Wednesday, May 5, 2010

You take the Lone Ranger, I'll take Tonto

The Lone Ranger had Tonto.

Lucy had Ethel.

Napoleon Solo had Ilya Kurayakin. (Yes, as a matter of fact, I did have to look up how to spell that--thank you,

Johnny Quest had Hadji. (That too.)

Or, for those who appreciate more modern references, Doctor Evil had Mini-Me. And, of course, Michael (from Burn Notice--an extremely entertaining TV show on the USA Network) has Sam.

What do they all have in common?

Me! I like them all even better than the characters they kick the sides of.

Aaaaah. Sidekicks. Precious, precious hero-foils.

I love sidekicks. Sidekicks are cool. If I could be in a book myself, or in a movie, or on a TV show, I'd much rather be the sidekick than the main character.

Not sure why. Less pressure, maybe. You don't have to carry the story--you're free to have fun with it, and leave the heavy lifting to the lead. (Ha! Lazy much? Um...yee-aah. So?)

But, strangely, I tend to avoid them in my own writing. I think I'm afraid any sidekick I would write would steal my protag's thunder, and I'm rather protective of her. Wouldn't want any nasty sidekick-lovin' readers like me to come along and dis her.

So, do you write sidekicks? (If you're a writer, I mean. If you're not, and you still write sidekicks--get help.)

And how about Real Life? Are you a sidekick or a hero in the drama that is you?

Don't worry. I'll still like you even if you're a hero.

In fact, maybe I can be your sidekick! I'm pretty good at it. I will stand next to you and look not quite as good as you do. I will be quietly competent at whatever we're doing, but not nearly as great at it--whatever "it" is--as you are. I will even make smartass remarks that somehow serve to highlight your brilliance. (It'd be a sacrifice, but hey, I'm willing.) Soon you will wonder how you ever managed with my kick-side presence.

Whataya say, hero? I won't even wear my steel-toed boots*. I promise.

*Yes, my fingers are crossed. Why do you ask?


stagemanbob said...

"Thank you, Mask Man"
~Lenny Bruce

Kelly Breakey said...

I have to say I totally agree. In fact I am probably more sidekick material myself but am a serious Type A personality so I can't actually BE the sidekick. I would always be telling the hero how they are not doing their hero job correctly while making snarky smart a@# comments. After a few minutes of proving the hero sucks at being the hero and assuring said hero I can do the job better...well you see how this is suddenly spiraling out of control.

Unknown said...

Eh...I'm not the hero type...I'm more the "let me start out as your sidekick, throw out quite a few snarky zingers, help uncover the dastardly deeds of the our archnemisis and then show the hero how to really save the day" type...cuz well, I don't take orders too well. sorry... :(

Cynthia Reese said...

Favorite sidekick? Would have to be Tom Arnold in TRUE LIES. Just absolutely hilarious!

Co-favorite sidekick? Marissa Tomei's character in MY COUSIN VINNY. Equally side-splitting.

I have to have sidekicks in my writing, because otherwise my heroine winds up mumbling to herself a lot. Not so good. And yeah, they do steal all the really good lines, but that's their job. :-)

Linda G. said...

Stageman -- And thank you, Lenny Bruce, for having a mouth on you makes me look like a saint by comparison. ;)

Hi, Kelly! Welcome. :) So, basically, you're conflicted. Since conflicted characters are always the most fascinating, that's cool.

Karla -- See, heroes only THINK they're in charge. Really it's the sidekick subtly calling the plays. ;)

Cynthia -- If you ever feel the need for a potty-mouthed sidekick in one of your books, feel free to model her after me. ;)

LR said...

Hmm interesting post. I think sidekicks need to have a darn good reason to be there - aside from just being a sidekick.

And maybe that's a difference between theatre and novels. On a stage you could have lots of people running around, but in a novel anyone who's extraneous has gotta go.

Dunno. Would be my theory. You're the actress though! :)

Linda G. said...

LR -- I tend to think anyone who shows up in a novel had better have a good reason to be there. (Of course, the definition of "good reason" may vary from writer to writer.) But I pretty much believe everyone--even the "cameos" thrown in for flavor--should forward the plot in some way.

Hayden said...

Humm, good timing. I'm just chewing on a new story and this really caught me. I don't do sidekicks. Maybe I should give it a whirl and see what complexity it adds. Sounds like fun... and later? Can always be cut if not fun enough. Sidekicks. Humm.