In many stories, the protagonist is the hero. They are the ones who save the day, defeat the villain, and bring peace to the world. However, in some cases, the protagonist is actually the villain. These stories feature antiheroes, characters who possess both heroic and villainous traits, and who often challenge traditional notions of morality and heroism.
The antihero is not a new concept. It has been around for centuries, with literary examples such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Milton’s Satan. However, in recent years, the antihero has become increasingly popular in film and television. Shows such as Breaking Bad, Dexter, and The Sopranos have all featured antiheroes as their main characters.
Why Do We Root for the Antihero?
One of the most intriguing aspects of the antihero is that, despite their villainous behavior, we often find ourselves rooting for them. This is because they possess traits that we can identify with. They are flawed, complex, and often motivated by relatable desires such as revenge, justice, or love.
For example, in Breaking Bad, the main character Walter White starts off as a sympathetic character. He is a high school chemistry teacher who is struggling to make ends meet. However, when he is diagnosed with cancer, he turns to cooking and selling methamphetamine in order to provide for his family. As the show progresses, Walter becomes increasingly ruthless and violent, but we still find ourselves rooting for him because we understand his motivations.
Another reason why we root for antiheroes is that they often challenge our traditional notions of heroism and morality. They are not always the noble, selfless heroes that we are used to seeing in stories. Instead, they are complex and flawed, and their actions often blur the lines between right and wrong.
The Antihero as a Reflection of Society
The rise of the antihero in popular culture can be seen as a reflection of our society. In a world that is becoming increasingly complex and morally ambiguous, the antihero provides a way for us to explore these issues in a safe and controlled environment.
The antihero also reflects our changing attitudes towards authority and power. In the past, the hero was often someone who represented the established order, such as a police officer or a soldier. However, in today’s society, there is a growing distrust of authority and power, and the antihero represents a challenge to these traditional notions.
Examples of the Antihero in Popular Culture
There are many examples of the antihero in popular culture, spanning a wide range of genres and media.
In film, some notable examples include Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, Tyler Durden in Fight Club, and Tony Montana in Scarface.
In television, some popular antiheroes include Dexter Morgan in Dexter, Vic Mackey in The Shield, and Don Draper in Mad Men.
In literature, there are countless examples of antiheroes, such as Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye, Humbert Humbert in Lolita, and Tom Ripley in The Talented Mr. Ripley.
The Future of the Antihero
The antihero is not going away anytime soon. As our society becomes increasingly complex and morally ambiguous, the antihero provides a way for us to explore these issues in a safe and controlled environment.
In fact, the antihero is becoming even more popular, with shows like The Boys, which features a group of vigilantes who take on corrupt superheroes, and Watchmen, which explores the complex moral issues surrounding superheroism.
The antihero is a complex and fascinating character type that challenges our traditional notions of heroism and morality. They are flawed, complex, and often motivated by relatable desires. Despite their villainous behavior, we often find ourselves rooting for them because they reflect our changing attitudes towards authority and power.
The antihero provides a way for us to explore complex moral issues and challenge traditional notions of heroism in a safe and controlled environment. As society becomes increasingly complex and morally ambiguous, the antihero will continue to be a popular and relevant character type in popular culture.
However, it is important to remember that the antihero is not a replacement for the hero. While the antihero challenges traditional notions of heroism, the hero still plays an important role in our stories and our lives. The hero represents the noble and selfless aspects of humanity, and their actions inspire us to be our best selves.
In the end, the antihero and the hero are two sides of the same coin. They both reflect important aspects of the human experience and provide us with a way to explore complex moral issues. Whether we are rooting for the hero or the antihero, we are ultimately seeking a better understanding of ourselves and the world around us.