by Analyn May
There’s a lot of talk about including more “strong minority characters” in the media lately, and trust me, I’m all for it. But it’s got me thinking – what exactly is a “strong character”? Normally when I hear about “strong” characters, I expect some kick-butt, agile, quick-thinking heroes who are probably super ripped. And all those things are great, and thoroughly entertaining to watch. But the best stories – for example, the fantastic movie Black Panther – don’t just stop there. They dive deeper and focus on their characters’ strong morals – their honesty, their dedication, their selflessness. And THAT’S what I want to focus on in this article.
You know what makes me really love a character? When their inner values are at least equally as strong as their muscles. After all, it’s not the superhuman strength that makes Steve Rogers “Captain America” – It’s his loyalty to his country and his determination to do the right thing. Similarly, it’s not really the suit that makes T’Challa the best “Black Panther” – It’s his selfless humility, even as a king, and his desire to find the best solution for his people.
I actually started thinking about this topic because of some video games I’ve been playing recently known as the Professor Layton series. They’re great games, complete with epic mysteries and impossible giant robots, but what really stands out to me is Professor Layton himself. He’s an archeology professor who has awesome “parkour” skills and sword-fighting skills, as well as a genius intellect for puzzle-solving. Really, he’s a lot like Indiana Jones. But what sets him apart from Indiana Jones (at least, in my opinion) is his character – his values. He always goes out of his way to help people, whether it benefits him or not, and he’s constantly teaching his young assistant how to be a “true gentleman” by being kind and putting others before himself. Gentleness and politeness are far more important to him than any fighting skills, and honestly, I think those are values that are undervalued nowadays.
In short – I’m all for strong characters, and I enjoy the current influx of strong, diverse/minority characters. But I think there should be a heavier emphasis on giving them strong (and prominent) morals, as well as any strong physical traits they may have. In particular, while there are definitely some good character traits that are popular right now (determination, resourcefulness, independence), I think there are a lot of ones that aren’t being used because they aren’t considered “strong traits.” These are the ones I tried to emphasize in this article (kindness, gentleness, humility), and I think these are what characters need to be truly strong, inside and out.
But, as always, that’s just my POV. Until next time, this is Analyn May, signing off.