroes’ powers should come from God, there is no indication within the show that such an argument is being prosecuted. Furthermore, there is no account of evil other than spontaneous evolution. All of the major villains so far encountered on Heroes have abilities. While much of the show focuses on the choices either for good or evil that each character must make in response to their gifts (the show doesn’t deny free will), this situation means that Peter has only encountered enemies that exist on the same plane as himself. His fights have been a matter of power versus power. Within this more circumscribed universe Peter is a deeply loving person, and arguably the most loving person on the show. Peter has a general view: his attention is always on humanity at large, and when it has been particularized there was a specter of insincerity to it. I apologize for my digression, back to serious business. He wants what is best for the largest amount of people, and as noble as his intentions are, Peter’s broad perspective means that his objectives are often indistinct. He understands the final outcome he desires, but is often surprised by the intermediate actions necessary to achieve that goal. Being guided by an ultimate result helps Peter to be concentrated and fixed, but he has trouble properly evaluating people and situations as they arise, because he can’t see the trees for the forest.

The TV Girl

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