Just watched Agents of SHIELD Hydra reveal episode and I mostly enjoyed it. Good fun. But by the end it left me pondering the whole character-turns-out-to-be-someone-other-than-who-you-thought-they-were thing that has been so in vogue it seems since the days of the original Le Femme Nikita series. Was that the 90s? Or the 80s?
Don't get me wrong. It can be done well in isolated cases if enough prep work is put in to the narrative so that there seem to be clues one can look back to and say, "yeah, I wondered about that at the time." However in modern storytelling it seems like characters arbitrarily change more often than wrestling has heel-turns. And often it happens seemingly out of the blue for no other reason than the shock value.
Even the recent Disney hit Frozen had a heel turn from Anna's infatuation, Hans I think it was. I know some folks loved what Disney did by turning him into the villain, debunking the whole love at first sight thing. Whatever. Fair enough. But here's my issue with that and most character turns in fiction. In Disney movies I've seen that ridiculous romance sequence many times when it was meant to be taken at face value. I suspend disbelief and go with it. I did the same in Frozen only to have the character turn out to be other than who I thought he was. At that point my suspension of disbelief was compromised and so it became difficult to go with or enjoy anything else that happened in the movie.
I feel like storyteller and audience have a pact of sorts. The audience suspends belief in return for a good story. In other words if you want me as a viewer/reader to suspend disbelief and come on a fictional journey don't suddenly tell me at some point in the story that much of what you have given me has been misleading lies. All I have to go on is what is relayed to me. If you undercut what you've told me previously why should I care about anything else you tell me? If one or more characters are suddenly not who they were portrayed as being then why should I believe any of the other characters are who they seem to be either? And if I can't suspend belief and enjoy any of the characters at face value then what's the point? You've effectively violated my trust in the story.
I sense this problem bothers me more than most people but I'd be curious to hear what some of you think. Please comment. Help me understand how it can be good storytelling to deliberately mislead an audience that has been gracious enough to suspend belief and hear your tale?
Listening to: Sweet Transvestite
Reading: Fantasy and Science Fiction
Playing: superheroines in peril