Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Chuckles Chat #18 Horrible MCs

Welcome to Chuckles Chat where great blogging minds unite to discuss the topics of the day mainly in the book and blogging world. I'll be sharing my thoughts on a topic and then inviting you all to share your thoughts. It's ok to disagree but PLEASE be respectful of each other's views! All of the comments on my blog are moderated and offensive posts ie racist, bigoted will not be published! 

This week I'm looking at Horrible MCs.

When I pick up a book I am hoping to escape the real world and delve into a new place, an adventure, a world that fills me with awe and fear, and somewhere where I want to be for those few reading hours. I want to root for a character I love as my hero or heroine, laugh at amusing sidekicks, share their ups and downs, cry when they die and bristle at how unfair their life is. One of the most important thing to get me into that world and hook me is the MC. I MUST like the MC and with luck, most of the characters or I struggle to engage with the plot.


What is so important about the MC? Well this is the person who carries the book so I want to like them. Y'know, the fearless military leader taking his troops into a zombie apocalypse, the young hero fighting adversity with his friends, the gnarly older character who can see the trouble his town is in, the kickass female in urban fantasy, the hero prepared to venture into Hell to save his friends...I really love a hero or heroine who captures the interest. They can be brave or scared, any colour race religion or sexuality, flawed or prepared...as long as I like them. If I do, I can emerse myself in their story and enjoy the book.

Why then are so many modern authors writing the worst MCs you'd ever seen? Would I have went to Mordor if Frodo was a spoiled brat who bullied Sam? Would I have went to Hogwarts with an evil bully instead of Harry? Would I have rampaged through Westeros if Eddard Stark had been a wifebeating rapist monster? Would I fight monsters with Cat and Bones or Deacon Chalk if they had been moronic idiots? Would I have cheered on Katniss if she had been a vain and whiny girl? No, of course not, I'd have DNFed them in a heartbeat! Look, I'm all for my MCs not being perfect if their flaws make them interesting, but there is a difference between that and making you hate them.

The modern author seems to have other ideas though. I've lost count of how many seem to use that whiny female who is always bitching and complaining and annoying other characters! In the zombie apocalypse I don't want to hear her whining about being dirty or breaking a nail. If you are that bothered, let the zombies eat you!!! I don't want to see the arrogant alpha male beating his partner, raping the unwilling and then justifying it by saying his life has been difficult. Seriously WTF!!! I'm tired of seeing the steriotype cheerleader bitch and mean jock bullying every new kid. I hate having an obnoxious arse of an MC throwing his weight around and slagging everyone off. Seriously, why would I actually care about any of these people? I'd cross the street to avoid them so why would I waste my precious leisure time to read whole books about them?
Why are authors making their MCs so horrible? I just don't get it! George RR Martin has a huge cast with the heroes and baddies but has made them all complex and interesting. He has  given interesting flaws to his good characters and sympathetic traits to his bad ones. THAT is what I want to see! I like the idea of hating a character one second then realising why they behave that way if it is well written like in Game of Thrones. Cersei is a monster but her love for her children and her unhappy marriage create sympathy-would YOU want to be married to Robert Baratheon??? Ned Stark is a good man but so stubborn and obsessed with honour that it destroys his family, yet you still love him. But these books I read now are full of obnoxious idiots who are there to annoy and change little, with no redeeming qualities through the whole book, and I'm hating this trend.

Do you think that too many authors make their MCs totally unlovable? What traits do you hate in MCs? If you hate an MC does it make you DNF a book? How much tolerance do you have for bad MCs? What are dealbreakers for you?

16 comments:

  1. The truth is, plenty of my favorite characters in book have not been the main ones. And I have loved books in which I didn't love the MC and even a few in which I actively disliked the MC. As long as the rest of the characters are well-written or there's one that I truly love and/or everything else in the book is good, then I *can* still like a book. But I'd prefer to like the MC. If I like the MC, there's a better chance I'll like the book. But it's all very situational depending on the book and the character and everything else.

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    1. Characters are certainly important to a book. I like it when the MC has a group of interesting friends who enhance the story in a Buffy Scooby Gang kind of way.

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  2. Boy you make a ton of valid points. I have to have someone I like in the book or it makes it absolutely dreadful. And like you mentioned, good authors can make us love flawed characters and see some good even in the worst of them. The book that stands out in my mind is Gone Girl. I hated everyone but the sister, who has such a small part that it was hardly worth it. I made it through the book (because you know I can't DNF darnit) but I hated those people every step of the way. Whiny characters can be the worst but a close second for me are egotistical ones. Sometimes if the surrounding cast is good enough, I can get away with not liking the MC but not always. Another great discussion!

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    1. Flawed characters like Jaime Lannister are so much fun to follow on their journeys rather than whiny or arrogant idiots or whiny brats! Y'know I'm so grateful I can DNF! I feel sorry for anyone who has to plough through books they aren't enjoying. Jeez I hate whiny females and arrogant men so much!

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  3. If a character rapes someone, I automatically hate him and want to see him punished. I don’t want him to be the hero of the story. I also get hugely annoyed with whiny characters. I hear enough whining in real life. I want my characters to get themselves together and get on with life. I do love flawed characters, though, like Snape in Harry Potter. I hate him because he bullies children, but he’s complex and interesting, so I want to read about him.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I can't stand rapists paraded as some kind of hero. It is one of my pet hates. Correct...if I want to hear whining I can hear it in real life! Complex and flawed characters that have some redeeming qualities are much more fun to read about.

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  4. I generally prefer to like my MC's, in rare cases I'll read a book with an unlikable MC if I think it's going to be really good but yeah all the whininess and asshole alphas- I have no use for that. :) And for the same reasons- I want to escape, have fun, root for characters, not be annoyed and want em to slag off lol.

    I also hate it when an author (or a TV show) makes someone SO horrible just to piss off the reader (or viewer) and make them want the bad guy punished because it was so heinous. That seems manipulative. Make your bad guy nuanced and sympathetic if possible, so they're three dimensional. Jaime Lannister- prime example. :)

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    1. It stops being fun when you want to headbutt the characters! Better to immerse in Game of Thrones eh! I certainly prefer a flawed character as they are interesting but I must either like them or at least understand and be interested in their motivations.

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  5. Hmmm, I guess it depends on the skill of the author. It's a rarity that a real asshole MC works for me but then there's Joe from YOU. I loved that book and he is one of the biggest A-holes on the fictional planet.

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    1. I wouldn't be able to cope with a character that bad! I feel twitchy just thinking about it!

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  6. Coincidental I'm was drafting today a bad review for the book about depression I'm reading (Definitions of Indefinable Things) because of how insufferable the MC is!!! I know that depressed people often act irritable and negative BUT this is something else completely! The MC is a spoiled brat that it's just plain mean to people for no reason and the books wants you to believe that it's because she is depressed! Since this is a YA book I worried what message this book is sending to teenagers. "Are you represented? Taking Zoloft? Ok so Please go ahead and disrespect and abuse anyone you want. You have permission because, you know, you are depressed" It's such a bad rep for depression that is getting me seriously pissed! You are SPOT ON with the GoT examples! I was just thinking about Cersei and her backstory when Robert rejected her because he was in love with Ed's sister. Even though it doesn't really justifies her actions it does gives some dimension to her character. A "why" she is so bitter.

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    1. I agree with you...I read a book about a girl dying of cancer and she was cruel and horrible to her entire family. I wanted to strangle her. I see a lot of this attitude in YA books, another reason I stopped reading them! I can be grumpy because of my depression but I don't treat everyone like crap! The GoT example is a good one...had Robert tried to make things work with Cersei she might have been happy and who knows how different she might have been. And Joffrey might not have been so twisted!

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    2. exactly. When I'm having a depressive episode I can very irritable but I don't go around disrespecting people just because! I'm having second thoughts about Cersi this morning! I just watch again that flashback when she was a girl with the witch/fortuneteller and she seemed to have been a little bitch even before the whole Robert thingy lol

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    3. She does seem like a bit of a bitch as a girl doesn't she! I need to get on with some more GoT dvds. Might have to watch season four this week...I LOVE some of these upcoming episodes!

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  7. I can enjoy a book when I don't like the main character, but it does make it a lot harder. And if I really dislike the main character it can be very tough to still enjoy the book.I also think you make a good point about characters who can be badies or do bad things, as long as they still are itnerestign and have depth. Great post!

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    1. Complex characters are very enjoyable if they are well written. I just struggle if they are all bad or pains in the rear end!

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