Alright, so I guess I kinda have to go down a road I generally avoid on this blog: sports.
The Super Bowl. The damned Super Bowl. Yep, even the nerd sci-fi writer is gonna go there…
I’ve hinted a couple of times, but I’ll say it flat out here: I am something of a sports nerd. Now, that nerdism is mostly in terms of hockey (the only sport that really matters in the Universe), but I can sit here and talk football – of both the American and the rest-of-the-world varieties – until the cows, err, flatulate on their way home. I definitely ain’t gonna sit here ’til they actually come home.
Cows are creepy.
As a helpful public service reminder: please remember that I do not generally post these things the same day I write them. I am in fact, at this point, about a week ahead in terms of the number of posts I’ve got queued up. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’ll go back and edit the damned things…that would just be silly. And annoying to me…far too much like work.
Nope, you still get my stream-of-consciousness stuff. Depending on my drinking habits that day, that may or may not be a good thing.
Crap…never mind. Back to sports.
Two of the guys in Super Bowl LI were villains. Actually, they’re on the edge of being super-villains. Let’s be honest: Bill Belichick and Tom Brady are Palpatine and Vader. They are the two people that (most of) the US loves to hate. They make the Kardashians look like Mother Theresa, Ghandi and MLK all rolled into one.
Can’t you just see Belichick sitting there on his throne, hood up and eyes all-but glowing red, “Now witness the power of this fully armed and operational offense!”
That man comes across as simply a miserable human being. And Brady? Shit, if there is a more smug, arrogant, annoying piece of……err, sorry, got distracted for a second there.
That being said, the two are also the GOAT*s in their respective roles. No one touches Belichick as a coach. Crap, no one even comes close…he is a man amongst boys as a head coach. I might not like the man, but I have to acknowledge that he is the perfect leader. From vision to definition to execution, no one can match that son of a…crap, sorry. Again.
*If you don’t know: GOAT = Greatest Of All Time. You’re welcome.
And Brady? I’ve thought my entire life that Joe Montana was the GOAT. That man simply won games. He could barely throw the ball past the damned tackles, but he somehow found a way to win. Every damn year. But Tom Brady? Shit. That assho…gentleman just willed his team to one of the best victories that I’ve seen in…never mind.
I’m not getting older, I’m dry-aging for more taste…
Even I can’t argue the case anymore. Brady wins. That’s it, he just wins. And that’s what a quarterback, and a leader, is supposed to do: win. Everything else is just numbers and contract negotiations.
No, he didn’t win as a “Fuck You” to the NFL. No, he didn’t win because he had a chip on his shoulder. He won because that’s what he does.
Now, how does that relate to writing?
Well, besides needing to find a couple stories to pay off my Vegas losses, those two start to make me think of antagonists…and of expectations and actions.
When is a bad guy not a bad guy?
When he delivers more than the supposed “good guys”. When the results of his actions fuck with your expectations and prejudices.
As writers we always have to think about motivations and philosophies. It’s just part of the job description. But – and there’s always a ‘but’ – reality (in the form of existentialism, and Sartre) says there is no such thing as motivations. There are only choices, actions, and consequences.
Err, kinda like the barebones reality of a story’s plot…imagine that.
No matter the motivations of people like Bill Belichick or Tom Brady, their actions – and the consequences of those – will define them for all time. In this case, those actions happen to be winning football games. Who cares if Brady did it because he resented being drafted low? Or if Belichick is as good as he is because he sold his (tiny, worthless) soul* to the devil? It’s the consequences that matter.
*Sorry…resistance really is futile. If you haven’t guessed, I am NOT a Patriots fan. In spite of living for five years in New England, I still view them as….well, let’s just leave it at that, shall we?
In writing terms, something similar happens when you confront your protagonist with a choice between two antagonists/opponents that are both “evil”.
As a note, I do not write characters specifically to be “good guys” or “bad guys”. No one is purely one or the other. No one sets out to be that comic-book character who “does evil” just to “do evil”. Those characters don’t even make good comic book characters, let alone someone in a full-fledged novel.
Shit, just to offer a couple realworld examples: the one of the most reviled and villainous kings in British history, for good reason, is John (of Robin Hood fame). He very much earned that revulsion, and his reputation for villainy. He also did more to give access to the courts and justice to the lower classes than any British monarch for several centuries.
Richard III put a great deal of effort into ruling well. After assassinating his 11- and 9-year-old nephews to usurp the throne.
Queen Mary was incredibly pious and devout. She made major efforts to help the poor and smooth over the bumps and pitfalls of life for them. She also burned alive more Protestants in her short reign than the entirety of the Spanish Inquisition…there is, after all, a very good reason she was called Bloody Mary.
See, this is why I gave up on reality. I like living in my own mind. Somehow, it has turned out to be less fucked up than reality.
Oz & Connor may disagree.
Shit. Somewhere, there was a thread and a point to this post. I seem to have lost it somewhere between a pint of brown ale and a bourbon-barrel-aged sour.
That train of thought went off the tracks, hit a moose, launched into orbit and landed on a whole different planet.
Remember when I warned you about (potential) drunk bloggin’?
Yeah, me either.