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Admiring the "wrong" characters. 
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Good question Ken.

There is definitely a difference I feel when the reprehensible character is the protagonist. We automatically identify with the people telling the story. So it's easier to like Rorshach or Jordan Belfort simply because we, as veteran movie-watchers, put ourselves in their shoes.

With true villains it's a bit different. I don't think many people watch Pan's Labyrinth and start Captain Vidal fanclubs.

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Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:41 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Rorschach is an interesting character.

Politically speaking the 1980s were a interesting time. The Thatcher-Reagan axis somewhat changed the nature of conservative politics, shifting the emphasis from traditional memes, to naked economic liberation.

Rorschach seems to be a parody somewhat on old conservatives in new conservative world. I know that Moore's politics lean to the left, and clearly Rorschach is a somewhat unhinged character, but I spy a sneaking admiration for his old-testament fury on behalf of the author.

Rorschach is just as appalled by the greed and decadence of Reagan America as he is by "liberal sensibilities". He represents an attack on the right, from the right.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:12 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Vexer wrote:

With Fight Club, Tyler's minions essentially end up trading one form of servitude for another, sure they may not belong to the 9-to-5 rat race anymore, but they are doing everything Tyler tells them without question.



Yep. Implying quite heavily that people choose to be drones. We traded freedom for security.

Anyway ... his name is Robert Poulson ....

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:20 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
NotHughGrant wrote:
Rorschach is an interesting character.

Politically speaking the 1980s were a interesting time. The Thatcher-Reagan axis somewhat changed the nature of conservative politics, shifting the emphasis from traditional memes, to naked economic liberation.

Rorschach seems to be a parody somewhat on old conservatives in new conservative world. I know that Moore's politics lean to the left, and clearly Rorschach is a somewhat unhinged character, but I spy a sneaking admiration for his old-testament fury on behalf of the author.

Rorschach is just as appalled by the greed and decadence of Reagan America as he is by "liberal sensibilities". He represents an attack on the right, from the right.

Alan Moore is an enormous fan of Steve Ditko, known to most people as the creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. What many people don't know is that Ditko self-identifies as an Objectivist and that his later work (post-Marvel) was mostly for smaller magazines that let him do whatever he wanted. By that point, Ditko's stories were devolving into thinly-disguised Ayn Rand tracts. His character for DC Comics, The Question, was his effort at creating an Objectivist superhero that was palatable to a mainstream audience, and he'd developed another character for the indies called Mr. A, who was basically The Question with the gloves off.

Moore wrote Rorschach as a pastiche of Mr. A and The Question. Rorschach's mask is significant--he's the ultimate black-and-white vigilante, and he literally shows it in his "face".

Moore's politics, as you've noticed, are poles apart from Ditko's, but I think it's the way that Ditko reflected his personal politics in his work in a very direct, honest, and uncompromising way that Moore admires. Like Moore himself, Ditko's creative personality is so extreme that it doesn't really matter if you find his politics agreeable or disagreeable. He's fascinating regardless.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:26 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Ah, interesting.

And this rather supports the idea that despite his words today, Moore does at least have a grain of sympathy for Rorschach. Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and all that.

I'll look into the characters you mentioned.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:41 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Well, I think anybody can see the appeal of Rorschach, just like anybody can see the appeal of Objectivism. It's human nature to want to pare the world down into easily digestible bits--black or white, right or wrong, A or B. Rorschach acts on this impulse with absolute confidence. It's a very tempting way of thinking.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:01 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Ken wrote:
NotHughGrant wrote:
Rorschach is an interesting character.

Politically speaking the 1980s were a interesting time. The Thatcher-Reagan axis somewhat changed the nature of conservative politics, shifting the emphasis from traditional memes, to naked economic liberation.

Rorschach seems to be a parody somewhat on old conservatives in new conservative world. I know that Moore's politics lean to the left, and clearly Rorschach is a somewhat unhinged character, but I spy a sneaking admiration for his old-testament fury on behalf of the author.

Rorschach is just as appalled by the greed and decadence of Reagan America as he is by "liberal sensibilities". He represents an attack on the right, from the right.

Alan Moore is an enormous fan of Steve Ditko, known to most people as the creator of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange. What many people don't know is that Ditko self-identifies as an Objectivist and that his later work (post-Marvel) was mostly for smaller magazines that let him do whatever he wanted. By that point, Ditko's stories were devolving into thinly-disguised Ayn Rand tracts. His character for DC Comics, The Question, was his effort at creating an Objectivist superhero that was palatable to a mainstream audience, and he'd developed another character for the indies called Mr. A, who was basically The Question with the gloves off.

Moore wrote Rorschach as a pastiche of Mr. A and The Question. Rorschach's mask is significant--he's the ultimate black-and-white vigilante, and he literally shows it in his "face".

Moore's politics, as you've noticed, are poles apart from Ditko's, but I think it's the way that Ditko reflected his personal politics in his work in a very direct, honest, and uncompromising way that Moore admires. Like Moore himself, Ditko's creative personality is so extreme that it doesn't really matter if you find his politics agreeable or disagreeable. He's fascinating regardless.


I don't think that Rorschach's role in "Watchmen" is to make a political point. In "Watchmen", Alan Moore imagines what kind of personalities would become costumed crimefighters in a real life(ish) scenario and juxtaposes them with superhero comic archetypes. By making Rorschach a psychopathic vigilante with a Manichaean worldview, Moore basically makes a comment on the Batman archetype (just as he does with Night Owl II, who has a fetish for costumes and needs his superheroics to fill his life with a purpose). Apart from the fact that Rorschach's investigation provides the narrative arc of "Watchmen", the character is also important for the story because his uncompromising attitude makes him (and, consequently, the reader) question the morality of the ending, which is nicely summed up in Rorschach's "Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise in this."

Why do people admire Rorschach? Personally, I think it's mostly down to his investigation being the entry point and propellant of the story. In a way, he is the main protagonist of "Watchmen". He is also a very well-designed, well-written and interesting character.

Steven wrote:
Well some of Tyler's quotes have become close to life mantras for me. There's clearly things to admire in the man.


Concerning 'Fight Club', I think that the adoration of the Tyler Durden persona is mostly the result of the ending of the movie, which is changed from the book, as well as a very charismatic performance by Brad Pitt. Also, and with due apologies to Steven, it also has something to do with a certain immaturity on behalf of many admirers of the "philosophy" promoted by Tyler Durden.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:09 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Quote:
Concerning 'Fight Club', I think that the adoration of the Tyler Durden persona is mostly the result of the ending of the movie, which is changed from the book, as well as a very charismatic performance by Brad Pitt. Also, and with due apologies to Steven, it also has something to do with a certain immaturity on behalf of many admirers of the "philosophy" promoted by Tyler Durden.


After 12 Monkeys, I wonder if casting Brad Pitt in that role was ever so slightly too easy. At any rate, the whole premise of his character is so absurd that I have trouble focusing on any aphorisms he may offer up.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
It's a film about a schizophrenic when you get down to it. He's clearly jealous of Brad Pitt's time with Helena Bonham Carter...but that's him...so he's jealous of himself?
. I understand the thematic resonance of that...well not really, but either way it's a bit hoaky. I just don't think it's enough for a character to have thematic purpose, he also has to function within the plot. There's too many holes in that script.

Quote:
"Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise in this."


Rorschach is the only one who cries for the victims of Adrian Veidt's scheme (at least in the movie), so I'm moved by his character on that level.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 9:44 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
I think the reason people admire Rorschach has little to do with him acting as in-story narrator.

He is seen as someone living by his convictions. He walks the slums in the rain clearing up the mess that those charged with cleaning it up simply refuse, or are unable, to do.

Rorschach is a populist construction. He's the sum total of who-knows-how-many drunken conversations about how the streets need to be cleaned of the scum element. Rapists, paedophiles, drug dealers etc. He is the antithesis of the perception of remote liberals living far away from the consequences of their understanding policies.

He is the bottom of the barrel; the final weapon in the armoury; the last throw of the dice for people who rightly or wrongly perceive themselves to be preyed upon by malevolent entities. Ask anyone living on a council estate in England if they'd like to see a Rorschach patrolling the neighbourhood, and 80% would say yes.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:14 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
MGamesCook wrote:
Quote:
Concerning 'Fight Club', I think that the adoration of the Tyler Durden persona is mostly the result of the ending of the movie, which is changed from the book, as well as a very charismatic performance by Brad Pitt. Also, and with due apologies to Steven, it also has something to do with a certain immaturity on behalf of many admirers of the "philosophy" promoted by Tyler Durden.


After 12 Monkeys, I wonder if casting Brad Pitt in that role was ever so slightly too easy. At any rate, the whole premise of his character is so absurd that I have trouble focusing on any aphorisms he may offer up.

[Reveal] Spoiler:
It's a film about a schizophrenic when you get down to it. He's clearly jealous of Brad Pitt's time with Helena Bonham Carter...but that's him...so he's jealous of himself?
. I understand the thematic resonance of that...well not really, but either way it's a bit hoaky. I just don't think it's enough for a character to have thematic purpose, he also has to function within the plot. There's too many holes in that script.

Quote:
"Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise in this."


Rorschach is the only one who cries for the victims of Adrian Veidt's scheme (at least in the movie), so I'm moved by his character on that level.



Tyler is a man who lives independently of the values and expectations of others.

There is more than something of the Nietzscheian Overman about him. Hence the appeal.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:17 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
MGamesCook wrote:
Quote:
Concerning 'Fight Club', I think that the adoration of the Tyler Durden persona is mostly the result of the ending of the movie, which is changed from the book, as well as a very charismatic performance by Brad Pitt. Also, and with due apologies to Steven, it also has something to do with a certain immaturity on behalf of many admirers of the "philosophy" promoted by Tyler Durden.


After 12 Monkeys, I wonder if casting Brad Pitt in that role was ever so slightly too easy. At any rate, the whole premise of his character is so absurd that I have trouble focusing on any aphorisms he may offer up.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
It's a film about a schizophrenic when you get down to it. He's clearly jealous of Brad Pitt's time with Helena Bonham Carter...but that's him...so he's jealous of himself?
. I understand the thematic resonance of that...well not really, but either way it's a bit hoaky. I just don't think it's enough for a character to have thematic purpose, he also has to function within the plot. There's too many holes in that script.


[Reveal] Spoiler:
Edward Norton's character is not jealous of himself, but of his non-conformist alter ego. Until the ending, he doesn't realise that Tyler Durden is himself.


I agree that the premise is a bit factitious and probably not in accordance with medical science and that there are plot holes, but I accepted the premise for the movie and didn't mind inconsistencies in the plot. The movie is too well made not to enjoy it, in my opinion. It's just that Durden's "philosophy" is hogwash (and is presented as such).

Btw, after re-reading my post, I would like to make it clear that I don't think that Steven is immature, but that it is immature to take Tyler Durden's "philosophy" at face value. Interestingly, Roger Ebert did as well, although he hated the film as a consequence rather than admiring it.

MGamesCook wrote:
Quote:
"Because there is good and there is evil, and evil must be punished. Even in the face of Armageddon I shall not compromise in this."


Rorschach is the only one who cries for the victims of Adrian Veidt's scheme (at least in the movie), so I'm moved by his character on that level.


Oh, there are more dimensions to Rorschach - and the other characters in "Watchmen" - than merely being a badass/psychopath. Note how the sentence structure of Rorschach's dialogue is much more sophisticated in the one or two flashback scenes, in which he appears, which takes place before the traumatic event. Also, he tells Night Owl II that he knows that it's not easy to get along with him and foodly remembers their days as a crimefighting team


Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:28 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
NotHughGrant wrote:
I think the reason people admire Rorschach has little to do with him acting as in-story narrator.

He is seen as someone living by his convictions. He walks the slums in the rain clearing up the mess that those charged with cleaning it up simply refuse, or are unable, to do.

Rorschach is a populist construction. He's the sum total of who-knows-how-many drunken conversations about how the streets need to be cleaned of the scum element. Rapists, paedophiles, drug dealers etc. He is the antithesis of the perception of remote liberals living far away from the consequences of their understanding policies.

He is the bottom of the barrel; the final weapon in the armoury; the last throw of the dice for people who rightly or wrongly perceive themselves to be preyed upon by malevolent entities. Ask anyone living on a council estate in England if they'd like to see a Rorschach patrolling the neighbourhood, and 80% would say yes.
He's a blunt instrument, to borrow an Ian Flemingism.

Good post.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:31 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
NotHughGrant wrote:
I think the reason people admire Rorschach has little to do with him acting as in-story narrator.

He is seen as someone living by his convictions. He walks the slums in the rain clearing up the mess that those charged with cleaning it up simply refuse, or are unable, to do.

Rorschach is a populist construction. He's the sum total of who-knows-how-many drunken conversations about how the streets need to be cleaned of the scum element. Rapists, paedophiles, drug dealers etc. He is the antithesis of the perception of remote liberals living far away from the consequences of their understanding policies.

He is the bottom of the barrel; the final weapon in the armoury; the last throw of the dice for people who rightly or wrongly perceive themselves to be preyed upon by malevolent entities. Ask anyone living on a council estate in England if they'd like to see a Rorschach patrolling the neighbourhood, and 80% would say yes.


It may well be the case that many readers see him in this way. It is definitely the self-perception of the character. But he's not written like this. He doesn't wash and stinks, he can't articulate himself well and appears to be mentally unstable to say the least, his diet consist of cold baked beans, he spends his daytime carrying an "The End is Nigh" cardboard and, most importantly, he is really unpopular - like all but one or two superheroes in the world of Watchmen. Also, don't forget that Rorschach's investigation is misguided and based on a false assumption. He's not a crack detective.

So I don't think that anybody, who reads Watchmen carefuly, would really want a Rorschach to patrol the streets. They would want Batman or a more violent version of Batman. With Rorschach, Moore is actually teling these people "You would love a Batman, but this is what you would get".


Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:47 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
I also think that it's up to the viewer to know when they're reading too much into a character instead of reading the property as a holistic work. For me, the most important character in a movie is always the director. He/she is the guiding personality of the film, or else it's just not a good movie. Same with literature. Alan Moore is the most important personality in Watchmen; not Rorschach.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 11:56 am
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Unke wrote:
It may well be the case that many readers see him in this way. It is definitely the self-perception of the character. But he's not written like this. He doesn't wash and stinks, he can't articulate himself well and appears to be mentally unstable to say the least, his diet consist of cold baked beans, he spends his daytime carrying an "The End is Nigh" cardboard and, most importantly, he is really unpopular - like all but one or two superheroes in the world of Watchmen. Also, don't forget that Rorschach's investigation is misguided and based on a false assumption. He's not a crack detective.

So I don't think that anybody, who reads Watchmen carefuly, would really want a Rorschach to patrol the streets. They would want Batman or a more violent version of Batman. With Rorschach, Moore is actually teling these people "You would love a Batman, but this is what you would get".

Hence Moore's dissatisfaction; he was trying to deconstruct that archetype and the response to that archetype was more positive than ever.

However, I will take issue with the last remark about Rorschach's detection skills. One of his few positive charateristics is that he's quite skilled at working problems out, despite his deficiencies in other areas. Many detectives, at least in fiction, develop a theory based on the facts they have, then revise their theories as new facts reveal themselves. Even Sherlock Holmes was not immune to getting it wrong before he got it right. I think it was a wise choice on Moore's part to show Rorschach (for example) carefully examining the apartment at the beginning of the book and discovering things that the police detectives missed. While Moore may have been unsuccessful in getting readers to realize the full extent of Rorschach's problems, it would have been a mistake to make the character flat-out suck at everything.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:13 pm
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Ken wrote:
Unke wrote:
It may well be the case that many readers see him in this way. It is definitely the self-perception of the character. But he's not written like this. He doesn't wash and stinks, he can't articulate himself well and appears to be mentally unstable to say the least, his diet consist of cold baked beans, he spends his daytime carrying an "The End is Nigh" cardboard and, most importantly, he is really unpopular - like all but one or two superheroes in the world of Watchmen. Also, don't forget that Rorschach's investigation is misguided and based on a false assumption. He's not a crack detective.

So I don't think that anybody, who reads Watchmen carefuly, would really want a Rorschach to patrol the streets. They would want Batman or a more violent version of Batman. With Rorschach, Moore is actually teling these people "You would love a Batman, but this is what you would get".

Hence Moore's dissatisfaction; he was trying to deconstruct that archetype and the response to that archetype was more positive than ever.

However, I will take issue with the last remark about Rorschach's detection skills. One of his few positive charateristics is that he's quite skilled at working problems out, despite his deficiencies in other areas. Many detectives, at least in fiction, develop a theory based on the facts they have, then revise their theories as new facts reveal themselves. Even Sherlock Holmes was not immune to getting it wrong before he got it right. I think it was a wise choice on Moore's part to show Rorschach (for example) carefully examining the apartment at the beginning of the book and discovering things that the police detectives missed. While Moore may have been unsuccessful in getting readers to realize the full extent of Rorschach's problems, it would have been a mistake to make the character flat-out suck at everything.


That's right and Rorschach is shown to be cleverly using the means at his disposal when he is cornered in Moloch's flat or attacked in prison. What I meant by writing that he's not a crack detective is that Rorschach would be prone to geting the wrong man oce in a while (unlike Batman). He incorrectly believes that there is a serial killer targeting former superheroes and he is investigating into it without realising the true conspiracy.


Mon Jan 27, 2014 12:55 pm
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Well, then you're getting away from the issue of his skills and back into the deconstruction of this particular archetype: if you violate suspects' right to due process, you've implicitly accepted that the pursuit of your own vision of justice is worth occasionally mangling or killing the wrong person. This doesn't happen to Batman because he has the protection of plot contrivance. Rorschach, being a deconstruction, does not.

As I mentioned before, Rorschach's way of thinking is very tempting, but, as with many temptations, to have a masked vigilante like Rorschach patrolling your streets is a poisoned chalice. Or to become such a vigilante, for that matter.

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Mon Jan 27, 2014 1:02 pm
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
Obviously, I don't think it's a good idea to start an underground fight club or engage in anarchic behavior. I think I admire Tyler in the same way that I admire Chris McCandless. These are people (although I suppose Tyler isn't really a person) who have the courage to free themselves from the shackles of society, albeit in very different ways.

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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
MGamesCook wrote:
Steven wrote:
Well some of Tyler's quotes have become close to life mantras for me. There's clearly things to admire in the man.


What man? He's a figment of a shizophrenic's imagination. Even if he were more than that, he'd still only be a character in the movie. This is an example of a viewer taking a movie more seriously and literally than it takes itself. THAT's the problem I see in all these cases. It's the viewers who are being irresponsible, not the filmmakers. That's a big part of what Alan Moore has said on numerous occasions, and I think he's absolutely right. People treating these characters as seriously as if they were real people instead of as facets of a piece of artwork, which is all they really are. That's exactly the opposite of the correct way to treat narrative art.


The thing is, Tyler, while clearly a figment of the lead characters imagination, a very compelling, very charismatic, and very complex character. You can certainly pick and choose what parts of his philosophy to follow. Fight Club is my all time favorite movie, but I also realize that it's as much a deconstruction of Tyler's mindset as anything else, and certainly isn't meant to cheerlead for it. There are things I think Tyler Durden says that are worth following, his points about material society becoming overwhelming are well taken, the problem I think is when you take the philosophy to it's logical extremes and start trying to completely destroy said material society.

Also, while Tyler has anarchist tendencies, I don't read him as strictly an anarchist character. The "human sacrifice" thing he engages in is clearly intended to encourage people to go to school and improve their lives, and Project Mayhem ends up taking on fascist characteristics. Not to mention I read him as more of a Marxist, rather than anarchist character trying to incite a revolution against capitalist institutions (banks/credit card comanies/corporations). The only time they go after a government figure is with the police chief to get them off their backs (ie. as a means to an end).

I remember struggling with this issue when I wrote my review for Watchmen, because in so many ways Rorschach himself is a very compelling character even if he is a sociopath with clearly deep rooted homophobia (amongst other... issues). But at the same time, his singular vision has many, many compelling aspects to it. Which meant I found myself admiring (in some ways) a really homophobic character. The point I think that is worth emphasizing is that extremism may be the most dangerous characteristic of all, and that compromise is quiet often necessary to move the world forward in any meaningful way.
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Mon Jan 27, 2014 6:21 pm
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Post Re: Admiring the "wrong" characters.
But isn't Tyler Durden really just half a character? To fully analyze him, wouldn't you have to reconcile everything Brad Pitt says/does with everything Ed Norton says/does?


Mon Jan 27, 2014 10:43 pm
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