Saturday, July 7, 2012

Sheldon Cooper, Dr. Pierce, Dexter and The Monotonous Processional of Aberrant Protagonists

Ever notice the main characters of a lot of television shows are close to insanity? I have. Not that I watch a lot of TV, but I live in a culture which insists that television be virtually inescapable. It's hard to swim in a sea of brain-rotting, decadent media without getting some of the salt water in my mouth. I do my best to spit it out, but it still leaves me with an understanding of the taste.

 My Marines love the program Dexter featuring a likeable serial killer. Today, I saw previews for the show Perception starring an eccentric neuroscientist, Dr. Pierce, who assists the FBI in their casework. My roommates watch The Big Bang Theory, featuring (along with others) Sheldon Cooper, a socially inept Spock-like scientist. What's with the aberrant protagonist fad? I think Chesterton was on to something...

"The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he is normal. But in the modern psychological novel the hero is abnormal; the center is not central. Hence the fiercest adventures fail to affect him adequately, and the book is monotonous. You can make a story out of a hero among dragons; but not out of a dragon among dragons. The fairy tale discusses what a sane man will do in a mad world. The sober realistic novel of today discusses what an essential lunatic will do in a dull world." (G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy, Ch 2 The Maniac)

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