#359: Lara, Link, and Kayla discuss anti-heroes, what they are, why we find them compelling, and provide a couple of examples of our favorites.
Link Keller 0:11
Welcome to GT radio on the Geek Therapy network, where we believe that the best way to understand each other and ourselves is through the media that we care about. Also, media we don’t like sometimes that’s a fun way to bond. But we’re not talking about that. Today
Link Keller 0:30
Josué is gone and link goes off the rails.
Link Keller 0:30
Today, we’re gonna be yucking all the yums every yum. No, I’m just kidding. I would never I would never do such a thing. Because I don’t want Josué to be mad at me. Please don’t be mad at me. Just kidding. We are here. Today I am joined by my dear co host, Lara.
Lara Taylor 0:49
Link Keller 0:50
and valuable, most valuable guest host Kayla,
Kayla Devorak 0:58
hello. Most Valuable guesthost I’ll take it,
Lara Taylor 1:04
Link Keller 1:06
the P is silent. Today, we are going to be talking about anti heroes, I think this is going to be a fun conversation, I’m excited to talk about some examples of anti heroes that we like and resonate with. But before we do that, let’s let’s sort of suss out and get a working definition for what an antihero is because, you know, not everybody uses words the same way. Which is great, and a lovely thing about humans, but makes for conversations to be a little weird sometimes. So let’s talk about a way what does an antihero mean to you, Lara?
Lara Taylor 1:46
Some typically somebody that is put into a hero role and does not want to be. usually I mean, we’re gonna get into all the characters later. But like somebody who if you’re thinking about hero’s journey, which people have opinions about the hero’s journey, but the person really doesn’t want to hear the call really doesn’t want to they are not the kind of person that you would usually picture as a hero either. So that’s my working definition. There’s probably some more nuance on it. But I’ve been stuck in the therapy office all day.
Link Keller 2:28
You spent all your your nuance points already today. How about you Kayla, what do you think?
Kayla Devorak 2:36
Well, I think for me, when I think about anti heroes, I often think about people who just make such different choices than a traditional hero does. But still gets to kind of the same end place that a hero does. It may be a more interesting way and maybe more challenging to their own internal complexities.
Lara Taylor 3:09
Listen, listeners, Josué abandoned us to go to San Diego Comic Con, and said, You know what, you can bring Kayla on and she can talk about whatever she wants.
Kayla Devorak 3:19
this is true
Lara Taylor 3:19
And so Kayla said anti heroes, because she loves them. So
Kayla Devorak 3:25
I do they are my favorite character trope
Link Keller 3:31
Oh, yeah, so for me, the way I conceptualize an antihero is a character that fulfills the role of a hero in the actions taken within the story, but their motivations are very different. Whether that’s, you know, being greedy or having other you know, value systems that we don’t generally connect to heroism, or if it is that the choices that they make are the outcome is heroic, but the choice is not heroic, that sort of thing. Basically coming down to they are heroes but their their values and their motivations are distinct from the traditional hero. And I think that makes them more interesting.
Kayla Devorak 4:26
They are not a Steve Rogers. Yes,
Lara Taylor 4:29
I do like me some Steve Rogers, but I’ve talked about him on the show a million times one of my favorite
Kayla Devorak 4:36
you have? I am shocked
Lara Taylor 4:38
a million times. Not just but I talk about one of my favorite characters of it. I like villains but I also like villains turned heroes right so like, once upon a time, Regina is one of my favorite characters. Because there’s nuance and like I I’m my nuanced points are gone, but I I love the nuanced characters that like it’s a gray area like nobody is all. Not all good and not all bad. Yeah.
Link Keller 5:19
Okay, is there a specific antihero you would like to start with Kayla?
Kayla Devorak 5:24
I have so many. And when I made my list, I was like, Oh no, I don’t know how many of these are going to be really familiar to the rest of you. And I doubt any of you are going to read any of the books in a day. So
Lara Taylor 5:44
Kayla Devorak 5:44
But the one that actually kind of led me to being like I really want to talk about anti heroes, mostly because I was really immersed in the book is Baru Cormorant, which is from the the masquerade series, I find her and her choices so fascinating. And obviously, it can’t talk to I don’t know if you guys are going to read those books, I highly recommend them. They’re very distressing, though is,
Link Keller 6:15
is there a way to discuss the antihero-ness without spoiling the plot?
Kayla Devorak 6:22
Yeah, so basically, she got a lot of like, colonization themes. And so she’s basically taken from her home, her home, land, and brought into this larger empire. But she’s like, brilliant, and so she has decided that she’s going to basically destroy the system from within. However, the choices she makes throughout the whole thing is very, very selfish, like so selfish, and also consistently forgets that other people are also playing the game. And so she’s often like, I’ve made this really brilliant move. And then a chapter later, she’s like, Oh, no, I forgot that there’s other pieces on the board. But it makes ultimately, in the first book makes, like the ultimate sacrifice for a relatively good reason. But it really messes her up. And then she just continues to, like use that to leverage her really shitty choices of where she’s like continuing to sacrifice people for this cause, because now she’s so invested in destroying the empire in this way, that if she doesn’t keep moving forward, all of those sacrifices she has made are like for nothing. And then what was it for? And it’s to the point where like, it breaks her psyche at the end of the first book. Like, it’s such a fascinating, like in book two. It’s like she in Book Two, she literally has cannot see out of her one half of one half is completely blind. But there’s like no real connection, like, because people are like, No, you’re moving it. What’s happening here. There’s three books in the series so far. I have not read the third one, which is titled The tyrant Baru Cormorant. And then there’s a fourth book coming, but there’s no release date yet. It’s fantastic. It’s really devastating. But it’s also like a really diverse story. There’s diverse characters. There’s diverse relationships. And there are people who are way more like morally sound, but she consistently makes really fucked up choices. But you know that her ultimate goal is to save her home her homeland and destroy the group that basically destroyed her people and killed her dad. Yeah,
Link Keller 9:10
Kayla Devorak 9:10
I love her. I appreciate I like love the shit out of her. I’m like, you make such terrible choices. But I really want you to win.
Link Keller 9:19
I think there’s something really validating about reading a story where you get to watch your character. Absolutely fall for the sunk cost fallacy.
Kayla Devorak 9:28
Link Keller 9:29
There’s, I get such a rush. It’s being the reader being like, hahaha You’re so stupid. I would never do such a thing. I spent five years in grad school. I’m not better than any of them. cost fallacy myself, its a mirror.
Lara Taylor 9:47
Hey, listen, Link, you got out at the end.
Kayla Devorak 9:52
It’s fascinating, right? Because in this instance, the sunk cost is lives right like
Link Keller 10:00
Mm hmm. It’s like just actual cost and
Kayla Devorak 10:04
actually very much
Link Keller 10:05
not just time, bodies.
Kayla Devorak 10:09
Yeah, it ripped my heart out. And I was like, wow, I knew it was coming. I knew bad things were coming, I knew it was gonna end well in the first book, and then I was just like, you’ve got a ways to go friend. And you’re still really far away.
Link Keller 10:24
I think that’s also part of why anti heroes can be really compelling is because based on the structure of stories, we know, there will be a consequence for the choices that they’re making. And so getting to have, like, there is going to be fallout for whatever you chose. But I’m interested to see if the author, Director, creator, or whoever, if they use the framing, that the choice itself was bad, or that sometimes you just have to deal with consequences. And that’s how it that’s how it goes. I think that’s always really interesting to get to have that engagement with the story of being like, I know something bad is going to happen. I can’t wait to find out what how bad is it gonna be?
Kayla Devorak 11:16
Link Keller 11:18
what about you Lara?
Kayla Devorak 11:19
that’s my pitch you guys need to read it now.
Lara Taylor 11:22
What about me? Well, the most, it’s an oldie but also a new one I made you all watch Nimona. It’s so I’ve talked about Nimona on the show before I think Josué and I don’t know if it was when Josué and I just did rapid fire on episodes or if I spent a whole episode talking about it. But I think one of the reasons I like anti Heroes is because they’re fairly relatable. And having worked in a group home with kids who felt like they were the bad guy, and had been given the message that they were the bad guy. And so I had a kid literally telling me once like, I might as well be the bad guy, I might as well be this villain related to the story of Nimona, which is a graphic novel. And now a movie on Netflix graphic novel by ND Stevenson, who was also part of the creation of the show on Netflix or the movie on Netflix. It is a wonderful story with lots of queerness lots of lots of trans themes in it as is to be a given because ND Stevenson, themselves was trans,
Link Keller 12:40
which is very funny, because they wrote this comic before,
Lara Taylor 12:44
before figuring it out
Link Keller 12:45
is really a retrospective moment and where you’re like, ah, the signs were there all along, huh? Everyone’s like, yeah, sorry, bud we didn’t know how to tell you.
Kayla Devorak 12:56
That does tend to happen. Yeah,
Lara Taylor 12:57
yeah. Yeah. But basically Nimona has is a shapeshifting quote, unquote, monster in this world of knights and it’s a fantasy movie, but also like, based in like, our times it’s funny when we watched it, Nina was like, that’s a lot of progression for 1000 years. And I’m like, What are you talking about? Look at our world.
Kayla Devorak 13:23
I think even further because there’s flying cars.
Lara Taylor 13:26
Right? Exactly. Exactly. have
Link Keller 13:28
we have flying cars.
Kayla Devorak 13:30
I would not get on that flying car.
Link Keller 13:32
We call them with planes. It’s
Lara Taylor 13:36
Kayla Devorak 13:37
Do you have fine horses because Nimona has flying horses.
Link Keller 13:40
Nimona is flying horses. Nimona is great. I love Nimona. And I think that’s this is actually a great wrinkle because there is the antihero who is an antihero because of the way that others see them and is projected onto them. I’m thinking Tyrion Lannister is a really good example of that. He did absolutely make some more villainous choices later on in the movie but very much like the first book and the first season of the show. Like Tyrion is mistreated by everybody because he looks different. And they treat him as villainous because of that. And so he has that antihero aspect because it is coming from the external space put upon him versus anti heroes who see themselves as I am villainous. I make selfish greedy choices that are self serving, and that makes me like villainous, and then how they project that outward and then how people respond to that. I think I think that’s good stuff. That’s good stuff. Because like Nimona in the movie. I don’t know about the comic book but in the movie. The actions that we see her take are very borderline villainous.
Lara Taylor 15:02
She literally wants to murder everybody.
Kayla Devorak 15:04
Yeah. Do you blame her?
Lara Taylor 15:06
No I do not. I do not.
Link Keller 15:09
And that’s what makes it so interesting is like, objectively, destruction and murder are bad. However, it’s completely understandable why she feels that way and why she desires that because of the way that she’s been treated and and isolated and told that she is a monster. And we talk about this on the show regularly, but like, people internalize that stuff and we we become the labels we apply to ourselves. And so, of course, Nimona is like, everybody could call me a monster I’m gonna do monstrous shit is like, that’s what you expect. I’m gonna meet your expectation.
Lara Taylor 15:49
Correct, which is why it resonated so much with the kids that I work with in the group home. Right?
Link Keller 15:54
Lara Taylor 15:55
the ability to like, will fuck what everybody says about me, I’m just going to do the things that I and in some ways, it’s the things that I want to do that are positive, right? Because she did do some good things in this movie, and the graphic novel, and it just having that example of like, those people are wrong, and I can prove that they’re wrong. was a big thing for quite a few of the the guys I worked with at the group home. Yeah, I mean, this movie also has what you might consider an anti villain. Like the whole like, but I’m not the bad guy. I am the good guy
Kayla Devorak 16:39
Lara Taylor 16:40
Because everyone has those expectations. But it’s, it’s a whole flip thing to like, yeah. Such a good movie. There were so many tears.
Link Keller 16:50
I do. I do have to tell you like I started this movie. Like I knew the comic existed, but I’ve never read it. I started this movie, and they introduced the main character guy. It’s like he’s a villain. I was like, No, he’s not. And then they show. The actual villain is like in the scene. I’m like, That’s the villain. an hour and a half later in in the movie. They’re like, big reveal the villain! I’m like, Yeah, I knew it. I knew it.
Lara Taylor 17:18
After. Immediately after watching the movie, our friend sent Nina and I a meme from top that they found on Tumblr that was like, Oh, you’re the queer coded villain. Actually, I’m the villain coded queer. Okay.
Link Keller 17:36
I love that. Ohmygod.
Lara Taylor 17:41
So now I need like a shirt that says villain coated queer. Love it.
Kayla Devorak 17:45
That’s fantastic. Actually, we should make those.
Lara Taylor 17:50
Link Keller 17:51
I like that a lot. That’s good.
Lara Taylor 17:53
Yeah, yeah. But nimona has been one of my favorite anti heroes for a long time. And like I said, Regina from once upon a time, she but she’s literally the Evil Queen. And she does a lot of fucked up things in that show. And comes around and like, becomes this person that like you’re really rooting for? Toward the end of the show. Toward the middle of the show, I’d even say so. Yeah,
Kayla Devorak 18:22
I always rooted it for her
Lara Taylor 18:25
that you like to you definitely like to root for the villains. But they’re gonna be good. In the end. I think I like
Link Keller 18:34
my characters to be little shits. Okay, that’s what I’m looking for
Kayla Devorak 18:39
I like complicated and struggle with their choices.
Link Keller 18:43
I like ’em a little Stinky. just a lil Stinky.
Lara Taylor 18:47
It’s okay. Honestly, there that’s better than the ones that are squeaky clean a lot of the time.
Kayla Devorak 18:53
Well, it’s just not true and are realistic in a real real way.
Link Keller 19:00
Lara Taylor 19:01
Yeah, we all we all do things that we regret.
Kayla Devorak 19:04
Talk about unattainable standards.
Link Keller 19:06
Yeah, I think it’s such an interesting thing to put in context of like, when media is coming out in our history. And like, when the stories that are about, you know, the Superman’s and the Captain America’s the white knights, the always do good boy scout type, like when those stories were the most popular. contextualizing them by like, what was going on in the world when that was being made and when it came out? And how interesting that is. And I think, you know, now in 2023 Like, life is so fucking complicated. And I think that we want to see that reflected in our media. It’s meaningful to us to see that that complexity reflected back to us is like it’s not just you baby like it’s crazy. out here and people are doing the best they can and sometimes not doing the best they can. But for good reasons, and stuff like that, I think that is num numnum yum, yum, yummy media stuff.
Lara Taylor 20:14
I mean, you brought like, the Superman’s and the Captain America is I think some of the most compelling stories are the ones where they do make choices that are not great. And it kind of shakes people’s view, like, a lot of people did not like the movie Man of Steel, for whatever reasons, but a lot of it is because Superman is not supposed to kill anybody. But that shapes that Superman throughout, like, oh, no, I did this thing. And I shouldn’t have done this thing. Or Civil War is a comic series before the movie was one that a lot of people were drawn to because the heroes were making choices that were in conflict with each other. And it was this ambiguous, like who is right, who is right in this story. And I mean, that leads into Tony Stark, who is definitely an antihero
Kayla Devorak 21:10
Lara Taylor 21:12
He makes horrible decisions. Every turn of the way, except when it really matters most right? Yeah, yeah. So Gotta love those people that make real life decisions that we don’t know what the perfect decision is going to be when we make one.
Link Keller 21:32
I think another good example that we’re all familiar with is Joel from The Last of Us. He is a very interesting antihero.
Kayla Devorak 21:46
Isn’t he though,
Link Keller 21:48
yeah, yeah, it was it was very funny. Like remembering the the discourse around the game when the game first came out, and then getting to see the same discourse occur for the TV show. Yeah, from the major plot points. Which I guess I can, I can, might be able to dodge actually spoiling that. But just in case spoiler alert, I think I think Joel is so interesting, because people get really into arguing about whether or not the choice he made at the end of the first game and the end of the show, the first season of the show, if he made the air quotes, right choice, or air quotes, moral choice. I think that is so interesting that that that’s the aspect that people really get hung up on, when the way more interesting aspect is, the story of The Last of Us is we get to see the things that happened to Joel that 100% explain why he makes the choice that he makes, he makes
Lara Taylor 23:03
the right choice for him. For right, like Yeah, what he thought the right choice was, for her.
Kayla Devorak 23:12
It was it was only the right choice for him. And she I mean, Ellie no point had any opportunity to consent was pretty clear on what she wanted.
Lara Taylor 23:21
It could have happened would have been
Kayla Devorak 23:23
right. Now I could write a whole dissertation on all that
Link Keller 23:27
I just find it so many more people are just like, well, I don’t think he made the right choice. I’m like, That’s literally the least interesting part of this. It’s like, no, that’s not what this is about, like, why do you do you understand why Joel made that choice? And if they’re like, Well, yeah, I’m like then that that’s it. That’s the good stuff. That’s what we’re into is understanding why he would make a choice. Even if we don’t agree with it. I think it was abhorrent and wrong, or very funnily the people who start trying to like argue like, well, the science and it’s like, no, no, no, that’s that’s not why that’s not an interesting avenue conversation. The interesting this is like understanding how the things that happen to you throughout your life impact the choices you make and how you rationalize those choices to yourself. And not so much in the show or the the game but then further rationalize it to others in that that ripple effects of the how that rationalization will change based on who you are trying to rationalize it to. And that’s so good
Kayla Devorak 24:32
I think, if any, anybody who had was tracking what had happened to him and either played the game or watched the show and didn’t play the game, but saw the relationship build between those two, most definitely should’ve clocked the choice he was going to make at the end like hours before it happened, right because No, no human living in that context, having experienced what he experienced I was gonna make a different choice.
Lara Taylor 25:02
You could have clocked that choice in the first 20 minutes of the first episode.
Kayla Devorak 25:06
I absolutely agree. Absolutely.
Link Keller 25:09
This is a side note to this conversation but the mirroring of the very early on scene of him tossing the child corpse into the fire mirrored to the ending scene of him carrying, not a child corpse but similar similar Yes, body moment happening. There’s like, Huh, that’s so good.
Kayla Devorak 25:32
And what’s more interesting, for me is the way his choices then impact Ellie’s later and impact her choices, right? Because, I mean, I have opinions about
Lara Taylor 25:46
but people for people who have only watched the show. Spoiler Absolutely. Last of Us, too,
Kayla Devorak 25:53
I cannot wait. I cannot wait for people to watch part 2
Link Keller 26:00
I can’t wait to see how they, do that
Kayla Devorak 26:02
it’s gonna be really fascinating. But his choices and where it left their relationship, right. really impacted her response to what happened, right. And you could argue that they may never have experienced Seattle, had he been honest with her from the beginning, and had worked that out with her. But that resulted in her feeling like she had absolutely no choice. But to respond to what happened to him. And in turn, she made some really very villainous choices in part two, and you had to play that. And I think that’s fascinating, because, because here you go from part one, right? Where you are basically playing. It is everybody’s, it’s like a power fantasy, right? But you’re also saving someone. So here you go from playing this, this guy who’s actually quite old, let me just say, like, by the time the game starts, he’s already
Lara Taylor 27:09
Kayla Devorak 27:09
50 something years old, right? So here you are, right, you, whatever, you feel good about yourself. You’re like, Yes, I saved this, whatever. And then everything happens in part two. And now you are a 20. Something traumatize a young person who has seen so much trauma, and lost so many people in her life, and has never really had an opportunity to have conversations that resolve those relationships, right? in any meaningful way. Like, all of her conversations around her relationships, never really got resolution, like
Lara Taylor 27:09
Kayla Devorak 27:09
like, Riley doesn’t get resolution, you know, stuff with Joel doesn’t totally resolve itself. And then she and then you have to play this person who’s making really tragic choices. And I think it’s fascinating. She’s like, a anti hero villain. You’re basically that’s what’s happening.
Lara Taylor 28:10
Listen, like, and it wasn’t like, even when she was doing that stuff. I was rooting for her right. as I’m playing the part of Abby I’m like, can I just see be in here and die? Can I just let Ellie kill
Link Keller 28:25
that’s how you know she’s an antihero because you’re like, I’m rootin’ for you bad girl.
Kayla Devorak 28:32
Listen, I just wanted her to go home
Lara Taylor 28:33
and you think its resolved and then it’s not. And then it’s not you like oh okay
Kayla Devorak 28:38
cuz she couldn’t let it go. She couldn’t let it go. Because
Lara Taylor 28:41
and other people wouldn’t let her.
Kayla Devorak 28:43
Yeah, like she couldn’t let it go. And then grown ass men had to guilt like it’s a whole thing like, the way grown as men choices impacted. Ellie should be a fucking dissertation. Truly, truly
Lara Taylor 28:58
listeners, it should be a dissertation go out and write that.
Kayla Devorak 29:01
Because not but not one, but two grown men. very much impacted her poor traumatized, like, and they were traumatized too, but like, they’re 20 Some years older than her. She didn’t need to go seek revenge. But she had no she didn’t feel like she had any choice.
Lara Taylor 29:22
Kayla Devorak 29:23
Because she couldn’t had she didn’t have resolution.
Lara Taylor 29:27
Link Keller 29:30
There we see that interplay of the externalized forces versus the internalized forces where she is being told by outsiders to do the thing. And also she believes about herself that that is what she can do that that is what is available to her. That is what she has power over. It’s like it’s good stuff.
Kayla Devorak 29:51
And then she stares happiness in the face. And it’s what I mean like kind of happiness. She could have gotten there. She was still struggling but she was
Lara Taylor 29:59
Kayla Devorak 30:00
She stared it in the face and walked away. Those are the choices anti-heroes make.
Lara Taylor 30:06
And then and then that last bit there was even more traumatizing.
Kayla Devorak 30:13
Oh yeah, going out to California. I think that was the worst part truthfully. Like, you’re at that point I was ready to just be like, What are you doing? Like just go home!
Lara Taylor 30:26
I can almost understand this stuff in the in the theater, I could almost like build this back and forth this battle. Come on, we squashed this let’s let it go. And then we go back. I couldn’t believe Jessica when I was playing, Jessica was like, Oh, you’re there. There’s more. And I’m like, what more?
Link Keller 30:43
How could they possibly more here? Oh no.
Lara Taylor 30:46
What else is there to say?
Kayla Devorak 30:48
There’s so much to say. And Naughty Dog if you’re listening. I really just want a DLC where Ellie’s going to therapy. Like I would play the shit out of that. Let me heal Ellie, please. Please let me heal Ellie. So she can go be happy.
Link Keller 31:10
Just want I just want her to be happy.
Kayla Devorak 31:13
She deserves it. She deserves to be a happy little queer in post apocalyptic America.
Lara Taylor 31:20
Just like Bill and Frank in the show.
Kayla Devorak 31:22
Yes, right. Yeah.
Link Keller 31:24
Right, you guys got some more examples you want to touch on?
Kayla Devorak 31:29
Let’s see. Boy, do I ever
Lara Taylor 31:33
Kayla’s got a long list
Kayla Devorak 31:34
Well, so one that popped up as I was sitting here, as you were talking about, like, the ways like society projects onto us. I recently watched the Tupac documentary on Hulu. It’s like, it is so good. And I learned so much about his mother. And, and him. And I had already known a ton about him, I was very obsessed with Tupac in high school, like very obsessed. And really, I have even more value of for his music. Now. After I’ve experienced some not totally similar things, but I can totally I can relate in a very concrete way now than I could as a teenager. But Tupac, I think, is a great example of like somebody who really tried to reach people, initially, in a way that wasn’t going to be all rooted in like, gangsta rap and stuff like that, and it didn’t work. And instead, he, you know, as this country does with black men, had all kinds of labels thrown at him and was shit on and, you know, was falsely accused and sent to prison. And
Link Keller 32:56
one might say villainized
Kayla Devorak 32:59
Absolutely. villainized absolutely villainized. And he found a way to, like, leverage it right and become and use it and put it in his music, right. But even in his this documentary, also talks about, like the ways in which his the Shakur family and his mother specifically, were also villainized, right, because she was a black panther member in the 70s and was in jail and pregnant with him for a while, but like, was falsely imprisoned. And like all of these things. She worked her own case, did all that fought it herself and like, ultimately won. But again, all of these, these, like villainous ideas placed on this woman who’s really just trying to do right by her community and also advocate for like, the things that they deserve, like as humans, right. And so, yeah, as I was sitting here, Nimona inspired me to think about Tupac.
Lara Taylor 34:07
Wow, you really believe but also not
Kayla Devorak 34:11
really. But you know, yeah. The documentary is really great. I highly recommend it.
Lara Taylor 34:19
Nice. It’s interesting. I grew up listening to Tupac loved his music. I’ve I listened to a lot of gangster rap when I was young. I was that white teenage girl. But I had never thought of him that way. I need to watch this documentary. Now
Kayla Devorak 34:39
watch the documentary read a rose that grew from concrete, read any of his poetry, and like, yeah, in the context of 2023 Read his lyrics. And it’s like, I mean, this man has was saying and I think a lot of them, you know, NWA and all of them. I think they were saying very similar things now, and I think it’s just very much in many of our faces in a very different way than it was then. But it’s really it’s really interesting. It’s a really interesting exploration into, into him
Lara Taylor 35:13
to talk the antihero, I’d say Snoop Dogg fits into that too.
Kayla Devorak 35:18
Lara Taylor 35:21
And now he’s partnering with Martha Stewart.
Link Keller 35:24
That’s gonna be like a decade old at this point. I like his Snoop Dogg’s affirmations. There’s no one better to be than myself.
Kayla Devorak 35:35
Snoop is in the documentary.
Link Keller 35:36
Lara Taylor 35:37
Kayla Devorak 35:38
Link Keller 35:41
Well, that’s you, Lara, you got another one?
Lara Taylor 35:46
My brain is
Link Keller 35:47
you are welcome to pull something off of the lists and just claim it as your own only we will know it’s the perfect cover
Lara Taylor 35:55
it’s so true It’s so true. Y’all are killing me?
Kayla Devorak 36:00
I do. I do have a I do have a question. So less about the character, but the character from the book, the faithless and the unbroken, inspire it. But it’s these questions of like, I think I mentioned in the faithless and the unbroken. This one character, Luka makes a lot of really terrible choices. It’s very much an antihero. You can understand why she’s making those choices to do do what she’s doing. Again, she’s sacrificing people and things and really wants this stuff for relatively selfish reasons. But it’s an interrogate her character. She represents the Empire, let’s say. It’s not the French in the book, but it’s inspired by the like France and Morocco. But it’s this question of when you relate to an antihero, like, like someone in positions of power, right? So someone who’s royalty, who’s maybe not making really great choices, or is directly impacting and connected to, like colonization, right? And that’s kind of what’s happening in these books. And the author has talked a lot about like, How can I, you know, most often people are going to relate more with Luca, because they’re closer to that position than they are to the other main characters position, who is a conscripted military individual. And so it’s interesting though, because the author talks a lot about like wanting those connections to then leverage thinking about, and getting people to start thinking about interrogating their own understandings of, you know, imperialism, and colonization and like all of these things. And so, a roundabout way, like the question kind of like, what, when an antihero or a character can can do that? I mean, like, people get uncomfortable about it, right? But like, how do you instead, like, lean into it and try to actually unpack it? Because I think anti heroes can be really great vehicles for helping people like, look at that stuff. And be like, oh, yeah, okay, let’s unpack that. Or maybe it’s just me?
Link Keller 38:29
Oh, no, I think you’re totally right. And I think that’s why video games make a good avenue for this, because they have the player like, like, with Joel, in The Last of Us, the player is embodying Joel. And so the distance for the player to emotionally connect with the character is much shorter, because you are literally moving them around in a space. And so that’s, you know, part of why so many people were upset at the ending of The Last of Us is because they’re like, I would never make that choice in the games. Like, it’s not a choice for you. It’s Joel’s choice, and he was never gonna make any other choice. And you just have to play it. And you have to deal with the emotional fallout of doing this action that you don’t cosign, but because you have spent all this time learning about Joel and coming to understand him, maybe care about him, all these things and just be like, Oh, that’s, that’s where it’s, that’s where it’s real juicy. To really dig into that stuff about how we, you know, frame the choices that people make and how we put people into boxes. Like that’s a bad person. Because of this one thing or my perception of that one thing, and it’s I think it’s video games are a good place to delve into that kind of nitty gritty, philosophical stuff. Because of that player embodiment. It gets people to lower a lot of the barricades they would put up normally when talking about that stuff.
Lara Taylor 40:06
It’s funny bit when you brought up videogames and that and Joel again, I went to will fuck Well, I in life is strange. I decided to save my girl instead of save everybody else. I’m totally villainous right there. But that’s me making the choice, right?
Lara Taylor 40:25
It’s very different.
Lara Taylor 40:25
Link Keller 40:28
giving the player that choice is like now you you have to own the consequences that’s on your shoulders not on on the character,
Lara Taylor 40:38
which then brought my brain to playing tabletop RPGs.
Link Keller 40:44
Lara Taylor 40:45
Because when we when we played, when we streamed on CASTT, one of our checkout questions was usually what did your character do? That you would not have done? Right? Or what was something that surprised you? Um, and I mean, half the time I play myself, when I’m playing game,
Kayla Devorak 41:04
you play the most wholesome characters. So like I,
Lara Taylor 41:08
you know what
Kayla Devorak 41:09
me? Like, this is a challenge. Lara play an anti hero, it create an anti heroes character.
Lara Taylor 41:17
That may that may happen in our next game, who knows? But thinking about that question, like a lot of times, there weren’t many things that surprised me about what I had my character do. But I and the question is like, is there something they did that that you that surprised you? Or is something you wouldn’t do when in reality? I mean, it’s that alibi, but you’re making that conscious decision, you’re making the choice that your character does this thing. And so that’s another way to kind of learn about ourselves and relate to these anti heroes and like, think about, even if the character does something you disagree with, you can think about your relationship to what they did.
Kayla Devorak 42:00
Lara Taylor 42:01
Kayla, and I have basically written a dissertation on this
Link Keller 42:04
a lot of dissertations.
Kayla Devorak 42:06
Mostly, well, kind of a dissertation.
Lara Taylor 42:10
there’s a Presentation, go get a TAGGS get a TAGGS 3 media pass, and you can see it
Kayla Devorak 42:17
speaking of tabletop characters, I, I asked Joe, I was like on a scale of one to antihero, where does Trey fall? And trays my is the monk that I’m playing in this game that Lara and I are in
Lara Taylor 42:29
and Joe is our DM.
Kayla Devorak 42:32
And she was like, you’re at like a two. And I was like, okay. We need to work on that. But I do think that a period
Link Keller 42:42
next game, I’m committing a war crime, watch out.
Kayla Devorak 42:46
Well, yeah, you know, maybe not war crimes, but tray. Trey is not a completely trey’s very morally gray.
Lara Taylor 42:58
Kayla Devorak 43:01
I do think Lexa has made a lot of anti-hero choices. For sure.
Lara Taylor 43:11
Yeah. Yeah. Listen when I did. So, in our d&d game, we’ve been doing some like leveling up so some one on one with the DM and I finally gave Joe my backstory. And Joe was like, wholesome, a wholesome backstory in my dnd??
Link Keller 43:27
a queer character with a wholesome backstory? It’s never been done
Lara Taylor 43:31
I’m here for it though Yeah, but it’s been great we’re working on some good stuff. Yeah, but it’s you know, I love the anti heroes but I play the goody two shoe
Kayla Devorak 43:44
you play like the sweetest characters ever. It’s it’s sometimes I’m like just kill someone. Just yell.
Lara Taylor 43:59
We’ll see what happens next game.
Kayla Devorak 44:00
Speaking of killing someone, what about Kratos?
Lara Taylor 44:04
You know, that was on the list and I was drawn to that Kratos kills a lot of people
Kayla Devorak 44:08
it was your idea. Lara Kratos was yours.
Lara Taylor 44:11
Yeah, Kratos is I mean, I have related to Kratos like Well, no, I have not necessarily related to Kratos but we did a whole episode on
Kayla Devorak 44:20
it’s okay, if you did truthfully,
Lara Taylor 44:22
I mean, there’s many moments but there was a whole point of we did a whole episode on the first one of the Kratos in Norse mythology games. And I mentioned that it was that my dad and his experience of losing my mom and having to like drag me around, was like Kratos and Atreus. And my dad is very much he is more wholesome than I am.
Kayla Devorak 44:54
Lara Taylor 44:54
I mean now, I don’t know about the past. I’ve heard some stories, but like he’s very wholesome of the sweetest man you’ll ever meet. Very not Kratos, but definitely still that that’s that piece there of like, what do I do with this kid? who lost their mom?
Link Keller 45:10
How do I handle my own grief while also juggling my dependent child’s grief?
Lara Taylor 45:19
And I definitely push them buttons as a teenager with him
Link Keller 45:24
as is developmentally appropriate.
Lara Taylor 45:26
Exactly, exactly. Um,
Kayla Devorak 45:29
but I have Kratos yelling boys.
Link Keller 45:33
I do. I do think it’s really interesting that if you’re just looking at that, I think it’s 2018 God of War. Kratos is just a hero. He’s just a hero. And it’s only an anti hero if you include the original god of war games where he is absolutely doing bad stuff for questionable reasons. And,
Kayla Devorak 45:59
but also understandable reasons, right? Yes.
Link Keller 46:01
I mean, yes, I can absolutely see where he’s coming from. But you can see
Lara Taylor 46:06
that of any like Moral, like mostly anti heroes, but definitely a lot of villains. Right? There’s reasons and Nina gets mad at me all the time. I’m like, but look, look at these horrible things that happened to them. Of course they’re doing this and she’s like, shut up. Can’t you just hate them? That’s the therapist in me. But like, Yeah, his family he lost his family these people are using him. these God’s are using him. Yeah, of course, he’s gonna be like murder.
Link Keller 46:39
I totally understand why one would seek revenge in that situation. But also, that situation is because of Kratos’ choices. And so it’s like, exactly, it’s a little bit of just a consequence. Yeah, but revenge is a reasonable outcome. I guess. Those games are fun. But yeah, I do. I do think that 2018 one is like, much better. Kratos is Kratos is a good example. Because physically, like, physically, he is, you know, a big strong white guy who’s tough and protects children and women and kills bad guys. And like that is that is what the hero
Lara Taylor 47:23
but also like I’m on my mission. I’m just on my mission, fuck you. ends up getting sucked into things along the way.
Link Keller 47:30
Exactly. Oh, man. Yeah, I think another good example that we don’t necessarily have to delve into deeply, but should touch on is Walter White from Breaking Bad? Because I think he is sort of on this other end of the antihero spectrum where he is a he’s a villain, he’s a villain.
Lara Taylor 47:56
Like in the he was he was a I haven’t watched a whole lot of Breaking Bad. But I do know the premise and he was a good guy before all this shit happen to him. And then he becomes a villain. Yeah,
Kayla Devorak 48:06
he becomes like a drug lord, doesn’t he?
Link Keller 48:08
Yes. It’s very, I think part of why that show was so popular and so compelling is because he very much fulfilled like, obviously, he is the protagonist of his story. But he also all of the bad things that happened to him were almost all of the bad things that happened to him were directly because of the things that he chose to do. And so it’s like, he fulfills his own antagonist role as well. And it’s like, yes, there are other villains within the story. But none of them have the same impact as what Walter White does to himself. And I always thought that was very interesting.
Kayla Devorak 48:47
Isn’t that the truth for us all?
Link Keller 48:49
Isn’t that the truth
Kayla Devorak 48:50
we’re our own worst antagonists?
Link Keller 48:52
Lara Taylor 48:53
yes. I just have a conversation with someone about that today.
Link Keller 48:59
The other the other one I would like to mention that we don’t necessarily have to delve into more is Bojack Horseman I think he is a fantastic antihero. incredibly interesting character.
Kayla Devorak 49:13
Link Keller 49:14
it’s a great show. He is a terrible person. And then everything you learn about him and his past is like, yeah, no, that explains it. Like oh, yeah, no, that explains it. Oh, you’re incredibly selfish. Oh, yeah. The the way that your parents treated you that tracks like, Oh, yeah. But yeah, great, great show very interesting characters. I think it’s in the last season. He has a conversation with Oh, no, I’m forgetting her name. shoots. Anyways, he’s having a conversation with his friends and she’s talking to him and it’s like they’ve had a lot of ups and downs throughout their relationship, they’ve both done, like mean things to each other and intentionally pushed on sore spots that they are aware of. But at the end is like, you know, talking is like, despite all that I am grateful to you for being part of getting me here where I am now. And I think that’s a really lovely sentiment, and I, I like having that where it’s like, it would be so easy to just completely villainize Bojack. And be like, you’re bad guy, and you do bad guy shit, and not give any more complexity to that conversation. But the show is not interested in having it be like that. They’re like, No, the complexity is what makes these characters compelling and interesting and relatable, because none of us are all of anything at any time. Yeah, but maybe, maybe we should switch to some more personal example, I think to talk about in therapy, being being your own antagonist, I think that’s definitely relatable.
Kayla Devorak 51:09
Truly, truly relatable
Lara Taylor 51:12
Link Keller 51:12
is there, can you can either of you think of a time in your life where you’re like, I’m the anti hero.
Kayla Devorak 51:20
I say that all the time.
Lara Taylor 51:23
All the time? I’m, hi, it’s me.
Kayla Devorak 51:26
I’m the problem.
Lara Taylor 51:28
It’s me. Know, there’s plenty of things that like I could say, other things are getting in the way, but it’s like, Nope, I’m not making the time to do the thing. I don’t know.
Kayla Devorak 51:40
You know, I’ve made choices, I suppose that some people could see as like, being bad choices, inherently bad choices to make. But I thought they were the right choices. Morally, I think they were the right choice. And like, how do you unpack that, though, when those choices result in you? Being villainized? Right, like, I’ve experienced that? And so how do you? Yeah, I mean, let me tell you, it takes a lot of narrative therapy,
Link Keller 52:23
I was gonna, I was gonna say it’s a lot harder to unpack the antihero, self, if it’s yourself, rather than a fun lil character on a show.
Kayla Devorak 52:34
Absolutely be, which I think in some ways is like, partly why I personally relate so hard to characters who are more like a antihero in nature, because I have made those choices that maybe have definitely been villainized by groups of people, for one reason or another. You know, and I felt that they were still the right choice to make. And so it makes me feel a little less alone for sure. And then I think about like, how do I, you know, then you have to, like, unpack it, right? Like and remind yourself that, like, it was still the right choice for me and like, just because one one group of people or a large, does it, that doesn’t mean that it was a wrong choice. Con- you know, context and understood understanding of where you fall in terms of like, what you feel is ethical and moral and what have you. Also come into play, right? But that doesn’t, even if you feel like you’re on the right side, doesn’t mean that you can’t feel like you’ve done a villain thing. Right? It goes back to Lara’s whole point about with the kids and treatment centers, right? Where they’re just like, What the hell’s the point?
Lara Taylor 54:06
what’s the point if you’re just gonna everybody’s gonna keep seeing me this way. So why do anything different? Yeah. To spin that to a little more of a, like, a happier note on that, like, I think about what queer person has felt like and made to feel like a villain or a hero at some point in their lives. And like, there’s a point where people get to well, you’re gonna hate me regardless. So fuck it. I’m gonna be happy. You know? I’m still gonna go do the things that make me me.
Kayla Devorak 54:39
Now you’re just quoting Taylor Swift
Lara Taylor 54:43
I’m not trying to! to be fair she’s written so many fucking words.
Kayla Devorak 54:47
Lara Taylor 54:48
so many words, anything could be a Taylor Swift quote. Now. Literally, she said enough things that you could get some AI and make her say literally anything
Kayla Devorak 54:57
Lara Taylor 55:00
Like Josué talks about all the time how he could make me or link or marc Say anything you probably make you say anything at this point.
Kayla Devorak 55:06
That sounds like a threat Josué. maybe Josué’s in his anti hero phase?
Lara Taylor 55:14
Kayla Devorak 55:14
we should ask him.
Lara Taylor 55:16
Link Keller 55:17
All right listeners write in if you think that’s happening.
Lara Taylor 55:23
But no, like how we had, like you brought up Taylor Swift. I said, there’s a problem. I’m the problem is me earlier. But yeah, like, I think it’s one of those things that like, I don’t know, people, it’s that pressure that other people put on us. And this idea that they see us as villain I. On a societal level, I have seen that personally, in my life. I don’t have much experience with that being having the privilege of growing up in the bay area. But it is definitely a thing that like, thoughts of like, well, wouldn’t it be easier? If no, no. I tend to, I tend to stick by my choices as as they even if they’re fucked up. I don’t know. Thoughts? Link? What are your villainous things you’ve done? Spill it to everybody?
Kayla Devorak 56:30
How did you unpack it?
Link Keller 56:31
Oh, no, I, I’m trying to
Lara Taylor 56:35
lots of years of therapy.
Link Keller 56:39
I you know, I mean, obviously, the just the basic like growing up, being a teen is really hard. And part of being a human. But most especially being a teen is you make mistakes, and you’re supposed to learn from them. But society is very keen to just jump on and be like, Oh, actually, you’re just a bad guy. Now. That sucks. For a more specific example of a time I was doing an antihero shit, there was someone who needed help. And I didn’t particularly want to help. And I didn’t particularly feel that they deserved my help. But somebody else said something shitty about it. And so I helped that first person just to make that second person look bad.
Kayla Devorak 57:27
Link Keller 57:28
so a heroic act, but for bad motivation reasons.
Lara Taylor 57:33
That is very anti hero behavior.
Kayla Devorak 57:35
yeah that is very anti herp behavior
Link Keller 57:37
Yeah. But yeah, I think, you know, listening to you guys talk is like very much true. Once Once you make a decision, like, our brains are wired to be like that, we will rationalize as to why that was the correct decision. And that we wouldn’t change a thing, I’d always pick the same thing that I picked, even if that’s not true, but I do think it’s important to like, be aware of that, and see it reflected in our media, that that internal wrestling that we have of, you know, deciding what Acts we can do to promote the values we hold versus reactions to things that are happening to us. And having to find balance and acceptance within that space.
Kayla Devorak 58:30
Absolutely. I have spent personally working through some of my anti hero stuff, I have spent a lot of time around choices, and like, okay, because since you know, I’ve made these choices, and this has resulted in these really painful experiences. How do I, you know, continue to feel like I can make, quote, unquote, right choices or can continue to trust that my choices are the right choices for me. And are sound for me, you know, because when when your choices do get villainized or appear one way to society, and they don’t care for the to understand it. It can then, right? You can spend a lot of time feeling like I can’t make choices, good choices at all. So then what does that mean, right? And so finding ways to just remind yourself, to trust in yourself when you make choices, right? And that if you’ve done the work or are doing the work, you’re going to make the choices you need to make that are correct for you, no matter what, no matter what anyone says.
Link Keller 59:50
And most importantly, if you feel a little bit bad about it, I would like to remind you that we have all agreed that anti heroes are more interesting characters. So at least you are more interesting.
Lara Taylor 1:00:03
you are more interesting.
Kayla Devorak 1:00:05
Also, they’re my favorite characters. So
Link Keller 1:00:10
all right. Well, any any other closing thoughts?
Kayla Devorak 1:00:13
Yeah, I think when we play when I bring Geek Therapy adventures back, you should create an anti hero character.
Link Keller 1:00:22
Kayla Devorak 1:00:24
go for it. And then we can see how that plays out. Because it’ll be fun. They made some
Lara Taylor 1:00:30
horrible group of anti heroes.
Kayla Devorak 1:00:32
Please, please, please. It’ll be fun that way.
Link Keller 1:00:37
Look, I’ve tried to not play chaotic good, but it’s never worked for me. I always like swerve right back into chaotic good.
Kayla Devorak 1:00:47
It’s like It’s like trying to play. It’s like trying to play Commander Shepard as like anything but a paragon doesn’t
Link Keller 1:00:54
just keep sliding back over there. Paragon again? Oops.
Kayla Devorak 1:00:57
Yeah. What do you mean, I have to like yell at Liara??
Link Keller 1:01:03
I would NEVER do that! That’s my beautiful wife!!
Kayla Devorak 1:01:09
I was just gonna say that it’s just a bunch of queer people here because not a single one of us will tell her No,
Link Keller 1:01:18
Lara Taylor 1:01:19
perfect Group. she gets whatever she wants
Link Keller 1:01:20
All right. Well, she gets whatever she may be any closing thoughts Lara?
Lara Taylor 1:01:24
I think my closing thought is, much like the kids that I worked with, think about like, no matter what you have done, you still can make a decision to do something different in the future.
Link Keller 1:01:34
Lara Taylor 1:01:35
Those decisions you have made might be the ones that are right for you in the moment. And the things you will do in the future will be right for you in that moment. But you have gained whatever skills and tools you have. Even just listening to us ramble for an hour. You know, you have tools to do something different in the future. And that means once a villain doesn’t mean always a villain, so you can always be the antihero.
Link Keller 1:02:05
Well, thank you so much for a lovely episode, and thank you to our listeners for joining in. You can find our social media links in the show notes. Drop us a comment on the forums or say hi to me in the discord. Remember to geek out and do good and we will be back next week
Lara Taylor 1:02:28
Link Keller 1:02:29
[whispers] thank you
Josué Cardona 1:02:31
Geek Therapy is a 501 C three nonprofit organization dedicated to making the world a better place through geek culture. To learn more about our mission and become a supporter, visit geek therapy.org
Transcribed by https://otter.ai and Link Keller
Characters / Media
- Nimona (2023 film and comic)
- Steve Rogers / Captain America
- Regina / Once Upon a Time
- Baru Cormorant / The Masquerade series by S. Dickinson
- Tyrion Lannister / A Song of Ice and Fire series by G.R.R. Martin
- Superman / Man of Steel (2013)
- Tony Stark / Iron Man
- Joel / The Last of Us (video game and series)
- Ellie / The Last of Us part 2
- A Rose That Grew from Concrete by Tupac Shakur
- Luca / Magic of the Lost series by C. L. Clark
- Life is Strange (video game series)
- Kratos / God of War series
- Walter White / Breaking Bad
- Bojack Horseman / Bojack
- Taylor Swift
Themes / Topics
* Narrative roles
* Difficult emotions
* Finding Oneself/Identity Development
* LGBT Issues
* Mental Health Services
* Moral dilemma
* Standing up for others
* Standing up for oneself
* Sacrifice for others
* Taking responsibility for one’s actions
* Sunk Cost Fallacy
* Coming of age/Getting older
* Coming Out
* Foster Care/Adoption
* Loss (other than death)
Links / Social Media
Check out the GT Network: network.geektherapy.com
GT Forum: forum.geektherapy.org
GT Discord: geektherapy.com/discord
GT Facebook Group: facebook.com/groups/geektherapy
Join the Conversation!
Who are some of your favorite anti-heroes? What do you find compelling about them?