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David Garvin

ENGL 2331.83501
22 February 2017
Essay 1

I've decided to look at the methods and reasoning for the methods that the
protagonists used in the first set of movies that we've watched in class. While each one
of these characters could be said to fit the same “Anti-hero” mold, the angle and degree
taken by each is different and makes for an interesting study.

I feel that it is best to start with a little bit of personal information that may affect
the way that I view these characters and movies. “Dirty heroes”, as I call them, have
always been some of my favorite types of characters. While a classic good-vs-bad story
is nice now and then, an example of this would be Star Wars, I vastly prefer a hero that
doesn't feel squeaky clean and a bad guy who has more of a reason behind the way he
acts than “because he's evil”. For example, going back to Star Wars, Han Solo would fit
this description, especially in the way that he deals with Greedo (before George Lucas
decided to edit the movies). In case you're not aware how that meeting of the two
originally went, Han Solo shoots Greedo so that he can't be taken away to Jabba the Hutt
and calmly walks out of the establishment like he hadn't just fried another being.

With that out of the way, let me start with the first movie that we watched, Road
Warrior. Before this class, I had not actually seen this movie, although I have seen (and
enjoyed) the sequel, Road Warrior: Fury Road. Max in these movies is always treated as
more of a legend, the lone wanderer who blows through town and makes some major
change whether he meant to or not. In Road Warrior, he does this by helping a town
escape some marauders and move on to better lands. However, he wasn't aiming for this
result from the beginning. All he wanted was gas, as that is all that really matters in the
post-apocalyptic world.

Even when the movie seems to set Max up to turn into the hero and drive the rig,
he turns it down. At that point many audience members were probably thinking, “Well,
he's just being a jerk!” However, if you think about it from his point of view he really
didn't gain anything for doing it. Quite the opposite, it actually put his life in danger. It's
really only when he has lost everything and the best option for survival left to him is to
help out the townsfolk that he finally takes on the role of “Hero”.

Going to our second movie, Soylent Green, we follow the story of Thorn, a cop, as
he discovers a dark secret. I had not seen the movie before this, but I did know a lot
about the story. “Soylent green is people!” is a quote uttered by many who have never
seen the movie that it came from, including myself. Thorn actually kind of made me
uncomfortable, especially the way that he treated Shirl, the “Human furniture”.
Compared to the other characters I will be discussing I felt like he was probably the
dirtiest. When doing his detective duties he steals a lot of items and later forces Shirl to
have sexual relations with him. (I wish to add that while he did not physically force her
to, he did pretty much just say, “Get naked” and wanted service. While Shirl is human
furniture and, therefore, a glorified prostitute, Thorn did not own the place and had no
right to those services. Their first encounter did not look like it was something that she
wanted, either. Even later it felt more like she just needed a new person to attach herself
to.)

However, I will credit Thorn with this: He did do what he did at the end for the
greater good. While some of it was probably curiosity, it did seem that he realized that
he needed to do the right thing and did it. So while I think Thorn started out pretty low
(compared to Max who's not trying to hurt anyone and just wants to survive), he does
end up on a high note as far as a traditional hero goes.

Now I'm going to skip to Silent Running and take a look at the main character,
Freeman Lowell. Out of all the movies that we watched in the first section, he is the only
main character to actually do what he does for the “greater good” as he sees it from the
very beginning of the movie. He is so driven by this desire, in fact, that he is even
willing to kill to save the last trees and plants alive. After his acts of violence at the
beginning of the movie he pretty much just plays things straight from then on. In fact, I
think he would have kept on going that way forever if the rescue team hadn't found him.
It was only when he realized that there would be consequences to his actions that he
decided to take his life.

While I can't say that I agree with his actions, the fact that he did it for a belief
instead of survival makes him really stand out from the rest of the characters talked
about in this essay. They may eventually turn into reluctant heroes fighting for their
beliefs, but Freeman comes out the gate doing what he does, not for himself, but for the
future of mankind.

Finally, I get to look at my favorite movie of this bunch. Serenity is a movie based
on the canceled-all-too-soon TV series, Firefly. I cannot hide my love for this show. It's
less Sci-Fi (the way things work in the show is never explained, there's no “real” science
going on) and more of a Space Western. I had seen the movie before so I feel especially
strong about Mal as the perfect example of a “Dirty hero”. He does what he wants to do.
Most of the time it's for profit, but he does do things at times because he thinks it's the
right thing to do.

I'll try to leave the TV series out of this (which showcases this much better than
the movie does), but a good example would be the bank robbery versus him bringing
River back to the ship. The bank robbery was a clear, criminal act. However, it brought
the crew a profit. Then not much later, despite having just kicked River and Simon off
his ship for being a danger to the crew and for questioning his orders, respectively, he
decides to bring a passed out River back to the ship. The danger was over, he could have
just left her there and been off on his merry way. But at that moment he let his desire to
do right (in this case, doing right by someone who he has spent some time on a ship
with) take over and actually caused him a lot more trouble.

In conclusion, I think all 4 heroes display different characteristics that commonly
get attributed to an anti-hero. Max did everything for himself and only helped when it
benefited him the most. Thorn was a sleazy detective who decided that the truth that he
had found out was too much and that everyone must know, doing what he needed for the
greater good. Freeman had an ideology and was willing to kill to follow it. Mal did
whatever came to him, whether it was for himself and his crew, or if it was to do right. I
would define Max and Thorn as “reluctant heroes” and Freeman and Mal as more of the
“anti-hero”. But in the end, it all made for more three-dimensional characters.

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