When does a victim become a villain?
What is it that turns someone we would love to protect into someone we love to hate?
Is it the first act of violence against another living thing? Does it have to be human? When does the child who has been brutalized at home become the bully? Is there a magical age when we stop feeling sorry for the child or is it simply a response to the child’s actions?
When I read a book or see a film, I want to know about the villain’s history. He did that?! What on earth happened to him?
That’s just me. Others might not care. Good guy vs bad guy. The end.
I want more. I want to know why the bad guy is so bad. Is he pure evil? Did he make a mistake? Is he mentally unstable? Is he out for revenge?
When it comes to villains, grey matters. Har. Yes, the brain. Psychology and whatnot but, also, areas between the black and white world of good and evil. It’s not simple.
Of course, sometimes, it is. Simple, I mean. Other times, it’s extraordinarily complex.
In searching through the biggest baddies of all time for the Villains Blogathon, I saw some surprising selections.
Carrie from Stephen King’s Carrie is listed as one of the top villains. Hmm. The whole movie sets up those last scenes. She is bullied horrifically at school and abused sadistically at home. Also, she’s unsure (and afraid) of her powers. Then, well…burn, baby, burn. Returning home, Carrie is taken in by her mother who hugs her to hide the great, big knife she’s about to stab Carrie with.
Then there’s Regan. A disgusting-looking, in-need-of-a-facial, pea-soup-projectile-vomiting little girl. The girl from The Exorcist is one of the top villains? She is possessed by the devil, people. Just saying.
Norman Bates is, um, Psycho. This kid, the one who grew up to be his mother (literally), had an extremely disturbing relationship with his cruel, possessive, demented mother. His entire life was abuse and isolation, leading to his inevitable insanity and the infamous stabby shower scene.
If you’ll allow me to delve into the realm of television for one teensy moment, I must talk about one of my favorite victims/villains of all time: the beautifully insane Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer played by the incredibly talented Juliet Landau. Oh, yeah, Drusilla is nasty. No argument there. But it’s her backstory that makes me seriously sick. She was an innocent young woman who caught the attention of a vampire who, patiently, goes to great lengths and takes great pleasure in torturing and tormenting her. He waits for the perfect moment to take her soul and make her immortal—right as she is driven insane.
There are also the people who were victims because they were sort of…magically (or in some other unnatural way) morphed into villains: Jack Torrance (The Shining), Gollum (Lord of the Rings), the kids who lived in Gatlin, Nebraska (Children of the Corn), Bucky A.K.A. Winter Soldier (Captain America/Civil War), Regan (The Exorcist)…
I’m not defending any actions. I’m not denying their villain status. I’m asking when, exactly, do these characters become villains?
When does a brutalized or brainwashed victim become a villain? What pushes the helpless victim into the role of evil villain?
This post is part of The Great Villain Blogathon. Click here for all the participants. #Villains2017
Read my Matrix contribution to VILLAINS2016 here. Working within the constraints of the Matrix was tough but chatting about the villain of the flick was wicked fun and philosophical and *psst* not Agent Smith.
A joyous thanks goes out to the hosts of The Great Villain Blogathon 2017: Ruth of Silver Screenings, Karen of Shadows & Satin, and Kristina of Speakeasy. This is an annual festival of fun. Evil fun. 😈
1. Love is the greatest gift of all.
If your love is true (like really true), many people will help you for no other reason than true love is so very rare. Also, because their own selfish desires led them to use you in their schemes. But, still. Oh, and apparently death cannot stop true love. Bonus.
2. No pain, no gain.
Building up an immunity to poison (like Iocane powder) is extremely beneficial in many situations including, but not limited to, a battle of wits and will guarantee you a win every time you play “which cup is the poison in?” Sweet victory is only a vial away.
3. Make your own fun.
Just because you’re in a sword fight to the death, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Witty banter makes this experience much more enjoyable as does waiting to use your dominant hand until you discern whether your opponent is worthy or not.
4. Be honest.
If you’re only waiting around to kill someone, they may not accept your help. But if you’re honest and disclose this information, that might be all they need to hear. What’s not to trust?
5. React with humor instead of anger.
If your boss is aggravating you, repeatedly rhyming is a great tactic to keep him at bay while entertaining your colleagues.
“Do you know that you are late?!”
“Do you know I had a date?”
“You missed a meeting for today!”
“Yes, I know. Hip-hip-hooray.”
“Stop that rhyming! Stop it now!”
“Okay, dude, don’t have a cow.”
“Keep it up and you’ll be fired!”
“Staying here till I’m retired.”
“Don’t push it, Fred, you’re on thin ice!”
“I’ve got nothing… Lunch break? Nice!”
6. Don’t give up.
Being “mostly dead” is very different from being “all dead”. ‘Nuff said.
7. Self-care is important.
If you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything. So put your priorities in order. If those treasonous plans and murderous plots need attention, you may have to miss out on something fun like going to the Pit of Despair. For the sake of your health.
8. Know what a word means before you say it.
“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” That phrase is priceless. It can be used to embarrass anyone, anywhere, anytime. Also, it never gets old.
9. Don’t underestimate the power of a name.
The name is what’s important. Names have reputations, not people. Don’t be afraid to ask friends and co-workers to call you Thor or Captain America. Alternatively, if you’re trying to strike fear in the hearts of men, try Loki or Red Skull. No one will ask for help from Captain Fred. And no one is afraid of Red Fred. See? It’s all in the name. Pass it on.
10. Always have a “Plan B”.
There is no future in revenge. Don’t turn the other cheek, though, as that one might get slashed as well. Do what you need to do. Just keep in mind two things:
1. If you don’t succeed, you’ll need to find somewhere else to focus your energy.
2. If you do succeed… Well, think about it. Once you get your revenge, there is nothing left. Be sure to find time during your years of plotting revenge to study or learn a trade so, post-revenge, you have something to do with the rest of your life. Unless you happen to know a pirate who is willing to let you use his name.
Have you seen The Princess Bride? If so, what lessons have you learned from it? Everything tastes better coated in chocolate? “To the pain” is significantly worse than “To the death”? The Cliffs of Insanity are aptly named?
If you have not seen this film, please, for the love of Miracle Max, go. Watch.
1. Be yourself.
If an ancient bridgekeeper asks you five (three) questions as toll to cross, answer him truthfully. Do not say what you think he wants to hear or be indecisive in your response or you will end up in the Gorge of Eternal Peril.
2. Know when to quit.
If you are fighting for a just cause and acquire a scratch, bruise, or other minor “flesh wound”, don’t give up the good fight. On the other hand (assuming you still have one), should your arm be chopped off, your leg lopped, or if blood is spurting from various injuries, know your limits and limp away. Live to fight another day.
3. Don’t let looks deceive you.
Do not underestimate a killer, even if he is a cute, fluffy, little bunny. You could wind up decapitated.
4. Stand up for yourself.
If you are not dead and a cart comes ’round to pick you up for disposal, do say something. And be insistent. It could save your life. (Or not. But do try.)
5. Don’t give in to peer pressure.
If you have had too much to eat and are feeling full, do not let someone talk you into having dessert. Even if it is just a mint. And a wafer thin one at that.
What have you learned from the movies? Serious, silly, or otherwise?
Don’t miss my next installment of *cue music* LearnedFromMovies posting tomorrow. (Hint: There’s a princess, a pirate, a giant, and a six-fingered man.)
When it comes to villains, I tend to get a bit philosophical.
Sorry, not talking about the rabbit hole reference or metaphysics.
When does the bad guy become the villain? When does a villain become a hero? Or an anti-hero? Does he ever? How do we decide who the villain is? And, one of my all-time favorite questions: When does a victim become a villain?
Aside from movies with characters like Darth Vader and Voldemort, Freddy Kruger and Norman Bates, how do we know who the “real” villain is?
We watch. We get pulled into the film. We feel.
I could argue President Snow isn’t the real villain in The Hunger Games but I’d get moldy plum tomatoes thrown at me so I’ll say he’s not the only one in those movies.
In The Matrix, the big bad is Agent Smith. (So says everyone.)
I beg to differ.
He just wants a life, poor bloke, and humans are kinda…gross. Can you blame him for wanting to rid the world of us? I jest.
However, we did create his kind. Isn’t it ultimately our responsibility he exists in the first place? It’s a stretch to blame us completely (and where’s the fun in that?) but he is a program, a machine, AI. And one, I might add, that’s just doing its job.
Agent Smith, a villain? Sure. But I think there’s a big bad baddie badder than him.
Cypher’s human, with a soul, and, presumably, a conscience yet chooses to murder all the humans who know and trust him.
He’s a bit too happy pulling the plug on his friends, to be honest. He’s creepily cheerful. Or cheerfully creepy. Whatever. *shudders* He makes a deal to do them in, without hesitation, in exchange for being plugged back into the Matrix to live out his life in ignorance (with a virtual steak and some serious cash). Bad? Definitely. Evil? Yes. Villain? Not sure. I think so but others might not agree.
Smith is obvious. Very clear in his intentions. He’s out to get these rebels who are trying to free mankind from enslavement.
Cypher is insidious. He hangs with the group. He lives, eats, sleeps, and, seemingly, works with them. Until we learn that he doesn’t. He’s planning to kill them and turn Morpheus over to the enemy. Basically, he’s a despicable, double-crossing, treacherous traitor.
Dante saves a special place in hell for traitors—the ninth circle (where the most wicked of the sinners reside).
I wouldn’t enjoy Smith popping up all over the place trying to kill me but, frankly, I’d rather see the knife coming, you know? Et tu, Brute?
What makes a villain? Their degree of evil or the conflict they create? Is a villain simply someone who stands in the way of the hero? If so, both Agent Smith and Cypher qualify. Not to mention all the minions (“Sentinels” in The Matrix). Which brings me to another point…
Sentinels? Stormtroopers? Death Eaters? Peacekeepers? Orcs? Are they villains? Must a character have intelligence or hold some sort of power (or all the power) in order to be considered a villain? So many questions, so little space.
I’ll leave you to ponder. Or perhaps just drop a rude comment below. No, please don’t do that. I’ll send my villainous minions after you. I have hundreds and they know where you blog.
Don’t miss my next installment of *cue music* VILLAINS2016! (I’ll link to it here after I post because I am but a feeble, non-techie human and do not have power yet over the Matrix.)
Happy Mother’s Day!
Here…have an apple. Oh, and a lovely little story, too.
Because every mother deserves a comfortable place to complain about her kids. (And things aren’t always as they seem.)