Last year I came across a great slideshow that presented fictional antiheroes from Dexter Morgan to Don Draper. It was a solid list of 28, but could've easily been 30. And one commenter had a colorful suggestion for the 29th spot:
Where the %$@&! is Omar Little?
I didn't know Omar Little was the antihero from The Wire until I Googled him (don't judge me). Omar only stole from drug dealers, had a strict personal moral code and shunned profanity. Sound familiar? It should.
Robin Hood: The Literary Antihero
Robin Hood is the famous 13th century character who's popularly known for only robbing from the rich and giving to the poor. He's considered an heroic outlaw. That's just a fancy literary term for antihero. He has heroic attributes like courage and philanthropy, but at the expense of bending or breaking the law.
Omar Little: The Urban Robin Hood
Omar Little is a complex character, like you and me. He's a sophisticated ruffian. He's privately tender with his darlings, but a public terrorist to drug lords. It's not everyday you meet a homosexual gangster who embraces his sensitive side, but still wields a shotgun like a Jedi Knight. Then again, you never know.
Robin Hood vs. Omar Little
- Motive. Robin was a yeoman bandit, serving himself. Only in the past century was he considered a philanthropist. Omar's motive was simply survival, also serving himself.
- Weaponry. Both possess lethal weapons. Omar has a gun and famously whistles, "A hunting we will go." Robin carries a bow and arrow, which is a projectile weapon system designed for hunting.
- Persona. Omar is considered a hoodlum. Robin Hood's last name can be considered slang for "hoodlum".
- Historicity. Both fictional characters reflect real life individuals, although Robin's real life story is arguable.
- Childhood. Omar was raised an orphan. Robin might've been too, which explains his questionable origin.
Omar is a dark antihero (no pun intended) in a crime drama, while Robin's a cheery antihero in a comedy adventure. Although he has questionable means by which he decides to help humanity, one 19th century novel still describes Hood's adventures as merry. With so many similarities it's baffling how these two are perceived so differently.
Robin Hood vs. You
It's the same dichotomy in real life. Some antiheroes are favored, while others are treated as if they were villains. Nike drops Lance Armstrong for being "unfaithful" to his sport, while keeping Tiger Woods who was unfaithful to his spouse. While both seem to have statute of limitations in their favor, Bill Cosby's reputation suffers from sexual allegations, while Stephen Collins' admitted sexual deviations only get him a slap on the wrist.
How is this possible? There might be some likability factors at play. And what you see happening with our fictional antiheroes, might help you to embrace being a real antihero. We'll take a look at some of those factors in the next few letters.