In any case, one of the theories we talked about was Psychoanalytic theory, and part of that theory had to do with Freudian theory, more specifically. Now, I've never officially studied Freud, but we got around to talking about the Id, Ego, and Superego, and we also happened to talk about heroes, antagonists, protagonists, and all of that... We talked about why we might feel more inclined to sympathize with the hero.
That made me wonder: is the hero more often the Id, the Ego, or the Superego? Now, for those of you who are not familiar with Freudian terms, this is the breakdown:
According to Freud, there are three basic "elements" that make up the human psyche: the Id, the Ego, and the Superego.
*** Id: Unorganized; it contains all the base impulsiveness and "on-a-whim" desires
*** Superego: Works in contrast to the Id; is the "conscience" we think of that is purely logical, focuses on goals, entirely organized
*** Ego: Self-awareness; acts as the balance between the Id and the Superego (meaning, it regulates between the two)
So what does all this have to do with Danny Phantom?
Well, in thinking in terms of this psychological trio, I've realized that ALMOST EVERY HEROIC TALE has a group of three heroes. Of course, there is always one main hero, but the other two are just as important. I realized that this may be our way of assigning the characters to the roles of Id, Ego, and Superego, so that we feel there is a balance within the story, as well as within the hero group.
Of course I, being the ever over-analyzing English major that I am, began thinking about the trio in Danny Phantom, and suddenly it all clicked. Tucker was the Id, Sam was the Superego, and Danny was the Ego.
Proof? You say you want proof? All right then, I'll give it to you!
First, we'll start with Tucker. When Danny and Tucker are sitting in Lancer's office, Lancer is reading off the list of the boys' offenses. While Danny's are "not severe mischief", Tucker's involve "chronic tardiness and repeated loitering by the girl's locker room", to which the boy then gives a mischievous glance toward the camera. Additionally, Tucker is constantly referring to himself in contradictory ways, such as being smart, well-dressed, and (ironically) modest, even though he is not. Also important is his relationship with meat. He is strictly a meat-eater, and even says that he's never eaten a vegetable in his life. He is so set in one way, and it is interesting to me that it WOULD be meat, which almost speaks to me of the carnivore nature. In nature, lions and other carnivores truly seem to use their impulses to catch their prey, which is usually meat, and in this way, we might make some correlation between these natural impulses, and Tucker's own.
Second is Sam. Sam is an ultra-recyclo-vegetarian, which means that she doesn't eat any meat whatsoever. She constantly seems to be thinking in activist ways, such as in the episode "Splitting Images" when she tries to get the school to use mechanical frogs for dissection instead of real ones. She uses rationale, and typically, vegetarians must be very careful about what they eat, and whether or not it has animal by-products in it. Additionally, we see in "Prisoners of Love" that while Tucker is fooling around on his PDA, Danny makes Sam promise that she'll be the one to monitor the webcam when Danny goes in to explore the Ghost Zone. In some ways, she is definitely the more logical of the group, and especially in the ways that she works to get what she wants, that she has this sense of over-consciousness. By that, I mean that she seems to be hyper-aware of issues around her, and even the fact that she has chosen to be a Goth says something about the way she would not like to fit into the realm of "reality", but rather, to strive for things that may seem near impossible. Namely, the way she fights against her parents' ideals in an attempt to maximize her own. (The Superego is the conscience, almost to the point of defying reality and choosing to pursue dreams, goals, and ideals that may no longer be logical or possible).
Now, in the first episode, we see that Sam and Tucker had an argument about Sam changing the lunch menu. Danny had just gotten attacked, and remained relatively silent as his friends stormed angrily out of his room, still arguing about the menu. The next day, Danny finds out that both of them had put together two very opposite protests in one night, and he mentions this in bewilderment. It is then that his two best friends continue their argument, before forcing Danny to choose either side. However, the Lunch Lady ghost attacks again, saving him from the decision.
I think it is important to note this event, because Danny most likely would have remained neutral. Even Sam and Tucker's "identities" play a role in this. Sam can be clearly defined as a "Goth", and Tucker as a "Techno-Geek". They both have an "image" within the school, but Danny is another story.
Danny is the Ego. He is the most moderate, I think, and also the most likely to keep the peace. He does not necessarily have an "image", if "loser" could be called an image. We know he is not popular around school, but his mannerisms, his behavior, and his "image" are all rather average. He wears jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers, which are pretty normal attire. In "My Brother's Keeper", we see an image of him sitting at the dinner table one night, and he is eating both vegetables and meat, meaning that of his two friends, he has the most normal eating habits. As a "loser", he is generally unnoticed by the whole population of the school, except for those who bully him. He is shy, but willing to stand up for his friends and the people he cares about, as is apparent in his role as Danny Phantom, the hero. Of both of his friends, Danny always seems to be the most moderate, the easiest to embarrass, yet he still has morals. Truly, there may not be any specific trait that sets him apart from the rest of the "human" population; I believe this is why he was given the ghost powers, to make him stand out as the obvious hero of the show. However, as a friend of Tucker's, we often see some of the aspects of "impulse" that come out, such as in his attraction to Paulina.
In fact, that is perhaps the perfect example of the personalities of the group: Sam, the female, is the most logical about Paulina's shallow behavior, aware that "girls like her are a dime a dozen". This takes place in the second episode of the series, where Danny wants to ask Paulina out. While Sam tries to tell the boys her side, Tucker is merely interested in Danny "checking out that book", in reference to asking Paulina out. Tucker, who usually has no reservations when it comes to hitting on girls, is thus the example of impulse in this situation. While Danny also finds Paulina attractive, he is more reserved, stating that he "gets weak-kneed when he tries to talk to cute girls".
Truly, I could go on about this. I could list further examples of dialogue and other episode situations which would further prove my point. However, I think you've gotten an idea of what I mean.
So why did I take the time to write this out? I think it is because even within this seemingly inconsequential "kid's show", we can find deeper aspects of human psychology weaving through the way we write out our stories. Now, we may not necessarily always make the Ego the hero, but it seems to happen more often than not.
I thought it was kind of neat to see how even these characters, created for the audience's enjoyment, can play a role in satisfying the needs of our own psychological natures and inner desires and dreams.
Of course, this is only one section of one psychological theory. There are many more, and may other ways I could explore, but for the sake of time and the length of this journal, I will keep it at that.
Now, if you've actually made it to the end here, first, I want to congratulate you, and thank you for taking the time to read this. I enjoy sharing these kinds of thoughts with others, and I encourage you to think about these things further.
If you have any questions, comments, or other input, please leave a comment!