On Teamwork by JaneLebak
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On Teamwork (a little slightly-organized series of musings by Jane)

Some recent events in my life have had me pondering what exactly constitutes a team. We talk about The Team in Gatchaman/BotP fandom so often but I've never seen anyone discuss what it actually takes to make a team or really even to define it. Yet this is fairly important because I believe it's primarily in recreating the sense of team that the OAV and the Sharrieff comic failed utterly, and that lack is what ultimately doomed both ventures.

After all, it wouldn't be the same if you talked about "The Gatchaman co-workers" or "the Gatchaman allies." When we talk about them as a team, we're coming closer to the concept of a community, only it's more functional than that. Most of us also describe them in terms of a family, but they're gathered for a purpose, which is something families in general lack as their driving force.

But before I get too far afield, let's define "team." I believe you really need a functional definition rather than a descriptive one, so here's my attempt. A team needs to have:
- a shared goal
- a shared vision of how to achieve the goal
- a shared methodology for implementing the vision
- a shared commitment to the methodology and the vision
- an understood decision-making process
- a willingness to collaborate
- trust that one another will take responsibility for their own areas
- a willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team
The team itself has to be regarded as a good thing, in other words, that is worthy of sacrifices in its own name. Everyone on a team knows his role and trusts that other team members know theirs and will do them well. There's willingness to pick up the slack, but for the most part, everyone has latitude to accomplish his part as he sees fit but without interfering with the others' jobs.*

*{ This is different from the marital model of teamwork, where both spouses need to be able to pinch-hit for the other in every area at any time, and where it's unhealthy to have very rigidly-defined roles.}

Looking at the above definition, I think you have the Gatchaman and BotP teams fitting pretty neatly into that description. The team members had roles, but were flexible within them; they had areas of expertise but were willing to collaborate; they considered the team worthy of sacrifice. They had a shared goal and a shared vision and a shared methodology. Even when they went off on their own, it almost functioned within the established parameters of the team itself.

The Sharrieff comic and the OAV, on the other hand, had a shared goal, but broke down shortly thereafter. By making Joe a complete maverick and a loose cannon, the writers chipped away that the "shared vision" and destroyed the "shared methodology." Sharrieff's Jason had no willingness to sacrifice for the good of the team, no willingness to collaborate. The team itself was devalued by those on the team in an effort to raise tension artificially.

The result of this was "coworkers" or "allies," but no team. No community. No family.

There can and should be tensions within a living, thriving team. But those tensions are more difficult to write because the individuals have a shared commitment. Ironically, even though some tactics aren't legitimate for individuals who have committed to the team (betrayal, for example, or just leaving over nothing) the stakes are profoundly higher if the team has been written correctly because the team itself could be at stake. The stakes are also far higher emotionally when the team members are fully committed to one another, to the extent that walking away from one another also entails walking away from the shared vision or the goal.

In many cases, if the team member wants to walk away from the goal, his emotional commitment will keep him in place. And if his emotions tell him to leave, frequently it's the goal that keeps him there because he desperately wants it achieved. People will put up with the inconvenience as a "necessary evil" for the purposes of one or the other in the framework, and in even that meager contact, healing of the team begins. That's why they stay. Lacking that sense of teamwork, it's no wonder the OAV team and Sharrieff's attempt at a team fell apart: there wasn't anything to keep the maverick character in place when the going got tough.

The team can and should reach the proportions of a living character. When a series or an interpretation succeeds at that, you can tell because it comes alive.

I've heard that the key to happiness, almost universally, is how well one succeeds in attaching oneself to work that's greater than oneself. The greater the external work and the more you can contribute to its success, the greater your ultimate satisfaction with the world. That's why, ironically, people who pursue their own pleasures ultimate end up the most displeased and uncomfortable, whereas individuals like Mother Teresa might be sleeping on a dirt floor and own only one dress, but they find a deep satisfaction in their lives. A good team serves that function perfectly. It's bigger than oneself, and if the goal is big enough and the teammate has something to offer, it can provide far greater satisfaction that (for example) Jason getting it on with an anonymous blond in a hot tub or Jun garnering stares from males at her health club or Joe running off to exact his ultimate revenge on Gallactor.

The TMNT movie embodied that sense of teamwork excellently, and I'm hoping the writers can achieve the same with the Gatchaman movie.
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