Fiction Writing: Is Gray always means Evil?

Hello everyone, 

Before I begin pouring my thoughts to you, I would like to ask a simple question which might be a little complicated to answer, but it is worth a shot.

Have you ever come across a human being in your life who is perfect by all means? I know the definition of perfection can differ from one person to another, so I thought I would provide some context. 

  • Someone who acts out of selflessness and never does anything wrong to anyone
  • Flawless Beauty and Stature 
  • Makes no mistakes 
  • Is an honest soul (have not even bunk classes or stole a pencil from a classmate
  • Cooks exceptionally well and there is no job that he or she cannot accomplish if they try
  • No feeling of envy, jealousy, hatred, etc

And the list goes on and on. It is pretty unlikely to come across someone who fit into all of the above criteria. The truth is there is something or the other that lacks in every person. Some people hurt the other person out of their self-interest. Others laugh behind a close one’s back. Some beings like to gossip because it entertains them. Some peeps end up committing blunders out of their foolishness. The point is that people are highly flawed, and there is nothing wrong with being a person with flaws. Whether we accept or not, it is entirely reasonable to be a flawed human being because perfection does not exist. 

However, there comes a problem! We the people are not very open to seeing characters on screen that are not flawless, especially female characters. Some people crave to see a female protagonist as someone who is the epitome of beauty and commit all the righteous audience. It becomes hard for the people to depict and accept a female lead who chooses her career over her family, someone who abandons a loved one for her self-interest, someone who compulsively lies to achieve her dreams, goes all out of the society to attain her love, and the list goes on. 

Many of you might say that this is wrong! SIMPLY EVIL! NOT DONE! How can she? What is wrong with her? I will NOT watch or read such a story! Even if I do, I won’t endorse it! Some of you will say no, this is fine! It is part of our society! 

Honestly, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but the fact does not change as this is part of our society even if you perceive these actions as wrong. But wrong should not always be tagged as evil. Sometimes good people end up doing the wrong things, but this does not mean that they are evil or criminal. In real life as well as reel life, those are just some major character flaws that tend to exist in every human being. Our cinema does depict the great realities, but the major blunder comes in how it describes it. We tend to differentiate characters as either Protagonist who does the right things and Antagonist who do wrong things. The primary story arc is something like the following :

  1. Protagonist and Antagonist enters the scene
  2. The Antagonist does something very evil 
  3. A protagonist who is perfected clashes with Antagonist
  4. Antagonist hates it and continues to bother the Protagonist 
  5. Protagonist struggle but at the end victorious and kills the Antagonist

What’s wrong? Nothing much. The story goes on to become a success, and all is well that ends well. Honestly, there is nothing wrong in depicting our stories this way, but what is wrong is merely restricting ourselves to follow this story arc. There is so much more to do, showcase, and watch which we end up avoiding. It is okay for the Protagonist to do wrong things. It is okay for the Antagonist to not be there. It is usual for two people in the story to be extremely flawed and fight each other for their self-interest. This is not called evil but major character flaws which can be explored in different ways. 

White and Black do not always exist in real life, so why always in cinema? Gray is the thing, and it is still not evil!

Embrace the complexity of emotions in real as well as reel life. 

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