So. Continuum XII.
three four people that I know: Adrienne, Lauren, Elaine, and George.
Two fascinating panels, which ended up referencing each other a little: Anti-Heroes, and Masked Heroes. Partly because some of the same people were on both panels.
Is Batman an anti-hero or not? (the panel was divided on this). Are anti-heroes always broken? Self-interested? Have heroism thrust upon them, because they are caught in the middle of the situation, they don't go looking for it; implication: anti-heroes have less agency than heroes, since heroes - even if they are reluctant to start with - always choose to Fight The Good Fight in the end. That heroes have morals and anti-heroes have goals; that is, for an anti-hero, the end justifies the means, they are willing to get their hands dirty if they deem it necessary. The trend in modern media to make all heroes less black-and-white and more shades of grey (one panellist likened it to taking all the white and colouring it in with grey crayon).
Do we like anti-heroes more than heroes because they are more like ourselves, more human, less perfect? Or do we like them because they do the things we wouldn't dare do, say the things we wouldn't dare say? If an anti-hero is characterised by a mix of heroic and non-heroic traits, then different cultures would have different kinds, since they have different ideas of what "heroism" is: ref US culture, which values individualism and rebelling against The Man, versus Japanese culture, where anyone who is anti-authority is always a villain.
Was Gaius Baltar (new BSG) an anti-hero? Or did it not count because anything heroic he did more by accident than design, because the only person he cared about was himself? The crew of the Serenity as an example of a group who, collectively, are an anti-hero, because the mix of people there pull them in that direction. Was Mal was really a bad guy, who was only out for a profit? Or does the fact that he would do anything for his crew (his family-of-choice) mitigate that? Or is he an anti-hero because we know from his past that he used to be a hero, and now he's broken. Does it also depend on point of view? "The difference between a terrorist and a freedom fighter is the side you're on." Except that there tend to be certain acts -- such as the killing of children -- which put someone beyond the pale, even if their motives, in their own minds, justify those acts because of the goal they are aiming for. Or is that only in fiction?
(Strangely enough, nobody mentioned Snape. Not even me. Then again, I had other comments/questions which I made.)
Masks as symbols, masks as revealing the true nature of the person because anonymity gives them the freedom to be themselves, masks handed on as a legacy, with the role they represent being more important than the person who plays it (examples: The Phantom, Thor). Do we care more about the mask than the man, or is it impossible to care about the mask unless we care about the man behind it? For the sympathy we have with the masked hero is because we know his motives, his backstory. If we didn't know about Bruce Wayne's past, would we think that Batman was just a vigilante jerk? What about the characters in that universe who don't know who he is? (Answer: yes, some of them hate him)
Masks where we see the eyes, and masks where we don't. The eyes being the windows of the soul, the touch of humanity. Is Spiderman such a quirky character because he needs to be lighter in order for the readers to sympathise with him, since his mask doesn't show his eyes?
The difference between masks that are chosen, and those where the mask (or alter-ego) creates the superhero (for example, Thor and Thor's hammer).
What about Superman and Wonder Woman? They don't have masks... or do they? Their mask is their "everyday" persona, Clark Kent and Diana Prince.
What about the Doctor? Are all his faces masks? Then again, all of our faces are masks, because we never show our true selves to anybody except those who are closest to us.
Last example: Kylo Ren, not a hero, but someone who certainly hides behind a mask, trying to live up to the legacy it represents, that of Darth Vader.
The evening ended with a bang (or was it a belly laugh?) with George Ivanov hosting a game-show "Whose Monologue is it anyway?" After the first-round contestants had a lot of difficulty, someone suggested that each half of the room be the "team" of each contestant: first the contestants would try to answer, and if neither of them got it, then their teams would try to answer. Mind you, there were some questions which nobody got, and other questions where half the audience was quoting along with the monologue, but most of them were somewhere in-between. I volunteered to be a contestant in the second round, because it looked like fun, and I thought I could do better than the first-round contestants, surely. Then my heart sank a bit when the category was announced: Movies. Because I haven't seen any of the Marvel movies at all. But fortunately, the monologues were a mix of older and newer stuff, and my team were also great for the ones where I had no clue. And the second half of round two was TV shows. There was one question, where I knew that I'd heard the monologue before, I recognised it clearly, but I could not remember for the life of me what show it was. Turned out that one was Babylon 5. Other ones I answered more easily, and I ended up winning my round. Apparently where will be "a ton of crapola" for us tomorrow at reception (George unfortunately left the prizes at home). But, much better than that, Ben (of Night Terrace) declared that the winners would all get a copy of the first season of Night Terrace, yay! I haven't listened to it, but I remember hearing good things about it, so that will be cool.
Huh. I hadn't intended to go into so much detail. The above took me more than an hour to write. Humph.
I need sleeeeeeeep!