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Early Identification with Characters - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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January 25th, 2010

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01:06 am - Early Identification with Characters
Today, teaotter and I were talking about various characters we identified with in childhood. The first part of the discussion was about the first female characters teaotter identified with, which is an interesting issue, since she is one of a very few women I know who both identified consciously and strongly as female, and as far as I can tell, completely managed to avoid any internal baggage about women being in any way inferior. The upshot was that the only female character’s Becca identified with were those who were clearly not the stereotypical girl sidekick, but were instead powerful characters, and in the absence of powerful female characters, Becca almost always identified with characters who powerful and especially leaders, which is hardly surprising to anyone who knows Becca at all well.

The conversation then changed to the first female characters that I identified with. One of the alleged truisms of media for children and teens is that girls will identify with either male or female characters, but boys will only identify with male characters. This was vividly untrue in my case. I can identify one of two books where I first identified with a female protagonist – the first was either Web of the Witch World or Ordeal in Otherwhere, both by Andre Norton, and both of which I read when I was 10. The first was one of several novels she wrote in the mid 60s to early 70s, where she switched PoVs from a male and a female character, the 2nd had a female protagonist, and in both cases, I identified with that female protagonist.

That got me thinking about exactly what characters I identified with in books when I was a child, and the answer became vividly clear – characters with nifty magical powers were always characters I identified with the most, and the only thing that trumped that was characters who were aliens or at least partially non-human. So, while Norton’s wonderful YA novel The Crystal Gryphon also featured switching PoVs between a male and a female character, the male character was half human so I identified more with him. The fact that in many genre novels of the era, the characters with greater magical powers were female was something that I noticed, but it in no way stopped me from enjoying those novels.

In comparing my tastes to Becca’s, one interesting difference is that I almost never identified with characters who were leaders, and instead identified more with either loners or characters who were important subordinates to a positive leader. Of course, while my tastes have changed, most of this is also true for me today.
Current Mood: thoughtfulthoughtful

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[User Picture]
Date:January 25th, 2010 07:21 pm (UTC)
OH, hmm, this is a great question. Now I want to try to coax a post of my own out about it. :)

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