The Antagonistic Protagonist

The Antagonistic Protagonist

I’m not talking about your average anti-hero here. I’m talking about the piece of shit, the walking garbage fire, the absolute train wreck who is somehow the main character or a main character of the thing you happen to be enjoying.

There’s obviously some differences between the Anti-hero and the Ant-Prot [that’s the abbreviation I’m going with here, folks. Work with me] depending on sliding scales of Relatability, Quirks [AKA: potential humour content], and the potential for Redemption.

Anti-heroes are grizzled, bitter, hard-shelled types who are willing to do dirty deeds for the greater good. Ant-prots are all that, assholes with it, and somehow win the girl in the third act.

Bruce Willis’ character in Sin City was an anti-hero.

Deadpool is an Ant-prot who happens to have a heart of gold. That “heart of gold” thing is optional.

To put it in serialised drama terms, House was an anti-hero. He was also verging on the borders of Ant-prot territory.

Your average Ant-prot is almost a villain. Some choose to cling to that precipice with everything they have, struggling to come back from the brink, and that’s where it gets interesting. Some kind’a stumble into the heroic role, and that’s interesting too.

All of the Villain-is-redeemed movies are Ant-prot stories. Megamind is an Ant-prot story.

With me so far?

Murder Dollhouse is going to have an Ant-prot partner for my model-making heroine.

The antagonistic portion of this main character is wholly encapsulated in the fact that he is an able male. Mentally able, physically able. And completely oblivious to the fact that other people have different life experiences.

As an Autistic Person(tm), I get to see a lot of this from the allegedly-normal set. The R-slur used as a punchline. Mocking imitations of people who are, to my mind, trying their best to deal with their own lives. Ableist slurs are part of common language. And “normal” people are completely unaware of how much it hurts others.

There is a phenomenal amount of a certain kind of philosophy from the abled and the advantaged. It goes: Well this thing never hurt me so it can’t possibly hurt anyone else. Or, as they prefer to verbalise it, “Did I hurt your precious feelings, snowflake?” And most of this particular brand of chaff comes from abled white males who never encountered an obstacle worse than the wait in the Starbucks queue.

You know, the same demographic who ends up complaining that “lazy immigrants” are “stealing their jobs”. But I digress.

I’m going to start Murder Dollhouse from the viewpoint of someone who has never had an obstacle. They got a lot of the breaks in life by being born into a more affluent family, who could afford a better education, who knew people and could pull strings. The money is enough for a safety net and failure is a temporary setback.

Then he meets someone who had obstacles. The money wasn’t always there. The resources didn’t exist and they had to improvise. And they encountered… let’s call it ‘skin-tone-ism’. Which is what existed before institutionalised racism happened, and since my story isn’t happening in America, judging people based on skin tone needs another term. Maybe.

Digression: Skin-tone-ism happened in pre-historical India, with darker-skinned peoples being judged as inferior to the lighter-skinned folks of the same area. It’s an actual thing that happened in real history. It may have happened elsewhere, but this is the one example I know of. End digression.

But I suppose I can call a spade a spade in this story and use the R-word that abled people never want to hear: Racist.

But I’m going to avoid too much of that overall. Yes, my main character is a paler skin tone than my heroine. Yes, there are some… undertones… in there. BUT, for the most part, everyone on my imaginary island chain is more or less some shade of brown ranging from “paper bag” to “walking patch of night”.

Because it’s my imagination and I want some idiot to say, “Where are the white people?” about this at some point in the future.

My Ant-prot’s story is a slow-burn redemption. They learn about things and realise, “Hey. I made a shitty first impression and I’m going to have to work at bettering myself.” Which is what all abled advantaged folks need to do, IMO.

All this whilst investigating some juicy, juicy crimes.

I’m going to have so much fun with this.