Kill This Character: The Guy's Girl

| Monday, March 8, 2010
Today's Tune: Light & Day

This concept came to me when I was considering characters that really didn’t work for me, and why they didn’t work. By way of a disclaimer, let me add here that this is only my opinion, of course, and is colored by my own preference.

One of the more important ideas to remember in characterization is to avoid cardboard, stereotypical characters. The same old character we’ve seen a hundred times could become someone new and interesting with some artful tweaking. Here I’ll talk about a character that doesn’t work for me, why I wasn’t taken by them, and what would make them more appealing to me. Onward!


Kill the Guy's Girl!

Who this character is: This one almost kills ME to kill, because when she's done well, she can be great. However, she's often done poorly, and comes off as phony at best and insulting at worst.

This character is a girl who is best friends with a boy. Or multiple boys. She doesn't have any girlfriends, because she thinks girls are like, totally vapid and only care about makeup and junk. She has MORE IMPORTANT things to think about, like helping her boy buds with their quirky guy websites or watching kung-fu films or falling in love with her best friend and then angsting a lot when he doesn't feel "that way" about her. So then she has to prove OMG SHE REALLY IS A GIRL, HELLO. And not only is she a GIRL, HELLO, she's his ideal girl and he just couldn't see it this whole time.

He never really wanted the boobalicious blond, he wanted his gal pal! She's so much cooler that GIRLY-GIRLS anyway.

Why this character doesn't work for me: My main source of distaste for this particular character stems from the fact that her attitude often implies that girls are dumb and guys are awesome. And she, by default, is awesome because she's more of a guy than a girl. Except she's always heterosexual, and she always falls for one of her "buddies." Usually there's some big scene where she learns how to "be a girl" and then the love interest finally sees that OMG, she has, like, BOOBS. HOW DID I MISS THIS?

I've written about this sort of thing before, so I'll try not to go on too long ;) This character is cliche. She's never as special as she thinks she is. She discounts all things stereotypically female (makeup, clothes, small talk, chick flicks, whatever) and values all things stereotypically male while ignoring the fact that she is female, and is essentially devaluing herself. She can never and will never be "one of the guys," much as she'd like to pretend. Especially when she's vying for the romantic attention of "one of the guys." She's willing to throw away everything she is, everything that she claims made her so different from other girls, in order to win his affection.

The Guy's Girl is essentially a caricature of why male is good and female is bad, unless of course we're talking about getting physically romantic. Then all bets are off. But every other girl on the planet is still a catty bitchy stupid airhead, of course.

How to make this character work: Very carefully. Heh. It's not out of the question for a girl and boy to be friends, and it's definitely not unusual for feelings to develop in that situation. What we want to avoid is falling into the trap of "I don't hang out with girls because they're STUPID. They don't GET IT. They're JEALOUS because I'm friends with the guys." This is in and of itself a display of the behavior that this character supposedly hates: stuck-up cattiness.

An easy solution would be to give this character a female friend that she actually gets along with. A girl who isn't portrayed as a lame-o makeup obsessed bimbo. There are always other women out there similar enough to us that we can get along, no matter how non-girly we are.

Another solution would be to break out of the cliche: she likes a new guy. Or the best guy-friend she falls for doesn't reciprocate, and she has to deal with the emotional fallout of a ruined friendship. Maybe she even gets to be friends with her best bud's new flame - the girl she originally hated, but now realizes is pretty darn awesome and she can see why he's into her.

I guess a more appropriate title for this one would be "Kill the Girls-Are-Stupid-And-Guys-Are-So-Much-Better Girl." But that's very long, so I'm stickin' with what I got!

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