Discussions around active and passive characters tend to make me uncomfortable. It’s possible to discuss active or passive traits as value-neutral dimensions, but most often, people seem to want to make judgments about them. Active characters are lauded. Passive characters are considered deficient.
I don’t accept those judgments.
For one thing, I find it awfully suspicious that ‘active’ is a coded masculine trait and ‘passive’ is a coded feminine trait. It seems unlikely to me that it’s just coincidence that the so-called masculine trait is awesome-pants and the theoretically feminine trait is icky.
But more than that, I feel like there’s a coding here that I just don’t agree with–the idea that some people are suitable protagonists for fiction, and others aren’t.
This is an old idea, right? Kings are suitable protagonists! Knights are suitable protagonists! Stories about mill workers? What’s wrong with you?
I think this class-based attitude toward who is the acceptable lead of a story is still very much alive in modern fantasy fiction, and I occasionally her complaints about “boring” protagonists that are made about very exciting, action-filled stories, and thus seem to boil down to “he’s a farmer” rather than a sorcerer...
Comments over there.