Monday, November 13, 2006

You Cad!

For those who've been following PRIME lately, do me a favor. Count the faces who are currently active on the roster. By my count, I only see five, really, and the ones that I do count as faces, several of them are listed as "neutral" under their bios. Five guys (from my followings of the fed, they're Tchu, Shawn Stewart, Paul Cain, Jonothan Winters and Adam... Lindsay Troy would be a face, but she's inactive righ now), out of a roster of 23 actives that I count (24 if you count the holographic projection of the Illustrious Face-Eater). That's less than 25%. Make no bones about it, PRIME is heel heaven, especially with the turns of folks like Johnny Noble, Jason Snow and most surprisingly of them all, ├╝ber-face Nova, going to the Dark Side in the last few months. The most dominant stable on the roster, which includes the aforementioned Snow and Nova and of course, eW legends Rich Rollins and Angelo Deville, is heel. Arguably the most entertaining wrestler on the roster, Mr. Silver, is heel. The most impressive newcomer, Sun Tzu, is heel.

But here's the catch. For anyone who follows eW, this isn't a new trend. It's been like this for awhile, and anywhere you go, I bet most characters in any fed are heel. Also, I don't think it's that big a problem. In fact, I don't think it's a problem at all. So why do handlers tend to handle on the heel side, and why isn't this a problem?

First, let's tackle the why. Why do people want to handle heels more than they want to faces? Well, let's make a Star Wars analogy with Jedi and Sith. If you're a Jedi, you can't love, you can't show emotion, you can't get high, you can't think for yourself, you can't do what you want when you want to do it. It's the honorable life, but there are so many restrictions. Conversely, if you're a Sith, you're not bound by any morals. You can tap into the Dark Side of the Force at will without someone standing over your shoulder, lecturing you on why you shouldn't do it. You've got a carte blanche on how you can believably act. It's more fun to be a Sith, and in that comparison, it's more fun to be a heel from a writing standpoint. You have more freedom with your character. You can do pretty much whatever you want with him with it still being realistic.

It's also more fun to write as a heel, really. Something about being unscrupulous and dickish... y'know, I can only speak from personal experience, but in real life, I try to be as nice and curteous as possible. I hold back a lot when dealing with people, and really, you should do that; unless a person really gets under your skin, it's for the best that you hold back. However, what happens when you get a forum where you can play a character that gets to say all the things that you wish you could say out loud but really can't? It's like taking that pesky belt off and unbuttoning the top latch on your pants after Thanksgiving; you're letting it all out and it feels good.

And if you look at Internet message boards and chat rooms in general, aren't there more rabblerousers, trolls, flamers and outspokenly brazen characters discussing and arguing about things than what you'd see in real life? The Internet is the biggest outlet for the loudmouthed and the glib in the history of mankind. Isn't it obvious that message board trolls would be more likely to play heels than goody-two-shoes faces? I'm not saying that every heel is a message board asshole, but I can only assume that rather than make people think that they're assholes, eW heels let out all their aggressions in-character so that they can get all that out of their system and still get to make friends and be cool with folks online. They have their cake and eat it too. Brilliant :)

Now, why is all this okay? Why is it that you can have 80 heels and maybe 10 faces in your fed, and it's still not going to suck, or be too heel-heavy, or seem boring? Well, there are three reasons from three very different camps here.

One is that in "real" wrestling, heels have been faces-by-proxy for almost ten years now. I mean, the face archetype has been shattered over the years by guys like The Rock, Steve Austin, and of course, Sandman, who is the original "heelish-face." While your character does some pretty shittily heelish things, he/she can still get cheered because, once again, the "fans" live vicariously through them. No longer are the faces moralists and heroes. The anti-hero has taken over, and it's so easy to go back and forth from face to heel (a development that has made Lex Luger a very happy man, I'm sure :p) that it really doesn't matter what your affiliation is.

Two, if you take a solely real life look at things, it's only natural that heels proliferate in eW. I mean, in the real world, there aren't very many decent people out there. There are very few people in the workforce, politics, on the streets, etc. who are the true definition of the word "face." We all have our foibles to varying degrees, and really, if you take reality as a model, not only should there be scores and scores of heels, but those heels should thrive.

But even if you buy into the original constructs of wrestling, where the faces are faces, the heels are heels and they struggle in one giant morality play, the heel bonanza in eW is justified because of the Identity Principle. What is that, you might ask? Well, this is how I define it. We e-fedders want the hobby to be close enough to the real thing to be a homage to our fandom to it, but different enough so that we can claim we had our fingerprints all over it. IE, we have our own identity, not just as people sitting on computers, pretending to be wrestlers, but as wrestlers ourselves who happen to have a lot less wear and tear on our bodies :). So using that principle, having a million to one heel to true face ratio is alright because that's how we put our identity on wrestling. We put out compelling angles and build hot feuds even if we don't have a truckload of traditional faces on our rosters. It's how we want to do things, and we'll be damned if we let someone tell us how.

And this is all coming from someone who's made a living handling and taking pride in the fact that he handles faces for the most part. Heels are more fun, but faces are more challenging, and therefore more rewarding the long run.

So when you see that heels have taken over the place like cats take over the abandoned projects, don't bemoan it. Sit back and enjoy it. These are people doing their best work, and there's no reason why we should let a little thing like traditiona face/heel constructs get in the way of that.


Anonymous said...

Here here! - Ryan

PS: I love RSS

Jago said...

I remember when I first started writing Kyle Roberts, Heel, and how every post, I started pushing the limits further.

Keep in mine that Roberts was a Jericho-type, cocky, arrogant, and not simply evil. But he became more misogynistic and prickish as time went on. Pushing children suffering from cancer treatments out of the camera view so he could get the focus. Macking on every woman, whether she wanted it or not.

And every time, I'd just chortle and try to figure out how much further i could take it.

Currently, Kyle's a face, but he's kept a lot of what made him so endearing as a heel in his turn. I just toned down the selfishness, woman-hating and arrogance down a tad.

Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lindsay said...

Cain's actually listed as a face where I thought he was listed as neutral. My bad. =P

Sam L. said...