Tuesday, September 12, 2006

It's all about character

Over at PTC, there's a double-deuce of threads that boiled over into some uneasy feelings. Why? Well, because some douche decided he was going to say he didn't like vampires. I wonder what kind of asshole would say something like that...

Oh, it was me :p

Anyway, here are the threads in question.

The first one
The offshoot

Peruse the threads at your own disposal. I'm not discussing the arguments or whatever was going down in that thread here. What I will discuss though is my thoughts on these character archetypes and what I like to see in wrestling characters.

My main thought on characters is that you should be able to do whatever character you want to do. E-fedding is about freedom of expression, about expressing yourself vicariously through people who aren't you, or maybe even through people who are exactly like you in situations that you might never encounter. I don't think any character should be banned from being handled in a fed (unless it's a real person used without that person's consent... looking in your direction people who still try to RP as Stone Cold Steve Austin :p). If you want to handle the greatest technical wrestler in the world who happens to have a mic repertoire of only saying "I'm better than you. Now I'm going to go train and bang my girlfriend who happens to model for Victoria's Secret," then no one should be able to stop you. If you want to write as a 2500 year old legit vampire who scours the night looking for virgins to ensnare, then go for it. If you want to handle an 8 foot cave hulk, well Varga, go right ahead.

However, in the same vein in that you should have the right to handle whomever you want, I, and everyone, should have the right not to like your character, not to like your writing and express that freely (civilly, of course). If everyone liked every character put forth, then things would get bland. We wouldn't have anything to discuss. Feedback would be useless. No one would be pushed to get better because they'd have no one telling them they're not good enough, no one giving them the drive to improve. Matches would wholesale end in draws. The rivers would run red with blood. The moon would crumble to the Earth and the New Jerusalem would come down and plop on the old one. Dogs and cats would start living together. Rabesquedor would stop borinating people. Pete and Jeremy J. would have a public embrace where all would be forgiven.

Okay, so things wouldn't go that far :p

The point is, as long as the disagreement remains civil and doesn't turn into a public snipefest, it's healthy for any community. Much like no one needs a community where everyone hates each other and jumps down each other's throats, or even worse, doesn't say anything to each other at all, no one needs a community where everyone is chomping at the bit to blow everyone else. There needs to be balance.

And because I'd like to think that this blog and the comment board has some kind of balance to it, here's what I think about some common character archetypes.

Vampires

I'm by no means a hater of the vampire genre. I don't read Anne Rice books or watch Joss Whedon programs, but stuff like the legend of Count Dracula intrigues me. The Castlevania series is also one of my favorite video game series ever. I actually bought the original Castlevania and Castlevania II for the NES this weekend.

In a way, I think vampires can fit and be compelling in a wrestling environment. However, I think the conditions would have to be right.

How I'd like to see vampires portrayed: First and foremost, I don't think any vampiric character should be portrayed as legit. To me, that totally suspends my suspension of disbelief. I can't believe that a vampire could exist in the wrestling world and do things in the ring that no one else could be able to do inside what's physically possible. What I think could be cool is a character like Gangrel in the WWF. Someone who plays a Gothy/Satanic type character, belongs to a cult, stuff like that. There's some very interesting stuff that can be worked into RPs and segments. There's a wealth of occult materials you can research to find out rituals and such. In the hands of an expert writer, a vampire character could rock.

How I don't like to see vampires portrayed: I don't like seeing 2500 year old legit vampires who do things like turn into bats, feast on blood for their sustenance, summon demons, do things that are physically impossible in real life. For one, there are communities for that kind of stuff. That, and the main crux of your character might not focus on wrestling. I mean, you couldn't be able to go summon demons and shit while you're in the ring, but that's a major part of the essence of your character. I feel your character should be defined at least 50% of what happens in the ring and 50% what happens in the RP arena, wherever that may be, so why spend 50% of your time doing shit that is tangential to your character as a wrestler at best? Sure, you could say that for a bunch of other archetypes, even the realistic vampire that I hypothesized above, but the difference is this; it's alot more realistic to believe that doing a ritual as a "fake" vampire would be used towards means to an end in the wrestling arena than doing one as a legit vampire would. Seeing that the "fake" vampire's ritual wouldn't give him any supernatural powers and a legit vampire's would, I think that's plausible to believe.

And another thing... while it's wholly noble to say that a vampire could turn his/her powers off in the ring... there are powers that a vampire COULDN'T be able to turn off, and there'd always be the temptation to use those powers in the ring.

This goes for all non-human characters as well.

Gangsters

We're talking Italian stereotypical mafiosi, ones from the Mario Puzo lore. Contract killers, consiglieres, made men, that kinda stuff.

How I like to see gangsters portrayed: First off, I'd love the idea of a "Wrestling Mafia" stable, a stable that might not be associated with La Cosa Nostra in real life, but acts as they would on-camera; ie, contract beatdowns, omerta, all the parallels from the real thing only scaled down so that they could logistically compete in a pro wrestling ring (ie, no killings, that sort of thing).

Mafiosi in wrestling business... well, that could work. Maybe you have a character whose history is shady. Perhaps someone in the Witness Protection Program could wrestle under a mask, be it mob related or not. It would be pretty hard to straddle the line because mainly...

What I wouldn't want to see in a gangster character: Full on mobsters in a wrestling ring. For one, even if the promoter didn't know at first, the government is going to tip him/her off that they're watching one of their employees for racketeering. Most people not named Vince McMahon don't want that kind of attention for their company, and I don't think even Vince would cross that line. And forget about contract killers being on the roster. I was talking to Pete Russo about this in IM, and he made a pretty good point:

"These people are on television, they're recognizable faces."

You aren't going to want to go killing someone if your face is going to be plastered all over national television on the odd chance that there are witnesses that you can't kill. You won't be able to do most of this stuff and keep your character on television in a realistic manner.

Wrestling intensive characters with no discernable gimmick

These are your Chris Benoits, your AJ Styleses, Steve Blackmans, etc. On real TV, these characters can be awesome. Some of them... kinda blow. However, this is the one kind of character that is hardest to translate well into e-wrestling.

What I'd like to see in a straight-up wrestler: I think if you're going to go for the straitlaced wrestler character, you need to give him a ton of personality outside of the ring. Like, Rock-level gift of gab, and you need to be focused enough not to stray away from what these guys are about, in-ring stuff, intensity, yadda yadda.

I think in angle feds, where matchwriting is king rather than RPing, these kinds of characters can work extremely well. Although I've never made it through a tSC show completely, I'd imagine a Benoit-type character working extremely well in a matchwriter's angle fed like that.

What I wouldn't like to see in a straight-up wrestler: Generic RPs, promos and segments where he/she talks about beating the other character, how he loves being a wrestler, how he's such a damn good professional wrestler, yadda yadda yadda. Characters that use no imagination. Characters who read like Ben Stein talks. Characters who think they should win matches just because their moveset contains every move known to man and they're better than everyone technically. E-fedding requires imagination. It requires you to engage your audience, while at the same time keeping at least a tangential focus on wrestling. Balance is the key.

I think this debate hinges on two different things: realism and relation to wrestling. The thing about it is, those can be two VERY subjective qualities. I mean, what one person finds absurd is totally realistic to someone else. For Christ's sake, Paul Miller has a heart attack at the thought of a woman wrestler competing on the same level as a man, and yet you have folks in GCW who think legit vampires are plausible if you assume a reality other than this one. Then you have people in the middle. The same thing with wrestling topicality. Some purists would say that anything not done backstage, in front of a camera or in the ring doesn't belong in an e-fed, and there are those that think RPing not only should include happenings off-camera, but they should also include things that blatantly break kayfabe.

Where's the happy medium? To tell you the truth... no one's going to agree on one. Everyone's got their own ways to make the hobby work for them, and you know what? That's perfectly fine for them.

Just don't expect me to like it all the time when you vary from my view, which, of course, is the way I think is best. To me, this hobby is called e-wrestling for a reason. We write should write about wrestling. If not, then what separates us from other RP/creative writing circles? Is it too much to ask that if you RP competitively, you at least get something in return that says a match happened? Shouldn't everything happen have to do with your character the wrestler, even if he's more than just a wrestler?

I don't know. That's just me. It might make me a crotchety purist, but it's the way I like things. I like to think I'm a bit liberal when it comes to things, and I'll never say a character archetype should be barred.

That's the beauty of things though. It is what you make of it. Your characters are yours and as long as you enjoy it and are happy with it, then that's all that matters.

8 comments:

Sam L. said...

Tom, I think you're a stank-ass stankass.

Jeffrey Paternostro said...

Are you trying to make me hate e-fedding?

Anonymous said...

regarding straight-up wrestlers....

You would've loved Evan Aho. He was a WRESTLER. He wrote RPs that showed off his character as someone who wrestled, lived for wrestling, and only understood wrestling. Never cut a memorable micspot that I'm aware of, never would've lasted ten seconds, verbally, with Miles.

But he was one of the most intriguing characters I've ever seen, and I really wish there was a place for Evan in the game right now.

-pete

Tom Holzerman said...

The treatises in the entry aside, Pete, there's room in this hobby for any character who's written well in a believable manner.

Anonymous said...

Different strokes for different folks. The FW world is big enough for everyone to find what they're looking for. Bascially it's up to the fed head to determine what comes and goes. If someone rp'd as a real "vampire" on fw.com, someone like Stanton or Gethard would tear him (or her) a new one and have fun with it. To the point where the character would have to do some pretty entertaining stuff to continue.

Obviously, in say PRIME or elsewhere you're expected to do more than promo style.

I would've never thought of inserting photoshop colored pictures into a rp, but Chris' stuff that I've read has been top notch. The shot of George Clinton banging Nova's mother was priceless.

I think guys like Dillion who shit on fw.com and then admit they really don't spend enough time there are laughable and do nothing to really add to any conversation. But hey, that's just me. A straight-laced blog poster.

There are bad, or average writers anywhere. The board or style, shouldn't matter.

I don't really know how many Vampire storylines are being done. We've all done something that couldn't really happen. Hey, it's fantasy wrestling and none of us are Emily Bronte or John doe great writer.

The spirit of the post was what annoys you. Not do you have a reasonable claim.

I enjoy good writing and entertaining characters. You can find that anywhere.

Anonymous said...

I found Dillon's PTC comments about "oh KATZ'S WRITING IS SO UNREALISTIC!" completely laughable when it's known he's been drinking the Katz Kool-Aid and having a gigantic hard-on for Miles in fWo. Not to mention him joining, then quitting, then joining, then quitting NFW this season.

Anonymous said...

But drinking Katz's Kool-Aid makes people say some unrealistic things, 'cause we all know its laced with acid.

--Must Die

Tom Holzerman said...

"There are bad, or average writers anywhere. The board or style, shouldn't matter."

I know this is you, Steve, you non-signing bastard ;)

Anyway, I agree with that, but I'm just saying I have a very hard time buying into those types of characters. I mean, everyone's free to write in whatever style they want. I won't begrudge that.

I'm just talking about things that I like and don't like.