Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Most Fun Successes in Pop Culture

Just did a post on characters that specialize in failing, here is the flip side of that.  Characters that constantly succeed are often less interesting than the failures.  Success is a one way street, failure can happen in many different ways.  There are few characters you can call flat out successful in their respective universes.  Kermit, Mickey and even the gang from Sesame Street, despite their innocent personas are constantly struggling with something.  Out of the characters that do not fail they are often not interesting.  Dora the Explorer always wins.  Casper the Friendly Ghost always makes a friend.  So here are the ten exceptions, the pop culture icons that can constantly succeed but still be interesting.

10. Bullwinkle

Clueless often leads to success and consistency.  Bullwinkle never knows he is in danger and never knows that he saved the day.  He can play with wrong hats and still be in the right.  Bullwinkle is the star and the hero of his universe, despite not intentionally doing anything to deserve it.  He is just a well-meaning moose that is rewarded for being well-meaning.

9. Tigger
Tigger is always going to bounce.  The rest of the Hundred Acre Wood has static personalities but none as successful as Tigger's jovial, carefree attitude.  Tigger is an interesting example because he keeps being pressured to change or learn a lesson, but he won't.

8. Mr. Magoo
He is a danger to himself, he is a danger to society, he should be locked up.  But no matter how much property damage or misunderstandings he causes he always walks away scot-free and happy.  Mr. Magoo causes bad things to happen, but nothing bad ever happens to Mr. Magoo.

7. Glinda the Good Witch
Always smiling, always manipulating.  Glinda is in control of Oz and nobody seems to notice or care.  Nobody gets frustrated with her and she is never in any danger.  She is beloved and acts like the definition of perfection.  She has no character arc and just shows up to be loved and do good things (although the audience's opinion of her as a saint is definitely debatable).

6. Oscar the Grouch
Oscar is one of the most emotionally consistent characters ever created.  Sure he is always grouchy, but he wants to be grouchy.  He isn't looking for happiness or warm feelings, he intends to be crabby and difficult and he succeeds.  Sure he has helped others out countless times, but that is never going to last.  Oscar is a grouch he meets his goals.

5. R2-D2
Well if C-3PO ended up on my list of pop culture failures, it makes sense for his counterpart to end up here.  I tend to get frustrated with R2-D2, mainly because he is practically worshipped by the entire galaxy while C-3PO is always a butt monkey.  But Artoo is endearing.  He is a deus ex machina with a lot of heart and personality.  He is basically more important than The Force in Star Wars.

4. The Cat in the Hat
The Cat in the Hat is a character with no consequences, he does whatever he wants in other people's houses and never learns a lesson from it.  No matter what jerk thing he does he is still charming.  He even gets to be the face of early literature.  The character is versatile and likable and even though he does bad things he is never seen as a bad guy.  Getting away with things seems pretty successful to me.

3. Homestar Runner
I could have filled this slot with happy, oblivious characters such as Bullwinkle or Tigger.  But Homestar is the lead character that is wired so perfectly to be a lead character.  Bad things happen to him a lot, sure, but he is very resilient.  Strong Bad once said, "even when we win, he wins."  Homestar is comfortable with everything revolving around him and even calls out his star status on many occasions.  Even if he is not as popular as Strong Bad or The Cheat he always functions as a the hero.  He can be the dumbest guy in the room, but he lives in own world where he is always happy.  Success story.

2. Bugs Bunny
Bad things have happened to Bugs before.  He was arrested for speeding in a race with a tortoise and has been the butt of a joke once or twice.  But on the average Bugs is in the right.  He can die in a cartoon and still win, he can manipulate Daffy Duck cartoons (ain't he a stinker?) and outwit any foe he encounters.  Bugs is the most interesting hero ever.  He is a perfect, versatile showman that even critics can't bad mouth.

1. Mario
The greatest success in pop culture ever.  Could make the case for video game heroes in general being static successes, but the plumber is the most prolific.  Mario is practically the mascot for winning.  He is constantly saving the same princess from the same dragon.  He allows the audience to experience the same victories over and over again.  He is always going to be the hero and a success.

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