Reading a Story? Watching a Movie? Show Me the Normal Guy!
"Why are all these stories about the special people? Why isn't there anything about the normal guy?" This is a question that often gets asked around in forums and reviews. The people are angry. They want to know why everything is being made about the special people, the gifted ones. Why couldn't they get to read or see something about a normal guy for once?
When we read a story or watch a movie, we feel like it's something that is playing out in front of us. It feels as though all the characters and the places are something that are part of our life. The person in the story might have a different name and a different life. He might even be from a different time. But since you are the one reading it, it somehow becomes your life. "He walks through the forest", "I stop in front of the magician's house", "He stabs him in the eye". You can imagine yourself doing all of these. It could be a crime thriller or a romantic comedy. It could be something about an alien invasion or medieval warfare. No matter what, you are always part of it. Imagine yourself watching a movie where the aliens have invaded the world and a group of superheroes are trying to save it. In this story, you might imagine yourself as one of the heroes. You might be their brave leader, leading said group of superheroes to their victory. You'll see yourself flying in the sky or beating the crap out of your enemies, and be appreciated for your bravery and sacrifice. This will be the story of a main character. A character who is always the centre of attention. The chosen one. But what of the other guy? Not the villain, the other other guy. You might not know him. If you did, he wouldn't be the other other guy, would he?
The character I am talking about hardly exists in any of the stories you read, or the movies you see. Even if he did, you wouldn't even look at him twice. And if the entire movie were about him, it would be the most boring thing in the entire world. No one, absolutely no one, would pay to see it. And those who did might welcome the writers with tomatoes on their faces. This guy exists in almost everything you see, but at the same time he isn't anywhere to be seen. He is a normal person with a normal life. If he is in a movie or a story, he is an extra. He is never the one you read about. It's because no one wants to be him. No one wants to imagine themselves living his life and no one wants to think what he thinks, because he is ordinary, and ordinary is boring. If this guy is a teenager, he won't have an alternate identity. He won't be super intelligent, cool and smooth. He won't go out every night after his classes, and charm the ladies, get some workout done, finish his homework and still have time to change into his tights and save the world (and still not have terrible bags under his eyes). Because that's hardly possible, and definitely very exhausting. But is how a main character will be. That is exactly how a teenage superhero would be.
The normal character is not a superhero. He might be cool, but he's not Bruce Wayne. That is for the main character, and they are not our concern right now. It's time for the extras to shine. The ones who might be watching the news about heroes using their superpowers to protect the weak, while having dinner with their family. This guy will finish his dinner, and go on to do his homework (or troll on the internet), and then have some rest. He has his own list of priorities. He has to finish his assignments, go to bed early so he could get up in time for his classes, get his chores done around the house, spend some time in his hobbies and also have a social life. This is his world. A world where he isn't concerned about the whole world’s problems, and he can just go on with his life until something interrupts it. Anyone who is looking on from the outside may think – Why are you so concerned about your homework, when the world is ending?! But maybe the world isn’t really ending, and if it isn’t, then he hasn’t done his homework. He was probably shouting in support to the heroes on the TV. The ones who can't even hear him. And if that's what he is going to tell his teacher, then he is definitely going to be in trouble.
This normal character might stand at the bridge while the fighting goes on in the skies. "I watched them fight each other high up above, but then I remembered that I had to prepare for my exams tomorrow. So, I went back to my bike and rode to the library to read up on Ancient civilisations." This is definitely not something you would like to read. You would want to be in the skies. Not turn away from it and go to the library to prepare for your exams. That's why you don't read about these characters. The guy's role ended when he turned away from the fight. Right until the point he was standing there, he might have been something. Just imagine, you watch a movie like what I described. You might wonder, if there are superheroes, then this guy will probably gain some superpowers in a while and fight along with them. You wait and wait and wait. Two-third of the movie is done, and this guy has graduated high school, and is preparing for college. By the end, he has passed the entrance exams and goes to college. There are heroes. But you don't see them. You listen about the heroes from the TV that the guy is watching. You see them a bit, when he stops on a bridge when they are fighting, when he looks out the window of his classroom and some of them fly by. But that's it. They come and go, but this guy is just ignoring them. It's not like he could do anything about it anyway.
Isn't that exactly what a normal guy is? He is not even a supporting character. He is almost a nobody, as far as the story is concerned. A supporting character might make some weapons for the main character, or provide some wise advice to them. But that's not what this guy does. He does absolutely nothing. He is just another guy.
People complain that books, movies and TV series are all about special people. The extraordinary ones. And the reason for this is - You like the special ones. You don't like the normal ones. You like the heroes, the heroines and the talking animals. Not the normal ones. We all want to be special. We would all like to imagine being special. We would like to imagine being brave, cool, and always right. But we, most of us anyway, are normal people. We are like the guy I just described, but we want ourselves to be appreciated. And so, we ask for stories to be made about us. We look at main characters and ask how they get to be so special. "That is not even possible!" we would say. "We want a story about normal people!" we ask. But then when we do get it, we question them. We might watch a movie like this, and later look it up on the internet, and go "What the hell just happened? What did I just see? What did I just read? Nothing happened. What the hell?!" And you rate it 0%, 1 star. A flop!
It's because we are normal, that we don't want to see a movie about normal people. It would be a waste of imagination. Why would I go see a movie to imagine my own life while I am living it? And so, we go back to the superheroes. The special snowflakes that we are not. The cool and suave human beings, the aliens and the talking animals. It might not be what we are but it's definitely what we want to imagine ourselves be, even if we whine and complain about it later on.