MBTI: Jackie Chan’s Career as an ESFP
I’m not done with Metal Gear characters. Not by a long shot, scrote. But there are so many of them that they could be typed until Metal Gear Solid V comes out in September and we’ve got to have a little more variety now and then and as far as I can think right now, there aren’t any ESFP characters in Metal Gear and I haven’t done one in a while.
Not since November have I visited the Performer type and it’s only right that I show respect to the type that Jackie Chan has been consistent in playing for his fifty-plus year career.
Alright so it’s not that Jackie Chan is an ESFP (I wouldn’t know, don’t care) or that every single character he’s ever played is an ESFP either. Off the top of my head, his venture into American movies such as Shanghai Noon and the Rush Hour tend to play him as the stoic that opens up more to the talkative American partner as the movie goes along.
But for those of us that are familiar with Chinese Jackie (These days he’s known as “Jackie Global”) and his films know him best as goofy, helpful, unwanting of but willing to fight, and his name is pretty much always…Jackie.
Be it The Legend of Drunken Master, Operation Condor, Rumble in the Bronx and just about whatever else you can think of, Chan’s staple as an action hero is rooted in the humor seen throughout his awesomely choreographed fights. He knows how to make falling funny and have somebody catch something so he can distract them enough to punch them in the face. He even takes back what he threw before the other guy falls and that’s something nobody else does.
Bruce Lee has the market on “cool” but Chan has always been hilarious.
But this isn’t just an open letter about how awesome he is. As far as type is concerned, I’m pretty annoyed with myself that in all this time of typing characters, specifically in the Action genre, I hadn’t thought about Jackie Chan movies much. I think because I so heavily associate his movies with him. I mean jeez, his characters’ names are usually Jackie and he does his own voiceovers. So while Auntie Sheng Sheng and Uncle Bill have a voice that vaguely matches their face, Jackie Chan has always fit into all of his movies perfectly…as himself.
So what am I talking about this? What does this have to do with type? Well, it’s in the title. Most of Jackie’s characters pretty much seem like him in exaggerated form. Be they helping with their uncle’s shop or being a super cop (Like in Super Cop), we pretty much always get an everyday goofball that happens to get caught up in a fight. Even when he’s playing a secret agent (with, or without amnesia), he doesn’t actually want to fight or hurt anybody. Think of how often a fight begins with the opponent attacking him as he puts his hands up in an effort to keep distance with something along the lines of “P-please! I-I don’t want to fight you!”
But they just won’t stop and they get themselves smacked in the face with an orange or a ladder.
The ESFP hero is always in a role like this. They actually don’t want trouble. All they’re trying to do is live their life until a bunch of greedy CIA suits have to go and misplace their diamonds or white powders somewhere in Jackie’s neck of the woods. Their lead Se would make the ESFP a perfect type for action movies since it takes advantage of the moment and it’s the most in touch with the physical world.
But their auxiliary Fi will normally take them out of the genre, making them more of a laid-back, take-it-as-it-comes type. ISTPs and ESTPs have a drive for the exciting, so most characters in the Action/Crime genre will be made up of those two types and this is what sets Jackie Chan’s characters apart from Bruce Lee and all of Lee’s imitators that came after.
Fi (Introverted Feeling) is subjective feeling as opposed to Fe (Extroverted Feeling) which more objective, trying to make sense of the world and balance it with what their principles allow. But Fi users are more set in their ways. This can have positives and negatives just like anything else. Fi users are often especially moved by stories that they can strongly relate to and don’t take things they consider to be wrong lightly. A big reason you don’t often find ESFPs in the Action genre is because audiences have been conditioned to like the rogue character that does what he wants and that often includes killing a bunch of guys and not caring about it.
I say conditioned because tough guys will always be cool, I don’t think a lot of people recognize what they like about it. Because once you watch Jackie Chan in a movie, you don’t mind acknowledging that a lot of people see you as an idiot. And even though Jackie is the hero, he really is the bumbling good guy that can’t catch a break. Aside from murderous thugs and rogue FBI agents, he need to close his unco’s shop!
Fi will tell it like it is because Fi users will always have Te in their function stack. Te (Extroverted Thinking) can be aggressive while Fi is blunt. Why don’t we see these things in Jackie and why isn’t the ESFP known for being a to-the-point jerk? Because their Te is tertiary, meaning it develops as the user gets older and Fi being blunt doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being a dick. Blunt could just as soon mean that the ESFP sees your shirt, they like it, so they tell you before even actually greeting you. If something is being explained to a group of people, the ESFP can often be the first one to say they don’t get it or to admit a flaw.
This isn’t always the case, but you get the point. Jackie doesn’t want trouble, he’s just a good guy that wants to walk this old lady across the street but you wouldn’t let him, so now he’s going to beat you with this old lady’s walker and also keep her from injuring herself. And even though he saves her life from the murderer that you are and traffic, she’s still going to be hitting him over the head with her purse by the end and he’ll get no thanks.
Other types aren’t naturally inclined to be put in these situations because they don’t go about things the same way. In TV/film/literature, the ESTP isn’t paying attention to the old lady in the street because he’s being chase by terrorists who are after the detonator they stole from the villains. The kind of stories that involve ESFPs will be inherently funnier, even if the overall story is more serious. Their attitude won’t be cool and laid-back, but imagine the constant motion of searching for incoming danger by looking from left to right. Just like Jackie as thugs attack him from all sides.
So while he never may make it to The Expendables (Thank the action gods!), Jackie Chan has not only got his own place in action but it’s just one more reason to keep from writing the ESFP off as just “the goofy one.”