The Terrible Protagonist series explores reasons why regular humans (aka myself) would not fair well in the world of fiction.
Why I’d Be A Terrible Protagonist:
You’re asking me to take a bullet for you with such a stoic face…you’re–oh, you’re serious?
I’d like to think that I’m a pretty easygoing and open person to do shit with. I might bungee off a cliff, skydive, and try most adrenaline fueling endeavours so long as there’s a safety net for me to validate in my mind, with an effortless ‘no’, the answer to the question: will I die if I attempt this?
Point is: if there’s this landfill of a void where “safety” and “breathing” and “fun” and “alive” ought to be, then you best believe I’m not diving headfirst into some heroic conquest. Because valuing my life (keyword: my) starts with me–so I will laugh in your face if you think I’ll willfully join some crusade for a half-baked cause I’m not so sure I believe in.
But I’ll play along and humour you a bit.
Let’s say I devoured some of that propaganda cereal and know of the doom and gloom faced by the world. How the hell is anyone going to successfully pitch to protagonist-me the need for my time and effort to assist in righting the path of wrong? Think about it: if I’m already running on borrowed time because of Sauron 2.0, President Snowflake, or Joffrey Baratheon Jr. being among our kind — meaning: the world is fucking terrible — don’t you think I may have already knew that and would have done something if I could and/or wanted to? To now be encouraged to throw away my last [potentially] risk-free days of doing absolutely nothing to join some arduous and physically taxing escapade toward death is just baffling.
To do it for free is even more radical.
It’s not that there’s a condition that incentives are required to balance the risk involved when dealing with uncertainty (as it pertains to life and death). Instead, it’s that something as immaterial as an “I.O.U” is bullshit–and frankly useless–to the dead version of me (unless plot twist: undead zombies? then we can talk terms).
All things considered, let’s imagine that we’re ho-humming along with the rest of our ragtag fellowship of the almost-dead. Just because I’ve joined the fray doesn’t mean there should be some expectation that I’m on autopilot to see the journey through. It’s a very human thing to not want to get hurt (let alone die) and it’s this aspect to fictional characters which fascinates me. There are countless protagonists who live by this unwavering promise to take that bullet or fight that battle knowing it’s for the good of the cause….
…and that’s not something that comes naturally to me.
Maybe it’s selfishness. Maybe it’s the fact that most individuals are strangers to my glorified Chosen One status. Or maybe it’s just this indescribable instinct and snap judgment to persist. To live. Call it what you want, sometimes the best hero version of yourself is the one who’s still living, and guess who gets to decide that?
Now on to some things for you to think about:
How risk adverse are you? How do you measure it?
What would you do upon finding out that you’re the hero, the Chosen One, here to resolve [issue]?
As always, think aloud.
Because I like to complain about the most pointless shit, I thought “hey, why not make a new feature out of it!” — and so with the creative inspiration of The Blacklist that features one new baddie each week numbered oddly, I thought this could apply somewhat to these prompts as well.
If you’re interested in guest posting for this topic (re: “I’d be a terrible/shitty protagonist because _______” then let me know!)