Action figure literature
Posted by aogSunday, 24 September 2006 at 20:28 TrackBack Ping URL

So I get trapped this evening in to repeatedly changing the clothes on Girl Three’s Bitty Baby, Girl Three having decided reading statistical abstracts wasn’t doing it for her.

The experience was not the most mentally challenged I task I have performed, leaving my mind to wander over the difference between “dolls” and “action figures”. I have decided that it’s a matter of inner life. If there is some presumed complex internal mental state, then it’s a doll. If it servers merely as an anchor for external activities or objects, then it’s an action figure.

For instance, the Bitty Baby is concerned about her outfit and whether she has had a good nap recently. The Luke Skywalker action figure serves as prop to justify the star fighter flying around the house blasting everything in sight. The question for the latter is always “how many enemy ships did you blow up?” never “are you sure you feel comfortable in that hat?”.

I think this extends to adulthood as well and serves to distinguish “chick lit” from the good stuff, such as science fiction. As an action figure kind of person, I consider characters in a novel as simply necessary accoutrements to enable a plot with lots of cool gadgetry, the same way an action figure enables the use of automatic weapons and large explosive devices. Therefore I like science fiction. I don’t like modern fiction because it strikes me as exciting and interesting as the outfit changes I inflict on the Bitty Baby at Girl Three’s command.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Brit Monday, 25 September 2006 at 02:49

Hmmm. Isn’t that how serial killers think, too?

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 25 September 2006 at 08:09

That was never proven in a court of law.

cjm Thursday, 28 September 2006 at 13:30

i have to disagree with you regarding your characterization of the differences between boys playing with action figures, and girls playing with dolls. in both cases, the child is using the doll/figure as a prop in a personal fantasy. while there are obvious differences in the emotions evoked by playing, the overall experience is pretty universal. and i think you would agree (at least i hope you do) that genuinely great sci-fi is every bit as character driven as any non-sci-fi novel. what made “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” so memorable, was Nemo, not the nautilus; the latter being an extension of the former. here’s a thought experiment, put john kerry in charge of the nautilus and see what kind of story emerges :)

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 28 September 2006 at 13:53

What about, for instance, The Foundation Trilogy? You can’t tell me that had any real characterization. But I was speaking more of science fiction I like.

There is also the Honor Harrington series, which has gone off the rails in direct proportion to its attempt at character development. I need to write a rant about that.

cjm Thursday, 28 September 2006 at 14:40

plot driven writing/movies can be fun but they aren’t memorable; i like both types of writing :) of course a character driven work is not guranteed to be good, but universal human truths are the only path to greateness.

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