Wednesday, January 5, 2011

In Love With Fictional Characters

I know I'm a little late to the party, but thanks to my brother, I have become totally wrapped up in the Showtime series Dexter starring Michael C. Hall. My brother gave me the first season on DVD, the twelve episodes of which I finished in days and then quickly purchased the second season. The photo above is from the opening credits, which I ALWAYS watch, just to see this expression. Needless to say, I am fascinated, and it's all because of the title character. I can't help but be thrilled to see Dexter Morgan himself every time I watch a new episode. The story line is riveting and everything (seriously I can't stop watching it), but my brain is the brain of a poet; I have been known to spend a lot of time fixating, yearning, pining, and longing. It's my nature. I mean, if we didn't get hung up on things, what would we write about?

I had to take a break from Dexter since I only have one Season 2 episode left and the third season hasn't arrived in my mailbox yet, so I popped The Phantom of the Opera into the DVD player again, and that led me to muse on the subject of arresting male leads and the commonalities among the ones I adore. Certainly the Phantom and Dexter aren't the only fictional men that have struck my fancy--Heathcliff of Wuthering Heights springs to mind, and I'm sure there are many others.

Some or all of these factors are present in my ideal fictional man (and let's be real, my actual man as well): he's intense, brooding, and misunderstood; has a dark and mysterious past that has scarred him whether physically, emotionally, or both; he's villainous, but his nefarious deeds have parameters(of course he would never hurt the object of his affection--he might rough her up with some passionate love-making, but never injure her on purpose); he wears a mask in front of most, but the object of his affection eventually gets to see behind it, showing him that he is worthy of love . . . Add some rakish hair, a sullen brow, and a strong body, and there's the man to captivate me!

And it certainly isn't just me. The popularity of the Twilight series, of which I have not been a huge follower, is certainly due to the fact that in general, women seem to be intrinsically drawn to a mysterious, broken man with a core of hidden radiant goodness; you just have to be the One to open your eyes and see it.

Being that special woman, the One who can accept the man as he is when no one else has. . . that's central to the whole idea. I like to think it's separate from the trap of trying to change a man--in this case, you know the guy is damaged and you want him anyway (so badly)! Plus the whole package comes with a hefty weight of tension, and women like tension, do they not? It's emotional foreplay. It's intimacy and intensity with a deep river of romanticism running through it, and there's the core again, this time not just being the One, but feeling the one-ness with that lonely, lonely man. Yes, it's all quite melodramatic in truth. I have never shied away from over-romanticizing anything.

But being in love with a fictional character is just too difficult. I think a lot of people transfer those emotions to the actor, thinking that he must be that brooding, broken man, but I know the truth. It's worse than day-dreaming about an actor. Dexter is an illusion--just words on a page or a portrayal on film, and what could be more hopeless than that?