Thursday, May 21, 2015

Rooting For Villains?


Darth Vader.



What do all of these folks have in common?  Kudos if you guessed "villains."  Bonus points if you guessed "villains we ended up rooting for."

What is it about a great villain that suddenly makes us want to corrupt the entire picture by turning them into some sort of tragic hero?  Do we like them because they act in ways we wish we could(and would if we were free from society's constraints)?  Is it because since most of our stories are told from the hero's point of view that they seem confident because we never see those moments of self doubt that inevitably creep into their psyche?

As we read more and more about our villains, we tend to empathize with them.  That, in turn, makes us want to see them successful.  That would be all well and good if it ended there, but since we could never openly root for such a scoundrel, our villain needs to turn to the good side.  This ruins our villains.

When I read or watch a story, I don't want the bad guy to be much of anything but bad.  The world is full enough of ambiguity without cluttering up our stories with it.  Yes, villains shouldn't be simple, but that doesn't mean they have to blur the line so much that we can't recognize which one is the bad guy and which one is the good guy.

Much like that Twilight nonsense that ruined vampires for a generation, stop trying to change villains into heroes.  Villains bad, heroes good, and rarely shall the two meet.  It confuses people and introduces more complexity into the fictional world than I care for.  If I want ambiguity, I'll stick with real life.

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