you promoted death without realizing it |on the power of character redemption|

6:58 AM

Hola readers!
*This is by no means a Star Wars post, but spoilers to the latest movie will be revealed so proceed with caution*

I recently sat in the dark theater watching the latest Star Wars movie and was drawn in to the beauty of the the characters, and the depth of Kylo's inner struggle with good and evil. The movie was masterfully done in character progression, and I rooted for him from the very beginning....
and then he died.
And the movie ended.
And the credits rolled.
And Rey continued on with life.
And Ben appeared to disappear forever.

I fell in love with Kylo, however his story fell short of a much-needed ending. We all are broken humans, holding onto a thin thread called hope that we can be saved. We as writers need to cease in creating dark, villainous characters only redeemable and valued through a glorified death.
And this isn't the first time characters are only redeemed through death, normally of self-sacrifice, when once giving all, they only find their demise.
I truly believe that while this reflection of self-sacrifice can be a beautiful aspect, it is also a potentially dangerous one.

Stories have always been my world. When depressed thoughts and anxiety swam through my body, I clung to broken characters who turned from the dark side. I could relate to them, their hearts mirroring my own seemingly too-gone soul. I craved their saving like I craved my own, and when I was in junior high and High school my head swam with the never ending questions

Would my family be better without me?

Can I change and continue to live?

Is death the only option?

  • Death by suicide is the second leading cause of death among people in the US ages 10-34.

We are often left with the pressing question....can I change and live? How can there be beauty in brokenness?
Creating stories where a character who makes a serious mistake redeemable solely though death, leaves us with little or no hope. While not necessarily promoting suicide, I truly believe that we are not allowing people to see beyond their brokenness, to live out the change and prove there is beauty in the pain. I want to see people rise from the ashes, not succumb to their circumstances. I want to see them live lives even when the odds tell them they shouldn't be standing. I want to see them stand, perhaps outcasts to society who deem them less, but prove them wrong every day.
I want you to know that death does not mean glory.
I want you to know that ending your life is not the answer.
I want you to know that the world desperately needs your light and your story.
I want you to know that sometimes the bravest thing you can do is keep living. 

Kylo's story was a beautifully done picture of rising about the dark and giving all, of sacrifice and love...but I think it fell short of what the world also needs to hear, maybe now more than ever. We need to create stories of hero sacrifice but also of life.
A villain turned, when done well, can impact us all.
But let us remember that sacrificial death isn't always the answer.

Sometimes they need to live too.
To give hope to us left behind.

words kill, words give life. they are either poison or fruit -- you choose
(paraphrased from Proverbs) 

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16 of your thoughts

  1. Going into the movie I had a big feeling that Kylo was going to die, and I just hoped that it would be to save someone. This post gave me a new view on it. You are so right! We NEED more stories where the seemingly impossible character overcomes and lives, showing all of us that it is possible. Thank you again, Kara! <333

    1. I had a feeling he was going to die as well...the whole time I was holding my breath and then he reappeared...and THEN he died for real. *Major sigh*
      So sad.....

  2. The villain who changes sides and then dies is one of my literary pet peeves. Why not let them live with the consequences of their actions? Anime does this quite often, like in Digimon season 2, when the Digimon Emperor destroys everything, even his own partner, and doesn't see the error of his ways until his partner dies in his arms. Or how about Zuko, in Avatar: the Last Airbender? Another villain who takes two and a half seasons to join the heroes, and then he does it very badly and hilariously. "Why am I so bad at being good?" And his arc is wonderful as we see him rise to take the place of his evil father, the king.

    But other examples from American entertainment are hard to come up with. I think killing the reformed character is a quick and dirty way to skip any further character development. And it feels cheap.

    1. It does feel cheap....and I think I'm guilty of this in my own stories. It's so easy and yet that's the point -- real life is rarely so simple.

  3. I love this <3333 so much <3333

    Hanne ||

    1. THANK YOU! I was glad to get it off my chest and rant haha

  4. An absolutely important message, Kara. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Ahhh! I'm so glad someone else was as upset about this as I was. I still need to write a post about it. They need to show redemption with life, rebirth, and hope. All too often they just kill them, which is so frustrating. They had so much potential with Kylo and wasted it. Great post!

    1. They really did -- and not that the ending wasn't beautiful. In many ways it was...yet sadly it still fell short. *Sigh*

  6. Yes, yes, yes!! This is what bothered me so much about his death. I felt like saving Rey and throwing away his commitment to the dark side was his redemption, so his death just felt like a cheap throw away.
    Great post and message, thank you <3

    1. YES EXACTLY!!!! His death was so so not needed and it was just a pointless plot twist. <3

  7. These are such important points. I had never thought about it all like this before, but I do think for a redemptive story line there should be more than just a sacrificial death. It's more satisfying to see their change fully and how they can move forward in spite of their past. Great post!

    1. I hadn't thought much of it until recently myself, and the more I considered it, the more it bothered me haha.
      Thank you for commenting Hannah!

  8. I haven't seen the latest Star Wars movie (J doesn't care for the new ones), but I've heard a lot about it. Your post is the first one that I can actually agree with. Thank you for sharing your thoughts; gives me something new to muse upon!

    1. Kylo's character depth was very inspiring for me as a writer and turned me to actually enjoying thew new movies (I surprised myself haha).


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