To quirk, or not to quirk. That is the question. Indeed. I’m sick of quirky characters, quirky TV shows, quirky novels, and quirky Facebook status updates. The quirk has lost its shine for me. Can we not be normal and still interesting anymore? Do TV charcters all have to have OCD or some form of socially crippling genius or other such oddity? Did everything in Running With Scissors really happen?
When are sentiment and well-developed, complex characters going to come back into favour? Please, God, let it be soon. I get that Napoleon Dynamite is funny, I actually do, but it’s a rare film/book/TV show that pulls off quirk to this level of sophistication (if indeed the two aren’t truly mutually exclusive). The thing about being quirky is that it’s too easy to do – just do, be, or say something odd but not too odd (because that would be just plain weird and weird is definitely not quirky). Creating a quirk doesn’t require much creative responsibility.
When did real life cease to be bizarre and interesting? Can real, quirkless-characters not have epiphanies and insights too? Do we have to have a low spectrum mental illness, or a collection of ex-lovers’ belly-button fluff, or a day a week where we only speak in song lyrics to be interesting?
And this is coming from someone with a character suffering from mild OCD in her first novel. Was it necessary for that character, I ask myself? Yes, I think it was. But did I let myself be influenced by this GenX/GenY indie culture obession? Aye, there’s the rub…
This quest for quirk, irony, and idiosyncrasy drives out deeper meanings and ultimately alientates us from the real truth of the character. I ache for things to matter again; for the dramatic arc of a character to be about more than a quirky dance; for characters not to have matching tracksuits or schizophrenic fathers; for sixteen year old girls to have dialogue appropriate to their age and intelligence that doesn’t ooze sarcasm with every noun. I ache for that.