A Study in Chuck Psychology 😉
I am no psychologist. I shouldn’t even try to play one on the net! That’s what I have you guys for!
And with that that, I have for you a special guest post from our own Faith, aka ChuckNewbie8.
First a background: researchers have shown that we are evolutionary hardwired to remember bad and have it affect our lives far more than good. No one ever experiences lasting psychological disturbance after winning a tournament but one almost always experiences lasting and memorable stress after a trauma. Just think back to your past, how many bad memories do you remember compared to happier times? Most likely, a lot more. It’s because bad is stronger than good. Studies have shown that when people are told a person’s characteristics (Anderson 1965): “friendly, polite, clever, handsome, and dishonest” people put the most emphasis on the “dishonest.” Not the 4 other positives. Their view of the person is clouded by that one negative. Now if you don’t believe in evolution well think of it in cultural terms. Our culture gives more emphasis on what is done wrong than done right. Just look at Tiger Woods’ recent scandal. By most accounts the guy is an upstanding citizen until of course the blemish to his character which now will forever taint him. It’s like that expression, “two rights don’t make up for a wrong.”
What does this have to do with Chuck you may ask? Well a lot actually.
For one, it answers the question of “why go here, why go this far”? For another, it’s the answer to why we do tend to focus on the negative more. We’re unable to do otherwise.
Among the questions most of us have asked this season is why? I think we can all agree that the what isn’t what stumps us it’s the how and why? How things happened are often my biggest gripes and the damage to the characters are often one of my most vocal of complaints (at least mine). One can argue that conflict could have been designed to achieve the same amount of development without wallowing in the depths of devastation. Chuck and Sarah could have been kept apart without introducing and thereby disintegrating their endearing spirits with PLIs. Chuck could have embraced his heroism by having Sarah at his side to pull him back from the edge and he could have helped her explore the depths of her emotional awakening by being there for her. Instead what we got was a plot device in the name of Shaw and Hannah. Now these are effective plot devices don’t get me wrong, but they were, when it comes down to it unnecessary. Chuck was already going down a rabbit hole, he didn’t need some random woman to tell him what we all and everyone in Chuckverse already knew. It would have been far more powerful in my estimation had Sarah for instance told him that he was a jerk and an ass. Just like it packed more of a punch when Morgan dumped him. Sarah telling Shaw her real name had nothing absolutely to do with Shaw, but everything to do with Sarah. Why even have Shaw really? She could have done that same activity with any of the other characters (hell she could have talked with a therapist about it) because really the whole point was for Chuck to overhear. So why? Because these two plot devices deliver with it the worst bad imaginable. It’s the biggest punch to the gut. If bad is better than good then JS and company did their job. They have all but shoved our faces in 7 if not 8 episodes of excrement. And it worked because we’re outraged and vocal. They did their job. We’re focused on these negative aspects and yet we continue just like we’re taught culturally to put more value on it.
I often have these feelings of unrest when people say, “why are you so negative?” Which is actually funny because I consider myself the most optimistic of all realists. But even I have gone “dark.” I don’t have any choice but to be the way I am. By most accounts this season has been darker and at times more real (note: I’m using real in a less fairy-tale like, connotation and not real as in steeped in reality because plot holes does not exist in reality). Isn’t dark just another way to say negative? By giving these characters more conflict, yes they’re growing more and they’re evolving (or transforming depending on your viewpoint) but they’re also becoming a lot less positive, carefree and are in turn far more flawed. How can we as fans not focus on the negative aspects with what we have been given? And how can we as cultural animals continue to hope for the best? Culture may put an emphasis on the negative, but we are taught as cultural animals to battle bad by thinking positively about the future. It’s no wonder our speculations gives us the best kind of feelings; it’s because it’s steeped in the unknown and thereby positive viewpoint. And thus far this season we have been far too enmeshed in “bad” that speculations have gone to the wayside. Optimism and hope have really fallen on deaf ears. “Death only has to win once, whereas life has to win every day if the creature is to go on living,” and that is why we (me specifically) keep on hoping.