Character Stasis and why Han Solo Was My Seed Jar

I’m late to the Star Wars the Force Awakens party. Considering I had my youngest 3 days after it’s release I think you’ll see why I hadn’t watched it before this point even though I love me some Star Wars. So we finally watched it on Saturday. I thought it was good- I liked the concept and visuals of all the war detritus a lot. What wasn’t okay? The death of my favorite character in a series I dearly loved and with whom I idolized as a kid. Teenager. And adult. Does Han Solo explain my undying love of vests? I’m almost positive. I never wanted to see that character change from the one I remembered and identified with.

There is comfort in a character’s stasis. According to Genetics, Paleontology, and Macroevolution by Jeffrey S. Levinson “Character stasis is simply where for a given morphological character, no temporal change occurs.” To extrapolate that out to fictional characters means to me that they should exist forever going out on top. And I know I’m not alone in getting comfort from that unchanging state of our beloved characters in their moments of glory. Or getting thrown off when it doesn’t happen like that.

When a character has an end… when the bracket is closed or the sentence is punctuated with something other than a dot, dot, dot it makes it hard to enjoy the good times when you know that bitter end is coming. Aramis leaves the other Musketeers to become a priest. Damn- that kinda changes everything when you read the book again from the beginning, you know? Robin Hood dies by being bled to death by an evil monk. Did not need to know that.  I actually don’t want to see Harry Potter as a middle aged dad on the platform sending his sons off to Hogwarts. Or know that Captain America gets shot and killed by his girlfriend. (Seriously- someone get Stan Lee on the phone. He has some ‘splaining to do!) And I sure as hell didn’t want to ever see the death of Han Solo. That just is NOT okay.

How do I explain this… some characters…they’re like the seed jar. And yes, that is a weird reference, but it stems from a Radiolab episode that I highly recommend… and will explain my thinking on the concept of character stasis. Maybe. It was a correlation I thought of immediately after we watched the movie. Below is the link to the podcast episode:

The Seed Jar by Radiolab

There is comfort is something, even just our perception of a character, unchanging- weathering all the storms and centuries and slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that I enjoy. The fact that life isn’t always pretty and that bad things can happen to even the best or most heroic people? I promise that isn’t lost on me, writers. In fact- it’s nice to escape that reality sometimes and say, watch a movie. OH WAIT.