Here we go with a discussion about the Goal and Consequence of Captain America: Civil War. Please note that while some of this has been copied and pasted from the original post, there is new information so please read it in its entirety if you would like to participate in the discussion.
In the previous post regarding my analysis of the film, I found the objective Story Goal to be Obtaining (Tearing the Avengers Apart) and the Consequence to be Becoming (Being Dead because of the Avengers). The idea being that the Consequence is already in place: superhero vigilantes are killing innocent people and to resolve this we need to pull their cards.
Originally, Sebastien made the argument for a different Goal and Consequence:
If the Avengers are forced to suppress their innate heroic responses, then they’ll be forced to play the role of soldiers. (Story Goal of Impulsive Responses, Story Consequences of Playing a Role)
This breaks the model as a Story Goal of Impulsive Responses requires a Story Consequence of How Things are Changing.
Sebastien later made an argument for that combination:
I’d have no problem accepting as the Story Consequence (“If the Avengers are forced to suppress their innate heroic responses, then the terrible things they’ve been fighting will only get worse”)
Which is fine—
—except that is not what Dramatica means by Impulsive Responses.
My first response was to clarify Dramatica’s definition of that term:
Acting impulsively is not Impulsive Responses, but rather DOING. It describes the process of engaging in problematic activity, not the state of mind that exists within the Preconscious (Impulsive Responses).
A Story Goal of Impulsive Responses would be someone pursuing a state of mind akin to panic or nervousness. When Impulsive Responses become a problem within a story, anxiety becomes an actual problem and animalistic instincts kick into play and wreak havoc (see Laura in Logan for an insanely great example of this).
Besides immersing yourself in film examples and reading the dictionary and contextual examples provided by Dramatica, another good learning tool (besides my Dramatica® Mentorship Program!) is the list of Gists provided within the latest version of Dramatica Story Expert.
There you will find references to being jumpy, being oversensitive, and being fidgety. On the other side, you’ll find being calm, and numbing oneself, and being unresponsive.
Yes, the Accords are a knee-jerk reaction, but the Accords are not shown to be problematic. They don’t create conflict, they just sit there. From the point-of-view of the characters, again, yes, they do like a problem and yes they argue about them the way they should when they’re looking at Symptom and Response, but they are not problematic in and of themselves.
In other words, the knee-jerk reactions do not overcomplicate things and there is no struggle impulsive response-ing to violence. Instead, they are depicted as responses to a symptom. The Avengers are free to do whatever they want and so, we need to lock them down (Symptom of Uncontrolled, Response of Control).
So the logic behind positioning Cap as Protagonist in a Story Goal of Impulsive Response begins to break down. If that was the Goal of the story, that would mean Cap would be trying to pursue an anxious state of mind or pursuing a calm state of mind.
That would also mean that Stark, as Antagonist, would be trying to prevent, or avoid this state of mind. So which one is it?
Is Cap pursuing a calm state of mind and Tony is trying to prevent it?
Is Cap pursuing an anxious state of mind and Tony is trying to prevent it?
Neither of these makes logical sense. In fact, if anything they seem to be on the same side when it comes to panic. The logical relationship between the Protagonist and the Antagonist breaks down and that’s a problem–because the Overall Story Throughline and the Static Plot Points are all about logic.
If the Story Goal is Impulsive Responses, then the end goal has to be this universal embrace of Impulsive Responses. Not talking about Impulsive Responses, but rather Impulsive Response themselves. This is what I mean about looking to the story points and their appreciations as indicators of storytelling, rather than inflection points of inequity. This is what I mean by looking at a storyform from the point-of-view of the characters rather than from the point-of-view of the story.
If the Goal is preserving the right for superheroes to act, well that’s an Obtaining Goal because the goal requires Obtaining, not Impulsive Response-ing. I use Impulsive-Response-ing as a means of illustrating the active nature of a Story Goal. I don’t believe there is a word in the English language that defines an active embracing of Impulsive Responses the way there is Contemplating, Desiring, Remembering, Understanding, Doing, Obtaining, Learning, Being, Becoming, Conceptualizing, Conceiving, and Progressing.
Sebastien later took up the confusion between Impulsive Responses and Doing:
If suppressing one’s innate heroic responses isn’t part of Impulsive Responses but rather of Doing, how does one reach that distinction?
The Dramatica dictionary tells me that Doing is “the process of being physically active”
The Dramatica dictionary then tells me that “When a story’s problem revolves around the unsuitability of someone’s essential nature to a given situation or environment, the central issue is Impulsive Responses”
Can you see why a reasonable person might (however incorrectly) think that the central issue in Civil War revolves around the unsuitability of the Avengers’ essential nature to the situation or environment?
I can’t—and that’s likely because when I see Impulsive Responses I actually see Preconscious—the original term for that Type within the model.
The Domain of Fixed Attitude, or Mind as it was originally (more accurately) labelled, dealt with the four levels of the mind as seen from the Storymind concept:
These were later adopted to:
- Innermost Desires
- Impulsive Responses
So, I can see how one could read “Impulsive Responses” as impulsively reacting, but a Concern of the Preconscious has to do with the impulses themselves—not acting on them. It’s the difference between a problem within the context of an external process, and a problem within the context of a fixed state of mind.
I absolutely read every word and I’d have no trouble taking it at face value. But you should know that I can’t find anything within the Dramatica books, dictionary, or software that indicates that Impulsive Responses means trying to go from panic and anxiety to calm or the reverse.
You can find an entire list of “synonyms” of the Preconscious within the Dramatica Story Expert application. Go to the Query System, drill down to an appreciation like Overall Story Concern, and select Impulsive Responses. You will then be presented with a comprehensive list of Gists that should give you a gist of what it is this story point is all about.
Now, I know mentioned Protagonist and Antagonist in the above, and its likely we might discuss that here than in another topic, but for now, are you able to see the distinction between Impulsive Responses and Doing?