I’m sure many of you have seen where the NY Times put together an interactive chart that asked people to rank all the characters in Game of Thrones on a good-evil/ugly-beautiful axis. The results should be of interest to storytellers. There is a clear bi-lobed cluster.
You could argue of course that this is the result of the show’s producers rather than a statement on the culture. But per the article, the producers claimed to have picked actors (and costumed them) based on the books. More importantly, I’m not sure it matters. A movie or TV show is still a “cultural text,” same as a book, and just as open to criticism. And finally, it’s very possible that a “better” casting would have furthered these results rather than contradicted them. In the article, for example, one of the show’s creators mentioned that they were “too kind” with The Hound.
The lesson is clear. Your good characters should always be good-looking, more or less, and your evil characters shouldn’t, with two allowable exceptions:
-Women can be vixens, beautiful but evil (Cersei, Ellaria, The Red Woman, Shae)
-Men can be fat lovable oafs, ugly but true (Samwell, Hodor, possibly Tyrion)
If you take out those two tropes, the graph is pretty much a complete fit to the model.
The converse then, would also seem to be true: that no beautiful man is evil and there’s no such thing as a good ugly woman.