|Antagonist and Villain are not the same thing...
||[Apr. 9th, 2013|05:59 pm]
It’s interesting how out of the two fics I’ve written in Sherlock fandom, one of them had Moriarty as a mane character. Soon I’ll be writing another Sherlock fic and once again Moriarty will be a big part of it (half of the main paring, it seems like. No, not MorMor). I guess this has a lot to do with the fact that I WANT to write for Sherlock but I find both the Holmes boys incredibly hard to write, especially Sherlock. Which means I can’t write what I ship (ie: Johnlock and Mystrade). Admittedly, none of these fics are “just because” fics – they’re all for various exchanges. But what I can and can’t write in Sherlock fandom is not the point here.
The point, is that while I’m always a proponent of “rounding out” antagonists there is definitely a limit to that. I’ve become very acutely aware of this as of late. I’ve spoken of my hate toward Moriarty already, but I guess what really disturbs me is the fangirling/fanboying over him in fandom…which makes me dislike him more. Now, anyone who has seen my HP work knows that I write Death Eaters. Love writing Death Eaters. And JKR goes to all sorts of ridiculous lengths to show them as evil. So what gives?
A few things, actually. Firstly, the Death Eaters are not a homogenous group – a group that big can’t POSSIBLY be. It’s like saying ALL Republicans are the same. (I’m not trying to equate Republicans with DEs lol, but the point stands). I’ll expand on this more a tad later. Secondly, it’s one thing to believe in an awful ideology (and go to war over it) and another to just…do awful things just because you can. Look, we’ve seen this before: Confederacy and the American Civil War anyone? (Let’s recall Gone With the Wind. People don’t like Ashley Wilkes because he’s soft-hearted and without much oomph…not because he fought for the South and his family owned slaves.) Even Nazi Germany is you like. Was every German soldier and/or officer Evil? Oh come on, people. I could write a huge essay about this, but the point is, that just because people believe in something reprehensible, something we’ve come to recognize as wrong, doesn’t make them inhuman, doesn’t make them incapable of love and friendship (despite what JKR may believe). If you’re raised in a culture, in an isolated social circle, where certain beliefs are prominent you are likely to believe that this is the RIGHT thing because you were conditioned to think so. Not to excuse these people’s actions, but to understand that sometimes, being misguided, being wrong does not equal Evil. Look, I think the people who are anti-choice have issues and that people who are homophobic need a rough wake up call, but I don’t think this takes away their ability to love their family and friends, to have basic human compassion, to not cold-bloodedly kill children. There are compelling, basically human stories to be told about people who are Wrong. There are reasons for what they do, real reasons which you don’t have to agree with, which may aggravate you to no end, but they’re driven by something basically understandable – a belief in their own right-ness, that they are the good guys who are just trying to make things right. Again, this isn’t to excuse anyone, but you can write about these people because they can still be people, they can still have relatable, human experiences.
Thirdly, there are glimpses of all these things in canon. Canon, weather willingly o not, allows for these very things – diversity in the group, people with relatable experiences. I think the best example here are the Malfoys. For the very reason that they never defected the way Regulus and Severus did. I mean, technically they did, but it had nothing to do with realizing they no longer believe in the Dark Lord’s Cause. It had more to do with their family meaning more to them that ideology. This loyalty to family, which is a point that I think JKR intentionally makes about the Malfoys, is something relatable, even admirable. So, if the Malfoys can be rounded out, why not other members? Just because Voldemort is a psychopath – which, you will notice, I never try to deny in any fics or posts – doesn’t mean EVERYONE or even most people who followed him are. You don’t have to like them, my point isn’t to excuse discrimination, but my point is always that taking a large group and sticking a black label on it is not realistic (or any fun, really).
The problem I have with Moriarty is that he nothing like that. In fact, he is like Voldemot in a lot of ways. And how many people actually make up sob stories about Voldemort and make him the “Misunderstood-And-Fluffy-If-Loved” type? And this is given that we already have a very sympathetic background for him – orphan who was always love-deprived, susceptible to trauma. And yet, pretty much everyone I know and have read in fandom, is very aware of Voldemorts psychopathic nature and don’t pretend that they could just stick him with a lover and have a happy reform story. Most people who ship Voldemort it’s either a dark twisted sort of thing, usually very sexual, the partner is very disturbed themselves and the narrative does not try to make them into sympathetic protagonists or shy away from their…issues. With Moriarty, the approach is different. So many shippers try to write MorMor fluff. So much MorMor suffers from a delusion that Moron can be accepted as a protagonist because he “loves”, that it’s possible to really love a person such as Moriarty (I mean we’re not talking about unconditional mother’s love here) and still be a sympathetic, relatable character. So many post-TRF fall stores try to recreated the emotional effect of Johnlock at the end with MorMor. It can’t possible be the same! Because the characters don’t have the same emotional spectrums, because…just no. It doesn’t work that way. (MorMor is a logical paring…but it can’t be a Love Story. Not without rampant OOC.)
Before I lose my track of thought because OMG SO MANY THINGS. The point is: Moriarty kills for fun. He kidnaps children, holds hostages, murders for entertainment, because he wants to have a competition with Sherlock. There is no guiding ideology, these are not crimes committed in the name of something he believes to be right. When Sherlock says that people have died, Moriarty say “that’s what people do.” Life, other people, don’t mean anything to him. There is a complete lack of compassion, or empathy, of ANYTHING here. It's not a distorted worldview. It’s psychopath at its finest. There’s just nothing human or relatable there. Closer to my point: there is nothing to round out there. Canon, even, does not provide us with any glimpses of depth. And I suspect that that’s because there is none. I have nothing to write about because I have no desire to expand upon the tons of atrocities he commits for selfish reasons. There is no character arch. This isn’t trauma, it doesn’t look like trauma, it’s just an inborn disorder of the psyche. I’m not saying other people might not get off on writing twisted dark pieces featuring Moriarty’s evil. I’m not even saying that I couldn’t write such a thing. But there’s nothing to round out the way there is with the Death Eaters, for example. There is just no way to make someone like him sympathetic, I just don’t see it. Personally, I just can’t shrug off all these things he does. These sort of people don’t just change; they have a need to control, to manipulate. They don't love. They are not victims.
Grey areas are great. Skewed morals are great. Falls from grace (ala Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader) are great. These are all explorable things. With character like Moriarty, there’s nothing of the sort.