Heroes & Heroines

Yesterday I was telling my friend that it is ironic that Charlotte in Sex and the City, although eventually ending up happily married with Harry, does not ultimately get the fairy tale romance that she initially wishes for yet Carrie and Mr. Big's relationship is always portrayed romantically, dreamily, and poetically. And my friend said that Carrie is the heroine of the show so they cannot lose that element of story book romance, which so many people want, with her. That got me to thinking about the importance that heroes and heroines are given in fiction and also wondering about the realities of life. I realized that the creators of fiction quite often place boundaries and expectations on the main characters.
From that conversation, I was also reminded of a conversation that I had with my aunt over the Hindi movie, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. In that movie, the actress, Kajol is a down-to-earth, easygoing tomboy while her foil, Rani Mukherjee is feminine and attractive. At some point, Kajol gets envious when her friend and secret crush, Shahrukh Khan is attracted to Rani Mukherjee so she decides to dress up girly. However, she overdoes it, and everyone laughs at her, and she gets upset. Yet, I did not think that she looked so bad as they made out. My aunt said, "I also thought that she did not look so bad that they had to laugh so much, but she is the heroine so they cannot make her look too bad." I realized then that that was true, that they do exercise self-consciousness when dealing with the hero/heroine and place some boundaries. In many cases, the makers of the fiction create the characters biasedly and always try to make sure that they are not disliked by the audience.

I was also reminded of a conversation I had with my Mom about Family Matters years ago. I told her that I was surprised that Steve eventually ended up with Laura when throughout the show, it was unrequited love. And my Mom said that she always expected it since he is the hero of the show so he would end up with what he wanted. I realized then that that was true. Steve was the hero of the show since Family Matters ended up being a hit because of him.
I will now discuss Carrie in Sex and the City. It is quite surprising that she, the girl-next-door, would be the heroine over Charlotte, whom everyone thinks is the pretty girl in the group and the romantic perfectionist. Then I realized that this is an example of when an ingénue is juxtaposed with a stronger, more interesting female character to highlight the strength and appeal of that female character. Additionally, there is often a lot of bias in Carrie's portrayal and reception. The same goes for Mr. Big. When Carrie and Mr. Big have an extra-marital affair, it is portrayed and received as sexy and excusable. Carrie is the friend in the group that ends up with the lion's share in her final partner and romance. She has to end up the man that is portrayed to be handsome and charming. I will now outline the times when Carrie and Mr. Big's relationship is portrayed dreamily romantically--the time that Mr. Big and Carrie dance to Moon River, the time that Mr. Big tells Carrie that she is "the one" under the moon in Paris, which many think of as the most beautiful city in the world, and the time that Mr. Big eventually writes Carrie love letters and takes from famous love quotes at the end of the movie, Sex and the City. On the other hand, Charlotte's one romantic marriage with Trey crumbles while her marriage with Harry always fails in romance, but succeeds in love. There is that time when Harry and Charlotte try to have a romantic evening at a fancy restaurant, but end up with food poisoning, which brings them closer. Carrie comments that they may not have had a romantic night, but a night of true love.

I will now discuss the portrayal of heroes and heroines in Hindi movies. Hindi movies are like fairy tales. So they, for the most part, try to portray the characters to be close to perfection. I believe that Bollywood has more of a bias when picking out their leads than Hollywood does. They almost always pick out the best-looking person. In Bollywood, you need not have much talent to make it as a lead if you are good-looking. I was also told that often in order to emphasize the good looks of the heroine, they make her have a plain looking friend. So it was quite surprising when in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, the main character's friend, Rukhsaar is very beautiful, even rivaling the lead. Some other exceptions to the boundaries placed on heroes and heroines were when the heroine, Mili in Rangeela failed her tenth standard exam three times when she was studying dancing and when Raj, the hero of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was the first failure in the history of his university. And of course, there is the infamous portrayal of Shahrukh in Anjaam where he is technically the lead and hero, but proves himself to be a full-out sociopath and have a true villain's nature. In many earlier movies, Shahrukh has tried to take up the challenge of playing dark characters that are flawed, yet sympathetic, such as in Baazigar and Darr. However, in Anjaam, he does a very good job of alienating the audience as he stalks Madhuri Dixit and does many merciless, unforgivable things along the way. I am sure that no one remembers that he is the charming Shahrukh for a moment and is still attracted to him in any part of that movie.
In Hollywood and American television, there is also some bias towards the leads, but not as much as in Bollywood. They most often try to pick a good-looking person for the lead or portray the lead to be good-looking at some point in the movie, such as in ugly duckling turned to swan movies. And often anything that the hero or heroine does is excused since it is coming from him/her. For example, in She's the Man!, Duke insensitively tells one nerd to go away so he can talk to Sebastian. I thought that that was wrong of him, yet he was excused for it since he was the hero of the show.
I have found that in real dramatic Hollywood movies, which are Oscar nominated, the creators try to let go of boundaries with the leads. They do not select the looker, but the actor. The actor often has to shed blood and all the beauty and glamour to get the Oscar nomination. For example, Charlize Theron was made to look ugly and gain a lot of weight in her award-winning role as prostitute and serial killer, Aileen Wuornos in Monster. And often the Oscar-winning movie does not have the expected happy ending, but rather a moving, realistic ending, which makes the audience grasp the harsh realities of life.
There are also many movies and shows where the lead is not attractive, and that is the emphasis of the show. Such goes for Family Matters. I also remember reading in my seventh grade English textbook that Forrest Gump is an exceptional hero, being slow.
I have found that in real life, it works out quite differently than movies. I knew this girl who is extremely beautiful and the definition of grace whom all the guys wanted to go out with. She was voted the best looking in the class along with this other guy whom all the girls were attracted to. So anyone would expect that they would make the ideal match. They did go out--but for a very short time. The girl knew that the relationship was not going anywhere and had no potential. However, she did end up marrying a nice guy, but not the type of guy that other people would have pictured for her. That guy was not tall, dark, and conventionally handsome, but a sweet, down-to-earth guy with a very good heart. The girl is a princesse lointaine, but did not end up with her counterpart, the knight-in-shining armor, but a boy-next-door. I have noticed in general that the best looking girl does not always end up with the best looking guy. I had a friend who is classically beautiful. It did not work out between her and the guy that she was obsessed with although they did date for a while. When he finally settled down with another girl, she worried like all the girls would worry that the girl was prettier than her. I noticed that that other girl was from being better looking than her. In fact, that girl was quite plain and simple looking. I realized that probably what happened between my friend and that guy was that the guy was initially attracted to my friend since she is brilliant, classy, and beautiful, but found a girl that he clicked with, no matter her attractiveness.
 I have found that in many romance novels, the hero is tall, dark (both in appearance and character), and handsome while the heroine is blonde, innocence, and sweetness and light. It is quite often that the hero and heroine do not get along at first and hate each other, but they end up falling in love.

I once had a storybook romance where actually many of the boundaries and expectations were intact. I like to think of it as a time when I was the star of the show. I was the classic ingénue--a sweet, innocent girl. I liked to describe myself as "shy and bookish." I liked to think that I was more worldly than others my age and engage myself with Shakespeare and classics and philosophy. I was not interested in fashion or popularity, unlike most girls in my class. It is funny, but at that time, I would rather be ugly than pretty since I thought that being pretty was superficial and did not mind at all when people in my class called me ugly (although I really was not ugly). I was made fun of throughout the year by the most popular guy in the class, a guy that every girl liked. However, at the end of the year, he asked me to be his friend. After that, I became romantically interested in him, as did he. By the end of the year, I had started to take more interest in my dressing and wore clothes, that even my teacher commented on. There was one day when I was dressed up, and I felt shy when this other guy that always said he liked me came over to me. The guy that was interested in me was the Prince Charming of our class and a bad boy, a trickster. Someone told me that my love story was like out of a book. The guy that every girl wanted was first dating this girl whom every guy wanted to date, whom the guys would vandalize desks by writing that she is sexy. Yet, still they were not happy together. Then he found this sweet girl who was so different from the rest. It was like in a romance where the guy is dark and the girl is sweet and innocent and they hate each other at first, but then fall in love. We also were complete opposities, and as it has been portrayed in so many stories, opposites attract. I also felt like I was in an ugly duckling turned to swan story. Even though I was never actually ugly, I blossomed in my attractiveness after dressing well. I went from being the least popular girl to popular, as everyone seemed to treat me well and approach me, as that guy did. That guy's friend told me that that guy always liked me and always said that I was beautiful, nice, and smart, even if he may have told me the opposite at first to my face. And the other guy that liked me told me that he and the guy that I liked thought that I was pretty and that they made fun of me since that was their way of showing that they liked me. I did not finally end up with that guy that I liked. However, I still had my own happy ending since I realized that we would not have been compatible for a relationship and he still made a difference in my life. However, I still hope to end up having a fairy tale romance that ends up in marriage, which is very poetic and like from a story book. I will be the heroine of the love story.
Everyone is the lead character of the play of his/her life. As a Leo, that is what I constantly think about myself when undergoing experiences.

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