The character Loki as portrayed by Tom Hiddleston is a very compelling character. With the skill of the master that he is, Tom has made a villain that many of us can identify with on some level. I’ve a love-hate relationship with sympathetic villains, but I’ll get to that in a bit. (If you do not identify with Loki, either you have not seen the movies with him or you are one lucky bastard and I envy you.)
I’m not picking on Tom in the least, his is just the most popular character a significant number obsess on currently in ways that bothers me. I’m more disturbed by how we, as fans of the movies with him in them, react to Loki the character. There is always a conflicting argument whether tv shows, movies, books make children or anyone lose sight of reality. The studios who create entertainment will deny they have any influence on people to absolve themselves of fault. However, I am inclined to believe that both they and we are at fault in part. We, because we assume that everyone gets it’s not real, and we stopped reminding people, and ourselves, of that fact.
Sickly, stick women who are Photoshopped to a mutant perfection no normal human can reach and remain healthy. An obsession with skinniness that would have people mock a skeletal person suffering from anorexia as being fat. Misogyny that objectifies women and misandry that makes men slaves to bestial desires. From believing in movie pseudo-science and special effects being real, docudramas that pretend they’re historical fact, to how to land your life’s mate or tonight’s lay in 90 minutes (average film length,) we forget to tell our children and ourselves that life doesn’t work like it does on stage or on screen. They stopped making us think and only make us feel, and the heart doesn’t care if things make sense.
So, Loki is the kid who was always the outsider who wanted to belong, like so many of us. The one who was mocked, teased, beat up. The one who didn’t bother trying to match everyone else on their level, he excelled where he was gifted. Loki is wicked intelligent. He is clever. And for all he was denigrated and dismissed, he learned to be strong. He learned how to manipulate people to get what he wanted, to use anything and anyone to get what he wants and discard them when they were of no use to him anymore. And he is angry and vengeful. We understand why. We should not condone the path he chose.
Loki, however, is cordoned off into the realm of the imaginary, so we don’t see him as we would if he were really there stating he was going to rule us, whether we liked it or not. We either want Loki to figure it out and be a good guy, we want to be Loki (kicking our tormentors from our past or present would feel just so damned good sometimes, cathartic even,) or we want to be Loki’s redemption. The one that makes Loki realize what he is doing is wrong, and we are the salve to his inner torment, get married, live happily ever after, yadda yadda Disney fairy tale ending yadda yadda boo. (Gee, Disney owns Marvel. Surprise there, huh?)
The latter is a dangerous fantasy if we give in and convince ourselves it is possible in real life with enough patience. As I once wrote earlier, I am utterly unable to debase myself. So as entertaining as it is to see Tom Hiddleston dressed as Loki come out during SD ComicCon 2013, the thrill of that fictional character walking in front of everyone in the real world, I can’t help but be disturbed that such an attitude as Loki telling those watching they are little more than weak minions is so lauded. (It is little different than falling in love with that guy who would be perfect if he wasn’t so insensitive and cruel, and just waiting for him to realize his abuse is wrong and he’ll change to be the Prince Charming you dreamed of. Yes, people will change for other people, but if you didn’t inspire them to change to something good early on, you can’t make it happen by sticking around. But that would be distasteful and we don’t want to think about that.)
Once upon a time, if a bad guy came out at a live event, he would be booed because he was the bad guy. He did bad things that we did not approve of. He would be hated, despised, yelled at even if we thought he was the coolest thing since Steve Jobs marketed the iStuff as indispensable pocket tech. The only place this phenomena still exists seems to be WWE wrestling. Now, don’t laugh. And don’t diss the acting skills of these men and women. Some of the heels are nice people and some of the faces are right assholes, but most are a mix because face it. Anyone who physically abuses themselves to entertain the masses are confusing to those of us who prefer to avoid pain and injury. (Honestly, they’re a bit mental in my humble opinion.)
I think because we identify with Loki so much, we who had been picked on, bullied, and tormented emotionally and maybe physically, we are less inclined to see him as a villain and more as a victim. Villains are vanquished, victims are saved. We don’t want to see him lose because that would mean we will lose, too. Without Loki, though, there is no villain if he is a victim who can be saved. Antagonists must be defeated in stories, so the protagonist can win. Tom did Loki so well, that a few changes in the script, alterations in cuts and splices, and Loki could easily have been the protagonist. Or at the very least, a foil for Thor. But that isn’t how narratives usually run, especially in American-based stories. The bad guy is the bad guy must remain the bad guy, so he cannot be fixed. Nor can he not do harmful things, and helpful things must be viewed with a jaundiced eye. Was it helpful? How has he set things up to fail? We want to trust him, but know we cannot trust him. And for me, if Loki stood before me in the real world, after a moment of “wow, you’re here!” I would probably get mad with him.
An excellent psychological analysis of Loki can be found here, if you’re interested. It kinda speaks to how influential actions and how we treat people can be on others.
So. As for my writing, still struggling to put the words together, so I’ve been easily distracted with dozens of things in real life. But not because I am blocked, I don’t think. At least, not for Doom and the Warrior: Chance Encounter. At the moment, the words are very hard because of the feelings that I have while I’m in my characters’ heads. I dislike doing excerpts of works in progress, as I cannot promise they will endure to the final copy. I almost feel a reveal is a promise of what will be and once I finally reach the end, gods know what editing will result in. But for the moment, I will make an exception because this has been something of my character’s torment that is so hard to write.
The older man caught her by the arm as she passed. “Find a name.” Tiwaz frowned at him, both confused and defensive. “You are more than just a warrior now. You were always more than that to all of us before. Being nameless is no way to live.”
She pulled her arm out of his hand with a jerk. “I can’t remember my name. You know that!”
He crossed his arms. “What is stopping you from choosing one you want?”
“Choose my own name?” she echoed.
“Why not? You can do whatever the hell you want now. Well, except taking over the empire. That would make the emperor all sorts of cranky. But I doubt you’d want to take over the empire. Killing all those idiots you ruled over would be exhausting, even for you.” He quirked a smile and thumped her shoulder. “At least think on it some. You deserve better and now that Alimar is well and truly gone, you should go out and seize what you want for yourself.”
“I will… think about it, Zuneer.” Ky-Lar nosed Zuneer a moment before the great panther fell in beside his aceri. Her expression reflected her unsettled mood still when she caught up to Doom and Gareth.
“You all right?” Doom asked, worried. He looked out towards the gladiators as they started their training. “What did Zuneer say to you?”
“He said I should find a name.” The pair [Doom and Gareth] traded surprised looks. “When I said I can’t remember the one I was given, he said that I should just choose one I want because I can do anything I want to now.”
Gareth shrugged. “Actually I was going to suggest that you take a name for yourself over breakfast. Didn’t expect a gladiator trainer to be that insightful.” He could all but feel her glare. “Anyone who gets to know you realizes how much meaning names hold for you. You hold ‘tiwaz’ at arm’s length, so to speak. People address you with it, but you refuse to accept it as your name.”
“Of course it is not a name!” Her eyes flashed with anger. She shook off Doom’s massive hand from her shoulder. “It has always been a thing. More than a simple ‘warrior,’ but still hollow.” She hit her chest over her heart with a fist. “If I wrap myself in that single, empty word, I will be nothing more than that in anyone’s eyes. Most people still only see me as that.”
Doom drew back, hurt. “If you felt that way, why did you let me call you Tiwaz all these years?”
She closed her eyes. “Because it meant everything to you, and your faith in me gave me strength to endure all Alimar threw at me. I was your hope. You tied your honor to my survival when he disfigured you by stealing your horns and wings. Your honor is restored now. Not only do you have your horns and wings.”
She looked at Gareth. The bard startled, drawing back instinctively as though burned by the hurt in her eyes. “You have family. You don’t need me anymore.” She raised her eyes to Doom, putting her hand over his heart. “For you, I will be tiwaz for as long as you need me to be.” She turned away.
“Ti,” Doom began, reaching out to her, anguished for his friend.
“But it is not enough for me. A gladiator is merely a warrior and a warrior is nothing more than a sword that wields itself for someone else. A sword has no more say in how it is used than a warrior does.” She looked over her shoulder. “A weapon that can choose how it is used for itself is defined by its choices in the eyes of others. A murderer. A savior. They are one in the same in the end. One person’s salvation is another’s agony.”
She turned to look at them fully, her eyes the depths of sadness. “There is more for me out there, isn’t there?”