A lot of people complain about Bella from Twilight. They say she is boring and plain — an insert-yourself-here paper doll of a character. I say, What’s so bad about that?
What’s wrong with telling girls — most of whom, let’s be honest, will be a bit boring and plain — that that’s okay? That you don’t need superpowers to make you special? That you don’t need to save the world to make you worthy? That you can be loved and admired even though you’re average?
Actually, isn’t that exactly the message we should be sending to people?
Look, I’m not saying Plain Janes or Mary Sues are the only kinds of heroines I want to see. (Far from it! I adore Katniss, Katsa, She-Ra, etc.) I’m just saying that I identify with the non-kick-ass characters sometimes. And I bet a lot of other girls and women do too.
(Note: I’m using feminine examples here, but you could switch to Plain Waynes and Gary Hughs. My point remains the same.)
My generation was raised to believe that we could do anything. That we were special, simply by virtue of existing. Aim for the stars, they said. Dream big. Nothing is too great to achieve. And while there may be some truth to the idea that we have more opportunities than ever before, thanks to Baby Boomer parents and a globalized economy, the reality is that, by definition, most people will be average.
So again I say that it’s probably not the worst thing in the world for us to have heroes and heroines who are “normal.” Who have nothing more to recommend them than good morals and a big heart. Whose biggest challenge is not saving the planet, but leading a quiet, honorable life.
Because you know what? That’s not the easiest thing to do.