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