Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Finding Real Life Inspiration from Fictional Heroes: The Crow


Since I'm still in a post-Cure concert euphoria, I figure it's the perfect time to take a look at
the Crow, both the film and the comic.

Lots of people love this movie. So do I, though with a bit of ambivalence. While it has some great scenes, a fantastic soundtrack, and a classic performance by the late Brandon Lee, I just felt the overall movie had some flaws in terms of the screenplay, and some of the departures from the source comic were ill-advised.

So why do I still  have a fondness for the film? Simple: As slender, sensitive guy with Goth tendencies, I loved seeing another slender, sensitive guy with Goth tendencies kick some serious butt.

And to this day I find Stone Temple Pilot's "Big Empty" a great song to listen to on a rainy night, driving home from a hard evening of training.

While I may be ambivalent about the cinematic interpretation of the Crow, I  am not at all conflicted about my feelings for Jay O'Barr's original comic. I love it, and probably reread it at least once a year.

The comic is full of cultural touchstones that have a great deal of significance for me: the music of Joy Division and the Cure, French decadent poetry of Rimbaud, the general tone of a dark horror story. I love the fact that the Crow is modelled on Iggy Pop and Peter Murphy. And of course, there's swordplay and cats.

But what really makes the Crow's story so powerful are the twin themes of loss and rage.

I have dealt with a fair amount of loss in my 40-plus years on this planet: two pairs of grandparents, one pair of greatgrandparents, my mother, my best friend, numerous beloved pets... I realize that this pales in comparison to those in other parts of the world who've lost countless more loved ones than I have through war, famine, or disasters, but it does not change the fact that loss is hard and doesn't get easier.

In the Crow's story, his loss leads to his rage. The woman he loves is brutally raped and murdered. (In the comic, this crime is totally random and senseless. In the film, she is targeted by thugs because she's involved in some sort of vague community activism. This was a poor dramatic change, in my opinion. The randomness of her victimization is part of what makes the comic so powerful: Bad things happen to innocent people for no reason.) The Crow's desire for revenge stems from his sadness. I believe real, true, intense rage only comes from loss and sorrow. Other types of anger are superficial by comparison.

One aspect of the Crow's quest for vengeance that I really like is how he goes back and forth between being a sadistic killing machine and a reluctant avenger. He is essentially a sensitive soul, and is not necessarily comfortable with the violent acts he is committing. At one point he specifically says he is growing wearing of revenge and simply wants it all to end. But he is driven to complete his tasks and bring justice to those who must pay for their evil crimes.


According to my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I am an INFJ (Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging). According to one website, “INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden…. INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless. The concept of 'poetic justice' is appealing to the INFJ.”

Hmmm…. That description fits me pretty accurately. I think it applies to the  character of the Crow as well, which is no doubt why I so strongly identify with him.

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