i'm delighted that my student's very innocent question has precipitated such an interesting and multi faceted response

one observation that comes from the very innocence of my student's original perspective :  it may be important to distinguish between incompetent protagonists [the model being, i suspect, Don Q.] and incompetent characters who are still authentic heroes [the paradigm for "hero" would likely be odysseus];  in other words - actually my student's words - incompetent guys who nevertheless "save the day" . . . [this would, i think, eliminate for starters almost all the coen brothers examples]

of course we'd need to re-examine what, in the contemporary world, counts as "saving the day" - a different but not unrelated question


-----Original Message-----
From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of William Brown
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2012 7:12 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCREEN-L] the incompetent hero

It may well be a genre convention of comedy, but I am suggesting that it is

not limited to comedy. War and Peace predates cinema and it is not a

comedy. Schatz is a bit cinema-centric in his thinking if it is he who

argued this.

On Tue, Dec 18, 2012 at 6:29 PM, godard <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>     the incompetent (male) hero is a genre convention of comedy, in fact.

> the ones who initiate the "groundbreaking antihero revolution" (i think

> it's schatz, but i am recalling from memory here) are laurel & hardy.


>    gloria monti


> On Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 7:09 AM, William Brown <[log in to unmask]>

> wrote:


> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header

> > -----------------------

> > Sender:       Film and TV Studies Discussion List <

> > [log in to unmask]>

> > Poster:       William Brown <[log in to unmask]>

> > Subject:      Re: QUERY: the incompetent hero

> >

> >

> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------

> >

> > It is interesting that everyone has reached for comedy... I wonder

> whether

> > the student has been thinking about non-superhero superheroes - as per

> > films like Kick-Ass, Special (Specioprin Hydrochloride), and Super...

> Which

> > are comedies of sorts, but also not really...

> >

> > For what I wonder is whether an incompetent hero might not be much more

> > regular beyond the specialised lampooning of heroism that most of these

> > comedies involve... Chaplin, Keaton, Tati, Sellers: each incompetent is

> in

> > fact remarkably talented - physically above all.

> >

> > So the film that comes to mind for me is, perhaps surprisingly for some

> > people, Goldfinger. Whereas 21st century Bond can do parkour, somersaults

> > and superhuman jumping, in Goldfinger (and many early Bonds in general -

> > particularly the Roger Moore films), Bond can do nothing. He's got no

> idea

> > what's going on, he keeps fluffing up his invistigations, getting

> captured

> > - and he is each time rescued by others and barely manages to get out of

> > any of the scapes himself (electrocuting Oddjob perhaps aside). Here we

> > have a hero who is a bit incompetent, basically - and who never quite

> works

> > out what he's supposed to be doing...

> >

> > So while incompetent heroes are often comic - the Don Quixote tradition -

> > they often are not. And their incompetence can have disastrous

> consequences

> > - the tradition for me here would be someone like Pierre Bezukhov in

> > Tolstoy's War and Peace, who attempts to liberate his serfs but basically

> > messes it up and arguably causes more harm than good...

> >

> > Anyone else think of any incompetent heroes that are not necessarily

> comic,

> > then?

> >



> --

> gloria monti, ph.d.

> assistant professor

> radio-TV-film

> CSUF, fullerton, CA

> [log in to unmask]

> _____________________________


> ----

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