Talking Shapes: The Rebel, the Follower, and the Witness



Take a look at your work. Are you writing a classic rebel-follower-witness story? If not, what kind of myth are you creating? This essay takes up the mythic patterns prominent in our culture and provides great examples.

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Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... July 20, 2014 - 1:34am

I don't know what a TIE Interceptor is. I'm just a literate person who's seen the opening to—which film was it, again? Oh, yeah. All six of them.

Rob Blair Young's picture
Rob Blair Young from Utah is reading Driven October 22, 2012 - 3:33pm

Bret---I think there should be a specific term for people who are pretentious about Star Wars--related facts.  (I'm guilty myself; "No, that's not a TIE Fighter. That's a TIE Interceptor. Obviously. *rolls eyes*") Startentious? I'll admit that despite my Startention, I hadn't thought of the Death Star as a dragon before. What an interesting parallel. The chink in Smog's armor. The three meter gap. 

When reading through the descriptions of rebel/follower/witness, the first plot that came to mind was Dr Horrible's Sing Along Blog. There are two ways to interpret the roles: Dr Horrible is clearly the rebel, but is Penny the witness (killed in the end so the audience takes on that role) or the follower (eliminating the witness altogether and prompting the audience to take on that role)? The character of Captain Hammer can be seen as a representation of the system itself in this second scenario.

After debating that in my head, I thought of several other stories (including my own) that contain this model. It's a really interesting way to examine these common plot ideas. Or society.

Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy's picture
Pretty Spry for... June 5, 2012 - 12:27pm

Um. Star Wars happened a "long time ago."
Interesting question about books verses films. American novels are so fatalistic, whereas Hollywood movies are generally "happy." People might just expect different things. There's a stigma toward mainstream films, I think. They're merely "entertainment." It's the written word that's "art." And no matter how much evidence exists to the contrary, no matter how clearly entertainment and art are not mutually exclusive, no matter how many great films get produced or how many crappy books get published, this is still the perception. And everyone knows that "art" is deep, sorrowful, meditative; "entertainment" is joyful, intellectually shallow, and hopeful. It's bullshit, but it's the prevailing ideology. "No one wants to see a sad movie." "All the best books are tragedies." And so forth.
Or at least that's my take.