Monday, July 22, 2024

Meet The King and the Buttercup

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If you’ve been following the Fandomentals for a while, it shouldn’t surprise you that we live for analysis in all its forms. Whether we’re looking at games, sartorial elements, or media… we have to explore it, the themes it plays on, its context, and its history. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Analysis. It’s what’s for dinner.

So from time to time, we’ve crafted out our lexicon of character types, names, and concepts to help serve as a shorthand for some ideas or central tenets we’ve established on this site. For example, Carol and Cheryl and Larry became part of our lexicon as a way to quickly refer to the radically different Game of Thrones counterparts for George RR Martin’s characters in A Song of Ice and Fire. Carol would later become our unofficial mascot in the form of a guinea pig and occasionally issues site decrees that we run to carry out. (Thank her for all the giveaways!)

Beyond Carol, we’ve also heavily used two terms, Watsonian and Doylist, as ways to quickly establish a viewpoint for how we’re approaching our analysis, critiquing a show, or discussing a character. With regards to character types, we’ve been using the term Dutiful Princess for a few years now, and last fall we introduced two additional character archetypes: the Glorious Dumbass and the Disaster Chosen One.

We’ve written several pieces detailing our favorite Dutiful Princesses (originally inspired by House Martell) including Sue Gilbert of Dickinson, Princess Leia of Star Wars, and naturally, Princess Arianne from ASOIAF. Likewise, we’ve explored the delightful Glorious Dumbasses Ava Silva (Warrior Nun) and Wynonna Earp (Wynonna Earp), as well as Disaster Chosen One, Sister Lilith (Warrior Nun).

Now we’re adding two more Fandomentals character archetypes: the King and the Buttercup.

All Hail the King

Like the Dutiful Princess, the King can be any gender. The King is wildly competent, capable, and if they aren’t in charge it’s more or less unspoken that they probably should be. Simply put, the King gets shit done and more often than not saves the rest of our motley cast of archetypes from whatever disaster they’ve found themselves in.

But this isn’t a toxic masculinity, hard as nails type of energy. No, the King is empathetic, understands their subordinates or family, loves deeply, and wants the best for those in their circles. That said, they’re also capable of making the harder choice for the greater good, even if it costs them personally. Heavy is the head that wears the crown, after all.

Examples of the King type can be found in Black Panther’s Okoye (Danai Gurira). Leader of the Wakanda Armed Forces and general of the Dora Milaje, Okoye is perhaps Wakanda’s fiercest protector. When her king falls, she’s there to stand up again, step up, and run her country for years, while also coordinating with a galaxy-wide network of heroes to protect others. When her family returns, she’s here to fight to protect the world. And yet she can make the tough call, choosing her country and her ideals over her lover, W’Kabi.

Another example is Shotgun Mary (Toya Turner) from Warrior Nun (yes, we’re gonna be dipping into this show a lot, just get used to it.) Mary is a bit of a maverick, existing within the Order, yet not a nun. She’s seen the injustice the world has to offer and wants to do her part to make it better. Yet she’s also the only one of the warrior sisters to salvage the mess the rest of them made with Ava Silva, offering her both tough love, empathy, and an actual choice. Mary keeps the sisters together when everything else seems to be falling apart, even in the face of losing Sister Shannon.

Or perhaps we should look at Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter, Gal Gadot). Powerful, compassionate, and willing to embrace her own personal pain and loss to inspire the rest of the world to face theirs. Diana could pummel her enemies into submission with her fists easily, yet she chooses to inspire and guide others to choose the greater good and serves as the backbone of the Justice League.

The King knows loss, the King knows pain and suffering, and chooses get back up again and again even when it would be so easy to give up. But again, they get up, because it’s RIGHT, and in doing so inspire others around them in the process.

You’re My Butter-utter-Cuppy-cup

Ah, the Buttercup. Many think of them as the cinnamon roll of the group. The “nice” one, the gentle one. The person always ready with a soft word of encouragement, or a needed hug. They might be overeager, overearnest, or even come across as naive.

However, make no mistake. The moment you hurt one of the Buttercup’s loved ones they will shank you and spit on your corpse.

Here’s the thing about the Buttercup. They’re not “nice” people. Nice is being pleasing, or easily agreeable with others. It’s skin deep, goes along with the tide and doesn’t want to cause any waves.

Nice people made the best Nazis. My mom grew up next to them. They got along, refused to make waves, looked the other way when things got ugly, and focused on happier things than “politics.” They were lovely people who turned their heads as their neighbors were dragged away.

Naomi Shulman

Nice is easy. The Buttercup, again, is not nice. No, the Buttercup is KIND. Kind is not nice, kind is being there for those when you love, but also telling them the hard truths they don’t want to hear because it’s what is ultimately best for them. Kind is showing up for your friends, even when it would be easy to look the other way and stay out of trouble. Kind is being committed to making good trouble.

The Buttercup does everything they do out of kindness, because they genuinely want to help their friends and family, to protect them, and to watch them grow. Kind is not easy. Kind is a choice. It’s a choice the Buttercup makes again, and again, and again because they know someone has to, so it’s going to be them.

The Buttercup is there when their Disaster Chosen One is making terrible decisions, they’re present when the Glorious Dumbass needs a hug because they might be forgetting how awesome they truly are. The Buttercup is there when the King’s steps begin to falter, the weight they carry becoming too much. And the Buttercup is there to help the Dutiful Princess directly confront layers of unnecessary guilt they carry.

To borrow from John Shelby Spong, the Buttercup loves wastefully. Even if they make a misstep from time to time, they try to live fully, love wastefully. They don’t ask if the person they love ~deserves their love. They’re gonna get it regardless because that’s how the Buttercup is determined to live their life.

It’s easy to see examples of the Buttercup once you start to look for them. Bow (Marcus Scribner) from She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Sister Camila (Olivia Delcán) from Warrior Nun, and Theo Putnam (Lachlan Watson) from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina come to mind.

Just remember, their love is endless, but their blades are sharp.

We will have new character analysis pieces out periodically utilizing these new archetypes, as well as continuing to explore the fluidity of primary and secondary traits these archetypes bring with them, as well as more pieces on our existing archetypes as well.

Have strong thoughts about this piece you need to share? Or maybe there’s something else on your mind you’re wanting to talk about with fellow Fandomentals? Head on over to our Community server to join in the conversation!

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