Intermarkets' Privacy Policy

Donate to Ace of Spades HQ!

Recent Entries
Absent Friends
Bandersnatch 2024
GnuBreed 2024
Captain Hate 2023
moon_over_vermont 2023
westminsterdogshow 2023
Ann Wilson(Empire1) 2022
Dave In Texas 2022
Jesse in D.C. 2022
OregonMuse 2022
redc1c4 2021
Tami 2021
Chavez the Hugo 2020
Ibguy 2020
Rickl 2019
Joffen 2014
AoSHQ Writers Group
A site for members of the Horde to post their stories seeking beta readers, editing help, brainstorming, and story ideas. Also to share links to potential publishing outlets, writing help sites, and videos posting tips to get published. Contact OrangeEnt for info:
maildrop62 at proton dot me
Cutting The Cord And Email Security
Moron Meet-Ups

NASA: The Next Generation | Main | "Dying" Lockerbie Bomber Could Live for 10 or 20 Years
July 05, 2010

Obama, Designated Hero

One of the cardinal sins of inexperienced writers of fiction is their tendency to violate the rule "Show, Don't Tell." Instead of giving the reader or audience a chance to see the character's attributes, the writer has the narrator or another character or (in the worst case) the character himself, tell the audience about his attributes. More than that, usually, if the audience were never told about the supposed attributes of the character, they'd never know from his or her actions.

A subtrope of "Show, Don't Tell" is the designated hero. This is where the writer tells us who we're supposed to be rooting for and it's a good thing too, otherwise we'd never figure it out.

Politics has much in common with fiction. Here's the Economist's attempt at a designated hero:

Note the headline: "Obama v BP". The hero is alone, but not giving up. See his lowered head, his obvious heartache as he turns half-away from the sight of the offshore rig. Don't miss his rolled-up sleeves, his arms akimbo. The hero's not done yet.

Needless to say, the accompanying article is vomit-worthy.

Here's the original, un-doctored photo:

Oops. Not so alone, is he? Oh, and his head's not lowered, he's just looking at debris. And he's not shying from the gut-wrenching sight out in the ocean, but just turning toward that woman talking to him. Actually, he kinda looks like a doofus. Hey, maybe pretend to be listening to her, huh? A little eye contact, maybe?

Many violators of the Designated Hero rule run into the same problem. Their hero is an awful, frivolous, and empty person. You end up having to tell the readers to like him because if you don't they'll assume he's the bad guy.

The Economist has the same problem when writing about the President. In fact, he's done more to frustrate efforts to protect the Gulf than anyone. His drilling moratorium will cause more damage to the region than the BP spill itself. In fact, he hung the Gulf states out to dry while he had another round of golf.

Hence, Obama becomes the designated hero. He's the good guy because they say he is, not because he's done anything heroic. And, paradoxically, the fact that he's the (designated) hero means we're supposed to overlook his patent flaws. His lack of humanity. His inability to get anything done without six months of polling first. And his spiteful disregard for the designated villains.

Because that's the flipside. If this story has a hero, well, it has to have a villain. BP takes that role in the Economist piece, but the Republicans are not forgotten.

digg this
posted by Gabriel Malor at 12:35 PM

| Access Comments

Recent Comments
Duncanthrax: "In before any penguins. ..."

enough BS: "That's my take - give the big distraction DEI pats ..."

Eeyore: "I done nooded. ..."

gourmand du jour: "Dang, dat's a big ole lizzard... ..."

Unknown Drip Under Pressure: "[i]I don't know dick about bullets but, would ther ..."

John Drake Has Reached The Sea Of Azov: "May have been mentioned already, but sources are s ..."

eleven: "nood morans ..."

Eeyore: "Nood cafe. ..."

Duncanthrax: "Nood. Café is open. ..."

Last Days of the Republic: "Nood ..."

hart: "But we don't - we do weapons and stuff, but the th ..."

Dash my lace wigs!: "Bring back ALL THE THINGS!!! Posted by: Helena Ha ..."

Recent Entries

Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64