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[personal profile] lyore
There's been a lot of meta floating around about fandom, femslash and, by extension, female characters, and it's prompted me to take a good hard look at my character preferences, and why I like the characters I do.


Given the context of the previous discussions, I should mention I'm coming at this from the perspective of someone who is primarily a gen fan (and before anyone takes offense, I'm not implying anything about the quality of ship-focused fic, and I'm not adverse to reading good slash/femslash/het fic - see my list of recs for Merlin, for instance - bur I'm am totally addicted to friendship-focused fic.)

People who know me in person, or have the misfortune good luck to often discuss movies with me, will know that female characters in movies - and the characterisation and the lack thereof - are generally pretty hot topics for me. ([profile] bob_ette in particular has to put up with a lot of my ranting - sorry about that.) I like female characters. I like them even more when they aren't just there as an obligatory love interest for the hero, or a screaming-damsel-in-distress that requires saving, and I like them most of all when their gender is shown as secondary to them being compentent, well-rounded characters.

However, the current discussions have prompted my to take a closer look at my favourite characters, and I've noticed a disturbing tendency for my characters-of-fannish-obsession to be male. Even when there are awesome female characters in the series, 'my' character/s, the characters I care about most, tend to be male. Not always, but often. If I had to chose, I'd prefer to read about Luke Sykwalker over Leia Organa, John Crichton over Aeryn Sun, Sirius Black over Hermione Granger. Even though I love those female characters dearly, even though in many cases they hit my character-kinks better than the guys.

This realisation prompted a lot of fannish soul-searching. Despite my desire to see more female characters, and some of the kick-arse female characters out there, did something in my subconcious really prefer male characters, and if so, why? (Besides, of course, the 'I think they're hot' factor, which I'm certain has some effect but seems a little simplistic as an overall rationale.)

Being the good little engineer that I am, I decided that the only way to discover any internal bias was to look at the complete set of evidence. I went through my past and current fandoms, listing my primary and runner up 'fannish characters' for each fandom. 'Fannish characters' is, in this case, defined as the character/s I am most attached to/interested in, not necessarily the character/s I read/watch/discuss the most (because that gets into issues about availability of fics/vids/meta, and that's another variable for another argument).

LIST OF DOOM: (runner up 'fannish characters' in brackets)

Star Wars: Luke (Leia, Han)
Dark Angel: Max (Logan)
Farscape: John (Aeryn, Chianna)
Stargate SG-1: Daniel, Jack (Sam, Teal'c, Cameron (later seasons))
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Buffy (Faith, Angel/us, Willow, Giles)
Angel: Angel (Cordelia (early seasons), Fred (later seasons), Wes (later seasons))
Merlin: Merlin (Arthur, Uther, Morgana, Gwen, Tom)
Lois and Clark: Clark (Lois, Jimmy)
Invisible Man: Darien (Bobby, Claire)
Lord of the Rings: Aragorn (Eowyn)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Will, Elizabeth (Jack)
X-men Movieverse: Wolverine (Rogue, Scott, Erik/Charles)
Vorkosigan-verse: Miles (Gregor, Alys Vorpatril)
The Pretender: Jarod, Miss Parker (Sydney, Broots)
Harry Potter: Sirius, (Harry, Remus Lupin, Hermione)
Hogan's Heroes: Hogan (Newkirk, Kinch)
Supernatural: Dean (Sam, John, Pam, with Ruby, Jo, Ellen and Bobby inconsistently on this list - when they work for me they really work, but when they don't they drive me up the wall.)
Doctor Who: The Doctor (5, 9, 10), Wilf (Donna, Martha, first-season Rose, Doctor-who-Jack)

Apart from proving that I am a complete TV-Fandom addict, this list shows a couple of interesting trends. Firstly, yes, overall, my primary 'fannish characters' tend to be male - 82% of them are guys (ouch!). Expand that selection slightly, to consider the runners up, and it evens out a little - 45% of the runners up are female, and overall is about 37%.

These figures made me feel pretty damn depressed, until I noticed a very definite trend in the results - the characters I feel most fannish about are consistently the main characters. Only one character on the primary list isn't the main character of the source (Sirius (HP) and in that case the main character is one of my runners up), and, conversely, very few main characters didn't make the primary list (Jack (POTC) and Sam, Teal'c and Cameron Mitchell from SG-1, all of whom were runners up). Likewise, with very few exceptions, my runners up tend to be significant supporting characters.

Looking at the list, an fandoms with clear demarcation of main/supporting characters, there does not appear to be any evidence of gender bias in my 'fannish character' preferences. However, the situation is slightly more complicated when looking at fandoms with both male and female main characters (it's hard to exactly define which shows fall definitively into this category - I'm counting Lois and Clark, SG-1, and The Pretender). In two of these cases, I prefer the (some of) the male leads to the female leads. But it's also noticeable that both these shows (SG-1 and L&C) had previously established (semi)canon which held the male characters as the main characters, and in both cases I was familar with the previous canon when watching the show. I suspect (although of course, can't prove) that this is a large part of this preference, especially since in each case, my fannishness for the female characters grew dramatically as canon progressed.

I guess this just officially proves something I've been subconsciously aware of for a long time - I'm unlikely to be fannishly involved with a show unless I love the main character/s, regardless of sex or gender. I know there are many people in fandom who can love and get fannishly involved with a source for the Wedge Antilles and Neville Longbottoms, but as much as I can appreciate the occasional minor-character-centric fics, it's the connection with the main character that pulls me towards fandom in the first place, and that motivates me to stay involved.

It does satisfy me that gender is subordinate to canon importance when determining which characters I prefer. For shows where the main character is female, my favourite character is female; for shows with females in the supporting cast, I am just as likely to feel fannish towards girls as guys, although consistently to a lesser degree than for the main characters; and even if a supporting character, male or female, hits my fannish-character-kinks liek whoa, it's very, very rare for them to displace the main character from my top fannish spot.

I'm curious if anyone else out there has such a strong correlation between main character/favourite character, or even a different one. What determines your favourite characters?

Date: 2009-02-01 01:21 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceresi.livejournal.com
I have been thinking about this ALL DAY and I've finally decided my most favorite characters are the ones most like me? Which is either kind of endearing or very egotistical, I'm not sure which. They tend to be reserved, geeky, insecure, with bonuses for trauma and emotional issues. I usually have a more outspoken character as a runner-up, though. My issues, let me show you them.

Doctor Who: Martha, Rose
Torchwood: Ianto, Gwen
The West Wing: Sam, Zoey
Bandom: Gerard, Patrick, Pete
Vorkosiverse: Ekaterin/Gregor (it's a tie, Ekaterin = my ♥ but I adore emo woobie Gregor), Miles, Cordelia
Star Wars: Bastila Shan, Tycho Celchu, Carth Onasi, Revan (usually female), Mirax Terrik, Jaina Solo, Kyle Katarn, Ahsoka Tano (too much SW canon!)
Naruto: Hinata, Naruto/Sasuke, Sakura, Kakashi
Yugioh: Yugi, Seto, Joey
Harry Potter: Remus, Sirius, Draco, Harry
Tortall-verse: Kel, Daine, Toby
Baldur's Gate: Imoen, Jaheira, Kelsey (he's fanon but I've been playing the game with him so long that he feels canon), the PC (who I usually play as female)
Animorphs: Tobias, Cassie, Rachel
Cardcaptor Sakura: Tomoyo, Yukito
Escaflowne: Hitomi, Van
Digimon: T.K., Matt, Sora

So that shakes out to . . . 53% of my favorite main characters are female, and 44% of my favorite characters in general are female. I do pay a lot of attention to the differences in gender when I'm watching/reading/playing/etc., and I do tend to be more forgiving towards female characters -- if they do something I don't like I usually blame the author, whereas if the male characters do something I dislike (like Anomen in Baldur's Gate, or Sasuke in Naruto, or even Joey in Yugioh) I usually blame the characters. What that means, though, I'm not sure.

VERY CURIOUS. I find it interesting that you like the main/portal character the most. I tend to be kind of indifferent to them, maybe because I can't relate to them much? I do like them, but usually from the POV of an outsider. HM.

You mentioned meta floating around in your post -- do you happen to have any links handy? I love reading about this stuff but my contributions aren't very profound. (My favorite characters are basically glorified Mary Sues, apparently I'm just in fandom for the vicarious life experiences? or something.)

Vicarious life experiences FTW!

Date: 2009-02-01 12:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
Interesting! Before I sat down and listed them, I would have said that I have two definite 'types': geeky scholars, and rebellious bad boys/girls (bonus points if they have a tragic past). And I still have these preferences, but it seems secondary to whether or not they are the main character or not. (Of course, this probably means I'm more likely to like a show where the main character has strong aspects of at least one of these types - it's a chicken-and-egg type thing, I suspect.)

I think my attitude to character inconsistency and 'canon OOCness' depends more on what I think of the show runners and writers - if I don't trust/like the writers, I'm more likely to blame them rather than the characters (hello, Stargate PTB).

On the other hand, the closer a character resembles me the more likely I am to comment on or even criticise their decisions, because I can see echoes of my own experiences and choices. I know this is especially an issue for me for female characters, and something I'm working on - not all female characters are intended as a commentary on my life choices!

I don't have the links on hand, but most of them were picked up by [community profile] metafandom - you should be able to find them under their femslash or gender tags. Happy reading!

Re: Vicarious life experiences FTW!

Date: 2009-02-01 05:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] with-apostrophe.livejournal.com
the closer a character resembles me the more likely I am to comment on or even criticise their decisions, because I can see echoes of my own experiences and choices.

This is fascinating, because after much thought a few years back I determined that something akin to this was the reason I didn't much like Elizabeth Weir from Stargate Atlantis. Of all the characters she was the one most like myself, and while I'm not really all that much like her, there was enough of what I idenitifed as "my" behaviour and attitudes in her to make it too much like looking in a mirror.

I'm a hell of a lot harder on female characters, but I celebrate all the more so when I do find female favourites. Vala, for example, in season 9-10 of SG-1 beats even Daniel (big crush there) in my favourites stakes.

Re: Vicarious life experiences FTW!

Date: 2009-02-02 06:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
For me it tends to be Sam Carter, but yeah. A few too many similarities for me to divorce myself fully from her actions.

Date: 2009-02-02 03:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceteramisto.livejournal.com
I do tend to be more forgiving towards female characters -- if they do something I don't like I usually blame the author, whereas if the male characters do something I dislike (like Anomen in Baldur's Gate, or Sasuke in Naruto, or even Joey in Yugioh) I usually blame the characters. What that means, though, I'm not sure.

That is exactly the way I am. Which for me has the correlation that the very few characters I go beyond a mild disinterest or dislike into outright hating are all male.

Date: 2009-02-04 11:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceindreadh.livejournal.com
and I do tend to be more forgiving towards female characters -- if they do something I don't like I usually blame the author

For me it seems to be the opposite. A female character has to be twice as awesome and well written as a male character to hold my interest as much. Whether it's pure shallowness on my part I don't know, but my list of 'tv characters I'd like to be stuck in an elevator with' is usually predominantly male.

Date: 2009-02-01 03:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] greeneyedlady.livejournal.com
Hmm... This is a topic I have pondered myself, (here (http://greeneyedlady.livejournal.com/64471.html) is an old example that probably no longer reflects my current understanding), and one conclusion I have come to is that I generally do not like the main characters as much as the side characters. I am mostly involved in manga fandom, which usually has a "designated hero," or in many girls' manga the "guy the heroine is so obviously gonna wind up with that we don't really need a whole series."

I usually find these characters, well, just plain boring. A television example would be Jack from Lost (yawn). I can't really explain why. Maybe it is because there is a certain "cookie cutter" aspect to them that makes them all seem kind of similar. Maybe it is because vast portions of fandom are always rallying around them and I would rather retreat to a peaceful corner to write about the fascinating side characters. Another theory I have is that I don't like to be told who I am supposed to like best through hierarchy.

As for the subject of gender, I have gotten to the point where I usually keep them in separate categories. I will refer to my favorite male character and my favorite female character because I am appreciating them on entirely different wavelengths. Just as I can't fully divorce myself from the bias of being attracted to males when judging how much I like them, I also can't divorce myself from the fact that I am a female and love stories about females best when judging how much I like them.

Edited Date: 2009-02-01 03:37 pm (UTC)

Date: 2009-02-02 06:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
You're right - a lot of main characters can be rather similar, especially for series with strong genre conventions. Characters I think of as 'my' main characters are generally pretty diverse, although I can certainly identify general character archetypes. But then, if I found the main character boring, I probably wouldn't be watching the show!

I think one of the benefits of liking main characters is the amount of fic etc, but it definitely makes the signal to noise ratio of good fic to bad fic must higher.

I will refer to my favorite male character and my favorite female character because I am appreciating them on entirely different wavelengths.

That's interesting. I sort of do this, I guess? (For secondary characters, anyway.) I'm pretty sure my appreciation of female characters is affected by how much I like seeing confident, competent females on TV, since those are really the only common characteristics of the girls that I love.

*poor person's edit*

Date: 2009-02-01 03:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] omnicat.livejournal.com
I pass by randomly via metafandom. :D

I'm too lazy/scatterbrained to list them right now, but I've put some thought into this every now and then, and I've noticed that I gravitate toward die-hard fanning of two types of characters: ones I identify with, and ones I really really admire on some level. (This is an inadequate description, because villains tend to fall into this category to. It might be more accurate to say, "characters who have traits I'd admire if they were used for good, even if this is not the case in the story". But let's keep it at "admirable" for simplicity's sake.)

The ones I identify with are almost invariably socially awkward. Raised by wolves, culture shock, alienating trauma, just plain lack of understanding of how normal society works, that sort of thing. The ones I admire generally have nerves and/or backbones of steel, strong moral conscience, will stand firm in extreme cases where others would shrink back for whatever reason, some self-effacing tendencies. It's kind of embarrasing, because I also tend to ship the two character types... (Can it get any more self-inserty?) There's a lot of variation within the types, and sometimes a story has only one of them, but that's the over-all trend.

The gender of said characters doesn't matter. In one series the socially awkward char is female (Fred from Angel, for example) with the admirable one being male (Wesley), while in others it's the other way around (anime Gundam Wing has male Heero I identify with and female Relena whom I girlcrush on so hard it's not even funny). Whether they're primary characters or secondary doesn't matter either. Heero and Relena are pretty much the lead characters of Gundam Wing, but relatively speaking (I'm not as big a fan of some stories as I am of others), I fan over Remus and Tonks just as hard.

So my type preferences usually completely override the role-distribution of the characters involved. The anime Darker Than Black has Amber, the love interest of the protagonist, who is actually both types at once, and the show's main character almost bores me in comparison. And in Prétear (another anime), I was in it for the "villains", not the heroes.

Interesting post. ^_^ I hope you'll get a lot of interesting replies in return.

Re: *poor person's edit*

Date: 2009-02-02 06:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
I would have said I have definite character types ('geeks' and 'bad boys/girls') but, looking at the above list, it's still subordinate for me, to them being a main character. Or perhaps, I need both - for the main character to be one of my 'types' for me to really become fannish about a series? Hmm.

Villains are different, for me - I think 'type' dominates here. I gravitate towards bad guys with at least some degree of moral ambiguity - something which shows me that perhaps things could have been different.

Very interesting response, thanks!

Date: 2009-02-01 04:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] akamarykate.livejournal.com
I read your post via metafandom, then went outside to do some work, and thought and thought about it. If I were to do a list like yours, I think the favorite characters would be mostly female, and mostly secondary characters.

...and now I'm wondering: do I gravitate toward sidekicks and secondary characters because that's where we find more female characters, or do gravitate toward female characters because, in my fandoms, that's who the sidekicks/secondary characters tend to be?

I don't know if that makes sense. What I'm trying to say is that I'm not sure if I have the favorites I do because they're female (and just happen to be "secondary" in the narrative) or because they're sidekicks/secondary characters (and just happen to be female)?

Anyway, it's really interesting to think about. Thanks for this post!

Date: 2009-02-02 12:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
No, I know exactly what you mean. It's really hard to pin down the cause and effect in these sorts of cases, especially if you're in multiple fandoms where the distribution of genders between main and secondary characters is roughly constant (with male characters as the leads and female characters as the sidekicks, which is depressingly common).

Thanks for answering!

Date: 2009-02-01 05:32 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] amonitrate.livejournal.com
ooo, here via metafandom, and I was *just* thinking about this last night. And I think I'll write up something more, but the essence is that when I was younger all my heroes were women/girls, and somewhere that shifted. And I think it shifted when I started watching television rather than reading books, and I think it shifted around puberty/high school, and I think some of it has to do with that internalized "male gaze," and I think it has to do with the fact that for such a long time the only options for cool characters in tv/movie fandoms were male.

That's changing, with Buffy and BSG especially.

Date: 2009-02-02 12:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
Yes, the availability of 'cool' female characters definitely affects things - particularly if, like me, you have a bias towards the main characters. *fingers crossed for more main female characters for me to fan*

Interesting you have the shift between books and TV. Mine stayed fairly constant, for the same reasons - I read primarily sf-fantasy, particularly when I was younger and a more voracious reader (TV fandom not taking up all my time!), and my selection was limited to the books in my local library, the majority of the heroes/POV characters were male. Guess who I identified with...

If you write more, let me know - I'd be interested in reading it.

Via Metafandom

Date: 2009-02-01 05:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puppy-tenchan.livejournal.com
I have to say, your post makes me strongly reconsider my own preferences, or rather what I took to be the motivation for them.

Until now I simply assumed that I like hot male characters. Which is certainly true, but I now wonder if there is more to it than just that, and I am going to make a list for myself now and analyze it.

Basically, I say thank you for making me think about something that interesting.

Re: Via Metafandom

Date: 2009-02-02 12:36 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
Oh, I can't deny the appeal of the hot male characters :) But I'm glad I made you think, and that you thought this was interesting.

Re: Via Metafandom

Date: 2009-02-02 01:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
(Also, Dreamwidth! \o/)

Date: 2009-02-01 07:33 pm (UTC)
yubsie: (Other boot)
From: [personal profile] yubsie
(here via metafandom)

I definitely have a pattern. To the point that friends showing me a new series will tell me "Your favourite character is getting introduced in the next episode. Let's watch it!" This translates to "funny-with-depth" or "cue-with-depth". The only time my overall favourite isn't predicted from the get go is when the series has one of each. This usually means I'm all over the minor characters and find the leads somewhat dull in comparison. This is reinforced because I'm a total sucker for characters WITHOUT special powers who are still doing their darndest to fight the good fight, so once again, Wedge over Luke.

Date: 2009-02-02 12:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
The divide between people attracted to character-type over character-role is really interesting to me, since before doing this exercise I would have said I was one of the former. Now I think I require both to be truly fannish about a character - for them to be a/the main character, but also to be one of my character-types.

(There is not enough love for the 'ordinary characters', those with the sheer awesome that to fight the good fight with no special powers, especially when they are surrounded by superheroes.)

Date: 2009-02-01 08:23 pm (UTC)
ext_3158: (Default)
From: [identity profile] kutsuwamushi.livejournal.com
(here via metafandom)

Your observation is interesting, because I'm the complete opposite: I'm not usually drawn to main characters. I have to like them alright in order to stay interested in the series, but it's the secondary characters that drive me to read fanfiction, make icons, and (occasionally) write.

And yet, when I list my favorite characters, they still end up mostly male. A lot of this is probably due to the characters that are available in the first place, but I don't want to assume that's the case and excuse myself from paying attention to it. Still, when I look at my fandoms and the type of personality I'm drawn to (regardless of gender), there are a lot more males of that type than females of that type.

Date: 2009-02-02 12:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
I must admit, I'm slightly surprised I'm the only person (so far) that has a strong preference for main characters! I feel so alone.

I think character-type preference can have a strong influence on whether you are likely to like more male or more female characters - there are definitely some character-types that are more likely to be written as male (although when done well, I often think they make up some of the memorable female characters). But you're right - this doesn't excuse us from being aware of the issue.

Date: 2009-02-02 03:52 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceteramisto.livejournal.com
If I were to list my favorite character would generally fall into one of two categories depending on how invested I am in the canon. The more invested I am in the canon the more likely I am to have the main character as my favorite. The less invested I am in the canon the more likely I am to have an someone who could be considered an antagonist or outright villain as my favorite character.

Most of these characters are male, however, in each fandom, no matter how invested I am, one of my three favorite characters will be female. She is also usually the character I respect the most.

Date: 2009-02-02 12:52 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
The more invested I am in the canon the more likely I am to have the main character as my favorite. The less invested I am in the canon the more likely I am to have an someone who could be considered an antagonist or outright villain as my favorite character.


I haven't thought about it in terms of investment levels before. *ponders* Considering my character preferences for sources I'm familiar with, but not really fannish about, I'd say I'm much more likely to prefer a non-main character (villain or minor character) in those than a fandom I'm really invested in. Very interesting, thanks!

Date: 2009-02-02 04:10 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lotusflower85.livejournal.com
I usually find myself drawn to the main characters who usually seem to be male (Luke in SW, Daniel in SG1, Doctor in DW, Robin in Robin Hood etc), and it seems, embarrassingly enough, that the female characters I am most fannish about are involved in a ship with my favourite male character. With the exception of Donna and Martha in DW (where I don't ship anyone).

Which...yeah, suprises me when I think about it, but also makes me wonder if they are the love-interest, so I ship them, or if I ship them because I like the character on their own. *thinks*

Perhaps it is because, generally, I think women tend to be harder on female characters and more forgiving of males ones - it is much harder to write a good/strong/interesting/likeable female character. You said your fannishness for certain female characters grew over time - that is often true for me as well - I often think female characters seem to need to 'prove their worth' in a way. Or perhaps some of them start out as stock-standard females and because of the writing/acting/direction, grow into more well-rounded and three-dimensional characters as the canon progresses.

I would like to say that gender is not important when it comes to main characters, but I'm not sure if that is the case (for the general viewing public). IIRC, JK Rowling once discussed the reason why she made her Potter protagonist a male instead of a female - she wanted kids of both genders to read the books, and she didn't think boys would read a series of books where a girl was the main character.

Date: 2009-02-02 01:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
I know what you mean - I tend to be hardest on those characters that are most similar to me, and generally (but not always), that means they are female. And then, when you have to contend with all the baggage that comes with every female character... it's definitely easier to judge them more harshly. It's something I'm trying to be aware of, and at least think 'would this bother me so much if so-and-so was a guy' - and sometimes it would, and sometimes it wouldn't. (Of course, even if it wouldn't it doesn't guarantee I won't still be annoyed - but at least I know where part of my irritation stems from.)

I've heard the 'boys/guys won't read about girl main characters' a number of times, in all sorts of places. It's sad, but perhaps not surprising - as girls, especially if we read/watch genre books/TV, there's a pretty good chance you're going to have to identify with the male characters at some point due to the lack of girls, but since there are almost always significant male characters, guys never have to learn that skill. *sigh*

Date: 2009-02-02 07:26 am (UTC)
mf_luder_xf: (XF GA&DD)
From: [personal profile] mf_luder_xf
I believe I ten to be very similar to you. Really, the main character and finding traits about them I like rises above gender. That being said, the vast majority of my favorite characters tend to be male. I'm not sure if this is because of the type of shows I watch (leading toward male-dominated casts) or because of my interest in the male POV. It may run along similar lengths as my reason for liking slash fic. I like two males in a relationship because its a) less typical, b) more conflict, c) it's harder and therefore more interesting. I really like characters like Mulder and Krycek together not only because them being them (Gman vs triple-timing assassin) but because there's already a natural clash of them being two grown men who aren't going to cry over every little thing. I find it more realistic and infinitely more fascinating. I also tend to prefer the bad guy which are typically males. (I tend to hate the female villains, though it could be debated that's because I'm supposed to hate them.)

Here's my own little list.

X-Files: Mulder, Krycek (Scully, Cancer Man)
Supernatural: Dean, Sam, Bobby (Ruby, Ellen, John Winchester)
SG-1: Jack, Ba'al, Vala (Daniel, Barrett, Major Davis, Sam, Cam, Hammond (and do Lorne and McKay count for their all of 1-3 episodes?))
SGA: McKay, Sheppard (Lorne, Keller, Carter, Vega, Teyla, Ronon)
Kyle XY: Kyle, Declan
The West Wing: Josh, CJ, Bartlett, Donna (Toby, Sam)
Smallville: Lex, Oliver, Chloe
Dark Angel: Logan, Max, Alec
NCIS: Gibbs, Ziva, DiNozzo (Abby, McGee)
Heroes: Nathan, Peter (HRG, Hiro)
Battlestar Galactica: 6, 3, Admiral Adama, Starbuck (Roslin, Helo)
24: Jack, Chloe
Fringe: Olivia, Peter (Walter Bishop, Charlie)
Firefly: Mal, Simon, River (Jane, Inara)
Farscape: Aeryn
Torchwood: Ianto, Jack

In the top, 29 of 41 are males. Well over 50%. But then look at subject matter first. 13 of 16 are somehow paranormal/sci-fi/fantasy shows. Take then SG-1 and SGA. I doubt anyone would despute SG1's "main" cast as: Jack, Daniel, Sam, Teal'c, Vala, Cam. SGA's main cast: Sheppard, McKay, Teyla, Ronon, Weir (and arguably Carson, Carter, Keller, and Woolsey). 4 of 6 in SG1 are male. 3 of 5 in SGA. 5 of 9 if you count those in (). In smaller main casts, XF and Fringe have 1 and 1 (possible two males and one female counting Walter Bishop as a main character). Supernatural has two male leads. 24 has one male lead. The odds are far higher for me to like a male lead than a female...simply because there are more of them. And about 32 of 41 are main characters. A correlation definitely.

At the same time, I really think it is the character themselves that stand out. I tend to like the funny and/or treacherous characters. Funny being Jack (SG1), McKay, Dean, DiNozzo, Mal, Josh, CJ, Bobby, Ziva. Treacherous being Krycek, Aeryn, Alec, 6, 3, Lex, Vala, Ba'al. Add in those who are emotional handicapped (Sheppard, Logan, Max, Jack, Nathan) and/or villians (several mentioned already) and the list adds up. And it just seems to typically be male characters who fit these descriptions.

It entends into my non-fandom reading and TV/movie watching too. So it doesn't surprise me. Give me a really good female character who fits these and I will LOVE her (Vala, Aeryn, Ziva).

Date: 2009-02-02 01:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
I can't speak to slash, since I don't tend to read a lot of it (for no particular reason, except that I tend to watch shows with 'gen goggles', and it takes a lot of on-screen slashiness for me to spot it). Regardless, I think taking two non-traditional characters (of whatever sex) and exaiming their relationship can lead to some of the most interesting stories.

The greater availability of male characters definitely skews the results, especially if you (like me) have a strong tendency towards main characters. I think things are improving, though.

(I'm curious - do you really think of Aeryn as treacherous? In that she betrayed the peacekeepers (sorta) or something else?)

Date: 2009-02-02 09:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thefrogg.livejournal.com
SGA: Lorne, Todd, Carson, (Teyla, Ladon, Ronon)
SG1: Hammond, Janet, Teal'c (Jackson, O'Neill)
Supernatural: Dean, Ruby (Castiel, Sam)
Babylon 5: Ivanova, Marcus, G'kar (Vir, Delenn)
Crusade: Dureena (Galen)
NCIS: Abbey, Gibbs (DiNozzo, Ducky)
Criminal Minds: ALL OF THEM (especially Morgan, Hotch, and Prentiss)

I'm not sure just how...unbiased a sample you can really argue given various fandoms, what with the heavy leanings media has towards male main characters and predominantly male casting of (most) ensemble shows.

HOWEVER.

I don't really identify with male/female so much as other characteristics.

Strong supporting characters, particularly those who could be seen as 'main character with added brain and/or ethics' float my boat a LOT. Note that this does not apply to characters who act as the show's ethics (i.e. Daniel Jackson). Those who visibly wrestle with heavy ethical implications, such as Hammond, do too. Not to say that main characters don't, but if I can't see it, they don't get points. Or something.

Characters who represent an alternate and/or outside point of view, and/or 'quasi-villains'. This usually falls to 'token aliens' (Teal'c, Dureena) or characters who would generally be considered 'evil' but at least look like they're trying to redeem themselves for whatever reason (Todd, Ruby).

All in all, I haven't actually listed out my favorite characters before now, but I do know I have a decided leaning away from main/central characters. Whether that affects the male/female ratio..uh. I don't know, I don't think I'm in enough fandoms to really analyze that closely.

Date: 2009-02-02 01:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
The sample space is undoubtedly biased, especially if you are less of a fickle fannish butterfly than me don't have a large number of fandoms to draw conclusions from.

You're not alone; many of the other commentators have said the same - they react primarily to character-type, rather than gender, and have a preference for minor characters. I seem to put equal importance on role and type, with gender third (and if a character hits the trifecta of female, main and my type - GUH. I'm so totally gone).

Date: 2009-02-02 01:50 pm (UTC)
ext_2180: laurel leaf (a for atlantis // sga)
From: [identity profile] loriel-eris.livejournal.com
[Here via [livejournal.com profile] metafandom.]

Gender, relative hot-ness and anything else are completely inconsequential to me; for me it's all about the main characters. Every time. Without fail. If you have a group of main characters, I'll probably gravitate more to it's-all-about-the-ones-I-ship.

(SG1 and SGA, this is true - I gravitate towards John/Rodney and Sam/Jack. With Star Trek (any flavour), I'm completely equal in fannish-ness with the main crew/cast. With HP it's all about the Trio (and Harry/Ginny & Ron/Hermione). In SW, I'm equally fannish about Luke, Han and Leia (and god, how I adore Han/Leia). L&C is all about Lois and Clark. Farscape is all about John and Aeryn. X-Files Mulder and Scully.)

I've actually thought about this topic on and off for a few years now. (Usually every time the race discussion comes up in fandom and I look at the characters I'm fannish about, and find they're all white.) And I've come to the conclusion that I'm easy. If TPTB tell me that this is the main character(s)/hero and They Are Awesome and You Should Love Them, then I'm there. I'm so there. Don't get me wrong. TPTB have to create an awesome story/show and not fuck up the characters. But assuming that TPTB are Doing It Right, then I pretty much believe what they tell me/want me to believe.

And when I'm reading fic, it's all about The Main Characters again. I'll read the occasional secondary character fic, but it's not something I search out. It probably says a lot that my favourite type of fic is 'outside pov' - the main characters seen from an outside pov, usually someone that doesn't quite know the whole story (ie doesn't know about the Stargate), or who is watching the main characters and slowly discovering that they are are couple, or in the case of SG, that they are team and how they rely on each other and what team really means.

And yeah, I'll stop talking now.

Date: 2009-02-02 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
Hello, fellow-main-character fan!

In one sense, I'm very similar - when the PTB say it's All About This Person, I tend to believe them. I don't mind reading fic with other focuses (and read some brilliant stuff in this genre), but I gravitate to fic-about-main-characters first.

I think this is definitely one area where my gen-ness and main-character-itis are related - I don't normally have a strong interest in non-canon ships (with few exceptions), and what I most often want out of fandom is more of what attracted me to the source in the first place. Given this is normally the main character and the plot, it's probably no surprise my favourite fic-genres are case-file or plotty action/adventure/drama, with the same level of ship as I would find in an episode. (Or crossovers, but I've got no idea how that fits in...)

(As an aside, while I tend to believe the unspoken statement of the PTB that the main character is the one I should be focusing on, NOTHING turns me off a character more than an overly-pushy introduction, in the all-the-canon-characters-love-me-so-the-audience-should-too kinda way. (Which happens a lot when new characters are introduced half way through a series, but occasionally at the start too.) I'll accept the main character as the main focus - but I get to make up my mind as to whether I like them, or anyone else!)

Date: 2009-02-02 02:37 pm (UTC)
ext_2180: laurel leaf (candle & username)
From: [identity profile] loriel-eris.livejournal.com
NOTHING turns me off a character more than an overly-pushy introduction, in the all-the-canon-characters-love-me-so-the-audience-should-too kinda way. (Which happens a lot when new characters are introduced half way through a series, but occasionally at the start too.) I'll accept the main character as the main focus - but I get to make up my mind as to whether I like them, or anyone else!

God yes. If TPTB are pushy, I dig my heels in and get contrary. *g* And if I don't like the main characters, then I'm out of there. Doesn't matter how awesome the show is, because for me, the show is the (main) characters.

what I most often want out of fandom is more of what attracted me to the source in the first place.

Exactly. I've often seen people say that they love reading supporting character fic, because they don't get to see it in the show. But for me, fic is a way of finding out more about the reasons I watch the show ie (all about) the main characters.

Date: 2009-02-02 10:45 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] mistress-kabuki.livejournal.com
Here via metafandom! ^_^

Batman-BTASverse: Joker (Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Batman, Mad Hatter, Scarecrow, Penguin, Tim
Drake, Barbara Gordon)
Batman-Nolanverse: Joker (Crane, Harvey Two-Face, Rachel)
Batman-Comicverse: Joker (Catwoman, Batman, Ra’s Al Ghul, Tim Drake, Poison Ivy)
JLA/JLU: Batman (Hawkgirl, Wonder Woman)
Sandman: Death (Dream, Delirium)
HP: Snape (Sirius, Lupin, Luna)
Yugioh: Pegasus (Kaiba, Mokuba, Yugi, Mai)
Sweeney Todd-Filmverse: Mrs. Lovett (Sweeney Todd)
Vampire Chronicles: Armand (Lestat, Louis, Gabrielle, Santino, Claudia, Akasha)
Legacy of Kain: Raziel (Kain)
LotR: Aragorn (Eowyn, Faramir, Eomer)
X-Files: Scully (Mulder)
Star Wars: Obi-Wan (Luke, Leia, Han)
Ju-On: Kyako
Inu-Yasha: Kikyo (Sango, Sesshomaru, Kagura)
Aliens: Ripley (Hicks)

Your post completly fascinated me so I had to list mine too in my own journal and I noticed some things. Firstly, I had to add things like Ju-On and Aliens because thos characters are ones that I refer to often, are a part of my fannish identity, influence me on a regular basis, and if I could find any good fiction about them I'd probably read it. Next that, well, I'm not really as biased toward male characters as I'd expected -- in fact, I identify with strongly with quite a few female characters i.e. the Inu-Yasha, Aliens, Sandman, and Ju-On media. I do, though, tend toward identifying with male characters a) when there is a distinct lack of female characters (Yugioh, Batman, Legacy of Kain), b) when I find the lead female characetrs distasteful (such as HP with Hermione, Yugioh with Anzu, and Inu-Yasha with Kagome), and c) when I can strongly identify with a character's personality/behavior/approach to situations (Batman, Snape, Joker, pegasus, Raziel, Obi-Wan).

Thanks for making me think about this. It's really a neat thing to list every fandom and see where you stand, so to speak. It also made me incredibly sad that some fandoms either don't exist may as well not exist for fans of lesser characters.

Date: 2009-02-03 11:27 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] lyore.livejournal.com
It also made me incredibly sad that some fandoms either don't exist may as well not exist for fans of lesser characters.


That is definitely one advantage of preferring main characters, especially in small fandoms - you are more likely to find fic you can enjoy! Or at least, fic about your favourite character, rather than a distant second or third.

Date: 2009-02-04 11:24 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ceindreadh.livejournal.com
I'm curious if anyone else out there has such a strong correlation between main character/favourite character, or even a different one. What determines your favourite characters?

With me it's nearly always a secondary character that catches my attention, and if i'm drawn to a lead character, it's usually only in terms of their connection to that particular secondary character.
(it's possible that it may stem from watching TV with my (1 year) older sister when we were kids, and she usually had 'first dibs' on the characters, and it just wasn't done for the two of us to have the same 'favourite character' in a show)

edited to add, that i've noticed that in many cases a favourite only really emerges when a character is put in danger and I'm all "NOOOOO, don't hurt him!"
e.g. Nick from CSI (gun shoved in his face in S1)
Tony from NCIS (nearly died of the plague in S2)
Flack from CSI NY (blown up in an explosion in S2)
what that says about me, I'm not sure I want to explore!
Edited Date: 2009-02-04 11:27 pm (UTC)

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