Open Cord (June 4): Your fictional idol

Reading Time: 18 minutes

Graphic by Wade Thompson

Question: We are prone to idolizing famous personalities throughout history and respecting individuals for things they have achieved. But what people typically don’t admit is the fictional characters we treat the same way. Who would you say is your hero of fiction, a character or personality that you idolize and would consider to be someone (or something) you look up to?

Wade Thompson, Visual Director
For most stories in popular culture that I enjoy, I, like most people, am able to find something relatable about the main characters. That’s obviously the purpose of successfully getting across a strong relationship between audience and story. But rarely does a character really win me over in which I actually seem to share their values and want to be almost exactly like them. I would say the best example of this would be “Chandler Bing” from Friends. As stupid as that sounds, he just fits with me. The man was known for being extremely sarcastic, kind of a loser and really self depreciating. But Matthew Perry made it cool. He was the lovable loser who was funny and that became a more acceptable mould of a male figure to me than anything macho or stereotypical. I wanted to be the one who made people laugh, and joke around with. I figured it was just better to be a “friend” (ha, punny). And the ability to laugh at yourself is something I’ll always respect. I think I also have to mention John Cusack’s “Lloyd Dobler” from Say Anything. He was the first 80s teen movie lead that I actually wanted to be, as opposed to be like. He was kind and generous and that iconic image of him with the boombox outside of Diane Court’s window is something I always appreciated. There’s just something about the subtlety of his sweetness that makes him such a cool figure. Not really knowing what he wants to do, just spend time in the moment and not worry about the future. Gotta love Cusack for that.

Carly Basch, Life Editor
Growing up in the Disney Renaissance era, I had always worshiped and idolized “Belle” from Beauty and the Beast. She’s independent, has a love for books and also a very, very big heart. Her willingness to help out her sick father, while digging deep into the dark mysteries of the Beast forced her to be brave and at the same time displayed just how much she cared for others. She marches to the beat of her own drum which caused the village to perceive her as being weird and strange but in fact made her out to be unique and one-of-a-kind. I always wanted to be Belle. However, now as a young adult, I take the sentiments gained from idolizing Belle and channel it towards a different character: Grace Kelly’s “Lisa Carol Fermont” from Rear Window. A smart, witty working lady in the fashion industry (who has a wardrobe to die for) and girlfriend of Jimmy Stewart’s character “L.B. Jeffries”. She is the real hero of the film who puts herself out there and ends up getting the suspicious neighbour Thorwald, exposed. Lisa is classy, poised, well put together but at the same time, sharp, smart and constantly challenges those around her. She goes after the things that she wants while keeping her lady-like composure. After all, she is played by Grace Kelly… one of my favourite and most idolized ladies of all!

Stephanie Truong, Graphics Editor
A character in pop culture that I have always admired would be “Angela Chase” from the short TV series My So-Called Life. She is loyal to those she loves, stays true to her values, and always stands up for what she believes in. Although Angela is a girl of few – but beautiful – words, she is best friends with an outspoken and rambunctious wildflower named Rayanne, a fabulous young man named Ricky, and a conservative over-achieving girl Sharon. She can interact with so many different kinds of people and maintain such strong relationships with them, which is something that I really like about her. Angela also rocks red hair, plaid, and combat boots like no other. She dances to Blind Melon, and lands herself the ever-so beautiful Jordan Catalano – all very impressive accomplishments. Also, “Mulan” from Disney’s Mulan is another one. She’s defiant, offbeat and doesn’t adhere to traditional norms that are expected of her. Although her family questions her ability to “bring honour to us all”, she puts all their doubts to rest when she enlists in the army to fight in her father’s place. This act of immeasurable love and courage has gained my respect and admiration for her. I can definitely empathize with her on the whole overbearing-Asian-parents thing and Mulan’s struggle to make them proud is one that I am all too familiar with. She also has a sweet dragon sidekick. Who doesn’t love Mushu?

Alanna Fairey, Lead Reporter
As a true admirer of Leonardo DiCaprio, I think it would only be appropriate for me to idolize the characters he’s played. Like all girls who have seen Titanic, I have always admired the character “Jack Dawson”. Although one would probably assume that I only appreciate this character because of his dashing good looks (that’s only part of it!), my admiration for him has more depth than that. Jack’s famous phrase “make each day count” has taught me to be open to opportunities that I would’ve run away from in the past. “Making each day count” has made me fearless and open to the people who have entered my life. Many may only recognize Jack to be a “sexy beast”, but to me, I love and admire his fearlessness and his optimism. Also, I fully admire “Rory Gilmore” from Gilmore Girls. I’ve always been envious of her fast-paced witty banter, her intellect and her drive to accomplish her work. She is loyal to her friends, maintains close relationships with her family and is always practical when dealing with boys. Plus, Rory and I have a love for two things: writing and lots of coffee. Rory’s passion for journalism is the reason why I wanted to be a part of The Cord in the first place. I’m already excited to start off my year as a “Mini Rory Gilmore”!

Justin Fauteux, Editor-in-Chief
At the risk of sounding like a complete douche, the fictional character I idolize more than any other is “Don Draper” from Mad Men. I know, I know, about 99 per cent of people that just read that rolled their eyes. “22-year-old male idolizes the uber-suave ad exec that no woman can resist,” pretty stereotypical, not to mention quite pathetic. But to me, to idolize someone is to put them on an insanely high pedestal and subtly aspire (no matter how futile those aspirations may seem) to be like them. I can’t think of anyone else besides Don Draper (I decided to exclude superheroes with either alien, radioactive or Morgan Freeman-created powers). In my mind, he’s the most believable larger-than-life character on television. I actually believe that guys like that existed in the 60s, and if time travel were possible, I’d like to be one of the guys. Sure, I could be the stereotypical “man” and go on about how he could get just about any woman imaginable, but I don’t think that’s what makes Draper such an ideal character. It’s his ability to seemingly always have the perfect line on tap (whether in a pitch meeting or while dealing with his comically bitchy ex-wife), the way he commands a room with just a few words, or the subtle cockiness he exudes that I admire. Also, the man’s got some demons. Without giving away too many spoilers, he’s been through some shit, and still, he’s about as confident and collected as a person can be when their diet seems to consist mostly of Canadian Club and cigarettes. It’s that confidence that I admire and wish I had a fraction of, myself.

Katelyn Cullum, Lead Reporter
While I could probably list about 100 fictional characters that I’ve looked up to at one point in my life, my most recent idol would have to be “Jess Day” from New Girl. I think I watched the entire first season in about two days because I was just so fascinated by Jess, as well as the rest of the gang. To me, Jess embodies every single quirky characteristic I see in myself yet I can’t seem to convey these characteristics with the amount of coolness she does. The way she dresses, the way she praises awkwardness and the way she can laugh at herself just makes her a hilarious character to watch. While I can’t say I own the same amount of colourful flats and polka-dot dresses as she does, I can say that I hope to be just as awesomely awkward and bubbly as she is when I’m older. We share the same love for spontaneous outburst in song, though her voice is actually good whereas I tend to make people leave the room. And of course there is our passion for teaching. If I find myself in a couple of years living with a cute bartender, a cocky, yet actually kind-hearted businessman and a competitive ex-basketball player, as well as having a model as my best friend, I will consider my life a success.

Marissa Evans, Lead Reporter
Let me start off by saying that it took me a ridiculous amount of time to think of a fictional character that I idolize. My problem is that I don’t really have a movie or book or even TV show that is my absolute favourite, so I didn’t really have anywhere to start. Also I’m really indecisive, which is probably why I admire the fictional characters I (finally) selected- because they are what I am not: definitive and spontaneous in their decisions. The first character which embodies this description is “Ferris Bueller”. Need I say more? Every kid wishes they were as inventive as Ferris. The second character is “Jim Halpert” from The Office. What isn’t there to admire about Jim? He somehow pulls off doing hardly any work, while maintaining his position as Michael’s favourite employee. Which I guess doesn’t always work out to be a good thing, but it’s better than being in Toby’s place. What is most endearing about Jim is his ingenious pranks which never fail to terrorize Dwight. But while some people admire a fictional character because they wish they had the same outlook on life, or personality, or talents, that isn’t why I admire Ferris and Jim. I think I’d rather be their best friend. I guess in Ferris’ case that would make me Cam, the depressive best friend. And for Jim it would make me the insane boss. Regardless, I’d like to have a friend like Ferris or Jim. They’d certainly make life more exciting! Maybe some of their spontaneity would rub off on me. Either way I feel like a supporting character is a pretty good role to have. Ferris Bueller’s best friend. I like the sound of that.

Justin Smirlies, Managing Editor: News
If I could choose anyone from the literary and cinematic world as my fictional idol, it would have to be ultimate bad-ass and iconic tomb raider, “Indiana Jones”. No, I don’t strive to be his bratty but reliable sidekick, “Short Round” (insert Asian-kid joke here), but the man himself; to have his charm, sense of humour, athleticism, smarts and no-bullshit attitude — all of it. While Harrison Ford deserves considerable credit for moulding the character to what it effectively is today, the character himself just has about everything a man wants to become — of course without having too much arrogance. Seriously, what kind of man can pull off a fedora and a bullwhip? Travelling the world to excavate hidden secrets and giving the middle finger in the face of danger, Dr. Jones has the balls to do almost anything he wants. But the thing that I enjoy most about the character is that he’s a genuine and likeable hero. He may come off as a prick sometimes, but he gets the job done no matter what. This man even stared right into the eyes of Adolf Hitler and didn’t even shit his pants. Although I know I will never be close to half the man Jones was depicted to be, there’s one thing that I know we would both agree on: the horrible existence of snakes. Oh God, do I hate snakes.

Lizz DiCesare, Campus News Editor
I would like to start off by giving some shout-outs to my runner-up choices: “Professor Snape” from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, “Pangloss” from Voltaire’s Candide and “Boba Fett” from George Lucas’s Star Wars.

Now, the fictional idol I have chosen is “Holden Caulfield” from J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye. (And when I say idol I don’t necessarily mean I aspire to be like Holden, but that I hold him in high esteem and can relate to him on a personal level.) Although I have never dropped or failed out of highschool, lost a sibling, run away from home or placed in a psychiatric ward, I know people who have; Holden’s feelings towards the negative aspects of society and life have some residence in mine. I too constantly feel the need to critique society and call out all of the unfortunate situations I see. Like Holden, I’m not one to hold my tongue: I voice my opinions without caring whether or not they might seem offensive to others. Speaking the truth is better than lying, which is what all those “phonies” do. However, similar to Holden, I too can be hypocritical (and also hate to admit it.) I share a similar fear of growing up and facing the real, adult world, and at times have a large amount of apathy towards my future because childhood seems too simple and carefree to give up. As Holden reflects on his views concerning childhood innocence while telling his sister, Phoebe, that he wants to grow up and be the catcher in the rye, he also reveals his view that adults are hypocritical and superficial. While these ideas are largely simplified, they reflect attitudes I had while growing up and helped me to understand society in a much more enlightened manner than simply dividing adults into “phonies” and “perverts”. But if there is anything that Holden has taught me, it’s from his final line: “don’t ever tell anybody anything; if you do, you start missing everybody.”

Shaun Fitl, Web Editor
I remember watching “Kermit the Frog” reporting on Sesame Street when I was young. At the time I didn’t know what it was about his personality that drew me to him, but he seemed more sincere and down to earth than all the other rambunctious personalities I had encountered on kids shows throughout my youth. While other characters seemed to just go with the flow and blissfully do their own thing, Kermit seemed more conflicted and, in a sense, more human. His neuroticism felt natural to watch because, especially in the case of The Muppet Show, part of the context was that the characters were aware of the audience and felt a pressuring sense that “the show must go on.” When something went wrong, and things often went wrong, he wouldn’t just shrug it off. Instead, he would react openly and that was what made him so fun to watch. To this day I still enjoy seeing him in his movies, on network television doing silly promos or shit talking Fox News with Miss Piggy; and I even throw on some season 3 Muppet Show reruns every now and then for good measure. I think there is a real reason why Kermit has always been relevant to me. Whereas I am no longer intrigued by the vast moral dilemmas Ash had to sort out in Pokémon, the dream of one day finding the “Rainbow Connection” will never slip away from me. Kermit simply asks “What’s so amazing that keeps us stargazing and what do we think we might see?”

To me he represents curiosity and openness to adventure. If somebody told me there was nothing magic about the world I wouldn’t believe them because (1) that takes all the fun out of everything and (2) it just seems too easy to sum up all the mysteries of life in a handful of pretty words or mathematical formulas. Although we can use numbers or language to get outside of our own subjective experience, Kermit tries to tap into something deeper; more personal and almost intuitive. The sentiment that there is more to life than meets the eye is relatable not just for me but for many other people. And because of this fact I am sure that there is a real connection underneath all of the objectivity in this world. As Kermit would say “I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.”

Lindsay Purchase, Local and National Editor
I’m not sure if anything makes me more nostalgic than the stories of “Clifford the Big Red Dog” and his best friend “Emily Elizabeth”. I’ve held onto these books long past childhood, with my favourites tucked away in my room beside the Harry Potter series and Richard Scarry’s Best House Ever. To be honest, much of my love for these books comes straight from a desire to have a giant dog. I can’t really think of many things cooler than being able to ride your dog to school. I envied Emily Elizabeth for her oversized companion, who always proved worthy in the event of a house fire or bear attack.

Still, the connection goes much deeper than that. My favourite book of them all reveals a lot about why I love these characters so much. Clifford the Small Red Puppy tells the beginning of their journey together, as Emily Elizabeth chooses the smallest puppy of the bunch, the one who “will always be small and sick,” and wasn’t expected to make it through the winter. Clifford gains strength from Emily Elizabeth’s love, and beats the odds to not only survive, but to completely outgrow their two storey home. It’s Emily Elizabeth’s dedication to her pet that makes her such an admirable character. Regardless of the circumstance, she is inclusive, protective and loving, in the way that only a best friend can be. Clifford, too, is a character to be looked up to. His best qualities, like most dogs I know, are his unwavering loyalty and heart of gold, something which we as people can learn so much from. The unwavering bond between the two is something so relatable for anyone who has taken in a pet as a member of their family, while their character traits are ones which should be aspired to. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go hug my dog and cats.

Gillian Lopes, Copy Editing Manager
My first favourite fictional character would have to be “Westley” from The Princess Bride. Besides being insanely good-looking, he was an incredibly brave hero would stop at nothing to keep others safe, especially his love (yes, sappy), Buttercup. He begins as a poor farm boy venturing out in hopes of making money, only to be kidnapped by a pirate—the Dread Pirate Roberts to be exact– but he wins over the crew and even takes on the name himself. He also saves Buttercup from Vizzini (inconceivable?!), ventures into the scary woods, slays all those rodents of unusual size and makes evil Prince Humperdinck surrender—of course saving Buttercup once again. For most people who are familiar with the film and watched it as much as I did as a child, Westley is certainly the main hero that everyone roots for. From his bravery to his witty remarks, it just makes sense. Did I mention that he dies and comes back to life?

My next hero would have to be “Mattie Gokey” from my favourite novel, A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly. When she is not looking up words in the dictionary for fun, her friends and teacher notice her talent for writing. Though she does appear to be hero material like Westley, Mattie chooses her writing career over farm life and a potential marriage, refusing to settle for the expectations of women in her 1906 community. Oh, and she’s only sixteen! Her story is also combined with the murder of a young woman, Grace Brown, who gives Mattie a bundle of letters to burn. Mattie instead follows her instinct and leaves the letters to be found by authorities that just happen to the contain proof as to who murdered the young woman. Mattie shows it’s okay to be a bookworm and that even the smallest people can do big, life changing things.

Both of these characters are incredibly honest and brave as they take risks not only for others, but for their own happiness. Though both seem very different, the willingness to go out and take action is what makes them similar. I think most of us wish we had the bravery to go out and do the unthinkable — whether it is a big adventure or the bravery to follow a dream that others have told you was impossible.

Shelby Blackley, Sports Editor
One of the strangest things about myself is my love for early Victorian and British Literature. As such, one of my most idolized fictional characters has to be “Elizabeth Bennet” from Jane Austen’s (I know, right?) Pride and Prejudice. Although it nearly killed me to sit through Mansfield Park in my first year Reading Fiction class, Pride and Prejudice I couldn’t put down and it is because of the character that Elizabeth portrays. She is one of the Bennet sisters- aside from her older sister- that wants to marry for love, yet she is so cynical about the concept that she does not dare let it console her as it does the rest of the Bennet family. She’s so incredibly independent and one of the most influential female characters in British literature because she defies the traditional role of women in that era. Her journey and her actions reflect exactly what I love in both her and the book. As well, being a huge Keira Knightley fan, to see her play Elizabeth so well in the 2004 adaptation just sparked by adoration for this character that much more. She is intelligent and witty, yet has the perfect combination of both sweetness and that persistent judgment which makes the novel as good as it is. Elizabeth comes alive in situations that would normally turn people away, and in many situations I feel as though I can relate to many of her thoughts and feelings. Though… I can’t leave out mentioning “Zelda” from The Legend of Zelda, whom is one of my favourite characters ever- and of course the adored Yoshi. I’ve always wanted a green mini dinosaur that would take me anywhere.

Kate Turner, Photography Manager
There are two characters that come to mind when I think of my fictional heroes. These characters inspire me and speak to me each time I watch the film/read the book they are featured in. The first is “Blue van Meer” from the novel (that I’m sure no one reading this has heard of) Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Don’t even get me started on how much I love this book. Blue is a pop-culture whiz and is obsessed with film. She’s witty as hell, and is just an all-around interesting character. Her quirky and weird ways are what make me idolize her so much, because she is very different from other fictional characters. She is not an archetypal “hero,” and I love that.

Another character that I have always idolized and loved is “William Miller” from Cameron Crowe’s Almost Famous. William is a total badass. He’s fifteen, writing for Rolling Stone, hanging out with crazy musicians, and canoodling with groupies (aka “bandaids”) who are total babes and apparently aren’t opposed to orgies. His badassery isn’t necessarily why I idolize him, though it just adds to his overall awesomeness. I love his character because of his passion for music and writing, and how throughout the film he still manages to be a decent person. His passions are so important to him that he leaves the security of his home to pursue them. True, his mother is absolutely bananas and that’s probably a contributing factor to his leaving, but it’s safe to say that his passion for journalism is what ultimately made him go. Even as William gets totally emerged in the seemingly glamorous life on the road, he never lets his ambition get out of sight, but he still has a great time. I don’t know about other people, but the chance to tour with a band and have your experiences published in Rolling Stone sounds fantastic to me. I think what I constantly take from William as a character is to take something that you really love in life, and make a living out of it. I know I am not alone when I say that I hope to do that some day.

Devon Butler, Opinion Editor
Despite all the celebrated literary heroines of the 19th century, the most inspirational and resonating character is “Anne Shirley” from Anne of Green Gables, that’s Anne with an E. She’s feisty, funny, imaginative and insanely intelligent; what every young girl should aspire to be. For years I tailored my personality to mirror hers but when I realized I would never be quite as awesome as her I simply relished in her character to provide comfort to be the quirky, odd person I am today. Anne, beyond being an iconic Canadian figure, is a symbol for motivation and inspiration, and oh her wisdom! Her phrase “Tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it” has become my personal mantra. Not only does she always have something witty and profound to say, she carries herself with such confidence- despite her insecurities. (Side note: Let’s talk about how amazing her hair is. When I went on a pilgrimage to Prince Edward Island as a child I got a straw hat with red braids attached and would wear it just to experience life as a redhead). Anne inspires me to take risks, to stand up for myself and to trust that my thoughts, my opinions and my dreams are worthwhile. Also, she is a total badass.

Now that I’m good and nostalgic for my childhood, I can’t stop reminiscing about Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Before you assume I’m going to say I idolize Sabrina Spellman, let me tell you, she is no match for “Salem Saberhagen”. He is the voice of reason that makes the entire television series entertaining and humorous. He is a cat who knows what he wants. His quest for world domination is balanced out by his sensitive nature because deep down he just wants to be loved. He is witty, charming and a testament to enjoying the little moments in life. He also proved to me that you can be sexually attracted to the puppet of an inanimate cat.

Cristina Rucchetta, Lead Photographer
“FEENY! FEE-HEE-HEE-HEENY!” I hope everyone remembers the good ol’ “Feeny call.” Growing up, my favourite TV show was Boy Meets World and, as a matter of fact, it still is to this day. Throughout the years, I’ve gotten all my life lessons from the one and only, “Mr. Feeny.” As Cory Matthews’ elementary school and high school teacher, university professor and next door neighbour, Mr. Feeny was with Cory and his friends every step of the way until the day they graduated from college. He played the wise and caring mentor to Cory, Shawn and Topanga by helping them get through the tough times in their lives. Whether he was steering Shawn on the right path, getting him to stay out of trouble, shaking his head at the ridiculous things Cory said or did, or telling Topanga to bud out of people’s business, Mr. Feeny always knew the right thing to say or do to make them learn their lesson. He was always very diplomatic in the sense that he would help you understand your mistakes without talking down at you and making you feel insignificant; a great quality in a teacher inside and outside of the classroom. Even with the series long over, I still hear people talk about how they wish they had a teacher like Mr. Feeny or how everything they learned in life was from Mr. Feeny (they even sell the shirts with that saying!), and I couldn’t agree more. Mr. Feeny was always there to remind me to do the right thing and taught me how to be a good person. “Believe in yourselves. Dream. Try. Do good.”

Nick Lachance, Photography Manager
My fictional idol would have to be “Gordon Freeman” from the Half Life saga. Gordon is just a regular guy, as well as regular as a brilliant 27 year old theoretical physicist can be, and one day shit goes down at work, so he steps up. It’s not everyone who could mentally survive the discovery of a parallel dimension, let alone show it who’s boss when it tries to kill you. As Dr. Freeman’s colleagues cower, explode and become head-crab infested zombies around him he take’s it all in stride. Even when the Calvary arrives and tries to kill him, it ain’t no sweat off Gordon’s back. Just more trash to take out. In the end of the saga’s first installment, Dr. Freeman has been so badass that he gets hired by the shadowy G-Man who has orchestrated the entire catastrophe he just survived. He walks into a wormhole or something to start his new life as an inter-dimensional badass and cool music starts playing. Who wouldn’t want that as an idol?!?! As if that isn’t cool enough, in the saga’s second installment Gordon is pretty much worshipped by an oppressed human population that calls him “The Free-man”. Shit’s gone down while Gordon has been dimension hopping and humans have had their asses kicked! So once again it is up to Dr. Freeman to save the day. Which he promptly does one bullet at a time. With the alien overlords re-grouping and humanity rolling up its sleeves for the knock-out punch, Gordon disappears once again into the inter-dimensional ether to keep everyone in suspense for Half Life’s concluding chapter. The thing I admire the most about Gordon Freeman is his lasting power. I was eighteen when I first played Half Life, and mid twenties when Half Life 2 came out. Now I’m thirty and I still don’t know the end of the story but I’m still interested.

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