Monday, July 16, 2007

Rogue and the Need to Fix

When I wrote down my thoughts on Wonder Woman and finally got my head around the idea that the key to her character is her confidence, I mentioned how attractive an attribute that is.

But in an ironic, dysfunctional way, so is its opposite: neediness.

Off and on throughout my pre-married life I found myself unbelievably attracted to some really needy women. Sometimes it was emotional neediness, sometimes there was something even more seriously wrong in her life, but I kept falling for these women with major problems that needed fixing.

Looking back on it, it's easy to see what the attraction was. I wanted to be the Knight in Shining Armor that rode in and fixed everything. Of course I never could, but man, the idea was addictive. Ever since I've figured that out, I've never criticized women who always seem to fall for Bad Boys. Most people want to be able to be the hero and fix someone. At its root, its a symptom of poor self-esteem (we get to ignore our own problems in order to work on someone else's, plus there's always the remote possibility of an esteem-building success), but it would be awfully hypocritical of me to point fingers at women who do it when I've been guilty so often myself.

And if I'm honest, the desire to fix broken people is still there. It's just hidden by the fact that I married a well-adjusted woman who doesn't need fixing. But I think about my attraction to Rogue and realize that I'm still susceptible.

Rogue is sometimes portrayed as a voluptuous hottie, but not always, and that's not what I dig about her. What attracts me to her is how broken she is; how needy. How opposite she is from Wonder Woman. She's a vivacious, physical woman, but she can't touch anyone. She's tragic. And I love that she's tragic.

I used to like Gambit when he was just flirting with Rogue and she wasn't having any of it. I thought he was charming as hell when she could see through him and had her defenses up. I hated it though when they actually started falling for each other. Part of that's the Sam and Diane Syndrome, but a big part of it was that I lost the fantasy that Rogue was still available for fixing. Yeah, I fantasized about being able to fix a fictional character. The Need to Fix is strong in this one.

Rogue's a dangerous character precisely because the tragedy of her story is such an integral part of who she is. Or, at least who she always has been. It seems like most writers have equated curing her to getting Gilligan off the island or letting Galactica find Earth. Once you do that, do you still have a story? I think maybe you do, it's just a different story from the one you had before.

I wonder how important Rogue's inability to touch needs to be. I think she could be completely cured and still be an interesting character. Not only has her mutation dominated the stories told about her; it's also dominated her personality. If she loses that aspect of herself, who is she really? Maybe it's just me, but I think that a thoughtful, planned exploration of that question would be a fascinating story to read. And once she's figured that out about herself, she's "fixed" and has a new status quo.

Not that she'd be perfect. Not that she'd be Wonder Woman. But she'd be a few steps closer on the journey rather than stalled at the beginning, which is where she's been since her introduction. Personally, I'm ready to see her move on to the next stage of her life. And I don't even care that I'm not the one helping her do it.


Siskoid said...

I think it would be interesting to see a Rogue who could cut loose and really relish a new found social life.

But happiness is not the Marvel way.

Michael May said...

I agree. And I even agree with Marvel that you never want your characters fully satisfied.

It's just that it's about time for Rogue to find a new challenge instead of wallowing in the same old one she has since she was created.

electric goldfish said...

(pardon my late comment to this post, but I just found it on ask cerebra)

I have also always loved the tragic aspect of Rogue. For me it's not a matter of fixing it, it's a matter of her power being a blessing and a curse. I respect that's she's carrying this burden but also being a hero.

But yes, some days it'd be nice if someone made the effort to move the story along and attempted to help Rogue harness her power. Xavier seems to have deemed her a lost case when it comes to control.

Michael May said...'s a matter of her power being a blessing and a curse.

I think I'd like it if that's the way they wrote her, but most writers focus on the curse side and never let her experience the blessing of her power. If they were actually balanced with it, that could be a nice, new status quo.

I should say though that I like what Mike Carey's been doing with Rogue lately and that I'm looking forward to seeing where he's going with her.


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