Fake "Friends"

First of all, a disclaimer. I will never care that it is uncool to watch Coronation Street. I come from a family who genuinely have Norris’ birthday on our calendar. My stepfather once sternly told off my younger sister for constantly asking questions during one particularly intense episode; “Look, it’s either going to be part of your life, or it isn’t”.

I’ll miss you :(

While at university, watching C.S. reminds me of being at home, and is generally my daily dose of the Mancunian accent I do tend to crave after not hearing the family’s voices for too long. It also gives my flatmates ample opportunity to mock me for being a little bit pathetic. For example; this week, Becky McDonald left the street, and I’m distraught.

Becky was the ultimate Corrie girl. Rivalled only by Blanche in her genius put downs and classic one liners, she was definitely the most fun character on Coronation Street, and the least 2-Dimensional, as some Street characters are/have been (I’m looking at you, Ashley Peacock). I’m genuinely going to miss her.

My distress, however, didn’t impress. Which got me thinking- is it ever acceptable to form an attachment to a fictional character? The answer seems to be a resounding “no”, but it certainly doesn’t stop people from doing exactly that. Spend ten minutes on blogging site Tumblr or searching through Twitter, and you’ll see post after post declaring love for the people from GLEE, Doctor Who, or any Disney film. There’s an entire world of die-hard Harry Potter fans, writing fan-fictions and developing finely attuned knowledge of their favourite character’s lives, years on after the final book was published.

And it’s not all teenagers on blogging sites either. Real life adults have been known to shed a tear during The Titanic (the bit where the old couple get into bed? If you don’t cry, then you’re officially considered A Monster) or other weepies. I actually had to pause “The Green Mile” twice because I was balling so much. 

Whenever I pick up a book, one thing that determines whether I carry on reading it or not is whether I like the protagonist. This doesn’t always translate to whether I’d want to be friends with them, not necessarily; yet there’s a reason The Bell Jar has been lay gathering dust on my bookshelf since I pinched it from a friend’s house. I’m aware it’s considered one of the greatest pieces of literature, and if anything, I could enjoy it purely because of how well it is written. Thing is, the main character Esther, is just too self-deprecating, and let’s face it, a little too hipster-y. She’d be a crap person to go down the pub with.

We’re all guilty of holding someone fictional dear. Even grown men must feel a tug on their heart-strings when a childhood cartoon character is remembered. Lots of women feel an affiliation with Sex and the City characters, and there are people out there who actually have Disney characters tattooed onto their body. Seriously.

It’s something that everyone does, and a hallmark of good writing and good characterisation- to be able to create a character that people will sincerely miss when you stop writing about their existence. Maybe having a breakdown when Schmicheal the dog was put down is pushing it a bit too far, but at least I know I’m not alone.

Farrah Kelly

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