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Mind Control as a Plot Device 
24th-Jan-2008 11:14 pm
Well, inspired by many things over time, so I guess I just have to write my own post. This is put together in a hurry, so not very polished. The first part deals with Ultraman Mebius characters, so feel free to skip that.


I can't help but think that what the arbs are doing to Hikari is similar to what Hikari (as Tsurugi) does to Serizawa, except the poor former captain doesn't even get in a word edgewise. So do I blame the whole sorry mess on the arbs? Is this how superior beings behave, by exerting (mind) control over the less superior ones? Who is the bad guy here? As much as I don't care for Bogal, I think its approach is at least more honest.

One could argue that if Bogal possesses the intelligence and ability to do so, it would not hesitate to use mind control either. I may be mistaken, but that kind of situation doesn't seem to arise. (Oh, it does use control aplenty, just that I think it is actual physical control. Put two monsters together; of course they would fight. I guess I just hate the stripping of free wills from any beings, whether they are evil or not.)

As for a certain reporter, he wasn't controlled exactly. More like he was threatened. Which was good. If he was thoroughly controlled, he couldn't be exposed as an unpleasant specimen he was (sorry, can't bring myself to use worse words; I'm speaking as someone who actually likes his character).


So how do I define mind control? The straight-forward way, I suppose. I haven't researched on the subject, so I might be wrong, but I would say mind control happens when one or more people are not in complete control of their minds, where an outside force is dictating directly to their subconscious on what to say and how to act. So erasing memories is mind control to me, since it controls what people remember, and I believe people's memories are responsible in some part for their actions. But, as it happens, having only one definition seems to limit me somewhat since mind control turns out to be not such a simple concept as I think. Irregardless, I personally don't like seeing mind control being used. Maybe I'm too sheltered, and the practice is all around me, but, to me, it's almost never necessary in fiction.

To go off tangent a bit, assuming identity of someone not dead or otherwise has not been disappearing for a long time, that's not something I'm very comfortable with either. You (as in the character doing the controlling) are controlling their bodies/their actions to some extent. You're around, so they may not be able to come back as themselves and have to watch you upsetting their lives, such as it is, and if they do show themselves, what's to say or why would anyone believe they are the real ones and not copies?

While I think mind control sometimes makes good conflicts, I dislike the element of unfairness in the whole thing. (There is the moral aspect of brainwashing too, but I'm better off avoiding the subject because I just don't have the energy to be so negative.) I would feel that way even if the good guy exert mind control over the bad guy and made them good temporarily. And I say temporarily because it would not last if the antagonist is fundamentally bad and doesn't want to change by their own free will. And they should not. I don't (normally) want a villain who turns out to be good. They should stay at the level of evilness they are (I don't mind if they get more evil as the series progresses, though).


Your opinions, please. No prize, no anything to bribe you to vote, so only vote if you want to. Thank you. :)

Poll #1127059 Mind Control in Fiction

What do you think of mind control in fiction? (Check all that apply.)

I like it.
0(0.0%)
I dislike it.
0(0.0%)
I don't actively like or dislike it.
0(0.0%)
I haven't really noticed it.
0(0.0%)
I'm okay if it's there; I'm also okay if it's not there.
0(0.0%)
I'll tolerate it as long as it's meaningful to the plot.
2(66.7%)
I haven't encountered the use of mind control in any of my fandom(s).
0(0.0%)
I believe mind control only exists in science fiction.
0(0.0%)
I honestly have no opinion on the subject.
0(0.0%)
You don't have the answer(s) I'm looking for.
1(33.3%)
Open Road
Comments 
25th-Jan-2008 12:30 pm (UTC)
Meh. I think it's like telepathic speech. It's just a sci-fi/fantasy thing. There's the physical control of bodies. Ultra Seven uses it to immobilize enemies from time to time in Ultraman Leo. As for mind control, well, I suppose it happens. Usually it goes hand in hand with quirky people or species. But I do find it a cheaper gimmick than most. Maybe it's the combination of gimmicks that have caused me to more or less withdraw from sci-fi/fantasy. I do like sci-fi/fantasy, but I have to be in the mood for it. Writers justify it as part of world building. Fair enough. Even vampires have mild mind controlling powers to some extent or another. But really, I feel like there's plenty of manipulation and coercion that more than suffices for mind control. I suppose that's really more of a fiction/nonfiction thing. I think that's why sci-fi and fantasy became their own genres. For the most part, fiction tries to stay true to RL rules. So I suppose I walk into the book or series with a willingness to suspend belief. And it really has to be better used than just look at this species' abilities or the magic spell. Meh. Even that is kind of being too specific probably. I guess it really does depend on the series. The whole Arb/Tsurugi/Hikari thing I just accept as it. It's some sort of subtle line between personality change due to events and maybe mind control. Mefilas used it to some degree too when he wiped Mebius out of the minds of the general public, but I think of that less as mind control and more like an overall scenario warping. I'm not really making that much sense am I? Or not addressing your issue maybe. I guess that's why I say kind of sort of will accept it.
25th-Jan-2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
Actually, I do agree with you, in that I'm (mostly) willing to suspend disbelief regarding a lot of stuff in fiction. While I have thought about mind control, most of the time, my thoughts are passive. I suppose mind control, whether in fiction or in real life, does not affect me, or if it does, I don't really take notice of it. Rereading my own post, the Serizawa part seems tagged on, and Hirukawa seems almost an afterthought. And yes, I've also come to accepted the Arb/Tsurugi/Hikari thing as what it is. My questions are more of what-ifs than any indication of my displeasure, I suppose. As I said, I guess I haven't put my thoughts together well enough on this subject. So don't worry if you can't make much sense out of it. ^^; I like the way you describe scifi/fantasy genre anyway.
(Deleted comment)
25th-Jan-2008 06:28 pm (UTC)
I suppose I'll accept most any kind of plot devices from a good writer, and for the same reason as you, that they can make those things believable.

Thank you, I haven't seen that link before. I've read somewhere before that there are only 7 distinct plots in the world for fiction, so the existence of 36 plots is something new to me.
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