RA Challenge ♡ #24: Most Relatable Character

With the “most relatable character” we are now coming to a favourite topic of Mr A’s – empathy. Relatability – that is the feeling of being able to relate to someone or something. Which essentially is empathising with a person. As such, that depends very much on our own situation in life, our past experiences, our outlook on life, priorities, values, in many ways also the behavioural patterns. I don’t think there has to be a full congruence with the character in question – but something about them has to speak strongly to me, and overlap with my own life experiences and ideology.

Generally, I find it hard to properly relate to a character from a period piece. Probably because I believe that I cannot fully understand their motivations and actions because I have no experience of the time that they are/were living in. So Thornton and Guy are out, even though much of their emotional conflict is universal and transcends time. Fantasy characters may also be exempt from this rule but the princely Thorin is not really living a life – between a privileged Royal upbringing and a dispossessed warrior existence – that I fully grasp. Lucas and Porter may be RL, present-day characters but have been through such extraordinary experiences in their roles as soldiers/operatives, I don’t think I get the full extent of their characters. Even Daniel, whose half-German heritage should make it easy for me as a German to empathise with him, remains elusive.

For me, it comes down to a strong overlap with a real life character, an everyman who is lifted from obscurity into extraordinary circumstances by no particular life-choice of his own. A farm-hand who makes the wrong choice of love interest; a school teacher who ends up in a big storm. Or…

The character I find most relatable

Chop, played by Richard Armitage, in a photo from the set of Urban and the Shed Crew by director Candida Brady

Chop happens to be a RL character, based on Bernhard Hare, whose memoir is the basis for the film UATSC (my review of the film is HERE). I don’t really think that the fact that Chop is basically a real (living) person, is decisive for my choice. It is much more about the fact that I *know* people like Chop in my own RL and have put my own feelings and values in relation to theirs many times. I can relate to this character because I understand his motivations and behaviour. He reminds me of some close (male) friends of mine who are very similar: bright minds from underprivileged backgrounds, with a strong sense of social justice. Struggling with addiction – which may actually be a side effect of having a soft heart in rough circumstances. Men who “love people” – meeting people without prejudice, caring for those who are less lucky than they are, working in care-giving jobs, pursuing left-wing ideals. I’m making them sound like angels, lofty ideals to put on a pedestal, but in fact they can be arses like everyone else. But there is a goodness at the bottom of their heart, and hope, and a willingness to help, that transcends their own struggles with drugs and personal life-goals. I relate to that fallibility, mentality and ideology, their unsung heroism, their subconscious decision to do their little bit for a better future not just for themselves but for those around them. And heck, I relate to having lived through an era of truly bad fashion 😝.

Chop – I don’t only relate to you, I would’ve easily fallen for you 😉.

RA as Chop. Picture by Candida Brady on Twitter

Which chaRActer do you find most relatable? Care to say why?

 

40 thoughts on “RA Challenge ♡ #24: Most Relatable Character

  1. For me it’s Guy. I don’t go around cutting tongues, of course, but I can understand him a lot. I have a decent heart (like him, Guy is not evil), but I can have a quick temper and I know that rage can easily lead to action that one would regret forever. I had never lost control so much to hurt someone or to do something irreparable, but I know that when one is so very angry it’s a sort of black out and can’t reason clearly.
    As a child, Guy was a shy, quiet boy, obedient and introverted, he probably was more sensitive than he was expected to be (like when he was crying during his father banishment and Roger tells him to act like a man) and not very good at making friends. He’s not a leader, for him it’s easier to follow someone else and just do what he’s told to do (and I’m not a leader too, I don’t like organizing things and I’m always afraid to make mistakes when I have to do it). He trusts people too much (Marian, the Sheriff) and often that leads him to wrong decisions or to being misguided (I think that most of the times he believed to be doing the right thing when he punished the villagers or tried to kill Robin. He was a dutyful soldier and he had to punish people who broke the law. The Sheriff told him that it was right to punish them like that, and Guy obeyed. In the first episode the sheriff laughs at him because he gave Locksley back to him, even if Robin had no guards with him. But Guy did, because Robin was the rightful owner of Locksley at the moment. And for the same reason the Sheriff didn’t tell him immediately that the king who was coming to Nottingham was a fake.)
    I can empathise a lot with him and I can understand his reasons and what lead him to his worst decisions.
    Guy is very close to me, but I promise that I won’t go around arresting people and cutting tongues! 😀
    (But I go to medieval fencing lessons and I’m learning how to fight with a sword :D)

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    • I like your assessment of Guy’s character. I like to see him like that, too – at least that is what I got both from the script and from RA’s characterisation of him. As usual, every character embodies universal themes – even if set in the past. It makes sense that many of his approaches and behaviours also chime with a contemporary audience.

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  2. I guess all I ever do is quibble with your questions, but “relatable” entered my vocabulary from the education industry in the 2000s and it doesn’t really mean “empathizable with” in that context. It just means something students find familiar and likable. Modern US history is more relatable than ancient Chinese history. Sarah Palin is often described as relatable. That said, you also already know my objections to the way that Armitage throws the word “empathy” around. For me, Mr. Thornton is the most “relatable” in the sense that he and I seem to have really similar personalities and personal conflicts.

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    • Quibbling is fine, Serv – even if you disagree, you still are responding, so that’s fine with me. I had trouble with the word ‘relatable’, too, which is why I looked it up. In so doing, I came across an interesting article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/15/magazine/15onlanguage.html
      The definition I found, was this one: ” “to establish a relation between” is from 1771. Sense of “to feel connected or sympathetic to” is attested from 1950, originally in psychology jargon.” BTW, I don’t think that “empathisable” and “familiar + likable” exclude each other. If you have read my post, you will have found that that was essentially what I wrote, i.e. that I am familiar with characters like Chop, and very much like them. Which probably makes me empathise with them…

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      • Which brings us to the definition of “empathize,” as I don’t think feeling sympathy for has a necessary relationship to “empathy.” As I’ve said before at length, I think “sympathize” may be an acceptable description for what an audience does with characters, but I don’t think that what an actor does to “become” a character is “empathizing” except in a very loose sense of what the word means, and it certainly has no strong relationship with Armitage’s prescriptions on that score. I’d say that as an actor, one creates a notion of another person (based on research or other actorly practices) with whom one identifies. So how could one not “empathize” with that construction? It is one’s own; it can’t object to an actor’s construction of it. I don’t see how anyone can empathize with someone who doesn’t actually exist, as everything about that “person” is constructed in the first place.

        Have you followed the controversy the last few days about A. Tizón’s article about his family’s “slave” (as he calls her), “Lola”? This is one of the main objections detractors raise — that she never has any chance in his telling to be anything other than a construct, when theoretically she could have been. Yet another example of “destructive” empathy.

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  3. I relate most to Francis. I fully understand the mental anguish that comes from neglect and verbal abuse. I don’t suffer a physical impairment, but I was mercilessly teased as a child, which has negatively effected my life (still at my advanced age.)
    Francis has battled the demons in his head and lost. We all have those battles, some are more extreme than others. To see him get so close to a life filled with love and positive experiences only to succumb to the forces in his head is a heartbreaking experience.
    As a sufferer of depression all I can say is ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I.’

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  4. This one’s easy! I relate to John Standring, not because he’s a sheep farmer – God knows I’m a city girl through and through – but because I grew up around adults and ended up taking care of my aging parents. I also relate to not having a fantastic dating life, because I had responsibilities that didn’t allow for carefree times. Oh, and I’m shy around handsome men (well, those I fancy); thus, I know what it’s like to have no flirting game. Poor John. He was so very sweet and caring. I wish he’d found someone who had valued what he had to offer as a man, not just taken advantage of him.

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  5. A great assessment of Guy’s character indeed from Eugeal. I’d say the same, but much less eloquently. I am not sure of the semantics, but I understand why he is what he is, and wish he could find a way to let his better self out.

    But I don’t find I *relate* to him in the sense the originator of the challenge seems to mean. For me it has to be Lucas North. Not for the torture and the years in a Russian hell-hole, but because of the multiple roles and identities he’s had to take on in the course of his career. (Bateman excluded obviously – that didn’t happen.) Plus I love donuts and have a yen for fish and chips.

    I could say more, but I’d have to kill you. 😮

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  6. For me the most relatable is RA himself or, my version of RA. I think this is related with my biggest frustration that in our world who you are and where you came from matter a lot. I did well in my life but “I do know something of hardship”. I think RA’s life was not easy, his career was a slow burn, even after The Hobbit some doors are still closed. If he would have been a rising star, I would not be here. It’s something about his struggle that keeps me close.

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    • That is an interesting thought – or two. Citing RA as a character (which undoubtedly he is – a role he is playing for us, while keeping his true self private), and then his struggle to the top. The latter certainly is something that is relatable.

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  7. I wish I could have seen RA as Chop!!! It increasingly seems like it is never going to happen. It’s been longer than 3 years since they filmed it. Frankly, I have lost all faith. What a shame.

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  8. Which character do I relate to as far as my life experience? I guess I’m going to have to go with Kenneth from Love Love Love. Maybe because the character of Kenneth is just a few years older than I am. The experiences and questions he had in college, I had in college. Did my dreams come true as I imagined? No. But I didn’t wallow and I certainly didn’t blame my parents or others. I worked hard. I often took low paying jobs that didn’t require the level of education I had and then found opportunities to expand my responsibilities. I made a career and a life out of what I was given. Like Kenneth, did my life turn out the way I dreamt? No. But that’s life isn’t it? And, as I am now an official “old” person on Medicare, I realize it’s turned out alright.
    Which characters do I empathize with? Empathize as in “understanding and sharing the feelings of another “? Well, that would be John Standring and Frances Dolarhyde.

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  9. I wish I could choose Chop as well but I haven’t seen the movie yet! I’ve been dying to see it ever since I first heard of this as Richard’s project. I soooo hope it will get some sort of release soon that I can watch as well!

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  10. so, where was i? sorry i dropped off but catching up. Yes, it would have to be Chop as well, certainly the most relatable and the one i can most empathise with. Alongside Standring i guess, although the degree of his dependency and addiction to Carol i do find problematic. So Chop it is, most human in many ways. Really boggles the mind considering the kind of stuff we’ve seen since or is seeing the light of day that this hasn’t yet managed to. Utterly frustrating as it is my a mile more interesting and more touching and yes, relatable a story than many others which are coming out. Biggest sigh ever. If we only knew what if anything we could do to at least get a DVD release, i’d so do almost anything. It’s just such a powerful and touching story and it really deserves to be seen, alongside all the performances in it.

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    • You know, initially I wasn’t even a mega-fan of the film (UATSC). I liked it but I didn’t think it was a masterpiece. However, at this point, I really really wish it was published somewhere. I do want other fans to be able to enjoy both RA’s performance, as well as a meaningful film.
      IDK, maybe we should do what Candida Brady asked – write some reviews for Imdb? I never got round to it…

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