I could rant all day about society views and molds women, but I can also rant an equal amount of time about how society views and molds men.
My main vitriol is directed at the prototypical action hero, aka the man with nothing to lose. You know this man, the who lost something very important, usually his family, thanks to the villain, and seeks revenge. He’s emotionless and ruthless with it comes to killing the villain and will stop at nothing to get what he wants, usually revenge. He’s almost always alone when taking down the bad guys, as working with others gives him something to lose.
The examples are vast and this character is so common, I feel I only need to talk about one:
Jack Bauer is your prototypical man with nothing to lose. Over the eight seasons, Jack Bauer lost his wife, love interests, his daughter(relationship wise), his job, friends, the list just goes on and on. The reason, of course, is for Jack to keep snapping and act like an action hero. He always has a plan, always in control, even when it seems he isn’t. He’s ruthless, willing to break the law and torture people in pursuit of the bad guys. Also, he refrains from stepping over the line, to becoming an outright bad guy.
In most of these stories, the only thing the distinguishes a good guys from the bad guys, is the bad guys kill and torture anyone, innocent or not, while the good guys kill and torture only the bad guy. Say what you want about the torture in 24, Jack Bauer never tortures innocent people, that’s why he’s the hero.
In reality, if a man(or woman for that matter) snaps after losing something important, he usually becomes a spree killer, grabs a gun and commits horrific acts of violence. The killer usually ends up dead himself, or in jail for life. The spree killer is vilified, yet the man with nothing to lose is glorified, despite still being technically a spree killer.
How media gets around this problem is by dehumanizing the enemy. There are usually scenes of the bad guys committing heinous, unforgivable acts.. The henchmen are nameless, anonymous men with no past and no back story. You’ll feel no remorse for them because they aren’t human. How different would it be if every time a the hero killed an enemy, their crying family runs out.
The man with nothing to lose is telling boys and men its ok to kill, as long as they anonymous or bad, ie. turning them into soldiers, into killers. This is sick. Violence begets more violence in a never-ending chain and leads to destruction for all.
As a writer, I hate this character not only because he’s extremely unrealistic and deplorable, he’s usually a rather boring character, devoid of any real depth or emotion. So he snaps and kicks the bad guy’s ass, *yawn*. A more interesting character is the one who has something to lose, the one who has to restrain themselves, to keep themselves centered and focused. They have to put the bad guys away, without losing the things closest to them. Killing randomly and shooting first will cause them to lose. How do they get the job done without killing randomly?
My readers should already know this issues is all over K23 Detectives, from Alfonso being married, to Quintanelle’s non-violent stance except in self-defense, to Mordridakon having to balance his hunger for hominids with his job, to the villains being the ones who ramp up the body count and the heroes often varied response to those body counts. As usual, I’m not going to go in-depth here as not to spoil my work, but needless to say, exploring the man(or woman) with nothing to lose, and how one reacts to violence, is a common theme in my work, and has to be, given the stories I write.