Thinking About Outsiders

I watched K-PAX last weekend and really enjoyed it. (Well, the subplot about Jeff Bridges‘ family was trite and boring, but other than that…) Kevin Spacey stars as a man who may or may not be from another planet. The movie does a good job of keeping this question up in the air until the very end. And even then, it leaves you to wonder.

Me being me, though, I always go for the extraterrestrial option when given a choice.

Jerome Bixby’s The Man From Earth is another film that gives the viewer that option; in this case, the title character is either crazy or immortal. Which is it?

Interesting questions, both of them, but that’s not the topic for today. I want to focus more on the outsider in films and books.

The outsider is one of my favorite tropes. I define it as such: a person who isn’t part of the society that he or she finds him/herself in, but saves the day or has an influence in how people change their way of thinking. The reasons these people are outsiders isn’t always clearly laid out, and some of them fit into society better than others.

My favorite outsiders?

yojimbo

The bodyguard (yojimbo) as played by Toshirô Mifune

Man with No Name

Clint Eastwood’s Man with No Name

Roland standing by the Dark Tower and the Can'...

Roland Deschain from The Dark Tower series.

john oldman

John Oldman as played by David Lee Smith in The Man from Earth.

prot from k-pax

Prot from K-PAX.

whedon characters

Pretty much everyone Joss Whedon has created.

There are many, many more. A friend reminded me of Katniss from The Hunger Games. I haven’t read the books or seen the movie yet, so I feel too uninformed to add her to my list. Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files is someone else I need to read about first. Tank Girl is another possibility.

Who would you pick? I’m not interested in villains for this exercise. They’re outsiders because of their career choices. Or, they’re villains because they’re outsiders. Interesting folk, they can be, but I find the outsiders who use their powers for good (most of the time) to be more intriguing. At least, this time around.

So, this is the first entry in what’s going to be a series. It didn’t seem fair to try to fit all these people into one post. There’s too much going on with them to whittle it down to a sentence or two for each.

Why outsiders? If I said it was because I’ve always felt myself to be one, that would be trite and silly, wouldn’t it? A writer who thinks she’s an outsider? How novel.

I just think the outsiders I’m going to be writing about are cool for one reason or another. Interpret that as you will.

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Categories: Books/Authors, Fangirling, Movies, Outsiders | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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7 thoughts on “Thinking About Outsiders

  1. Jen K.

    I forget if I’ve asked you this before – have you read the Lymond Chronicles? Francis Crawford is really interesting character who manages to be both insider and outsider at the same time. I identify with that. 🙂

    • I haven’t read the Lymond Chronicles (and I don’t think you’ve asked me before). Historical fiction (from a quick browse of Wikipedia)? Sounds interesting. Also, that you can identify with his status as insider/outsider. I get that. 😉

      • Jen K.

        Well, then – I totally recommend it. I’ve read the whole series three times, and the first book of the series is one of my two desert-island books. I think you’ll enjoy it. It’s intelligent and works on a lot of levels, include the level of just being a good yarn.

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