Quadra values on screen

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It is a common practice to assign a specific type or Quadra not only to fictional characters, but also to films, TV series or other forms of fictional entertainment. In fact, such contents might emphasize some aspect of information metabolism or ignore /reject other aspects, in line with the values of a specific Quadra. This is the first of a series of articles which will highlight the differences between Quadras on screen in terms of themes and style.

Since they have aspects blocked in the same way yet completely different values, the two pairs of opposite Quadras (i.e. Alpha and Gamma, Beta and Delta) tend to cover similar topics with opposite perspectives. The former make movies that are plot-driven, the latter are largely character-centred. In fact, by watching Alpha and Gamma movies, the audience will learn about the world of the movies, while in Beta and Delta movies, the audience will learn about the characters.

Alpha and Gamma films (intuition blocked with logic, sensing blocked with ethics) tend to present complex plots, expecting the audience to show greater interest in the development of the story than the characters themselves. In fact, the protagonist becomes merely the agent through which a matter is explored. Their attitude towards characterisation is ambiguous, emphasizing the shades of grey within people and situations.

The main difference between these two Quadras lies in their attitude towards the outcome of the story. While Alpha show curiosity and fascination towards the new and surprising facets of reality explored through the story, Gamma would often offer a sarcastic commentary on the inevitability of the story’s ending, emphasizing the underlying direction of reality. Examples of plot-driven movies from the Alpha Quadra are Robert Zemeckis’ “Back to the future” (1985), Richard Donner’s “The Goonies” (1985) and Jaco Van Dormael’s “Mr Nobody” (2009). On the other hand, examples from the Gamma Quadra would be Sergio Leone’s “spaghetti western” films, such as “The good, the bad and the ugly” (1968),  Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp fiction” (1994), and Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler” (2014).

Beta and Delta films (intuition blocked with ethics, sensing blocked with logic) usually tell stories involving a polarity between the main characters, for whom the audience is supposed to root, and an antagonistic force.

These two Quadras have got antithetical ways of characterising the protagonist. While Beta stories romanticize the exceptional and outstanding qualities of the protagonist, Delta‘s interest is to describe the main characters’ intimate experience, with a focus on their vulnerabilities and potential for growth. In both Quadras, an admirable character would fit the dictionary definition of a hero as: 1) a “person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities” (Beta) or “a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal” (Delta).

Examples of character-driven stories for Beta are Mitchell Leisen’s “Darling, how could you” (1951), Morton DaCosta’s “The music man” (1968), and Paul Verhoeven’s “The soldier of orange” (1977). Examples of Delta movies are John Avildsen’s “Rocky” (1977),  Michael Gondry’s “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” (2004) and Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton’s “Little miss sunshine” (2008).

Occasionally films might focus on an aspect that is inconsistent with the overall Quadra vibe in order to align with social norms. For instance, back in 1950s, as a consequence of the prevalence of a Beta over-the-top style, it was not uncommon for Delta movies to convey dramatic emotional expressions, such as  Sydney Lumet’s Twelve angry men (1957).

Another example of inter-Quadra influence is Paul Verhoeven’s “The soldier of orange” (1977), which is a Beta film influenced by the 1970’s Gamma atmosphere. The tone of the movie is Beta’s heroic adventurousness with a focus on Erik Lanshof’s (SLE) character. On the other hand, through other characters it reveals a more nuanced reality. 

Similarly, in recent days, when Delta or Gamma contents are most common, an Alpha movie such as Marc Forster’s “Christopher Robin” (2018) would show some Delta elements, with a very moralistic rendition of relationships and a Delta-like message.

If you liked this article, check out our series around Socionics and movies!


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