Confessions of a Drama Hypocrite:
Warning: contains spoilers about recent dramas, because it's more fresh in my memory.
Starting a drama is always an anticipatory process:
However if we see something we don't like, feelings quickly turn:
Then we start preparing for murder:
A lot of us are not shy to voice our opinions about certain character portrayals. We band doormats as "pathetic", we whine when more interesting characters are shoved into the background, in favour of the one we couldn't care less about. Don't deny. We've all done it.
The thing is, recently I've been feeling...more guilty.
Not enough that I will stop name-calling characters if they're beyond exasperation, but certainly enough it makes me feel remorseful. If my life were a TV drama, and a faux audience described it as "boring, pathetic and not worthy of screen time" - it would certainly annihilate me. That is, after wondering how broadcasting rights got past the fact I didn't give permission, then who the hell signed the contract?
(Off topic: Maybe I have an evil twin?)
I imagine being told you're not charismatic enough, or smart enough or interesting enough to even be considered a main character in your own life is not a pleasant thing. However, that still won't stop me from character assassination. But when I'm doing so, a part of me feels acutely uncomfortable because I'm aware there are people out there, in real life, who are treated like doormats and can be seen as pathetic - and would I say it to their face? Would I like it if anyone said it to me? Hell, even some of us could go through pathetic moments that we don't want to share with the world, just because it's tough and we can't afford to be vulnerable.
But somehow when it comes to drama - and even fiction - we yell, and we scream and we curse characters that are not "worthy." This is a long-standing conflict that will remain forever in my eyes. When I read fiction, I will always expect full characterization and interesting characters to take precedent - but we are an impatient bunch and not really invested. In dramas, if we see a "pathetic" character, we want to watch them become strong and grow - but rarely are we interested to stick around, and watch the character be pushed around and around, repetitively, until something changes. This is true to real life. We always want to be there when a character is taking charge of their own life, but the majority of us don't want to watch the struggle unless there are proactive steps to lessen it.
It's human nature and we're a flaky bunch.
Laugh, and the world laughs with you, weep and you weep alone - Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Here are two common pathetic "tropes" characters can exhibit in a drama:
These are all characters I've called pathetic in the past or seen being called pathetic by other people. I feel nervous, because some of them are popular actors from popular dramas^^
Number One: -
Being a doormat. People can be mean to you, cruel even, but you just sit there and take it or cry and don't do anything about it. Or you could just be a coward in confronting situations. Few examples:
Xiang Qin and Ha Ni are variations of the same character. They play the naive, gullible girl terribly in love with a cold, intelligent genius. He puts her through a lot of grief, and is verbally mean, but the girl just sees that as a sign to try harder for his affection. At no point does she she sit him down, and explain how his behaviour might not be okay.
This is a drama I'm currently watching, so I can't help including it in my examples because it's hot in my memory. From the outset, you will label lovers Na Yeon and Tae Joon as pathetic. Like Hwang Jung Eum's character in "Secret" - Na Yeon sacrifices her life and aspirations just so her boyfriend can achieve his. In both cases, said boyfriends screw the heroine over and we all roll our eyes, because it's so effing...doormat behaviour. I include Tae Joon in the mix, because he's willing to be bossed around by the Jang family just to make a name for himself, and lately Se Jin - Tae Joon's latest woman turned wife, because she's become uber jealous and stalking him like a demented woman, forgoing her own identity.
I include both friends in this one, because at one stage or another - they were both labelled pathetic in the forums. Hye Jin (the one on the left), because she makes no effort to improve her appearance or improve her situation at work, and later on - Ha Ri, because episodes dragged with her pretending to be her best friend, just so she can stay close to Seong Jun and not lose him. A lot of viewers called her actions cowardly.
Number Two : -
Just crying a lot in general. Guaranteed one person will call you pathetic, even if you're dying from a terminal illness or unable to get over long-standing grief. Sometimes you can be crying for "no reason" - but no matter how deep your reason (or not) - if it's continuous - you WILL be called the "p" word. By someone. Somewhere in the world. Not that I blame them at times. Few examples:
The Heirs was not a good drama for Park Shin Hye. It required a lot of tears, and a lot of us were sick of it. It's made a lot of people morbidly cautious of Shin Hye - they're scared she'll start crying in whatever drama she's in, and breathe a sigh of relief when she isn't.
Hye Soo is dying from cancer, and cries a lot for it. Several people were agitated and didn't like seeing her so...piteous.
A drama from 2012 that contained a lot of sobbing. Soo Yeon has been through a lot, so you'd think we'd be more understanding, but as the episode count went on, and there seemed to be no let-up of crying, a lot of us asked if it was too much to ask for, to have one episode where there is no crying. What's the word? Oh yeah, you all know =.=
Pathetic. Some wield that word, implying it's a negative thing.
And I admit - even I do myself. And will keep doing it.
Doesn't mean I don't occasionally think about it and tell myself not to use it so flippantly. Using words to describe someone is a powerful tool, and more of us should be aware of exactly how much power. But that is one hypocrisy that I don't think will ever die, and wouldn't want too. I don't want to watch a drama, seeing the same scene over and over again - at the end of the day we're investing in a story, not in an actual person. The characters could be very interesting, in a drama, and I'd still be pissed if they repeated similar scenes over again, containing emotions like happiness.
Keep the two worlds separate and we'll be fine.