He’s…a Simpson

Today’s writing prompt: Who is your favorite character of all time?

Well, that’s a tricky one, innit? As we go through life, our circumstances change; in the process, our sensibilities and the filters through which we see things change as well. So those characters we loved when we were kids are not necessarily the ones we admire most when we become adults. This, in turn, means that picking an “all time” favorite is almost an exercise in futility.

What is the basis for the choice? Do I choose a character I identify with? Or should the character I pick be someone I like because he or she is the total opposite of who I am? Do the character’s traits reflect something specific about me, or do they reflect our shared humanity?

Then there’s the vagueness of the question. Are we talking literary characters, movie or TV show characters, cartoon characters, or people we actually know who are just characters?

“Kevin!” I hear you say, again. “Stop over-analyzing things and just answer the question!”

I can’t help it. I like to know context. Sometimes it’s actually useful to have limits; imagination and creativity without limits can become scattered and unfocused.

For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to go with Homer Simpson of The Simpsons.

Similar to his predecessors (among them The Honeymooners’ Ralph Kramden and The Flintstones’ Fred Flintstone), and his contemporary (Family Guy’s) Peter Griffin, Homer gets himself into a lot of trouble with his get-rich-quick schemes, appetite, and general bumbling. He constantly does stupid things that tend to do more harm than good, even (especially) when everyone around him is telling him he’s making a huge mistake.

But—again, similar to those other characters—at heart, Homer is just a regular guy trying to do the best he can to make life better for himself and the people he loves. He’s got flaws and insecurities, and he’s not too bright, but he’s got heart—and at heart, he really just wants to be happy.

Isn’t that what all of us want?

(4 November 2013)

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