I watched my first Punch and Judy puppet show on YouTube—the gritty, not for children, version. And I have to say, some days I wish I had a slap stick, which would make me someone’s antagonist, but there are people in this world who need a good whack.
Mr. Punch lost favor with parents through the years because of his edginess, but I ask you…what is the difference between what children are watching and playing now? Even books with mean antagonists appeal to children and young adults and become popular movies.
Antagonists are part of society, and it is impossible to shield children from them. In fact, parents are the first antagonist in life, at least the wise ones who say, “No” and teach acceptable and unacceptable behavior. There are little monsters in daycare and schools, biting, hitting, and bullying. Even children raised or educated at home must enter a frightening society. The hard lessons of life come from interacting with these antagonists and learning to overcome them is important to self-esteem.
But antagonists are normal people, with their own goals. In real life, I’m the protagonist, but I can also be the antagonist of others. I agree with Charles J. Shield’s assessment, “Mr. Punch is the selfish baby in everyone.” (Facebook Apr. 23 2015, used by permission)
So, fellow writers, enjoy creating mean antagonist, because as Mr. Punch would say, “That’s the way to do it.”