Weary of Underdog Heroes

(Excuse the spree of colour. Enjoy it, if you will.)

I wrote Captain’s Paper because I was tired of underdog stories. I love a good accidental everyman hero, like everyone, if the transition is effected with due subtlety and credibility, but I can’t pretend I’m a big fan of the underdog triumph. Sorry, but it’s been done too many times and it’s too rare in real life (well, the way it’s often presented).

Take Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

RudolphtheRedNosedReindeerWhat made him great? He had an unusual appearance; that’s all we know. One day, Santa took pity on him. ‘Then all the reindeer loved him’—are reindeer so fickle, so near-seeing, so prejudiced of soul? Yes, it’s nice Santa did his good deed of the day and made the life of a persecuted individual good forever after. Yes, it’s the best moment of Rudolph’s life. But whoever wrote this song had a pretty pessimistic view of reindeer society, in my opinion.

Captain’s Paper follows Drina Connelly, a girl born, bred and accustomed to achieve. All she craves is success. The story deals with her learning to anticipate failure as a legitimate possibility and understanding that it isn’t the extinction of all happiness. And in the end, yes, she fails. She’s not superwoman.

I watched Planes last night. Irritation of irritations! Dusty Crophopper has worked in the fields all his life, dreaming of becoming a magnificent, rich, famous, successful racer. What little boy doesn’t? And then his dream comes true, he woos the gorgeous girlfriend, pulverises the snooty rival, effortlessly gains the loyal best friend and Kenobi-type veteran mentor. Utterly, utterly predictable, right the way through.

I hope that expression on his cropdustin' face is irritating you half as much as it's irritating me, for the sake of my point.

I hope that expression on his cropdustin’ face is irritating you half as much as it’s irritating me, for the sake of my point.

Yes, I have a problem with that.

What I’m getting at is this film is sending bad messages to children. True, Dusty persevered till he got what he wanted (except the faltered-arrogance sequence before the final showdown in which his friends remind him of WHO HE IS and WHAT HE’S THERE FOR). But, like, (yes, I typed that) only 0.0001% of boys who idolise Wayne Rooney even get close, and girls who aspire to look like Barbie dolls…oh, don’t get me started.

Tell me, am I being pessimistic?

That was one of the greatest strengths of Cars (the first). Cocky, one-sided, blasé famous racer Lightning McQueen plunged helplessly into this Radiator Springs place, where no one knows or cares for his reputation or origins. This story tells children that there’s more to life than dreaming. There’s living, too. You don’t have to beat the baddie or show the world (well, okay, sometimes you do).

Now isn't that a nice smile?

Now isn’t that a nice smile?

I love to see big characters humbled and forced to accept their insignificance, far more than strong characters saving the day. Call me sadistic.

What I don’t mean is UNDERDOGS SHOULD STAY UNDERDOGS or YOU CAN NEVER CHANGE FATE (although, hypocritically, I could probably discuss at length why this is true). What I mean is, MUST YOU  WRITE ANOTHER UNDERDOG STORY???

There are many underdog heroes before whom I’d happily grovel. Sir Ulrich von Liechtenstein (excuse me, Sir William Thatcher), I’m winking at you. Dusty Crophopper, I couldn’t care less.

The beautiful Heath Ledger (1979-2008). He was only twenty at the time, but such a subtlety and confidence to his acting, without the usual arrogance. But then I have a bias to all characters called William.

The beautiful Heath Ledger (1979-2008). He was only twenty at the time, but such a subtlety and confidence to his acting, without the usual arrogance. Still, in 2014, we walk in the garden of his turbulence. (But then, I have a bias to all characters called William.)

INFJs and Physical Awareness

(There’s tons more I could add, and probably scientific studies of NF types and such evidence, but this post has piddled around half-finished in My Documents for over a month as it is.)

People give me funny looks when I mention it, but I honestly enjoy the feeling of mild pain. Not pain like breaking your elbow, which excludes everything around you except that one huge frightening hurt. Just a small discomfort, such as a throbbing vein, or a paper-cut between two fingers, or a bruised muscle—something you know can’t harm you, but nags you all the same.

It’s often intrigued me why I should feel this way. I used to think it encouraged me to think stoically, as my father always taught me (definition 2, as below). But even though he suffers hay fever, he claims he doesn’t believe in allergies. He disbelieves in his own condition.



1. a systematic philosophy, dating from around 300 BC, that held the principles of logical thought to reflect a cosmic reason instantiated in nature.
2. (lowercase) conduct conforming to the precepts of the Stoics, as repression of emotion and indifference to pleasure or pain.


Another thought was that I’m a sensation-seeker. Not an attention-seeker in the sense that I constantly desire notice (though possible I do, that, too), but someone who would ‘love’ to be the creator of a grand drama with shocking results. Just out of interest for the effects (though in truth, effects of any sort would threaten my security, and ultimately I never end up doing anything that could endanger my comfort).

But what I’ve hit upon lately, due to my interest for MBTI, is that perhaps pain gives me the physical awareness I don’t naturally have. Just last week, it was half past seven in the evening before I’d realised I’d had nothing to eat since the previous day. I’d been alone for over twelve hours, so no one had forced me to eat, as they usually would. The thought of food just hadn’t crossed my mind. I get lost in the sensation, and practical remedy doesn’t occur to me. But the hunger was there, goading me, spurring me on to a greater and more productive day than I might have spent.

It provides a link to the real world: the permission to go off into my fantasy. It says, “your body hurts, but you can deal with it!”, to return to the idea of self-denial often associated with Stoicism. But it’s not even the defiance in the face of pain that I like(!), but the connection it gives me to my body. It harnesses me where it might be dangerous to give full reign to my imagination. Yet in the partial ignoring of the sensation, my imagination feels as if it has been declared ruler. It has not, for corporeal awareness shackles it to reality, but…well, does anyone understand?

Plato. Creepy guy, 'en't 'e?

Plato. Creepy guy, ‘en’t ‘e?

Food and sleep: if we had neither, there would be so much time and freedom to follow our dreams and fulfil our desires. But what are we without our bodies? For someone who would live exclusively in the realm of souls (not to imply that Plato has won my heart, despite how I came up with a similar dualistic theory when I was seven), this is quite a concession.

But I would not be without my body. In The Matrix, the mind cannot live without the body, nor the body without the mind. No, I am for balance and connection, for harmony; though in my world, physicality strives for precedence against imagination, and vice versa. The mutual struggle is what keeps me safe, what keeps me breathing.

Neo awakes from The Matrix and discovers that while his mind has been living a computer-simulated life, his body has remained in this capsule producing energy to run the computers which took over the world several centuries ago.

Neo awakes from The Matrix and discovers that while his mind has been living a computer-simulated life, his body has remained in this capsule producing energy to run the computers which took over the world several centuries ago.

Body and mind, Catholics say. The soul goes immediately to Heaven; but on the Last Day, the Judgement Day, we profess every week in our Creed, the body will be resurrected, too, and, reunited with the soul, the whole will be judged for the last time: Heaven or Hell for all eternity. We can elude neither part of us, to whatever extent we can use either or link them both.


“I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting” – Nicene Creed

To sum up, being a writer and an INFJ, who lives so much in the subconscious mind she has difficulty in communicating not only to others, but to her own consciousness, I’d gladly give up my body and live solely in the spirit. But since that is impossible, in this world, which is my own till death takes it from me, I must have some link to my own physicality that keeps me aware of the changes of day to night, and enough in the present world to keep my body functioning sufficiently to allow my subconscious mind to work to best effect.

As Captain Jack would say, “Savvy?”



Plato – http://www.departments.bucknell.edu/history/carnegie/plato/plato_bust.jpg

The Matrix – https://lillianmwoodall.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/76ec4-matrix-pod.jpg

“I believe…” – http://principiumunitatis.blogspot.com/2008/11/resurrection-of-body.html_