MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

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Nigell123
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MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Nigell123 » Jan 23, 2011 6:25 am

Hi there,

I do recall reading this on line a few days ago, but foolishly kept clicking and should have written it down. I'm working on a story where it makes perfect sense that the MC is working against the OS, for very strong emotional reasons. It seems like an obvious idea - aren't James Bond films about the Protagonist trying to take over the world and James, the MC, working against it as Antagonist. But most of the examples I can look up are about the MC being the Protagonist, or one of the other OS characters, but not the Antagonist.

Anyway, any other examples would be great to have as I'm very keen on finding stories that have a structural feel that matches my story.

All the best - Nigel

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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby phillybudd » Jan 23, 2011 11:46 am

Hi Nigel,

I think you might be forgetting that Protagonist and Antagonist are structural roles -- who is the good guy and who is the bad guy isn't relevant to their definition as Protagonist and Antagonist.

As you know the MC is the character from whose perspective the story is being told, whether or not he/she happens to be the Protagonist. The Protagonist and Antagonist represent roles that are (for example) either competing for the same thing or trying to accomplish mutually exclusive things, so from either character's point of view, the other is his Antagonist, I suppose.

Your Protagonist can certainly be a bad-guy "anti-hero," and his Antagonist can be the good-guy trying to stop him from doing bad things. But *structurally* they are still Protagonist and Antagonist, respectively. Said another way, the fact that the Protagonist is the bad guy isn't relevant to the structural role he plays. Dramatica is neutral where good guy/bad guy judgments are concerned.

In fact this kind of inversion was quite common in Film Noir. An excellent example would be the film "Double Indemnity" -- Fred MacMurray plays the "bad guy" MC/Protagonist, Edward G. Robinson is the "good guy" Antagonist (talk about being cast against type!). A fun twist here is that Edward G. Robinson doesn't even know he's the Antagonist until the end of the film, but Fred MacMurray sure does.

Jeff

p.s. If you don't know the film, it's worth watching just for the 100-mile-an-hour dialog, and for the classic Film Noir voice-over throughout ("The air was thick with honeysuckle. Little did I know that death can smell like honeysuckle."). And the fact that Barbara Stanwyck's hair never moves.

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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Chris Huntley » Jan 24, 2011 5:23 pm

Jeff makes an excellent point.

Two typical Shakespeare tragedies are Macbeth and Richard III. As tragedies, it means they end in Failure/Bad.

Even though Macbeth and Richard III are 'bad' guys, they are still seen as protagonists that fail, rather than antagonists that win.

An example where the MC is also the antagonist can be seen in the manga/anime series, "Death Note." The Main Character is Raito ("Light"), who is an idealistic serial killer who spends most of the story trying not to be discovered, with the Impact Character as the Protagonist, "L," the brilliant detective after him. Unfortunately, the writers kill off the IC partway through the series, which throws off the rest of the story -- structurally-speaking.
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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby phillybudd » Jan 24, 2011 6:33 pm

After all this talk about "Double Indemnity" I had to dig it out and watch it...I got the honeysuckle line wrong: "I could still remember the smell of honeysuckle all along that street. How could I have known that murder can sometimes smell like honeysuckle."

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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Nigell123 » Jan 27, 2011 2:23 am

Thanks.

My choice of James Bond wasn't because I forgot the Protagonist and Antagonist are structural roles, it was the only example I could think of when the MC (Bond) was also the Antagonist, trying to stop the Protagonist, whoever it happened to be in that film that was trying to take over the world. Or maybe I really was confused.

In the story I'm working on the protagonist isn't really a bad guy at all, let alone an anti-hero. He just very reasonably (in the OS story) wants to stop an event that to the Player (who is both MC and Antagonist) needs to keep going.

For instance, say there's a scary monster in a town, which the town very reasonably wants to destroy, so they appoint someone - the Protagonist - to hunt it down, but the MC needs to keep the monster alive (as it keeps him alive - maybe by giving him some psychic "life juice") so will do anything (as Antagonist and MC) he can to do so. You might have guessed that the example above has just been made up, but I hope it gives a flavour of where I'm heading, structurally.

Nigel

I was lucky enough to catch Double Indemnity in a cinema years ago. I have to watch it again - post Dramatica.

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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Clint541963 » Jan 27, 2011 4:28 am

Is the Grinch a good example of the the Antagonist as MC? The overall story is about celebrating Christmas where the Whos down in Whoville are the protagonist keeping that Overall Story moving forward.

Check out this Dramatica article on Protagonist and Antagonist
http://dramaticapedia.com/2010/02/22/protagonist-antagonist/


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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby phillybudd » Jan 27, 2011 6:04 am

Interesting point. But given this:
The Protagonist represents our Initiative, the motivation to change the status quo. The Antagonist embodies our Reticence to change the status quo.


... couldn't one also argue that the Grinch is the one trying to change the status quo, and the Whos are trying to keep things the same?

(By the way, I hate it when people misuse the word "reticence" when they mean "resistance." Just a pet peeve of mine.)

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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Chris Huntley » Jan 27, 2011 9:01 am

Determining who the protagonist and antagonist is simple.

1. Determine the Story Goal
2. The protagonist is for the Story Goal
3. The antagonist is against the Story Goal

SO, the trick is in how you identify the Story Goal, and of course the 'you' in that phrase is important. Generally, it is the audience's interpretation of where it thinks the author is.

For example, in Goldfinger, the goal seems to be: Stop Goldfinger from destroying the U.S. gold reserve and thus destroying the U.S. economy. Therefore the protagonist would be for stopping Goldfinger (i.e. Bond), and the antagonist would be for preventing the stopping of Goldfinger (i.e. Goldfinger himself).

It can get sort of convoluted when you use negative goals, but the logic holds up.

The way to TEST your assumption about the goal is to figure out what the Outcome is: Success or Failure. The way to test it is to get a sense of whether it seems that things worked out or they didn't. PLEASE do not confuse this with the Story Judgment of Good or Bad. Though the Judgment is often blended with the Outcome to get a feel for the ending, the Outcome is a logical assessment of how things work out, while the Judgment is an emotional assessment of how things work out.

So, if we follow the efforts of a character who tries, and fails or succeeds, to achieve something negative, then that character most likely is a protagonist -- even if he may be a 'bad guy' like MacBeth or Richard III. The same criteria works for King Lear. Even though Lear tries to do the right thing, it all falls apart, thus ending in Failure.

It seems to me that it is better to look at it as an MC that is a 'bad guy' more than an MC that is also an Antagonist. You can have an MC as an antagonist, its just tricky. It is much easier having a bad guy/gal as the MC who is the protagonist of an effort that is unseemly.
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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Nigell123 » Feb 12, 2011 3:19 pm

I've just found my Bond reference, in the StoryWeaver guidance notes by Melanie.

"For example, in most James Bond films, the Villain is the Protagonist, for it is he who initiates a plan. Structurally, James Bond himself is an Antagonist, since he tries to return things to the status quo".

Of course in your example from Bond you state:

"For example, in Goldfinger, the goal seems to be: Stop Goldfinger from destroying the U.S. gold reserve and thus destroying the U.S. economy. Therefore the protagonist would be for stopping Goldfinger (i.e. Bond), and the antagonist would be for preventing the stopping of Goldfinger (i.e. Goldfinger himself)".

Is this a fundamental disagreement between the two of you, or is Goldfinger an exception? And if you see the same film in a different way, does it lead to a different Story Form?

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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Chris Huntley » Feb 12, 2011 5:03 pm

I'd say Melanie and I see Goldfinger differently.

Fortunately, Identifying the objective characters has no bearing on the storyform -- only which characters you choose to do what in the Overall Story throughline. The important thing is to PICK a goal and then be consistent.
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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Magiermogul » Jun 07, 2011 2:55 am

Hi there,

the killer in Michael Powell's "Peeping Tom" (1960) played by Karlheinz Böhm would be an example for an MC as antagonist. The story is told from his perspective, but he works against the story goal (prevent further killings). Another thematic related example could be John McNaughton's "Henry - Portrait of a Serial Killer" (1986) played by Michael Rooker.

Mark

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MC as Antagonist

Postby adambein » Feb 13, 2016 12:48 pm

Do a internet search for: "Is Daniel really the bully/bad guy in 'Karate Kid'?".

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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby BrianNewman » Aug 01, 2016 4:10 am

I think Harry Potter is an example where the hero is the antagonist. He's the one trying to prevent someone from doing something.

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Re: MC as Antagonist - any examples please?

Postby Chris Huntley » Aug 08, 2016 8:58 am

Ah, but you see the Goal is to stop Voldemort, so Harry really is a protagonist and Voldemort the antagonist. This is why it is so important to establish what the goal is before identifying who is a "protagonist" or not. That said, it is likely neither of these two characters are complex characters instead of character archetypes. Therefore, they can have subtle and complex character element assignments. Add the fact that Harry is the MC and has a whole set of elements to himself, so it is likely not as black and white as protagonist and antagonist suggest.
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