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A Rant On Red, Monsters, And Antagonists In General

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There's a writing advice blog post on Creepypasta OCs, and why stories revolving around those types of characters get deleted. The writer of this post makes some good points: most monster stories are scary because we know nothing about the monster, they focus more on the victims, that sort of thing. A lot of good points are made in this blog. However, the writer talks a bit about Red from "NES Godzilla," and says that Red has "...become a favorite among CP fans."

Yeah, this is where I disagree, and which leads to the official start of this rant. I don't like Red very much. I'll grant that he has an interesting design and somewhat frightening powers, but as a monster/villain/antagonist, he's kind of boring. I place this mostly on his dialogue. A lot of it sounds like it comes from a poorly written/stereotypical supervillain. Don't believe me? Here are some actual quotes from Red:

"YOU CAN'T WIN, ZACHARY"

"THEY CAN'T SAVE YOU"

"I WILL END THIS FUTILE STRUGGLE"

I expect this kind of dialogue from a child's version of Lex Luthor, not a supposedly fan-favorite Creepypasta monster. I mean, come on, can't you come up with something better?

Say what you will about Slender Man, but he is, in a way, kind of scary. He's silent, powerful, can't be reasoned or bargained with, and we know nothing about him. By the way, despite not saying a word, he's still has more of a personality than Red. Slender Man is cruel, sadistic, and malicious. Red is...er...smug and arrogant, I guess.

Now, I should note that the blog I mentioned at the very start of this post said that, "WE BARELY KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT RED." (That was an actual quote from the post, and it was written in all caps) This is implied to be why he's a "fan-favorite."

Yeah, it's true, we don't know much about Red. Except how to beat him. And that he likes to say that he can't be beat. And that his power is restricted to a game cartridge.

See, Red isn't scary as a character. In a weird way, he's like Jeff the Killer. The main scare one might get from either of them is their picture. As characters, they aren't menacing or scary in any way, shape, or form.

This where I think not knowing much about Red hurts him as a character. He's not scary, so why not make him interesting? And if you can't do that through personality, why not through backstory and information about the character? Information that makes you re-evaluate Red's actions in a whole new light after discovering it?

Let me put it this way: let's say there's a strong, tough character who doesn't speak much. Pretty generic and boring, right? Well, what if the reason he doesn't speak is because his tongue was cut out, or because due to some tramautic incident, he can no longer speak? Suddenly, he's a bit more interesting.

Now, I'm not saying that having an interesting backstory makes up for having a lackluster character; far from it. However, I find it preferable to a character who is absolutely boring.

Some might be wondering, "That's all well and good, but what makes a character we know nothing about interesting?" First, shut up, this is my post. Say what you want in the comments. And second, simple: personality. Something unique and memorable about them.

For example...

The Joker from The Dark Knight. We know his backstory in the comics (sort of. Is it still canon, or did it get rebooted with the New 52? I'm not a big DC guy, and haven't followed the New 52, so I don't know), but in that movie, we have absolutely no idea what his backstory is. Sure, he tells us, but they're two conflicting accounts. Which one is real? We don't know, and, honestly, don't care. The Joker is a fun and scary villain in that movie. He has no qualms about causing trouble, death, face burning, or anarchy. Hell, he seems to consider himself the living embodiment of anarchy, and seems to enjoy that he is. This creates and interesting conflict betwixt him and Batman. Batman is the embodiment of justice and order while Joker is the embodiment of lawlessness and chaos.

Let's compare this to Red. Many say he's a demon (which, come on, he kind of is), or a representation of Satan, while Melissa, Zachary's girlfriend/living deus-ex-machina, represents God and angels. This would be fine, if it weren't in your face. Ever see the Nostalgia Critic's review of Man of Steel? If you have, remember how he commented on the Jesus imagery in the movie, by having a voice chant "I am Jesus" in the background whenever Jesus symbolism came up? You can literally do that in this story, except instead of Jesus, have the voice chant, "I am Satan" whenever Red appears.

Bringing things back towards Creepypasta (though some may argue that the whole Joker thing was Creepypasta-related since Jeff the Killer is obviously based off of him in terms of design), let's talk once again about Slender Man. Now, many don't like Slender Man, or are tired of him, and that's fine, I get it. But personally, I think he is THE Creepypasta monster. Before you say anything, hear me out, then write hateful comments in the comments section. See, what's the thing a lot of people fear? There's heights, death, seeing William Shatner in a thong, but mainly it's the unknown. People fear what they don't know or understand. And Slender Man, in my eyes, is the personification of fear of the unknown. He has no face. He wears a suit a la the Men In Black, who are supposed to be unknown. We don't know why he does what he does, how he does it, and how or even if he can be stopped. All we know is that he's unrelenting, sadistic, and, as far as we know, unstoppable. He doesn't say anything, he doesn't drop any hints about who he was, or his motivations. All he does is stalk you, drive you insane, and makes you disappear. He's a character who not only doesn't need a backstory, but would be hurt by one. If he were a demon, or an alien, or was created by a scientist or something, that'd only take away from who he is.

The reason I consider him the definitive Creepypasta monster is because of what most Creepypasta writers try to accomplish in their stories. They want us to be scared by what goes bump in the night. They want us to be afraid of the unknown. (Or, in the case of OC writers, they want us to fall in love with their obviously very original creation, James the Killer, who says, "Time to take a nap" before he guts you) And Slender Man is a representation of the unknown.

That blog post got it right: the unknown is scary. However, in a story, scary can only get you so far. You also want interesting. Slender Man is interesting. He's a complete mystery. Why does a faceless being in a suit also have tentacles and the ability to teleport? Who knows? But it's damn unique and interesting. Hell, from what we know of his personality, that's interesting. Like I said earlier, we know that he's sadistic and seems to revel in what he does. That's interesting, and a tad scary.

Red is not interesting. His design and powers are, sure, but as a character, he isn't. His dialogue, which is the biggest insight into his personality, is pretty cliche. He's not scary either, since we know exactly how to beat him. We know how to stop him. Just use the Melissa cheat code, and the power of love. (In other words, play some Huey Lewis if you get that game) Boom! Problem solved. Next.

So, you may wonder what the point of this long ramble/rant/roast of Jeff the Killer and Red is? Well, it's this: a scary design and nifty powers only takes you so far. When writing a monster, or an antagonist, or just any character, you want to make them interesting and unique. Give them something memorable personality wise. Well, give at least one of the characters in your story a personality. And focus more on interesting than scary, but, when it comes to monsters, don't forget the scary.

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