Z is for Zero, and we are celebrating two different zeros today: there are zero posts left for the April A-Z blog challenge and today’s final trope: Zero Approval Gambit.
In stories filled with both heroes and villains who want to win you to their side (like the Villain with Good Publicity) there are a select few who take a different route: they intentionally want you to dislike them. They take the Zero Approval Gambit and make it work.
Sometimes, it’s a temporary low in Approval ratings. It’s just one or two actions that give them a black eye instead of a bad reputation. Roy Mustang from FullMetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa had to “take one for the team” when he faked Maria Ross’ death. It was rather unnecessary to kill her, and most felt he had overreacted. Certainly not the sort of behavior you’d want from one of your commanding officers.
Sometimes, characters are in the Zero Approval game for the long haul. Danric from Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith “hid in plain site” for years, pretending to be just like King Galdran. Acting the fool with a head only for parties and finery. Politics? Please. That demands too much thinking. Wagers on the next horse race, anyone?
Once they’ve entered the Gambit, are these poor souls stuck in Zero Approval land forever? If there’s one thing that books teach us, it’s that only the good lasts forever. If these characters went into the situation knowing they’re reputation was at stake, but found it the only available tool for their survival (or the survival of their plan), then they do, eventually, get to come clean.
Roy Mustang gets some unexpected help when the *not dead* Maria Ross is able to deliver supplies during a dire situation. And he can’t deny he does like the flash of her showing up and watching everyone’s jaw drop!
Danric has his reveal as well, but it is a process of rebuilding trusts that were broken by his assumed facade as well as some betrayal at discovering his new, more serious, personality. He is aided in this process as many others who were forced to play a certain role under Galdran are able to drop their masks as well.
And we’ve finished. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey. I hope you’ve discovered that you take can any trope, something that may even be considered overused, and reinvent it in a new way for a whole new audience.
Even though I’ll no longer be posting once a day, I’ll be back soon! Thanks for stopping by.