I have a confession to make: I can’t relate to fictional characters as easily as I do with real people. While I don’t think this is always the case but more often than not in a number of nerd communities, they tend to relate better to certain fictional characters. I nearly did the same but not much success.
Perhaps because I couldn’t find anymore characters who are like me in fiction and since I relate better to celebrities, so with the latter existing in real life that increases the chances of relating to them exponentially. I couldn’t find a female character that I can easily relate to but the opposite is true of female singers weirdly enough.
I won’t doubt that some people relate better to fictional characters for similar reasons I do with pop divas. But I also get the odd impression that their idea of a relatable character who isn’t just nerdy and socially inept but also whose social awkwardness crosses the line to malice and assholeness.
Not only that, even the supposedly relatable “nerd” characters often lose their relatability over time by becoming more absurd once they become fan favourites. A good example would be Marvel Comics’ Kitty Pryde. No doubt that she has flaws but they’re sometimes overlooked by her fans even when canon clearly says otherwise.
If she has flaws, it would be her tendency to lose her cool, her misguidedness especially whenever she gets easily taken advantage of by her enemies and belligerence. She started out as a relatable character but it’s safe to say that what made her feel less relatable is when a villain brainwashed her to give her ninja skills just so she can attack Wolverine.
Someone on Hooded Utilitarian commented that she wasn’t much of a success with girl readers, which makes you wonder if many more of them relate better to the likes of less flamboyant characters found in novels around the time of Kitty Pryde’s creation.
That doesn’t mean she’s a bad character. But like what I said before, many if not most nerds have a peculiar idea of what they find relatable never mind that they could have more in common with someone else in terms of life experiences and some interests. That someone else might not be a nerd, perhaps not at first, but that’s surprisingly likely in real life.
Perhaps as elaborated in the Kiwifar.ms thread Sonic and Autism, it seems like these people are so disaffected that they want to relate to a character who is like them but doesn’t have to deal with the many repercussions of his/her actions. Maybe that’s not really the case with some superhero fans but their idea of what they find relatable is strange to me.