Monday, May 18, 2009

The Good Fight

In a way, this blog isn't so much about Wesley Wyndam-Pryce or Angel or Alexis Denisof, but an exploration of why someone as "average" as me can all of a sudden be completely blown away by a TV series. Why did I completely fall in love with Wesley/Alexis at first sight? What is it about the plot lines of Angel that appeal to me so much? Why is it that I'm making time to spend almost two hours per day watching a series that's been off the air for five years?

Wesley. First, it's pretty obvious from the name of my blog that I've completely fallen head-over-heels in love with Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. I don't think I need to go into too much explanation on why that is. (Nobody wonders why a guy would fall in love with Tori Praver!) Just look at the pictures at Spuffy_Girl's Livejournal site to get a clue on why I think he's so impossibly sexy (particularly the picture of badass Wesley halfway down the page.)

BTW, aren't those adorable pictures of Alexis, Alyson and Satyana?

If it wasn't for Alexis Denisof, I'd probably just be occasionally tuning in to catch part of the show rather than recording each and every episode.

Black, White, and Shades of Gray. A second reason why I'm attracted to the series is that I love the whole premise of idealism being mixed in with pragmatism which, if you're not careful, can cross the line into consorting with the enemy. I really need to do a Season 5 post, but these issues really came into the forefront during Angel & Co.'s stint with Wolfram & Hart. For quite a bit of my career, I worked in various capacities with lobbying groups and associations that represented one particular industry group. In my early years, I worked wholeheartedly for this group's agenda, even though I sometimes felt a certain twinge of regret at some of their antiworker/anticonsumer sentiments. I sold my soul to a certain point and was decently compensated for my efforts. In my defense, I felt this group was pretty pragmatic and acted with the knowledge that they could go a lot farther toward achieving their goals if they worked with the opposition for mutually agreeable solutions.

As years went on, I found that the leadership of the industry group I helped represent became more strident in their demands. They moved away from a "Let's work this out" stance to "Hell, we're powerful enough to screw the American public. Let's just do it." Since I did a lot of research for them, I was being increasingly pressured to come up with information that justified their positions rather than gave them a clearer understanding of how the real world actually operated. I flat out couldn't work for them anymore.

I could have thrown in my lot with the enemy opposition, since I felt they were becoming less radical, less impossible to deal with, and more reasonable with their demands. Except, by then I realized that the opposition group that supposedly supported workers/consumers was busily selling out their constituency by focusing on minor problems while refusing to attack the root causes that were dragging down my state and my nation. The opposition group leaders were issuing press releases by day denouncing the industry representatives, while attending dinner parties with them at night and planning new ways to screw the public while still pretending to represent their interests.

I now volunteer some of my time with an extremely loosely organized confederation of individuals where we share our research and try to keep the issues out in the open. We can't say we're making any headway, but we hope we're doing our small part to make sure things won't get any worse, either.

So the whole David versus Goliath aspect of Angel really appeals to me on a personal level. It's not fair that the forces of Evil are so well-organized and powerful, even to the point of controlling most of the information that reaches the public. It's not fair that they can successfully thwart Good at almost every level by throwing more money at their causes. However, at a very basic level, most people are Good and will fight back when pressed. Whenever the forces of Evil go too far, they risk incurring a fierce backlash that can set their cause back by several years. If I want to be really honest with myself, instead of focusing all the time on how much longer we need to fight, I should allow myself to step back once in a while and be amazed at how much time and money the Bad Guys need to devote to their cause just to maintain the status quo.

I know this can sound pretty odd for a person my age (let's delicately say my 20-year high school class reunion was longer ago than I care to admit), but Angel's final battle with the Senior Partners at the end of Season 5 really energized me and gave me reason to continue fighting my own battles. And really, that shows the true beauty of fiction. I can read motivational pieces by learned scholars all day long on why I should continue to fight the good fight. However, it sometimes takes a good dose of fantasy to get the blood flowing, bring a sense of immediacy, and motivate a person to action.

(Update: I consider "Angel and His Kids" to be a continuation of this post.)

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