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Random Chats > Classic Westerns vs the Modern Thriller

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message 1: by Feliks, Moderator (last edited Aug 19, 2015 09:29PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 1128 comments Mod
I've seen (and participated in) comparisons between the suspense novel and the thriller, and I myself am often studying the western.

My question to you is: once you look past the structural differences in the thriller format vs other forms of 'sensation' read..(namely that it is designed to place us in a state of panic, in this case using a 'threat to the townsfolk/threat to the community'..)

I'm curious about the type of protagonists in thrillers. What kind of heroic model do they follow? Are they 'recycled' figures from previous genres or previous genre cycles? What kind of men are they?

Outsiders? Insiders? Driven by what? Derived from what way-of-life?

I'm guessing that if there's any pattern in thriller-characters, it can only be to that of western heroes; which have a clearly defined set of archtypes.

The two genres seem to address the same issues, no? Or, disenchanted misfit? No one to step in and save the day except the specially-gifted loner? The professional who despises the amateur? Or, the reluctant hero?

Please share your thoughts, even if they are tentative in nature.

message 2: by Feliks, Moderator (last edited Aug 22, 2015 11:07PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) | 1128 comments Mod
Giving this a bit more thought. Fine-tuning my ideas on what drives thriller fiction. The parallels with westerns are still valid, I think.

Some background: author Will Wright describes the four types of western hero:

a) classical well-intentioned member of society who defends that society
b) individual outside society who occasionally steps back in to defend others, even those who reject him
c) transitional hero; someone who straddles-the-fence
d) the professional outsider who thrives in groups of his own making

Wright's theory ties heroic behavior to institutional and economic change.

But I think in the modern era; our institutions strangle and choke us at the same time they comfort and shield us. The thriller, therefore, plays upon the excitement at the prospect of system breakdown (awkward phrase, sorry).

In that case, (system breakdown) we need a guy with special knowledge and special skills and maybe even one who is not our typical neighbor down the block--to help us.

In that scenario, though--if there's any western style hero which has a traditional parallel in the thriller, it is probably (a) the classical good-guy-within-society.

Is this not so? Are not most thriller heroes pretty conventional, sober, solid-citizens?

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