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:
Pulling The Trigger
If you slightly turn your gun, it shifts from regular shot to a kill shot. But could you do it?
Could you do it?
Could you pull the trigger that sets off (or ends) a revolution?
Could you sacrifice your friends and comrades for the greater good?
Could you twist the knife into someone’s heart and watch the light in their eyes dim?
I talk a lot of shit that I want to be involved in the Hunger Games just to “see how well I’d fare” in the fight-to-the-death competition. And it’s true, I do want to have first hand experience because if playing video games has taught me anything, it’s that I’m average. Decent.
But real life is not a video game. To maim someone in a game only to have them respawn seconds later does not hold the same mentally taxing implication as an individual who dies before you. Or by your action. That’s the interesting thing about the human condition: many of us [generally] like to think we’re much more badass than we actually are. And maybe some of us are. The majority of us though? We’re surely squeamish to watching an insect being squished (not to mention its existence) or even blood splattering in a gore-filled horror film.
But perhaps the question isn’t “could you pull the trigger” but “to whom who could you pull the trigger against?”. A friend? Stranger? A known villain in society? The gradient of willingness teeter totters between the moral and utilitarian outcome implicit to the decision and it certainly would be easier to digest a death by a third party not affiliated with our selves, family, or friends.
So could you pull the trigger?
To extend this thought further, is the method of killing blow a large determinant on the success of the action being followed through? I mean…between an up-close-and-personal knife combat to a gun fight, you’d still generally have a line of vision to the victim and would likely endure some form of tangible guilt knowing they’d have died by your hands. So imagine a scenario where you arrange a series of traps that become the pitfall for your target. If you don’t see the death, is the thought less immediate? Because the rule ultimately becomes “if you don’t see it happen…did it actually happen?”
The important distinction to keep in the back of your head though, I’d imagine, is the unapologetic selfishness and self-preservation in living — the me versus you need to survive that just…happens — and I don’t really have an argument for that. I think I’m too kind (see: too “Canadian”) to even follow through…but I also kind of enjoy breathing, you know? So pulling the trigger, at least for me, might very well come as an automatic response in the heat of the moment…
…but could you do it?
Please note that I do not have murderous tendencies to hurt anyone or anything. This discussion is rooted in comparing the ease of accepting violence in multimedia and video games.
Let me know your thoughts!
1) What would be your propensity to killing someone if they were a stranger versus a villain.
2) If you were under duress, how do you think your gut instinct would react?
3) What video games have you played (if any, in the past or recent) that involves a lot of dying (and respawning)? I’m curious!
As always, think aloud.