MBTI: Why Type Characters at All?
From a guy that spends a pretty large amount of time typing fictional characters, using that quote may seem hypocritical, but you’ve got to understand the point of typing characters in the first place.
Aside from just being fun, characters, much like fiction itself, are a representation of us; our interests, ideas, thoughts, mindset. While an interest in George Orwell’s 1984 may just be a “good read” to many, the themes surrounding it are felt even by those who don’t care to dig into it anymore than simply reading it. If you’ve ever known anyone anti-government or at the very least just hates feeling controlled, 1984 is their handbook.
Of course, this is the same with music. What a song says in three and a half minutes in it’s tempo, tone, lyrics and overall style can make a person feel like it’s summed up their life. Ask a person to sum up their life in their own words in that time and prepare to get a bunch of stuttering or an explanation that could fill the Bible.
What does this have to do with typing characters? It’s a very similar tool in the same vein as typing actual people, even if you’re not a writer using it to define your characters.
Think of a character you like. Or hate.
But think of one from a show, movie, literature, whatever.
Why did that character come to mind? What attracts you to that character in one way or another? Do you identify with them in an obvious way? Do you hate them and wish they would be killed off? It’s obvious when you feel you relate to a character but Jung also says that whatever irritates you about someone else can teach you something about yourself.
Ultimately, our interests are a reflection of our character. This is why people get mad at me when I tell them a movie or band that they like sucks. They think that I’m telling them that they have bad taste and are therefore of poor judgement which leads to the idea that I look at them as lower than myself.
Since our interests are a reflection of our character, it only stands to reason that liking or hating a character could say something about us.
So what does it say about you? Are you drawn to characters that are more like your type?
Do they seem like you…if you were born into a family of billionaires and were called to save the world from a race of planet-destroying aliens? Or are you just wishing you had more ENTJ or ISTP-type characters in your list of characters that are the same type as you while you sneer at the characters that are more like you than you want to admit?
Why do yo think Bond is so cool? Do you want the resolve of Dredd? The fortitude of Maximus? The abs of Durden or the voice of Bane?
Or do you think you’ve already got it in you and it’s only a matter of time before they come out? Whatever trait it is, the way you view it reflects you. Maybe you’re an INFJ that’s actually annoyed by Tony Stark rather than attracted to him. It could be that A. You’re actually just repulsed by cocky characters/people no matter how many good things they have going for them, or B. You wish you were a little more confident, saying what you want, when you want it, and then hey, possibly getting it.
Maybe you’re an extravert but you really dig how strong Ripley from Alien is. Sometimes you wish you knew how to just shut up and get the job done.
All in all, it’s for fun. But I notice many people use MBTI to further their own grandiose idea of themselves through fictional characters as well as celebrity, taking every line, action, and motive out of context to justify why someone is INTJ. Not only is this a misuse of type theory, it’s pathetic.
It’s not pathetic to use reason and logic to explain why a character may be the same type as you, but arguing for something so small just to make yourself feel a bit better is a gross misuse of something with so much application.
People do this without even knowing what type theory is. Instead of being happy for someone else to get the spotlight in a positive way, we sometimes criticize that person instead. The criticisms you have of them might be true, but it’s okay for someone else to get credit. If they’re not worthy of it, that will come to light eventually, but it’s okay for you to leave it alone. “X said that Y is like, SUPER smart. Ugh. Y is an IDIOT.“
A friend that had recently been introduced to type theory asked me “What’s the BEST type?” I told him that there really isn’t one, because it’s all subjective to what you prefer. The disappointment in his ESFP face was priceless, but he’d shown the same characteristic we all do in so many aspects of our life: a need for immediate self-glorification.
I don’t want to work for the prize, or just better myself- I’m already better than most so why don’t you just give me the prize?
To quote Fry from Futurama, “That dog won’t hunt, mon senior.“
A reason I don’t bother typing celebrities (specifically actors), FYI, is for two reasons- One is that they’re not very interesting for the most part and the second reason is that they can really only be typed based on their image which changes often.
Celebritytypes.com is a fun site, but I’d say they’re usually more accurate with authors and historical figures rather than modern day celebrities and whatever obscure blogger or whoever they type. Someone will be typed based on a couple quotes that doesn’t actually tell me anything about the person themselves other than how they see themselves. Which is rarely accurate it seems.
Justin Timberlake is a celebrity I hate with a fiery passion that burns like the flames of hell or the crotch of whatever cracked-out female celebrity that’s currently being picked on by tabloids, and that flame will never die out. He’s been typed by Celebrity Types as ISFP. This isn’t impossible but it seems he’s been typed as this based on these quotes-
“Every relationship I’ve been in, I’ve overwhelmed the girl. They just can’t handle all the love.“
[On being compared with Michael Jackson:]
“I feel very fortunate to be compared to somebody so incredible. Michael Jackson’s an icon.“
[On making hit music:]
“My biggest challenge was to make sure that the songs I did were who I am.”
Aside from displaying many traits of a flat-out idiot, wouldn’t someone who’s high on their own armpit stench be willing to say such things as listed above? A girl that might have been in a relationship with Timberlake at one point could read that first quote and say out loud “What? I broke up with HIM because he would literally cry when I told him I was going to hang out with my friends!”
But because he wants the image of Dr. Love, he’ll say the above statement and be known as just that. Wouldn’t someone who’s famous for singing songs meant to attract girls to their image and merchandise want to further the idea that he’s a ladies’ man with lines like this?
In all reality, he may have been afraid to talk to women most of his life due to spending the first sixteen years in a Disney Incubator Pod (or “The D.I.P.” as the Disney eggheads call it).
Yet he’s typed ISFP because he’s clearly a feeler and sure, why not. He does what Michael Jackson does, who’s typed ISFP, he talks about love and sex and cheating so sure, he’s an Artisan. Yeah. ISFP. Totally. If I tell you that I’m awesome and that I love telling people what to do, does that make me an ENTJ? It’s possible I’m just a full-of-it ISTJ.
The point is, celebrities are unreliable in typing because their image is the source, and they’re always saying some other stupid thing to accommodate what they think will uphold said image. Fictional characters are a much better place to start because their flaws and trademarks are right there for everyone to see, even when they’re lying which would make many even easier to type. You know them almost as well as their creator does.
So understand why you’re interested in them. Type them, understand yourself better, then go out and understand others better, continually evolving, not searching to be praised.
No, because as Jung says-
“Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.“