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Writing Wednesday: No Second Bananas

April 13, 2011

I have to thank Briane Pagel for Tweeting a link to this great post from 2008.  It’s such a good post I kind of wanted to add my own two cents about it.  If you’re too lazy to actually read the post, it’s about how sometimes the “secondary” characters are better than the “main”  character.  I haven’t read Dune or Harry Potter past the first one, but he is dead on the money when he references Star Wars and how some people like Han Solo more than Luke Skywalker.  (And since Star Wars is the basis for everything in our society these days, why bother with anything else?)

Actually I’m not one of those people.  Only because Luke got to fight with a lightsaber, which I thought (and still think) was freaking awesome.  But I get why some people like Han more.  Luke was such a goody-goody, sitting around on Tatooine drinking blue milk on the farm and shooting womprats and then learning to be a Jedi, the ultimate goody-two-shoes in a galaxy far, far away.  By contrast  Han got to hang around seedy bars, fight bounty hunters, fly his own ship, and have a Wookie backing  him up the whole time.  Plus while Luke gets to be a Jedi and props from ghosts, Han gets Luke’s sister.  (And if you read the books they get married and have kids and probably great-grandkids by now.)

I was trying to think of something to compare it to and thought of “Happy Days.”  Luke was the Richie Cunningham, the boring, nerdy kid who was lucky if he got to first base.  Han was the Fonz, the cool dude who had chicks swooning.  Richie was probably more like who you are in real life; the Fonz was the guy you wished you were.  Is it any wonder he was so popular the show went on for years after Richie left?

But of course some people like Darth Vader the  most.  Others like Boba Fett or Yoda…no one likes Jar Jar Binks except George Lucas.  I always had a soft spot for poor Dak, the guy in Luke’s snowspeeder who gets like three lines, knocked out, and crushed by an AT-AT.  I’m just a fatalist that way.  Anyway, before I get running too long as I promised not to do, people are weird and sometimes they’re attracted to different things.  That’s why it’s like they say, “There no small parts, only small actors.”  You might think a character is secondary, but to a reader that character is the best.

Friday Flix returns with why even bad movies can be worth watching…

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10 Comments
  1. Luke wasn’t as interesting to you because 1) you’re not gay and 2) you’re not a woman. Mark Hammill was pretty hot in the original Star Wars and because of that (I’m sorry to say) it made him “interesting”. Beauty is the same formula that is successful today…remember Edward from Twilight, remember Alex Pettyfer from Beastly and I Am Number Four…sex sells. Now you may argue that Mark Hamill wasn’t attractive, but he got his face seriously messed up from the movie Corvette Summer that almost killed him. Lucas had to pony up money just to get enough corrective surgery and then engineer that Wompa Ice Creature thing that attacked Luke to explain why his face got all punched up similar to a boxer that’s been in the ring one too many times.

    As for Duncan Idaho…I agree with the assessment on that post you linked. I’ve read several of the Dune books…and God Emperor of Dune where Leto keeps cloning Duncan Idaho over and over was an amazing book. If you are unfamiliar because you haven’t read them or at least seen the sci-fi adapatation where a lovely James McAvoy begins the transformation into the awful looking sandworm, Leto is obsessed with Duncan Idaho. I would eventually love to see that book made into some kind of worthy film with awesome special effects. Leto was an amazing character in his own right, cornering the supply of spice and destroying the sandworms so that only he had control of the mind-altering drug that was the secret to the universe. My hat is off to you Frank Herbert…alas, why is science fiction no longer that good. I long for the days of a good read like Herbert gave us or for that matter the works of the long dead Heinlein. But I guess that’s what we get when our publishing houses cater to the Sn00ki’s and have them write our books because they sell.

    • Well I said I liked Luke because he had a cool lightsaber. So I always liked him for. But no, never thought of him as sexy. Now Harrison Ford on the other hand was damned sexy up until about “The Fugitive” when he started getting old and they couldn’t really hide it anymore and he started playing family guys instead of rugged individuals like Han or Indy or the love interest like in “Working Girl.”

  2. Lesson from today, people really like whining about the publishing industry better than even anything attempted of substance, though I think that would get real old real fast.

  3. I’m versatile. I like to think I can both whine effectively and come equipped to a conversation of substance. Please feel free to disagree so I can whine about it to someone. >,<

  4. LOL, Rogue, Michael came whining to me. But now that I’m here I’m not sure why. You guys seem to be on the same side under all the bluster. 🙂 I personally, being a woman, want to put my vote in for Hans. Lightsabers are cool, but speaking Wookie is like speaking baby talk. So women go for that. The whole “genetically engineered to find the father of your children” thing.

    Wow, that almost makes sense.

  5. Thank you for this post. It just gave me a GREAT idea for my own post today.

    ❤ Gina Blechman

  6. Well, I thought I commented using my phone while at the Doc’s yesterday, but I don’t see it here, so I’ll recreate it:

    1. I don’t remember what point one was.
    2. Point 2 was “Do you think secondary characters are interesting because we know so little about them and they can’t carry a whole book?” and
    3. I mentioned “Han Solo’s Revenge” and “Han Solo At Star’s End,” which I remember as very good books but I read them at about age 13, so take that for what it’s worth. There was one scene in one of those books where Han delivers guns to some alien rebels and takes pity on them and teaches them how to conserve their ammunition, not just blindly firing like stormtroopers do. So he’s a goody-two-shoes, too — but we knew that from the movies, where he keeps sticking around anyway. “GENERAL Solo?” (eyebrows raised.)

    Come to think of it, Fonzie was that way, too — so there’s your trope for the day: The “Bad Boy Who Isn’t, Really.”

    • I think my dad had those books but I never read them. I think there might have been some Lando books too at some point.

      Anyway, that’s what the girls really like, the bad boy who isn’t really bad. James Dean, the Fonz, Han Solo, Twilight, the millions of “rake” and “rogue” romance books are all a testament to that. I guess it fuels their naive belief that they can “fix” these dudes, which explains why every douchebag in Starbucks has a lady friend with him.

      There’s your moment of misogyny for the day.

  7. Awesome analogy! I was never into Han or Fonzie but they sure were cool. 😉

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