Fictional Characters: The Inspiration for Change? by Vivian Bermudez

Katniss Everdeen, protagonist of The Hunger Games

Lately there have been a plethora of revolutionary fictional characters – Katniss Everdeen, The Avengers, Superman, and Spider-Man. Katniss Everdeen leads a rebellion against an oppressive government. The Avengers struggle to protect humanity against an alien invasion. They all have something in common in why we look up to them: they’re heroes with a cause.

But heroes aren’t only fictional and they aren’t the only ones with a cause. Many revolutions have taken place in the last couple of years: the Arab Spring and the Brazilian Spring. Recently, Ukraine and Venezuela have also begun to revolt against oppressive governments and are demanding change. With all this going on, are fictional characters providing a muse for revolutions?

“Fictional characters may seem to be just that to many people, fictional,” said Stephanie Ojeda, a Cambridge junior, “But to many people they might seems as real as you and me. You want to be more like them because they invoke such intense emotions. That could definitely inspire someone to change how they live.”

People protesting against their governments try to imitate the courage they see these characters possess. The Hunger Games has inspired movements to end poverty and world hunger – people who have clustered around this book are taking strives to become Katniss Everdeen. 

This positive impact has scrambled both psychologists and sociologists in an effort to find out the why and the how.Tom Farsides at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom led a research team on a mission to find the impact that the media has on those who watch it.

The study was called “Inspiring altruism: reflecting on the personal relevance of emotionally evocative pro-social media characters,” and it found that characters with admirable qualities are more likely to be mimicked and put on a pedestal.

“Broadly, characters have to be attractive as possible role models,” Tom Farsides, the man who lead the study, told Desert News, “Heroic. Desirable. Not suckers, wimps, or dull. Beyond that, something like their characteristics or achievements have to seem attainable.”

Stories like The Hunger Games illustrate cruelty against ones people and what an “oppressive government” is. People like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor show people how to be dauntless and chase good to achieve change.

Heroes are courageous and revolutionary. Popular books and movies – The Man of Steel, Iron Man 3, Divergent, and The Hunger Games – have been published and produced during the time of these revolutions. Their stories are exemplary and help citizens, regardless of their location, achieve the ability of seeing the differences and becoming the spark, the change.

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