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07 February 2007 @ 05:58 pm
PotC: Brief Norrington Musing and a Fan Art Rec  
selenak wrote an interesting essay called The Insignificant Other, in which she analyzes the role and frequent abuse of the romantic rival as a plot device "solely inserted to heighten the angst between the movie's/show's leading couple, and inevitably [ending] up either revealed as evil or dismissed as unworthy [...]."

Hand in hand with various examples of popular stereotypes, a whole range of unworthy competitors who disqualify themselves by being either evil, boring, or somewhat insane, goes the implicit blueprint for characters who, despite being set up as rivals, have escaped from that particular fate.


When Selena writes:

"Male variations of The Insignificant Other usually aren't evil, unless they are Prince Humperdinck in The Princess Bride, and The Princess Bride is such a lovely homage and send up that it's impossible to mind. No, instead male variations are dismissed as "safe", "boring", not worthy of the heroine's affection as opposed to the exciting, dangerous hero."


this not only summarizes existing cliches, but in my opinion also serves as a good explanation of what makes a character like James Norrington from the movie PotC: Curse of the Black Pearl so very outstanding. Norrington works, and in fact has managed to draw a considerable fan following of his own (including yours truly *g*), because he comes across as someone with a life of his own, who, under different circumstances and in a different constellation of characters, would have easily made a very fine romantic hero. He's three-dimensional, equipped with an exciting profession, and possesses weaknesses as well as strengths. The amount of insecurity and concern he is showing clearly marks him as a caring human being, worthy of being loved in return; if not by his romantic interest Elizabeth Swann then by somebody else.

A fact, which even the creative powers behind PotC must admit in the end by letting Jack Sparrow tease poor Norrington with the words "I was rooting for you."


So far for the theory, now for the fan art *g*

sinningia has drawn an awesome portrait of DMC Norrington, which conveys a whole range emotions due to its wonderfully "windswept" and rather expressionist style. Go and see for yourself!
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galadhir on February 7th, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
Do you think they made him into Scruffington in order to actually try to make him more sympathetic (non-safe and non-boring) then? Or in order to turn him into the evil alternative? As I don't really feel the appeal of the 'dangerous' hero, I can't tell which one it's meant to be (maybe both?)
Bimo: NorriBeth_painfulcasebimo on February 8th, 2007 05:16 pm (UTC)
Do you think they made him into Scruffington in order to actually try to make him more sympathetic (non-safe and non-boring) then?

Hmmm, difficult question...

Probably the only thing that can be said for sure is that if Norrington's transformation was indeed an attempt heightening his appeal to a broader audience, the powers behind PotC have certainly succeeded. Coming new to the fandom I browsed as many Norrington-centric communities as possible, and couldn't help but notice that for some reason "Scruffy" seemed to have a considerably larger following than the original 'Honorable Commodore' model.

The 'Evil or at least morally ambiguous alternative' theory, as disastrous as it may be with regard to Norrington's original character, however, doesn't strike me as all that far-fetched, because in my opinion it would mirror the initial constellation of CotBP; the sole difference being that the roles of the involved males have been switched around.

CotBP had Norrington as the decent original suitor, Will as the somewhat more romantic, exiting love interest who matches Elizabeth's adventurous personality, and Jack as the mysterious stranger with questionable motives.

And now, in DMC, we've got Will as the decent and honest to the bone fiancée, Jack as the exiting, sexually attractive soul mate, and Norrington as the morally ambiguous one whose intentions are impossible to figure (which really makes me fear for poor Will in AWE ;-))

galadhir on February 8th, 2007 07:19 pm (UTC)
LOL! But I don't think we could possibly end up with Will as the morally ambiguous one, Jack as the trustworthy one and Norrington as the soulmate. (Though I would squee mightily if that happened, simply because of the total unexpectedness of it.)

But yes, the appeal of the bad boy does seem to have made Norrington more popular, or at least woken up a great many people to the fact that he's sexy. Which I admit baffles me, since I don't find dirt or despiration sexy myself - but I always knew I was wierd :) But strangely, none of these new Norrington fans seem siezed with the desire to write about him. I wonder why that is?
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Bimo: NorriBeth_painfulcasebimo on February 9th, 2007 08:17 am (UTC)
especially compared to the way similar characters are handled in other texts. . .

Just think of Rose's fiance in Titanic, who was nothing but a blank cardboard villain displaying every negative personality trait under the sun...

Norrington is a decent, likeable character, it's just his bad luck that Elizabeth fell in love with Will instead of him

Tell that to poor papa Swann ;-)

Watching how he and Norrington interact over the course of CotBP I always get the feeling that wanting Norrington as his son in law wasn't half as much about choosing a socially acceptable parter for Elizabeth as it was about liking Norrington as a person and honestly believing that Elizabeth could actually become very happy with him in the long run.

I really should get my act together and revise that Swann-heavy NorriBeth story that I wrote *g*
ladylavinialadylavinia on May 29th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC)
It's interesting on how Norrington's fate ended in the saga. Despite betraying the Black Pearl crew in order to regain his position in the Royal Navy (he was not alone for Jack, Will and Elizabeth all proved that they were capable of betrayal and backstabbing, as well), he apparently seemed to regret his actions in AWE. Which led him to help free Elizabeth and her new crew from the Flying Dutchman's brig. And this action, along with his feelings for Elizabeth, led to his death.