#TypesTuesday – The Avengers

The Avengers is a continuing box office smash hit.  The clarity of the characters, their witty on-point interactions, and their specific personal conflicts with each other contribute just as much to the movie’s success as the smash-em-up-whiz-bang action.

The character moments were my favorite parts of the movie because, I confess, the 3-D gave me a splitting headache and the action scenes go on a tad long for my personal taste.

The movie begins with the premise that humanity will be annihilated if Loki, the bitter banished demigod, opens a hole in space to let in an invading mechanized army. Loki is adopted, hates his brother, Thor, and wants to destroy the earth Thor loves and protects.

This crisis brings together the reluctant Avengers teammates.  Each portrays his or her Character Type with nearly pitch perfect attitude and dialogue.

The-Avengers-2012-upcoming-movies-29945637-1280-1024Loki is a Power of Idealism demi-god villain:  Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and these Character Types believe they are meant for some kind of heroic destiny.

He says: I am Loki, of Asgard. And I am burdened with glorious purpose.

These characters are “divas” and want to be seen as special, unique, and extraordinary– something out of reach for Loki, who is always in the shadow of his more perfect “brother” Thor.  It was Thor who got all the glory and Loki is furious about that. A bit of dialogue says it all–

Tony Stark: Loki wants everyone to see what he’s doing.
Steve Rogers: Yeah, I caught his act at Stuttengard.
Tony Stark: That was a preview, this will be opening night. Loki’s a full-fledged diva, everything’s got to be about him. He wants a parade, flowers, anything that’ll bring in an audience. He needs someplace where everyone can see it’s him and he’s doing it, somewhere where his name is up in lights!
[pause]
Tony Stark: Sonofabitch!
[heads to Stark Tower]

Tony Stark: Loki wants everyone to see what he’s doing.

Steve Rogers: Yeah, I caught his act at Stuttengard.

Tony Stark: That was a preview, this will be opening night. Loki’s a full-fledged diva, everything’s got to be about him. He wants a parade, flowers, anything that’ll bring in an audience. He needs someplace where everyone can see it’s him and he’s doing it, somewhere where his name is up in lights!

chris-hemsworth-thor-movie-costume-mjolnir-hammer-488x341Thor is a  Power of Love demigod:  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) uses his strength and power to care for and protect the earth.  Despite everything, he still is attached to his adoptive brother, Loki, as evidenced in the following exchange:

Bruce Banner: I don’t think we should be focusing on Loki. That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.

Thor: Have a care how you speak. Loki is beyond reason, but he is of Asgard. And he is my brother.

Natasha Romanoff: He killed eighty people in two days.

Thor: He’s adopted.

Thor is the son of Gaea, the nurturing mother earth herself. In his comic book backstory Thor is a caring doctor, Donald Black, who is willing to defy the might of Asgard for the woman he loves.  Power of Love characters are incredibly strong characters and are ferociously unstoppable when something they love and care for is in threatened.

iron_man_the_avengers_2012_movie-t2Iron Man is a Power of Excitement man-made superhero in his mechanized suit:  In his own words he is Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. In addition, he’s a jokester and an agent of chaos, who loves to stir things up. He’d especially like to see the Hulk get unleashed.

He says: “Dr. Banner, your work is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.”

Stark speaks frequently in the movie about escape or wanting to escape. Steve Rogers, Captain America, chides him for that saying Stark doesn’t have it in him to make the “sacrifice play” that puts others first. Tony Stark’s rakish push-the-envelop devil-may-care attitude continually presses everyone’s buttons in the story, but his charm, ready wit, and natural talent as an improvisor helps save the day.

Chris-Evans-in-The-Avengers-2012-Movie-ImageCaptain American is a Power of Conscience government laboratory experiment turned superhero: Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a super-soldier who believes in following rules, following orders, and the importance of the chain of command.  He can seem a little stiff and humorless at times but he is 100%  reliable, trustworthy, and always puts the good of the team first. The difference between Rogers and Stark is summed up in this exchange:

Steve Rogers: We have orders, we should follow them.

Tony Stark: Following’s not really my style.

Steve Rogers: And you’re all about style, aren’t you?

Tony Stark: Of the people in this room, which one is A – wearing a spangly outfit and B – not of much use?

Stark surprises Rogers at the climax. And Rogers learns to improvise more, following Stark’s example.

imagesThe Hulk is a Power of Will gamma ray experiment gone-wrong superhero:  Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), in his Hulk state, is all angry impulse. He is primitive. He’s strong. He is a mass of instinctual drives and impulses that only finds satisfaction in “Hulk smash!”  In his normal human state Banner controls his anger enough to be a protector (as a doctor in remote India) rather than a destroyer. But his raw uncontrollable instinctual side is never far away.

Steve Rogers: Doc… I think now is the perfect time for you to get angry.

Bruce Banner: That’s my secret Cap, I’m always angry.

The-Avengers-Black-Widow-Headshot-360x273The Black Widow is a Power of Truth super-spy: Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) doesn’t have super powers per se but she is as skilled a warrior as any of her other Avengers teammates. She lives in a spy vs. spy world that is filled with hidden dangers, secretive enemies, and concealed pitfalls. With the Black Widow– “Things are never what they seem.” “Trust no one.” “Question everything.” “Watch out for secret agendas and hidden pitfalls.” Just when an adversary thinks she is most vulnerable she is actually conducting a brilliant and treacherous interrogation.

hawkeye-the-avengers-01-610x458Hawkeye is a Power of Reason ultra-expert archer:  Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is a loner and a bit alienated, the perfect combination for his backstory and continuing role as sniper. He is a cold and calculating and spends the first half of the movie under the mind control of Loki.

There isn’t time for very much character development in The Avengers, but what there is is spot on.  Each hero is absolutely true to his or her Character Types in both word and deed. When every bit of dialogue and action has to count as character development, the Character Types will help you be as economical and on target as the characters here.

The Mating Season – Day Twenty Four – #40movies40days

g_the-mating-season-gene-tierney-john-lund-76c98The Mating Season is a good old fashioned Power of Love story in the best sense of the word.

Ellen McNulty (Thelma Ritter) is forced to sell her hamburger stand, so she decides to visit her son Val (John Lund), who lives in another city. Val has recently married a socialite, Maggie (Gene Tierney). To help her out, her husband hires a maid and promises to send her over right away. In the meantime, Ellen arrives. Maggie, her daughter-in-law, mistakes her for the maid. Ellen begins to tell Maggie who she really is, but she is worried that saying anything might cause Maggie embarrassment, so she doesn’t reveal who she is and decides to pretend to be a maid. The next morning Ellen arrives with her things. She wakes Maggie up and when she realizes that her son didn’t explain everything yet, she keeps pretending to be a maid. She tells him that she will only be underfoot if she lives in the house as a mother-in-law. She eventually talks him into the idea but he doesn’t like it very much.
Maggie’s mother (Miriam Hopkins) decides to come for a visit and she is nothing like Maggie. She is a snob and she doesn’t like Val one bit. While helping Mr. Kalinger (Larry Keating), Ellen realizes that his son, Kalinger Jr. (James Lorimer), is taking credit for work actually done by Val and tells Mr. Kalinger the truth.
Mr. Kalinger then invites Val and Maggie to the party. At the party, Maggie gets into an argument with an important female guest (Cora Witherspoon) after the woman insults her, and Maggie storms out. Val, realizing that this woman carries a lot of influence, forces Maggie to call the party to apologize to the woman. She does so unwillingly, leading to another fight.
The next morning, Val and Maggie make up and steal away in a closet for a kiss. Ellen’s friends are at the door and ask to speak to “Mrs. McNulty”. At this point it is revealed that Ellen is Val’s mother. Maggie is furious with Val for hiding his mother’s identity from her. She and her mother leave for a hotel. Maggie later confronts Val at his office. Val tries to explain himself but Maggie won’t listen. She tells him that he has become a snob and that she is moving to Mexico.
Mr. Kalinger decides to get Val and Maggie together. He convinces Maggie to come to the hotel bar with him for a good-bye drink, knowing that Val will be there for a party. When Maggie sees Val, she again scolds him for trying to hide his mother and leaves the bar. Val leaves the party and rushes to retrieve his mother. He brings her back to the party and begins introducing her to the ‘snobs’. Maggie, who has come back to the bar, witnesses Val introducing his mother to the woman who had insulted her at the earlier party. Ellen tells Maggie’s mother that it is time for both of them to leave the apartment. Ellen lands on her feet, however, as Mr. Kalinger decides to marry her.

Ellen McNulty (Thelma Ritter) runs a hamburger stand that’s underwater with the bank.  She can’t afford the payments and it’s not worth what she borrowed. (Some things never change.)

Her son, Val  (John Lund), has been asking Ellen to come live with him.  She hitchhikes from New Jersey to the Midwest, where her son has a good job in a large manufacturing company (some things have changed drastically).

Ellen’s son, Val, is an upwardly mobile junior executive (Power of Ambition) who has recently married Maggie (Gene Tierney). His new bride is not rich but grew up in the diplomatic corps and has very wealthy and important friends and political connections.

Val hires a maid to help Maggie with their first big dinner party. In the meantime, Ellen arrives unannounced. Maggie, her daughter-in-law, mistakes her for the maid. Ellen (Power of Love) wants to spare Maggie embarrassment, so she doesn’t reveal her true identity.  Instead, Ellen decides to make herself useful and to just go along pretending to be a maid.

137px-Thelma_Ritter_in_The_Mating_Season_trailerEllen convinces Val that she will only be underfoot if she lives in the house as a mother-in-law. She knows Maggie needs help as a young wife and convinces Val to continue the ruse.  Although Val loves his mother, there is something inside him that is deeply embarrassed about his humble beginnings and his unsophisticated mom.

Maggie’s drama queen mother (Miriam Hopkins) arrives for a visit. She is a (Power of Idealism) snob who doesn’t think Val is good enough for her daughter. She is more impressed with the boss’ son Kalinger Jr. (James Lorimer).  Jr. is a playboy and a cad (Power of Excitement), who is also in love with Maggie.  Jr. is also passing off Val’s hard work and ideas as his own.

During the negotiations of an important contact, Maggie (Power of Conscience) takes exception to the rudeness and  snobbery of the main client’s wife (Cora Witherspoon).  After confronting the woman, Maggie storms out of an important social outing surrounding the deal. Val, realizing that the client’s wife carries a lot of influence, forces Maggie to apologize. Maggie does so unwillingly, leading to another fight between the newlyweds.

Ellen skillfully intervenes in the angry aftermath. The young couple make-up with a romantic duck into the closet (the only place they can really be alone). Ellen’s friends arrive at the door unexpectedly and Ellen’s ruse is exposed.

matingMaggie is furious with Val for hiding his mother’s identity from her. She and her mother leave for a hotel. Maggie later confronts Val at his office. She tells him that he has become a snob and that she is leaving him and is moving out of the country.

Mr. Kalinger Sr., who has fallen for Ellen, arranges for Maggie to meet him at hotel bar for a good-bye drink. Val proudly introduces to Ellen to the important clients. Maggie sees how much Val loves his mother. Her heart melts.

Ellen tells Maggie’s mother that it is time for both of them to leave the newlyweds to themselves. Ellen lands on her feet as the fully smitten Mr. Kalinger Sr. asks her to marry him.

No matter how high you rise, nothing is as important as family, no matter how humble or unsophisticated. It’s a timeless lesson.

NFL Leadership Styles – Can You Help?

Sometimes it is really useful to look at the Character Types of real people to see how what they do or say defines them.  The SuperBowl and the magnificent victory by Green Bay and their young quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a great example to start off with.

I’d like to type all the major players in the NFL in terms of their leadership styles.  I’m looking for some help here– with quotations or a link to a video as an illustrations.  I did a similar article on Celebrity Chefs on TV and how their cooking and food presenting style reflected their Character Type  Can you help fill out the NFL roster and comment on your favorite players?  Interview or commentary links or player quotes are really useful as illustrations.  See the leadership definitions below.

aaron-rodgersPOWER OF CONSCIENCE

Let’s start with Aaron Rodgers as a Power of Conscience leader.  Notice in his David Letterman interview below he talks about leading by example.  That is what the best Power of Conscience characters do.  He also talks about responsibility, duty, preparation, practicing hard and putting in the time to do the job well. That doesn’t mean he isn’t passionate about the game or inspirational– it just means that those qualities are not the primary attributes of leadership to him.

The Power of Conscience character leads by showing fairness, firmness, consistency, justice and providing a good example.  They believe the rule of law is humankind’s salvation.
The best Power of Conscience leaders are “servant leaders” who have  the humility to serve the greater good of others. Power of Conscience leaders teach their followers to be of service themselves.

The Power of Conscience character leads by showing fairness, firmness, consistency and providing a good example.   The best Power of Conscience leaders are “servant leaders” who have  the humility to serve the greater good of others. Power of Conscience leaders teach their followers to be of service themselves.

Here is Aaron Rodgers on leadership in his own words.

Dandy Dozen Movies FootballPOWER OF IDEALISM

Power of Idealism leaders are passionate and emotional leaders. They are inspiring and challenge their followers to give their all to a glorious cause.  They create a sense of special destiny and often link their mission to the grand heroism  or glories of the past.  These characters lead their followers into a lost cause or an impossible battle.  They know the odds are grim and victory is improbable but they charge in anyway.  What they are after is valor, honor and a grand and glorious legacy—the kind of immortality to inspire others in story, song or legend.  Who in the NFL leads in this way?

The player who comes to my mind is George Gipp.  In the film, Knute Rockne All American, Knute quotes George like this:

Knute Rockne: Now I’m going to tell you something I’ve kept to myself for years. None of you ever knew George Gipp. He was long before your time, but you all know what a tradition he is at Notre Dame. And the last thing he said to me, “Rock,” he said, “sometime when the team is up against it and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to go out there with all they’ve got and win just one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock,” he said, “but I’ll know about it and I’ll be happy.”

POWER OF REASON

Power of Reason characters are more loners than leaders.  When they are  put in charge (or they take charge) they use their intelligence, expertise, knowledge and technical skills to lead (or sometimes to dominate) others.  They are most comfortable as experts or technicians.

These characters are not very skilled at interpersonal relationships.  They don’t naturally engage or charismatically inspire others.  They usually don’t like the genial chit-chat of team banter and camaraderie. Instead, these characters  attract followers with their problem-solving abilities, technical ability, specialized experience or practical know-how.

When Power of Reason characters want to take command they argue that they are the most experienced or qualified to lead.  They argue that they are in fact the intellectually or skills-based superior choice.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

imagesPOWER OF AMBITION

Power of Ambition characters are most often potential leaders, protégés and young, upwardly mobile strivers.  They are impatient, high-energy individuals who want to get things done and who put a very high premium on accomplishment (right now!).  They are often willing to take short cuts and cut corners to get ahead.  They value fame, popularity and status.

These characters think well on their feet and are flexible and adaptable in a crisis.  They can talk themselves into or out of any situation.  When it serves their purpose they can fit in, with an almost chameleon-like ability, in any situation.  They can be witty, engaging, amusing and “great in the interview room.”  They are very charming and personable, if rather boasters and braggers.

The fictional player who fits this type is Brian “Smash” Williams’s (Gaius Charles) on Friday Night Lights.  He is talented, arrogant and likes taking short cuts and avoiding hard questions.

Smash Williams: Takin’ it like a man, Matty. You know, avoiding the calls, ducking out, hidin’ in the bushes.

images-1POWER OF WILL

Power of Will characters bring many wonderful leadership qualities to the NFL community.  They are decisive and authoritative.  Others naturally look to them to them to take charge.  They are strong, bold and  forceful leaders.  These characters stand out from the crowd with a commanding presence.   Their philosophy is “win or die.”  They see the world as a battlefield where only the strong survive.

Power of Will characters motivate others through the sheer force of their personality and their innate toughness and charisma. They are big dynamic characters who can “fill up a room.” Each wonderful quality of Power of WIll leadership has a set of corresponding Trouble Traits.  Decisiveness becomes rashness when a leader fails to delay action long enough to fully consider the consequences of an action or doesn’t have the patience to listen to others.  Leadership that is unilateral and absolute or will not permit dissent easily slips into dictatorial megalomania and colossal paranoia.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

The person who comes to mind first for me is iconic Green Bay Coach, Vince Lombardi, who famously said:  “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” He was a big larger than life leader who had incredible force of will.

POWER OF EXCITEMENT

Power of Excitement leaders make everything fun and can recast anything as a amusing game.  Their boyish charm and charisma can make them natural leaders. People gravitate toward these characters and follow them quite joyfully, rather like children who follow the lively, captivating music of the Pied Piper.  They have lots of natural or innate talent but often lack the discipline and drive to excel under difficult circumstances.

Power of Excitement characters rarely are happy in a leadership position.  They do not like the responsibility, follow-up and attention to detail that real leadership requires.  If it’s not interesting, amusing or enjoyable these characters get bored, don’t show up or make a quick exit.  Power of Excitement characters excel at  instigating and finding interesting opportunities, but don’t always count on them to bring any crucial item in on schedule.  Is there anyone in the NFL like this?

POWER OF LOVE

Power of Love leaders rarely like to be out in front in a take charge position.  They prefer to exercise their control as the “power behind the throne”.  Power of Love characters usually “lead” in supportive roles.  They are great mentors and excel at providing encouragement and emotional support.

Power of Love characters view leadership as serving others, being of practical use and creating the sense they are indispensable.  These characters get real satisfaction from pushing others forward and seeing them do well.  They tend to bond with individuals more strongly than the team as a whole.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

POWER OF IMAGINATION

Power of Imagination leaders are able to sense the deep internal connections that bind and unify all of us.  They lead by bringing together and inspiring others to see this bigger picture, this sense of common purpose or a larger universal mission.  At first glance, these assembled individuals might seem to be contentious or have little or nothing in common.

Power of Imagination  characters inspire united action by convincing disparate individuals that:  “We’re all in this together” and “If we work together we will all achieve something important or worthwhile.”  They are often gentle, shy or unassuming individuals who are the glue that holds a team together.  Who in the NFL leads like this?

favre vikingsPOWER OF TRUTH

Power of Truth characters often use an initial affable and friendly approach to solving problems, pursuing goals and leading others.  These characters don’t tend to be natural leaders. They don’t generally gravitate toward the front of the group.  They tend to be too suspicious, anxious, self-doubting and second-guessing to expose themselves to the front and center scrutiny of others.

Brett Favre is this kind of leader.  I wrote an analysis of him in an earlier post.  Power of Truth characters value loyalty and commitment very highly, but they can be very unsettled and indecisive. They can become self-doubting and suspicious to the point of paralysis.  At that point, they no longer trust their own instincts.

Brett’s is legendary for his retirement indecisiveness. In their darkest moments, these characters worry that they can’t believe anyone or anything.  They suspect everyone is lying to them and every situation is not what it seems.  They constantly look for little clues to confirm their doubts, suspicions and anxieties.  These characters continually test and probe when operating out of fear. They insist others constantly prove themselves.  They try to read the secret meaning in, or second-guess every move, every action and every decision made by others.

I’d love to fill out these profiles in leadership with your favorite NFL nominees.  It’s most useful if you have quotes or links to interviews or commentary that backs up your choices.  Please comment below or on my FaceBook ETB Page.  Please share it with your football-loving friends so we can get a dialog going.

#TypesTuesday Bugs Bunny – Power of Excitement

hareextraordinaireI saw this in the LA Times today about the release of the new Bugs Bunny DVD collection:

Now, two new DVD collections of Bugs’ best work, “Bugs Bunny: Hare Extraordinaire” and “The Essential Bugs Bunny,” have been issued by Warner Home Video to remind viewers — who might have forgotten about his charms or carelessly classified him as a mere childish pleasure — of what the wascally wabbit could accomplish. “Hare Extraordinaire” features 15 previously unreleased-on-DVD Bugs shorts, and “The Essential Bugs Bunny” is a capacious two-disc set, with 12 original shorts joined by television specials such as “How Bugs Bunny Won the West” and a tribute documentary, “Ain’t He a Stinker.”

Bugs Bunny is a quintessential Power of Excitement character.  He is smart, sassy and adept at getting into and out of traps.  He is a an anarchist, refusing to obey rules (including the law of gravity).  “I never went to law school.”  Bugs is a charming agent of chaos in every one of his cartoon roles.

Power of Excitement characters play the role of the innovator, the explorer and the merry prankster. They keep things lively, entertaining, interesting and off-balance for all the other characters  At heart, these characters are anarchists.  They love to cause chaos to keep things amusing or to shake up the existing (dull, boring or pedantic) order of things.

You could do much worse than to model your next Power of Excitement hero on Bugs Bunny!

Power of Excitement characters play the role of the innovator, the explorer, the merry pranksters or the perennial “forever young” person in a story.
In whatever role these characters play, they are good humored, endlessly optimistic and great fun.  They keep things lively, entertaining, interesting and off-balance for all the other characters.
At heart, these characters are anarchists.  They love to cause chaos to keep things amusing or to shake up the existing (dull, boring or pedantic) order of things.

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The Princess and The Frog

Spending so much time in airplanes, I had a chance to catch up on several of the movies I missed in theatrical release. I was particularly enchanted by Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. This delightful animated film is the best romantic comedy of the last couple of years. It hits all the most important emotional beats that make Romantic Comedies so satisfying. It’s funny, has a lush gorgeous design and a wonderful New Orleans score.
Despite some terrific performances the other films released this year in the genre fall into one of more the Rom Com Pitfalls. Here is how The Princess and The Frog avoided all the emotional stumbling blocks.

princess-tiana-and-paa4781Spending so much time in airplanes recently, I had a chance to catch up on several of the movies I missed in theatrical release. I was particularly enchanted by Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. This delightful animated film is the best romantic comedy of the last couple of years. It hits three of the most important emotional beats that make Romantic Comedies so emotionally satisfying. In addition, t’s funny, has a lush gorgeous design and a wonderful New Orleans score.  The film was nominated for 3 Oscars. It won 6 other awards (including a number of critic’s awards and image awards) having 24 major nominations in all.

Fundamental RomCom Elements

There are a number of fundamental elements that make successful romantic comedies emotionally appealing. (These elements are just as important in a romantic subplot or any other emotional partnership or buddy relationship.)  Despite some terrific performances, the other films released in the genre fell short in these key areas. Here is how The Princess and The Frog hit the most important three and scored a big hit:

Conflict

1. There must be a real “battle” for a “battle of the sexes.”

In classic romantic comedies, the love interests take an instant dislike, have a deep distrust or are separated by major philosophical or personal differences. Love interests should have opposite World Views and views on what life and love is or should be. They should not agree on anything. Their values and views should be diametrically opposed.

A character’s World View is how the character believes the world works, his or her perceived role in the world, the character’s philosophy of life and love and a definition of what constitutes a personal goal worth pursuing.

The heroine in The Princess and The Frog, Tiana (voiced and sung by Tony-winner Anika Noni Rose), is a Power of Conscience character.  She is the daughter of a seamstress, Eudora, (voiced by Oprah Winfrey) and James, a day laborer (voiced by Terrence Howard).  Tiana believes in hard work, personal responsibility and setting the bar high for herself.   She is a dutiful daughter and is single-mindedly persistent in the pursuit of the dream she and her father shared.

Tatiana’s Frog Prince Naveen of Maldonia (voiced by Nip/Tuck‘s Bruno Campos) was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and has never worked a day in his life.  He is a playboy Power of Excitement character who loves parties, music and dancing.   He is handsome and witty and never met a responsibility he couldn’t charm his way out of, avoid or dodge.  He is angling for a prize that will help him maintain his carefree lifestyle.

CLICK HERE to read how recent RomComs The Proposal, It’s Complicated and The Ugly Truth fell short in this regard.

Goals

2.  The lovers must have a goal other than just falling in love or finding love.

Each of the character must be in pursuit of something other than love.  They both must have an over-arching ego-driven goal (one that benefits each personally).  Unless the character wants something specific for themselves there is nothing to give up or sacrifice for the love of the other person.

Tiana’s goal is to open her own restaurant, the dream she and her father shared.  She works double-shifts.  She forgoes parties and dates.  She saves every dime to make her dream come true.  Tatiana never allows herself any fun or frivolity. She doesn’t have time for romance or falling love.

Prince Naveen’s parents have cut off his funds and he needs to find someone else to finance his amusements.  He is looking for a a wealthy American wife to bankroll his fun-loving spendthrift ways in exchange for a royal Princess title.  Naveen’s goal is to avoid responsibility and look good while doing it. He has never allowed himself to care for anything (or anyone) enough to really work or sacrifice for it.

Gifts

3. Both love interests must grow or change through their relationship with one another.

Something profound should be missing in each love interest’s life, character and or personality. This missing piece is an important personal deficiency leading to overall unhappiness. The problem isn’t just that the character is missing someone to love. It should be key to his or her difficulties in life.

In contrast to this major deficiency, each character has an abundance of some other over-developed trait. This should be something the other love interest has “to a fault.” One person has too much of one thing and gives a gift of a bit of that quality to the other.

In The Princess and the Frog, Naveen falls under the black-magic spell of the evil Dr. Facilier (Keith David). The kiss Naveen cons Tiana into giving him turns her into a frog as well.  (After a catering accident Tiana puts on a spare princess gown and left-over tiara from her childhood friend Charlotte (voiced by Jennifer Cody) and  Naveen mistakes Tiana for the princess he seeks.)

The quarreling amphibians flee into the bayou to escape Facilier’s nefarious scheme and evil clutches. Among the swamp denizens they meet in the murky swamp-land are a cowardly lion-like, trumpet-playing alligator, Louis (voice by Michael-Leon Wooley); a gap-toothed hopelessly romantic Cajun firefly, Ray (voiced by Jim Cummings); and the old-as-the-bayou-herself blind seer and witch doctor Mama Odie (Jenifer Lewis).  It is the seemingly vague lessons that Madame Odie teaches that have the power to restore Tiana and Naveen back to humanity.

Along the way,  Tiana learns to relax and to value what is really important– a balance of love and work. She is ready to give up her goal to save the man/frog she loves.  Naveen learns to work like a sous chef, slicing and dicing, and offers to sacrifice himself and his own happiness to rescue Tiana’s dream.  A clever twist at the end involving a missed kiss and true self-acceptance, completes the exchange of gifts that sets the story and the lovers right.

CLICK HERE to read how The Proposal, It’s Complicated and The Ugly Truth fell short in the gift-giving department.   In contrast, this simple story of The Princess and The Frog hits three of the most crucial elements that make frothy RomComs such a satisfying emotional experience.

Vague Characters

zoltarVague Characters
http://bakadesuyo.com/read-this-if-you-are-kind-strong-willed-but-c
http://www.mindhacks.com/blog/2009/11/you_are_kind_strong.html
Read this if you are kind, strong willed, but can be self-critical:
I’ve just found a classic study online where psychologist Bertram Forer gave a personality test to his students and then asked each person to rate how the accuracy of their ‘individual personality profile’. In reality, all the ‘individual profiles’ were identical but students tended to rate the descriptions as highly accurate.
In fact, on a scale of 1-5, students rated the accuracy of their profile, on average, as 4.2. This is the profile Forer used:
You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.
The tendency to see ourselves in vague or general statements has since been called the Forer effect or, alternatively, the Barnum effect, after the famous catchphrase attributed to the travelling circus impresario P.T. Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute!”
It has been cited as the basis for palm reading, fortune telling and the like, and in the original article, Forer notes that he was inspired to conduct the study because he was “accosted by a night-club graphologist who wished to ‘read’ his handwriting”.
Forer asked the graphologist what evidence he had for the accuracy of his readings and he replied that his clients usually confirmed that he was correct.
Forer felt this was rather poor evidence but decided on an interesting tack: rather than attempt to validate the test, he decided to study the psychology of agreeing with vague personality profiles.

zoltarThis came to my attention thanks to a very interesting blog:

Barking Up the Wrong Tree It was originally published by   Mind Hacks

Read this if you are kind, strong willed, but can be self-critical:

I’ve just found a classic study online where psychologist Bertram Forer gave a personality test to his students and then asked each person to rate how the accuracy of their ‘individual personality profile’. In reality, all the ‘individual profiles’ were identical but all the students tended to rate the descriptions as highly accurate.

In fact, on a scale of 1-5, students rated the accuracy of their profile, on average, as 4.2. This is the profile Forer used:

You have a great need for other people to like and admire you. You have a tendency to be critical of yourself. You have a great deal of unused capacity which you have not turned to your advantage. While you have some personality weaknesses, you are generally able to compensate for them. Your sexual adjustment has presented problems for you. Disciplined and self-controlled outside, you tend to be worrisome and insecure inside. At times you have serious doubts as to whether you have made the right decision or done the right thing. You prefer a certain amount of change and variety and become dissatisfied when hemmed in by restrictions and limitations. You pride yourself as an independent thinker and do not accept others’ statements without satisfactory proof. You have found it unwise to be too frank in revealing yourself to others. At times you are extroverted, affable, sociable, while at other times you are introverted, wary, reserved. Some of your aspirations tend to be pretty unrealistic. Security is one of your major goals in life.

The tendency to see ourselves in vague or general statements has since been called the Forer effect or, alternatively, the Barnum effect, after the famous catchphrase attributed to the travelling circus impresario P.T. Barnum: “There’s a sucker born every minute!”

It has been cited as the basis for palm reading, fortune telling and the like, and in the original article, Forer notes that he was inspired to conduct the study because he was “accosted by a night-club graphologist who wished to ‘read’ his handwriting”.

Forer asked the graphologist what evidence he had for the accuracy of his readings and he replied that his clients usually confirmed that he was correct.

Forer felt this was rather poor evidence but decided on an interesting tack: rather than attempt to validate the test, he decided to study the psychology of agreeing with vague personality profiles.

What does this have to do with screenwriting?  Vague character descriptions like the one above fit almost anyone.  There’s nothing clearly distinctive or sharply individual in such a collection of  general (often contradictory) traits.  There’s nothing memorable, unique or specifically authentic in such generalities– all the things that make a fictional character leap off the page.

That’s why I believe the Nine Character Types are so useful.  Each of the Nine Character Types views the world very specifically and acts accordingly.  A Power of Truth character who fundamentally believes 1) that the world is an inherently dangerous or deceptive place and 2) that life is a minefield laced with hidden pitfalls and secret agendas acts and reacts very differently than a Power of Excitement character who fundamentally believes 1) that the world is filled with unlimited opportunity and 2) that life is an ongoing adventure and potentially delightful surprises await around every corner.

Each of these two kinds of characters will have vastly different approaches to any challenge, opportunity or threat a story offers.  Each will have very different attitudes toward friendship or love.  They each have very different values and emotional journeys.  Do you know exactly how your character views the world? Does each of his or her actions and reactions reflect that world view?  Click on the Nine Character Types tab on the black menu bar above to review all nine types.

Power of Excitement

PowerofExcitementETBScreenwritingPersonality

Power of Excitement characters believe life is a playground and a grand adventure. They often are an innovator, an explorer, a merry pranksters or the perennial “forever young” person in a story (who never grew up). In whatever role these characters play, they are good humored, endlessly optimistic and great fun.

They keep things lively, entertaining, interesting and off-balance for all the other characters. However, these characters are not interested in anything that requires a comforting hand, a long-term commitment, personal responsibility or a deep intimate attachment.

Power of Excitement characters are usually an agent of chaos. Their rakish push-the- envelop devil-may-care attitude inevitably shakes things up in a story. But their charm, ready wit and natural talent as an escape artist or improvisor often saves the day.

In a comedy these characters are the life of the party. They find ways to make things fun. They are risk-takers who seek out the next diversion, the new thrill or the most daring escapade. They love the variety and are willing to try anything.

In their Dark Side they are irresponsible users always looking for the next high. They often have a “junkie mentality” with a ready excuse for every mishap or whatever mayhem they cause along the way.

Power of Excitement ETB Screenwriting

Character Examples

The title characters in the early James Bond movies and the Indiana Jones movies are examples of this protagonist as an adventurer or escape artist. The title character in the Austin Powers movies is the comedic version of the same devil-may-care swashbuckler.

Hugh Grant has played many of these charming unreliable boy/men in Four Weddings and a FuneralAbout A Boy;Bridget Jones’s Diary and Notting Hill. Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a female example as is Maude inHarold and Maude.  See the Power of Excitement blog posts for more movie examples.

Earl Hickey in My Name is Earl; Dr. Christian Troy in Nip/Tuck; Dr. Doug Ross in ER; Bart Simpson in The Simpsonsand Edina (Eddie) Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous are great television examples.  See the Power of Excitement blog posts for more television examples.

Power of Excitement eBook

The Power of Excitement Character Type eBook explains how these characters are alike and how each character is made individually distinct. It will help you develop unique, original, evocative and authentic Power of Excitement characters that fully explore all the contradictions, reversals and surprises of a fully formed human being.

Discover the Power of Excitement character’s specific goals, unique emotional obstacles and very distinct responses and reactions to any opportunity, challenge or threat. Create this character’s Immediate Tactics, Long-term Orientation and Strategic Approach in a way that is recognizably “true” at every step of the story and during every moment of screen time. The audience will instantaneously recognize and relate to your character because your character is complex, three-dimensional and “feels real.”

This eBook is thorough analysis of the Power of Excitement Character Type in his or her many guises and roles as a protagonist or a member of a larger ensemble. It is packed with numerous examples from film, television and even real life! Examples from scores of scenes and dozens of quotes from film and television characters clearly illustrate this character’s motivations and psychological dynamics in a story.

Power of Excitement ETB Screenwriting

Comprehensive Analysis

The Power of Excitement Character Type eBook illustrates exactly how to create and differentiate this character based on his or her:

(1.) World View (beliefs about how the world works) What are the essential core beliefs that motivate a Power of Excitement character’s ordinary actions?

(2.) Role or Function (position in the story or role in the ensemble) What do the other players look to a Power of Excitement character to do or provide in the story?

(3.) Values in Conflict (competing values that push the character to extremes) What opposing choices or goals establish the Power of Excitement character’s moral code? What is this character willing to fight, sacrifice or die for? And why?

(4.) Story Questions (emotional journey in the story) What personal issues, dilemmas and internal conflicts does a Power of Excitement character wrestle with over the course of the story? What does this character ask of him or her self? What is this character’s Leap of Faith in an emotionally satisfying story?

(5.) Story Paradox (emotional dilemma) What is the duality or the contradiction at the heart of a Power of Excitement character’s story struggle? How is the character’s internal conflict expressed in actions.

(6.) Life Lessons (how to complete the emotional journey) What must a Power of Excitement character learn over the course of the story to make a clear, satisfying personal transformation? What actions lead to this character’s emotional salvation?

(7.) Dark Side (this character as a predator or villain) What happens when a Power of Excitement character’s actions are driven entirely by fear? How might or how does the story end in tragedy?

(8.) Leadership Style (what defines and qualifies this character as a leader) How does a Power of Excitement character convince others to follow? How does this character act to take charge and command?

(9.) Film Examples (the Power of Excitement character as a protagonist)

(10.) Television Examples (the Power of Excitement character as central to an ensemble)

(11.) Real Life Examples (historical Power of Excitement figures on the world stage)

#TypesTuesday – Some Character Type Examples

woman-making-list-etbscreenwritingA reader wrote in and submitted a list of film and television characters and questions about identifying the Character Types. She did a great job identifying the characters but most of her “misses” were in the area of the Power of Truth.

Power of Truth characters can be a bit tricky. People who have difficulty with or question their identity of sexual identity (Alan Harper) people who don’t know who they can trust or question the truth and believe in or discover conspiracy theories (Michael Scofield) and spies and those who conceal their identities or live by subterfuge and their wits (Aladdin) are usually Power of Truth Characters.  The full list is below. See if you agree. If not tell me why:

TV Shows

– Rachel Green ( Jennifer Aniston ) in Friends : Power of Idealism

– Chandler Bing ( Matthew Perry ) in Friends : Power of Excitement

– Monica Geller ( Courtney Cox ) in Friends : Power of Reason

– Fran Fine ( Fran Drescher ) in The Nanny : Power of Love

– Maxwell Sheffield ( Charles Shaughnessy ) in The Nanny : Power of Conscience

– Lucas Scott ( Chad Michael Murray ) in One Tree Hill : Power of Idealism

– Peyton Sawyer ( Hilarie Burton ) in One Tree Hill : Power of Idealism

– Michael Scofield ( Wentworth Miller ) in Prison Break : Power of Truth and Prison Break is a Power of Truth TV show

– Lincoln burrows ( Dominic Purcell ) in Prison Break : Power of Will

– Charlie Harper ( Charlie Sheen ) in Two and a Half Men : Power of Excitement

– Alan Harper ( Jon Cryer ) in Two and a Half Men : Power of Truth

Films

– Dr. David Huxley ( Carey Grant ) in Bringing up Baby : Power of Reason

– Susan Vance ( Katherine Hepburn ) in Bringing up Baby : Power of Love

– George Wade ( Hugh Grant ) in Two Weeks Notice : Power of Excitement

– Lucy Kelson ( Sandra Bullock ) in Two Weeks Notice : Power of Conscience

– Tracy Turnblad ( Nikky Blonsky ) in Hairspray : Power of Idealism

– Brian O’Conner ( Paul Walker ) in The Fast and the Furious : Power of Conscience

– Dominic Toretto ( Vin Diesel ) in The Fast and the Furious : Power of Will

– Sally Albright ( Meg Ryan ) in When Harry met Sally : Power of Conscience

– Harry Burns ( Billy Crystal ) in When Harry met Sally : Power of Truth

– Kathleen Kelly ( Meg Ryan ) in You’ve Got Mail : Power of Imagination-

– Joe Fox ( Tom Hanks ) in You’ve Got Mail : Power of Truth-

– Aladdin in Aladdin : Power of Truth

– Giselle ( Amy Adams ) in Enchanted : Power of Imagination

– Robert Philip ( Patrick Dempsey ) in Enchanted : Power of Truth

The Dark Knight, The Joker and Dr. Hunter S. Thompson – Power of Excitement

ledger-joker ETB ScreenwritingThis weekend, I saw two films that explore the Dark Side of the Power of Excitement Character Type:  Gonzo:  The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and The Joker (brilliantly played by Heath Ledger) in Dark Knight .  Let’s  take a look at the underbelly of this fascinating Character Type.

Hunter S. Thompson was a writer who straddled the Dark Side of the Power of Excitement.  Although real people are, of course, more complex than fictional characters, they still have a core or essence that can be traced back to one type.

Self-described “gonzo” journalist ,Hunter S. Thompson, became famous in the pages of Rolling Stone magazine for his sense of wild adventure, drug use and love of chaos and anarchy.  He ran a campaign for Sheriff in Aspen in the 1970’s based on those principles.  All these basic elements were a part of his unique writing style.

Bill Cardoso, editor of the Boston Globe magazine, claimed “gonzo” was South Boston Irish slang describing the last man standing after an all night drinking marathon.  In other contexts, gonzo has come to mean “with reckless abandon,” “out of control “or “extreme.”

Thompson committed suicide when he decided life wasn’t fun any more. He did, however, maintain an explosive personality to the end.  At his funeral, he requested his ashes be shot out of a canon from a tower he designed personally (in the shape of of a double thumbed fist holding a peyote button) as Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” blared over loudspeakers.  Thompson’s funeral was a fitting send off for a man hell-bent on the next wild escapade.  One of his favorite sayings was: “Buy the ticket, take the ride.”

In Dark Knight, the Joker pushes the Dark Side to its furthest extreme.  He says to Harvey Dent (Two-Face):  “Do I really look like a man with a plan, Harvey? I don’t have a plan. The mob has plans, the cops have plans. You know what I am, Harvey? I’m a dog chasing cars. I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one. I just do things. I’m a wrench in the gears. I hate plans. Yours, theirs, everyone’s. Maroni has plans. Gordon has plans. Schemers trying to control their worlds. I am not a schemer. I show schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are…  It’s a schemer who put you where you are. You were a schemer. You had plans. Look where it got you. I just did what I do best– I took your plan and turned it in on itself.”

The Joker’s words aptly sums up Thompson’s approach to journalism.  Throw a wrench in the gears, turn things in on themselves and expose how pathetic politicians’ attempts to control things really are.

The Joker elaborates to Dent/Two Face:  “I am an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos, Harvey? It’s fear.”

Thompson was also an agent of chaos.  His “fear and loathing” books were about what happens when chaos ensues.  Sadly, in the end, he was as trapped by his wild persona as if he were a meek and mild drone working a nine to five job.  He became a caricature of himself, satirized as “Duke” in the comic strip Doonsbury.

Her lover tells Holly Golightly (a female Power of Excitement character) in Breakfast at Tiffany’s: “You say you are a wild thing… (Y)ou’re terrified somebody’s gonna stick you in a cage. Well baby, you’re already in that cage. You built it yourself. And it’s not bounded in the west by Tulip, Texas, or in the east by Somali-land. It’s wherever you go. Because no matter where you run, you just end up running into yourself.”  However hard or fast you try to escape– there you still are.