We asked our respondents about drawing fictional characters to the real world.
A recent Guardian article about Tokyo awarding Japanese Citzenship to Godzilla got me to wondering: If you could pick a genre fictional character, from any media, and offer them honorary citizenship and residence in your city, county, state, country, who would it be, and why?
This is what they said…
I’m a narrative junkie, so I want Canada to adopt a character who’s a story engine, an instigator and an iconoclast, someone who changes history. I want someone who breaks things down and builds them back up again. Someone who inspires people, saves people — saves whole countries, if possible. I’m after salvation.
And for salvation you need Zorro.
Zorro is the most delicious hero. He combines flashy swordsmanship, light-hearted quippiness, and a solid social justice fist, all topped off with the thrill of a double-life secret identity. Plus he has a gorgeous horse. Toronado also gets citizenship.
I’m not picky. I’ll take any Zorro version from the old pulps to the old movies to the TV shows. I’m especially fond of the Gay Blade version — Bunny Wigglesworth is delightful. (Anyone else ever notice that Bunny must be one of the inspirations behind Donna Barr’s The Desert Peach, swish, parasol, and all?)
Zorro and I have a special relationship. I’ve been following him all my life. As an adult, my favorite incarnation is Isabel Allende’s historical novel (called, naturally, Zorro) which is tons of fun and even has a touch of spec.
If Canada gives Zorro honorary citizenship, maybe he’ll stay. Please, Zorro, Canada needs you.
I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It’s a great place to live, but we have a problem— you can’t be a world-class city without a local superhero. (Why is Chicago only the Second City, despite all the awesome skyscrapers? No superheroes.) So I would like to offer citizenship to my favorite superhero, Squirrel Girl.
Squirrel Girl, I understand you’re a CS major. Did you know that the University of Minnesota’s CS degree was ranked eleventh according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities? (It’s right on their website!) And did you know that our park system is ranked #1 in the nation? And do you know what that park is full of? Squirrels.
In conclusion, Squirrel Girl, please move to Minneapolis and bring your infallible good cheer and your ability to solve seemingly intractable problems without punching anybody with you.
PS. Chipmunk Hunk and Koi Boy and your roommate Nancy and her cat Mew are also definitely invited.
Living on the edge of the Sonoran desert, I would LOVE to award Honorary Citizenship to the Ents. Tucson actually has huge potential for lush flora, as photos from a hundred years ago attest. But urban development has cut off natural waterways and created a pervasive paved surface that is impenetrable to the rainy seasons this region enjoys. It has demolished the native populations of Cottonwood, Willow and Mesquite. Right now as I write this, we are in our summer monsoon. Every afternoon the skies darken, thunder roars, and gallons of water are dropped on us only to be quickly ushered out of the city on asphalt carpets, unused in spite of the desperate need for it. Local activists are working hard to integrate the cityscape, breaking through paved surfaces in pivotal places, finding innovative ways of catching and keeping the rain to grow back the trees. IMHO a handful of Ents in residence would be just the thing! Please oh Please and thank you. 🙂
When Paul invited me to participate in this, I immediately thought of snarky things, such as bringing Paul Atreides to city council to use the Voice on local citizens. But when I thought about the question in terms of “Which genre character most exemplifies what I value about my community?” I had different answers.
Locally, I think Sam Gamgee would be a great honorary citizen of my small, slightly hippy, California town – he cares about gardens and growing things, recognizes grandiosity for what it is, and loves to cook. He would definitely be an all-organic, no GMO guy, and he would fit right in.
On a national level, the question is a lot harder, because I don’t especially want to reward kings, monster slayers, starship captains, or other people who serve a hierarchical power system with citizenship in a republic. And on the other side of the spectrum the characters tend toward libertarianism. So a lot of interesting characters get eliminated right away. In the end, this came down, somewhat ironically, to Tolkien too. Gandalf really exemplifies the things that I most want to see in “my fellow Americans”: he values mercy and compassion over justice and vengeance, is a believer in reasoned discourse and a champion of the underdog, and when he is offered the ultimate weapon he knows it is better to destroy it. And, of course, he could put on a hell of a show on the Fourth of July.
Galactus. Also, give him a nice gigantic sized mansion somewhere on the west coast, in hopes that he wouldn’t want to devour his own house. Hey, big guy, you need a new herald. That surfer dude is getting a little dated.
My choice? Groot, from “Guardians of the Galaxy,” honourary Canadian. After all, he’s halfway there. There’s the tree thing. We’ve a few. His unflappable nature. That gentle smile. We’re known for that, I’m told. Then there’s that talent he has for violent use of sticks! (Does happen here, must admit.)
Plus, he’s got the patter down. We wear t-shirts proclaiming “We are Canadian.” It’s about as out there patriotic as we get, and promotes beer. While Groot says “I am Groot!” See? We’ve got the vocabulary covered!
Wait, maybe he already IS Canadian! That still counts right?
And I’ve room in my garden. Right there. With music.
Dellamonica’s first novel, Indigo Springs, won the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her most recent book, Child of a Hidden Sea, was released by Tor Books in the summer of 2014; the sequel, A Daughter of No Nation, will be out in December. She is the author of over thirty short stories in a variety of genres, which can be found on Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed and in numerous print magazines and anthologies. Her website is at http://alyxdellamonica.com.
“Center of the Universe! You face the Tick!!”
I would absolutely choose the Tick. He would look absolutely lovely perched atop the CN Tower or Toronto’s City Hall, (which looks like a strangely-parked or perhaps half-crashed Federation starship) and he would bring the city a needed touch of the surreal. And, as it happens, we seem to already have a perfectly good Joker, a regularly recurring Batman, and a skateboarding Spiderman who likes to go around climbing on things while leaving out signage identifying himself as #peterparkour.
And the streets here are so banged up that he wouldn’t really be doing much damage when he got to bounding around breaking things.
There’s a lot of candidates. At first I thought having a super-inventor, like Tony Stark, hanging around my town would be cool – we’d probably get all kinds of awesome infrastructure and gadgets. But then the town would probably get destroyed every six weeks in superhero battles, so maybe that’s not such a good idea.
Ultimately, I think I’d pick Arya Stark. She’s my favorite character from A Song of Ice and Fire, and being in those books is scary as hell! I think of it as like offering asylum to political refugees. She needs to emigrate somewhere she’ll be safe from George.
I think if I had to pick just one character from any media to offer honorary citizenship to it would have to be the Doctor from Doctor Who.
I became enamoured with Doctor Who, because the show was about science and history. Sure, there was lots of handwaving – but the show, at its core, was about a reverence for science and the truth of reality. The Doctor espoused a kind of universal morality that I could really get behind. In his various meetings with the belligerent aliens, the friendly aliens, the historical beings, and the futuristic beings, he not only came across as smart and learned, he came across as wise. The Doctor had read everything, had visited everywhere, or at least read about everywhere he would eventually visit and he always tried to navigate problems with a special empathy for the troublemakers.
It is funny to be offering honorary citizenship to a being that was, for all practical purposes, a citizen of all time and all space. No border crossings could slow him down. Not padlocked dungeon cell could hold him. Everywhere he went and everywhere things got better.
Unfortunately, for all my praise heaped upon the Doctor I’m afraid my special honorary citizenship dispensation award should only go to the McCoy and earlier regenerations – post-McCoy the character is more of a technobabbling wizard than a handwaving scientist.
This is not so easy to answer as I first thought. When I first considered my answer, I started thinking about all the non-human possibilities. That did not include werewolves or elves who are more humanoid. Even so, that left a whole lot of cool possibilities, from minions, to Ruth from Pern (and firelizards!) to Wisp from Julie Czerneda’s Turn of Light, to Moya from Farscape, to Coyote or Crow from Native American stories . . . . Endless possibilities.
That’s when I realized that I could go with humans. I mean, Any Fictional Character! Oh boy. Now things got really tough. The Wee Free Men! Dr. Who! Miles Vorkosigan. Kate Daniels. Mercy Thompson. Friends from Firefly, Babylon 5, the Marvel universe—my head about exploded.
This was huge. But then realization hit a little deeper. I was going to make this person/critter an honorary citizen of my world and give them residence in my world. I didn’t really want to invite egotistical assholes or evil bad guys—I already have some serious bad guys and who would believe giving Elric of Melnibone or Thomas Covenant citizenship in my society. Nor did I really want Bester from Bab 5 (much as I love Bester).
At about the same time I was making that realization, I also realized that the reason I liked some of the characters so much was because of the actors who played them in film or on TV. For instance Tom Hiddleston and Loki (and while giving him citizenship in my world would be totally insane, I’m betting my girl Max could handle him). Then there’s Iron Man and Robert Downey Jr. Without the actor, the character is no longer as fun. So maybe I could have both, but I needed a way to winnow and so that’s what I did.
I then tracked across my books and my memories and movies I’ve seen and despaired at all that I have forgotten in my life and I knew I was not remembering a super cool choice. I was almost paralyzed. This exercise in fun was turning into terror.
I then decided to consider my world (Horngate) and who might be a welcome addition. It’s post-magical apocalypse in Montana and America, and who would be useful? Who wouldn’t just create problems? That last question ruled out a whole lot of possibilities right there. I mean, Dracula, Coyote, and Crow were right off the table for obvious reasons. Much fun as they’d be to set loose in my world.
I went round and round, but finally I decided that what my characters could use was a good dose of practical, grounded, truth. I decided Granny Weatherwax would be the optimal choice. She smart, powerful, and fairly incorruptible. More importantly, she speaks the truth as she sees it and she doesn’t let anybody else push her around. She could hold her own and she’d also entertain the hell out of me. So Granny Weatherwax, anytime you want to come for a visit and get your honorary citizenship, I’ll be waiting.
I can’t wait to find out who everybody else chooses. And who the readers would choose.
I’ll admit that I giggled when I read the subject for this Mindmeld. I cannot wait for the other answers. Since I am from Sweden, and I have a fascination for Old norse mythology, my pick is Loki. There is just one problem: I am not certain that Sweden does honorary citizenships. But why let reality intrude?
Back to the subject. I had two reason for picking Loki. A) He is my favorite Aesir god. Sure, he is a trickster, but I like him because he is flawed. And he isn’t trying to hide it.
B) But the main reason for picking Loki, is pure curiosity. I am intrigued by how the Trickster god would react to modern Sweden, with its cars, electronics, and noise. I think he would be delighted in all the opportunity to create mischief. 🙂
I’ll admit that I am also curious by how Stockholm and the rest of Sweden if a tall, man dressed in Viking clothes appeared in the hearth of the city. Would they embrace him directly, or would they be cautious? I don’t think they would send the army after him ( mostly because Sweden has quite successfully dismantled the army). I do think there would be a lot of discussion. In the end they would probably decide to house him in the old Riksarkivet, since it has a central location, is big and imposing and has been renovated recently.
When I was asked about this, I thought long and hard to come up with something that wouldn’t sound too cliché…but then said, what the heck. Let’s go for the obvious. I’m offering honorary citizenship to Diana Prince (AKA…Wonder Woman). Now, I’m not a big comic book person, so I don’t know her whole story – which if the one wiki I checked out is any indication, it’s extensive. But I did grow up with the Linda Carter version and the Saturday morning Superman and Friends, Justice League cartoons. When I played with Barbies…I had a blond Wonder Woman about half the time.
But that’s kind of beside the point, Wonder Woman deserves citizenship – honorary or otherwise – for the multiple times she’s worked -both as a superhero and as Diana Prince – to save the country and the world. Diana Prince served well in the military and in the intelligence services as her secret identity as an equal partner to Major Steve Trevor. She saved Trevor and countless other people multiple times from Certain Doom.
She’s worked side by side with Superman and Batman on not only equal ability footing, but in a skimpy outfit and – many times – high heels (depending on the version of the outfit). It’s the Ginger Rogers syndrome – not only did she have to be AS GOOD. She had to be able to do it backward. She was the best of both parts of Superman and Batman – she had physical powers but also some really cool gadgets – and she was a pilot of a plane no one could see.
But mostly, she was a role model. A woman standing for truth and justice who wasn’t afraid to get physical to protect the ideals and people she loved. And come on, who doesn’t love a tiara that can also be a boomerang? Wonder Woman embodies everything I grew up thinking of as strong and independent. For that, she deserves citizenship anywhere she wants it – before going off and saving the world, again.
It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am heading for Buffy The Vampire Slayer and picking the glorious Spike for honorary citizenship of Scotland. Actually I’m extending (and exceeding) the remit, and proclaiming him First Minister. The deliciously insane Dru can be our First Lady.
My reasons? Well, first things first: it’ll put him in my vicinity. The man can bite me, and I mean that literally.
I’m looking forward to his tenure so much. He’ll be a breath of fresh air. (Well – fetid graveyard air, but he carries it so well.) What I most love about Spike is his complete air of disrespect for convention and tradition, and he’s anything but Establishment. There’s no way you’d get him in a tourist shop kilt, so he can lounge around Holyrood wearing nothing but leather trousers and a sneer. That should improve the tourism figures no end.
Apart from one protracted Season 7 sojourn in a basement, Spike gets on with what needs doing. He has no time for wallowing, or agonising about the past; he’s no Angel. Asked by a bewildered press to explain his stunning coup d’etat, he’ll mock us all, lips twitching attractively on our TV screens. “I came, I saw, I felt really bad about it.” Spike sees through flummery and deceit and smokescreens: he’s nobody’s fool (except when he’s a fool for love, of course). And he’ll look great on the stamps.
He may want to involve Eric Northman in his regime as Justice Minister, to oversee the Vampire Rights Bill, which would be fine by me.
Spike gu brath! I for one welcome our new vampire overlords.
I’m completely inspired by Japan’s recent bestowing of citizenship on Godzilla. As a current New Yorker, I think that I would have to match that with offering citizenship to King Kong, our own beloved monster. The whole top portion of the Empire State Building would have to be his penthouse suite, of course! He just has to promise to stop kidnapping the pretty ladies. I think he would make a fantastic honorary director of tourism as well as a rather frightening public safety officer.
The honest truth is, I can think of many more characters I’d love to BAN from ever entering my country – since most of the most interesting characters tend to be troublemakers. If they weren’t – or at very least, magnets for said trouble – then they’d be less interesting in fiction.
And let’s be honest: a good percentage of my favorite fictional characters shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near anywhere they could get elected into power, even at the PTA level.
As for the heroes? They tend to have people (monsters, aliens, demons) coming after them for revenge. That’s the truth behind half a dozen Hollywood franchises and genre sequels, and it’s really bad for property values, not to mention our national reputation.
But having someone fuddy duddy stuck in the mud, never game for anything, who can’t handle change or conflict? That’s not what you want as an honorary citizen, either. We already have enough of those.
So, under those guidelines, there is one character I’d not only sponsor for citizenship, but would sponsor to live in my own co-op. Someone who understands that diversity is a strength, that leadership is a burden not a perk, and that secrets can be both necessary, and horribly dangerous. Someone who can be trusted to vote responsibly and take care of their community, who will follow the will of the people, but with enough iron in their spine to not let a dark lord tell them what to do or how to do it if they didn’t think it was right and proper.
And that character, of course, is Samwise Gamgee.
Now, where’s that petition? I want to be the first to sign.