How Viewers Respond to Transgressive Protagonist-Heroes in Film

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  • 1 Concordia University Texas philip.hohle@concordia.edu
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Abstract

The heroes we encounter in narrative film speak to us as we go about making sense of our world. However, any evening spent browsing Netflix will demonstrate that protagonists have become so flawed that, “Even the anti-hero has degraded to the point that we cannot easily tell them apart from the antagonist” (Duffy 2008: 208). These are transgressive protagonist-heroes who take on quests of self-importance, shy away from any real moral transformation, and return from their heroic journey to serve us a spoiled elixir. Must viewers disengage their moral filters to identify with these characters and enjoy this kind of fare? Using sense-making methodology, fresh qualitative data was collected that provide thick descriptions revealing how actual viewers respond to transgressive protagonist-heroes.

Contributor Notes

Philip J. Hohle, PhD, is an associate professor of Communication at Concordia University Texas teaching courses in mass media. For twenty years, he owned and operated Parabolic Media, an award-winning media production company. His analysis of André Øvredal’s film Trollhunter was published in the summer 2014 issue of the The Journal of Communication and Religion.

Projections

The Journal for Movies and Mind

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