Influencers: Part III – Characters, Men

Check out the introduction to the series here and Part II – Celebrities.

I have chose words carefully here. The characters on this list are influential – that isn’t the issue – but they are influential in a narrow scope, somewhat like the celebrities list (kindness, activism, etc.). Many characters exist who influence my writing, for example, but the impact they had on me was not personal. Batman’s rogues gallery always comes to mind when I’m thinking about how a villain might behave. How could one overlook someone like Joker when thinking about villains?

The characters below have a more specific influence on myself and how I consider heroes in my writing.

1) Theodore “Laurie” Laurence – Little Women

Theodore Laurence

Yes, that image is from the upcoming adaptation from Greta Gerwig, but Laurie is not on this list in anticipation of Chalamet’s (likely impressive) take or even the 1994 version Christian Bale delivered. My love for Laurie goes all the way back to the novel itself and seeing myself in his place.

The love he has for the March sisters mirrors my own (up to the point that he would apparently marry any of them – again, a topic for another time), but the fact that he only comes to that after deciding that he does not possess the talent in music he hoped and that his efforts were spent better assisting others (a lesson he learned in no small part from the March sisters), also resonated.

2) Sherlock Holmes – the Sherlock Holmes franchise

Sherlock Holmes

Holmes appealed to the logician in me. He could make sense of anything just by paying attention to the details and the proper application of deductive and inductive logic. He was not a genius, the way some use his name as a synonym, but knowledgeable in relevant subjects to his work and attentive. That was the point – one did not have to be a genius and simply know things. One could know some things, pay attention, and work out the rest.

Though versions of the character are more caustic than I would care to know in real life (one of my peers once said, “You’re like a nice version of Dr. House”), the intellectual prowess the character displays often features somewhere in my writing.

3) The Tramp – Charlie Chaplin films

The Tramp

On to the 20th century – it’s pretty much all film-driven the rest of the way.

The Tramp features on the list for the very reasons that Charlie himself featured on the celebrity list. The down-on-his-luck but optimistic everyman faced the difficulties and hardships of life with wit, heart, and a knack for physical comedy matched by few throughout history.

4) Jefferson Smith – Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Jefferson Smith

This is the Jimmy Stewart part of the presentation. If you are a person who, for reasons unimaginable to me, cannot stand Jimmy Stewart, just scroll ahead a few spots.

Jefferson Smith is Jimmy Stewart and they both reflect an innocence about things that I like. Is Jefferson wrong about how democracy in America should work? Not at all. Is it how democracy does work? Not at all. The patriot who arrives in Washington with only the best intentions and a true passion for democracy comes up against the machine. He wins in the end because it’s fiction and the Senator in the way admits to his wrongdoing, but what matters here is the nature of Jefferson Smith himself. He could be my representative any time.

5) Rick Blaine – Casablanca

Rick Blaine

But I’ve got a job to do, too. Where I’m going, you can’t follow. What I’ve got to do, you can’t be any part of. Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

Casablanca, possibly the best movie of all-time. If you only know the snippets of the movie, I imagine this might seem like a man’s man choice. Rick is that old-fashioned, stoic, and apathetic hard case for most of the movie, but if that’s all one takes from the film then we need a class in cinematic literacy.

The plot also reveals Rick’s tendency to fight for the underdog, a tendency that he only began to resist after Ilsa broke his heart (for reason’s that he learns during the film). His operation throughout the film helps to finance escapes to America for people and to hinder the Nazi occupation. By film’s end, he does what is best for Lazlo (who needs to continue his own resistance efforts) and Ilsa (who is no longer safe with Rick because of his actions). Lazlo departs with a kind word welcoming Rick back to the fight.

Deep down, Rick is a guy who cannot help but do the right thing.

6) George Bailey – It’s a Wonderful Life

George Bailey

Oh, I’m sorry Pop, I didn’t mean that, but this business of nickels and dimes and spending all your life trying to figure out how to save three cents on a length of pipe… I’d go crazy. I want to do something big and something important.

Doesn’t he have a good face? I like it. I like George Bailey. The entire concept of this tale, the small town boy with huge aspirations and an even bigger heart, compelled to stay put and do what he felt was right in a summation of my worldview. He does the right thing even when it’s the impossible or risky thing. He cares about everyone. He wants to go out and change the world, but he isn’t greedy. The experience and contribution matter to him. Getting in on the ground floor with plastics, selling everyone’s shares to Potter, or going to work for Potter, though any one of those moves would benefit George, are not what he wants and not what is right.

Yes, George eventually struggles under the weight of all this, and that is where our friendly angel-in-training must arrive to put things back in perspective for him. Once George sees the benefit of everything he’s done, he returns more determined than ever.

7) Elwood P. Dowd – Harvey

Elwood P. Dowd

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

Okay, one more Jimmy Stewart. I love this character. You see, he’s “crazy” because he is friends with an invisible rabbit named Harvey. He’s not just an imaginary friend though. Elwood explains that Harvey is a pooka, an actual creature from Celtic mythology who befriends the outcast (I love the outcasts). The plot follows the people around Elwood trying to have him committed to a sanitarium over this. Elwood goes about the scheme blissfully unaware and foiling it at every turn.

It’s Elwood’s innocence and, as he indicates, pleasant nature that puts all of the “normal” characters in perspective. The commentary on mental health and what we consider normal in society is just as relevant today.

8) Marshall Will Kane – High Noon

Will Kane

The setup is simple. Marshall Kane, recently married, is about to retire. The dangerous Frank Miller and his gang are en route though, and Miller has vengeance on his mind. The Marshall made the mistake of arresting Frank for his crimes, and now Frank wants Kane dead.

The Miller gang is dangerous and the town abandons Kane to stand alone. They don’t want trouble and want Kane to leave. Kane’s new Quaker wife, a pacifist, likewise wishes to avoid the violence. The trouble is Kane’s sense of duty and awareness that running only moves the problem to a new location. Kane resolves to stay and fight, appealing to friends and allies for help but none do.

What appealed to me about Kane was not his gunslinger victory; it was putting what he felt was right above all else. He had to stop the Miller gang and would do it alone if necessary.

9) Juror 8 – 12 Angry Men

Juror 8

We may be trying to let a guilty man go free, I don’t know. Nobody really can. But we have a reasonable doubt, and that’s something that’s very valuable in our system. No jury can declare a man guilty unless it’s sure.

Consider this a cross-section of Sherlock Holmes and Jefferson Smith. As 12 men meet to decide the fate of a young man up for capital punishment, 11 cursory guilty verdicts come up against a single resister. Juror 8 says not guilty on the grounds of reasonable doubt and compels the 12 men to engage in a debate about the case. What ensues is a challenge of personal bias and conflicting characters all driven by one thing: one juror’s insistence upon justice and the humanity not to condemn a person to death unless absolutely certain.

10) Dr. Ernst Janning – Judgment at Nuremberg

Dr. Ernst Janning

Your honor, I was content to sit silent during this trial. I was content to tend my roses. I was even content to let counsel try to save my name, until I realized that in order to save it, he would have to raise the spectre again. You have seen him do it – he has done it here in this courtroom. He has suggested that the Third Reich worked for the benefit of people. He has suggested that we sterilized men for the welfare of the country. He has suggested that perhaps the old Jew did sleep with the sixteen year old girl, after all. Once more it is being done for love of country. It is not easy to tell the truth; but if there is to be any salvation for Germany, we who know our guilt must admit it… whatever the pain and humiliation.

Ready for this – there’s a Nazi on the list. Dr. Janning is not on the list for what he did so much as for what he did not do. The film is about the Nuremberg Trials and birthplace of the Nuremberg defence – “I was only following orders”. What makes Janning so compelling is that he sits on a panel of accused Nazis who mount defiant, indignant defences of their actions while he sits with a quiet sadness.

In his concluding speech, part of which appears above, he breaks his silence to demand it from his lawyer. He acknowledges the horrors of Nazi Germany and the same horror, the justification of the acts to avoid accountability, occurring in the courtroom. There is no forgiveness for Dr. Janning and he knows it, but he earns a spot on the influencer list for finally doing the right thing against tremendous pressure.

11) Luke – Cool Hand Luke

Luke

You made me like I am. Now just where am I supposed to fit in? Old Man, I gotta tell You. I started out pretty strong and fast. But it’s beginning to get to me. When does it end? What do You got in mind for me? What do I do now? Right. All right.

Yeah, Luke is just a cool dude. Nothing bothers him, not even the existential threat of being cut down in a lightning storm. He’ll eat 50 eggs in an hour just to pass the time, and if he doesn’t have a beef with you he will barely put up a fight. He’s not going down though – he’ll get up every time you knock him down.

All that coolness conceals a man trying to find his place in the world. Why is he okay with being killed by lightning? He just wants God to show himself. Love him or kill him, just let Luke know You’re there. He reveals in some of his last lines (above) the same thoughts.

There’s a Myth of Sisyphus quality to Luke that I cannot help but love.

12) Luke Skywalker – the Star Wars franchise

Luke Skywalker

Enjoying that I include the source of the character as though readers don’t know exactly where most of them originate?

From one Luke to another about ten years later. This is the pumpkin spice latte of the list. Writers in particular will be familiar with the hero’s journey, a formal plot structure that covers the path followed by many protagonists throughout history. If I were to teach the hero’s journey to a contemporary audience, Luke Skywalker is the character I would use to relate it.

It’s a western presented as a space opera, a clear battle between good and evil, and one of the most entertaining and successful franchises in history. It sets up Luke as the quintessential hero and an indispensable literary resource.

13) John McClane – Die Hard

John McClane

Look, I’m getting a bad feeling up here. I’d like you to do something for me. Look up my wife, don’t ask how, you’ll know by then, and tell her…tell her I’ve been a jerk. When things panned out for her, I should’ve been behind her all the way. We had something great going until I screwed it up. She was the best thing that ever happened to a bum like me.  She’s heard me say, “I love you” a thousand times, but she never heard me say, “I’m sorry.”

Bear with me. I know he blows up buildings and kills terrorists (thieves) while quipping. That’s Arnold, Sly, or any number of 80s and 90s action stars, right?

In the context of Die Hard (and then each sequel to a lesser degree as it became ridiculous), John is a human, flawed police officer. He does not go into the building to stop terrorists – he is there to see his estranged wife. When things begin, he does not turn into an action hero, he turns into the New York cop, being smart and doing what he can to manage the situation.

“No, you macho, assholes, no!” he yells at one point. We see a SWAT officer, one of those man’s man professions, innocently prick a finger on a thorn bush and yelp like a child. The movie did a wonderful job of humanising McClane rather than making him the Terminator, of making him a regular man in exceptional circumstances. He is as cerebral (the first face-to-face meeting with Hans) as he is physical. His bromance with Sergeant Powell (arguably the real love story within the movie) and reconciliation with his wife make it a wonderful character.

14) Mitch Robbins – City Slickers

Mitch Robbins

Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean shit.
Mitch: But what is the one thing?
Curly: That’s what you have to find out.

I loved City Slickers even from a young age. I’m an old soul prone to existential crises, which aligned perfectly with Mitch’s character and the theme of this funny, heartfelt film. From career day at his son’s school where he confronts the meaninglessness of his work (“I sell air.”) to his early conversations with Curly (“Yeah, you all come out here about the same age…you worry about a lot of shit.”), we feel Mitch’s struggle and through that his friends’ struggles (bravo to Daniel Stern in this film as well).

As with other comedies, this holds a special place in my heart not because of the humour, though the film is among the elite in that respect, but because of its heart. The philosophy discussion with Curly about “one thing” and Phil finally breaking down about his circumstances – one is as inclined to cry and become contemplative watching this as to laugh.

15) George Banks – Father of the Bride

George Banks

Who presents this woman? This woman? But she’s not a woman. She’s just a kid. And she’s leaving us. I realized at that moment that I was never going to come home again and see Annie at the top of the stairs. Never going to see her again at our breakfast table in her nightgown and socks. I suddenly realized what was happening. Annie was all grown up and was leaving us, and something inside began to hurt.

Ah, Steve Martin. In that same Mitch Robbins spirit, he has a wonderful ability to deliver comedy with heart. The only reason ‘Planes, Trains, and Automobiles’ does not appear on this list is that I felt so conflicted between Steve Martin and John Candy that putting the whole thing aside felt simpler.

Growing up male in a society with our gendered expectations meant certain biases as a youth. One is no doubt familiar with them. The idea of the overprotective father – that young men only want one thing and so men who become fathers to daughters develop a unique protectiveness about them.

Martin’s George is not protective in that strictive sense – he gives no indication that he is uneasy about her dating – but we see it manifest, as per the title, in the struggle he feels at watching his little girl mature into a woman who no longer needs him, who will form a partnership with this other man and go off to build a new life. He does it with classic Steve Martin humour (and some help from buddy Martin Short), but never loses sight of the sincere love a father has for his daughter.

16) Dave Kovic – Dave

Dave Kovic

I think there are certain things you should expect from your president. I had to care more about you than I do about me. I had to care more about what’s right than I do about what’s popular.

I’m going to go ahead and say SPOILER ALERT on this one, though I think you’re fine.

I would take Jefferson Smith as my Senator and Dave Kovic as my President. Dave, a simple, humanitarian businessman, becomes a stand-in for the ill President because of his uncanny resemblance. Once in office though, Dave brings his honesty and empathy to the Presidency. He does things for people because that is what’s right.

When he discovers, not unlike Jefferson Smith, that he assumed the role amidst a scandal. As things come to blows and the scandal at risk, the White House Chief of Staff decides to cast all the light on Dave as the culprit. To the delight of a grateful nation, Dave reveals not only “his” role in the scandal, but also the Chief of Staff’s and acquits the wrongfully accused Vice President, a decent man, of wrongdoing. It’s precisely the sort of honesty and dedicated to service one would want of a public official.

17) Oskar Schindler – Schindler’s List

Oskar Schindler

I could have gotten one more person… and I didn’t! And I… I didn’t!

Not a fictional character – Oskar Schindler and this story are real – but I include the fictionalised account because of its artistic relevance. Schindler is, as he admits himself, a profiteer of slave labour, of using Jewish workers during the Holocaust. While he is not a Nazi official, he cooperates with them for personal gain when he sees the opportunity for immense profit. That character obviously deserves no respect from anyone.

The transformation of the character in his dealings with the Nazis and, more importantly, his Jewish workers (headed by Ben Kingsley’s Stern) to an understanding of the humanity is what makes the story what it is. His breakdown by the end of the film, as he releases his amassed fortune to continue protecting the workers from Nazi atrocities, and the painful speech referenced above about how the Nazis, and he, had valued human lives is an important, timeless message.

18) Sean Maguire – Good Will Hunting

Sean Maguire

You’re not perfect, sport, and let me save you the suspense: this girl you’ve met, she’s not perfect either. But the question is whether or not you’re perfect for each other.

I have a wonderful relationship with my father, but that did not stop Robin Williams from assuming a paternal role with his performance in this film. While I am no genius, I was something of a bookish outcast with many of the personal hang-ups displayed by Will in this movie. Watching Robin Williams, an actor I already admired, assume the mentor role to guide Will through those things was like having Sean counsel me personally.

His approach was tactical. Sean did not play games with Will – it was not a matter of manipulating him. He understood Will by listening and did what he knew was psychologically necessary to guide him along the path Will chose. He didn’t not push Will down the path he felt was best for him. In fact, he specifically fights with Will’s other mentor about this exact point. He helps Will get out of his own way to find and pursue what mattered to him.

19) Truman Burbank – The Truman Show

Truman Burbank

We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that.

By now my affinity for comedy with substance is apparent. Anytime a writer can make me laugh while also tackling something philosophical I will respond. ‘Groundhog Day’ would fall into this category as well, with the difference being that, well, I don’t think Bill Murray’s character is a decent person until the absolute end (as opposed to say Schindler who transforms through the piece, Phil remains flawed until the last repeat).

That is where Truman Burbank is different. He is a decent person trapped in unique circumstance. He has a passion, travel, that the circumstance must resist. While Ed Harris’ Creator wants reality and to show that sincerity to the world, it requires trapping Truman inside his fictional world. Watching Truman come to terms with the reality of the world with which he was presented and start to rebel against it makes the story and Truman a premier influence in my life.

20) Captain John H. Miller – Saving Private Ryan

Captain John Miller

Ah, Ryan. I don’t know anything about Ryan. I don’t care. The man means nothing to me. It’s just a name. But if… You know if going to Rumelle and finding him so that he can go home. If that earns me the right to get back to my wife, then that’s my mission. You want to leave? You want to go off and fight the war? All right. All right. I won’t stop you. I’ll even put in the paperwork. I just know that every man I kill the farther away from home I feel.

Something wonderful happens whenever Matt Damon is lost and needs help getting home. For the second time on this list, it’s the leadership of the man charged with doing precisely that which makes the list. For much of the movie it remains difficult to know why. I find myself watching Captain Miller pursue a course of action he does not want: “Upham’s talking about our duty as soldiers,” “Especially if you think the mission is FUBAR,” explaining how to gripe and the canned, political response he would have for a commanding officer when told to take a mission he did not want, to lose men for which he cared to save one he did not know.

That is where the movie, and his character, reveals itself. It’s not about missions or a war. It’s about people. He justifies all the men who died under his command by how many he saved because of their actions. He pursues a mission he does not like because its completion could mean going home to his wife. “When is the last time you felt good about anything?” he asks a solider. He is a man doing what he can as best he can.

21) Ed Bloom – Big Fish

Ed Bloom

That was my father’s final joke, I guess. A man tells his stories so many times that he becomes the stories. They live on after him. And in that way he becomes immortal.

This entry is unique. What struck me about Ed Bloom is his knack for storytelling (and, by default, Daniel Wallace) and his reasons for doing it (Ed’s, not necessarily Daniel’s). That’s kind of all I want to say about ‘Big Fish’ other than to encourage you to see it/read it if you have not already. Let Ed and his son do the talking from here.

22) Bruce Wayne/Batman – the Dark Knight franchise

Bruce Wayne

First, I restrict this to the Christopher Nolan iteration of Batman. I love the character in general, but in terms of personal influence that is a matter specific to Christian Bale’s interpretation. Second, my relationship with the character is complex. Sure, we have a lot to like about Batman, especially the no guns/no killing version of the character. Still, looking at this from a psychology/sociology perspective, the Batman brutalises people, some of whom need mental health care (a few villains even point this out to the Bat – “Just beat them up, lock them up, eh, Brucie?”) One should also question how the elder Waynes would feel about what their son is doing. After all, their death is what inspired all of this.

But that is enough for a whole separate piece. I do like the fundamental philosophy of the Batman. He understands the complex nature of right and wrong, focusing his rage on the villains who prey on others like Falcone. He understands their fear tactics and wants to turn that against them. He adopts the cowl not because he “has a bat in the belfry” but as a matter of tactical calculation – it conceals his identity to protect the people in his life and makes him symbolic, harder for enemies to demean or defeat.

While the third entry in the trilogy received the most criticism, it’s the chapter that elevated the character the most in my mind. “You’ve given these people everything,” Selina says to him. “Not yet,” is the reply. The moment that summed up my love for this version the most came earlier though, after a cynical Bruce tears into Miranda’s gala:

“You have a practiced apathy, Mr. Wayne, but a man who doesn’t care about the world doesn’t spend half his fortune on a plan to save it, and isn’t so wounded when it fails that he goes into hiding.”

23) Dan Evans – 3:10 to Yuma

Dan Evans

If I don’t go, we gotta pack up and leave. Now I’m tired, Alice. I’m tired of watching my boys go hungry. I’m tired of the way that they look at me. I’m tired of the way that you don’t.

Back to Bale! Another man doing what is right despite whatever odds. After playing a role in making sure the authorities nab the notorious Ben Wade, he accepts the duty of escorting him to the train for transport to Yuma prison with his gang in hot pursuit. The responsibility is necessary to pay the debts on his homestead, wracked by drought, a place where the family moved to care for their chronically ill son.

Cue Dan’s emotional appeal to his wife before departing. At one point cornered by Wade’s gang, they offer Dan the money to walk away from the arrangement and he opines about the payment he received from the Army after one of his own men shot him in the foot during a retreat. “They weren’t paying me to walk away. They were paying me so they could walk away.” He’s a character doing things that are necessary and right, not for the quick dollar, and he stays true to that until the end.

24) Ed Tom Bell – No Country For Old Men

Ed Tom Bell

The crime you see now, it’s hard to even take its measure. It’s not that I’m afraid of it. I always knew you had to be willing to die to even do this job. But, I don’t want to push my chips forward and go out and meet something I don’t understand. A man would have to put his soul at hazard. He’d have to say, “O.K., I’ll be part of this world.”

A man stumbles across a deal gone bad. A hired gun on the heels of recovering the money takes up pursuit in a brilliant cinematic game of cat and mouse. Along every step of the way is Sherriff Ed Tom Bell, a seasoned officer and human being who has seen more than his share. He addresses horrors with a coolness and humour that does not express apathy but rather empathy.

It’s his weathered perspective on the situation unfolding that bears the full weight of the film. What we see is no country for anyone, but through the eyes of someone that grew older living in it. There’s something oddly reassuring about Ed Tom’s belief that “this country is hard on people”.

25) Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert – Tangled

Flynn Rider

Actually he had enough money to do anything that he wanted to do. He could go anywhere that he wanted to go. And – and for a kid with nothing, I don’t know. It just seemed like the better option

An animated entry! In an analysis of feminism in the Disney universe, motivated by the frequent criticism of the princesses, a theme that repeated was the misogyny present in many of the male characters – enter Flynn, er, Eugene. He’s a sassy rapscallion from the start and, once captured by Rapunzel, assails some of the Disney tropes.

“I have decided to trust you,” she says.

“Horrible decision, really,” he quips back.

His motivation for helping Rapunzel initially is selfish and Flynn goes about trying to discourage her so she returns home and he can go free. Rather than the shoe-horned romance typical of earlier princess movies, Flynn and Rapunzel develop a natural and sincere love for one another, one in which Flynn reveals his background as Eugene and the aspirations of a boy with nothing but a sense of adventure.

26) Steve Rogers/Captain America – the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Steve Rogers

I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies; I don’t care where they’re from.

I have mentioned in a few cases that I probably ought to do an entire piece about the one person or character – well, in this case. The Steve Rogers brought to life by Chris Evans in the MCU is the epitome of masculinity done right. He has exceptional strength thanks to Erskine, but, as Erskine observed, began weak and understands the value of that strength. He does not enforce his will with his powers but stands up for what is right no matter the personal cost.

He shows concern for his fellow Avengers at all times. Even in Civil War when actively fighting half the team, it’s clear that they do so out of apparent necessity. They love one another but will not abandon what they feel is right until the fight becomes inevitable (it reminded of a story about Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda coming to blows over politics).

Well, the other post captures all of this in greater detail. For the sake of concision, let’s move forward.

27) Kristoff – Frozen franchise

Kristoff

I could kiss you! I could. I mean, I’d like to. I. May I? We me? I mean, may we? Wait, what?

Another man whose character might best be described as “traditional masculinity without the toxic elements” like Steve Rogers. He’s strong and works in manual labour, a true blue collar guy. He loves women, especially Anna by the end, but demonstrates absolute respect the entire time – especially when seeking consent to kiss her.

The story begins with Anna’s engagement to Hans moments after meeting (deliberately poking fun at another Disney trope) and Elsa’s expulsion when her powers appear in the ensuing argument. Kristoff backs Elsa’s “you can’t marry a man you just met” by calmly pointing out that Anna knows nothing of substance about Hans. Then, like Flynn and Rapunzel, they develop a natural love for one another over the course of their time together.

28) Theodore – Her

Theodore

Sometimes I think I have felt everything I’m ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I’m not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I’ve already felt.

Theodore is wonderfully flawed and I wish I had seen this film sooner. The premise of a man who falls in love with his digital assistant (an AI version of Siri) was philosophically appealing. Going back to the discussion of Mr. Chalamet in the Celebrities part of this series and the autobiographical piece, it also spoke to a tendency I had personally to keep relationships at a distance and imagine them in situations where I could keep them perfect in a sense.

Theodore is here less because I identified directly with his character as he is that I identified with specific aspects of the theme. His interactions with Samantha, the AI and titular Her, ask a lot of questions about the nature of love and relationships that stayed with me long after viewing – forever so far.

29) Newt Scamander – the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise

Newt Scamander

Do you know why I admire you, Newt? More, perhaps, than any man I know?  You don’t seek power or popularity. You simply ask, is the thing right in itself? If it is, then I must do it, no matter the cost.

I think Dumbledore’s quote sums things up well. Or perhaps this piece from Pop Culture Detective about The Fantastic Masculinity of Newt Scamander.

No, that’s it. Go watch the video because it says everything and more about Newt that I would say here. I’ll be here when you’re done with the final entry.

30) Chidi Anagonye – The Good Place

Chidi Anagonye

I’m sorry, everyone, I just have some worries as well as some concerns that could potentially turn into outright fears. Ah, there they go, they’re fears now.

More than anyone on this list, Chidi is a fictional representation of myself. I love watching Kristen Bell perform and Ted Hanson (who I loved from Cheers) was back in a sitcom role. Still had not seen the show. Only when a friend, and then several, several others, began saying, “James, you need to watch the show. This guy Chidi is you,” did I finally begin watching.

Oh, sure, it’s extreme. I am not paralysed by indecision because of my moral consideration about everything – I am almost paralysed by it. The fascination with morality is one of the defining characteristics of my personality disorder, and it comes with the same need to do right at all times. It even manifests in the same pattern of worry, concern, fear, stomach distruption that plagues Chidi.

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