Character Crush: Spike

 

Spike is dreamy.

He’s also evil, dangerous, and undead. The platinum-haired crush of many Buffy fans is a twisted mess of emotions, poetry, death, and destruction. He’s also dreamy. *ahem*

I’ll not defend William the Bloody (Spike). He’s done some horrific things in his 100+ years on this earth. But I will say that, for a bloke without a soul, he’s pretty sweet.

Spike is a vampire. He has no conscience, yet he manages to have morals. Sometimes. When he feels like it. Not killing people for starters.

Okay… He’s got a chip in his head, courtesy of the demented Professor Maggie Walsh with her underground government agency, group of scientists, and soldier boys. As long as that chip’s nestled in Spike’s brain, he can’t hurt a human. There is that.

But there is so much more. Choices he makes when the chip stops working. When it’s removed. When he’s on his own, has free will, without technology interfering. He helps. Again and again. He helps. There is a bit of the meek poet he used to be in the 1800s still hanging out inside this demon leaving a delicious mixture of sentimental and homicidal. Like the time he swishes off in his black trench coat to kill Buffy with a shotgun and winds up sitting on the back porch consoling her. Because. Spike. Buffy’s crying and he wants to know if there’s anything he can do. When there isn’t, he sits with her. Who has empathy as a soulless demon? He’s a bit of a marshmallow. With fangs.

I’ll just throw in here that he nearly gets himself killed, going through “trials” that really should have killed him, to get his soul back. He chose to do this. He didn’t die, but did get majorly beaten and driven insane in the process.

Not to mention (yet I will) the comic relief he adds to the show. He’s dry. Deadpan. My favorite kind of humor. Though, in the Buffyverse, almost everyone has a side of humor with their evil-doing or evil-fighting. But Spike’s delivery is just…brilliant.

We can’t get too comfy around him. He can’t be trusted. Not entirely. And yet characters do trust him (with their lives and the lives of their loved ones). He offers help when the Scooby Gang needs it. He is deadly, yes. He is also affectionate, sensitive, and loyal.

Alas, at the end of the day (and well into the night), this lovely lad is still a vampire. One who saved the world. Just saying. ❤

 

 

I saw this blogathon forever ago. It’s about crushes. It can’t be an actor or actress, it must be the character. (Big shout-out to James Marsters, though, for his portrayal of Spike.) These movie blogathons are so fun. But then I saw television and book characters were fair game. I mean. Seriously? Awesome! Then…I thought. And thought. And, honestly, I was overwhelmed.

My mind was suddenly flooded with ALL OF THE PEOPLE. How could anyone choose one character from all the books, televisions shows, and movies out there. It’s impossible. So I picked one and created a running list that I plan to explore in the future. A blog series of amazing characters (and what makes them so damn lovable).

 

Television

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: I’m pretty much crushing on, like, half the characters in Joss Whedon’s Buffyverse. My favs are: Spike (James Marsters), Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), and my girl crush, Willow (Alyson Hannigan).

Gilmore Girls: Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham)

Northern Exposure: Chris Stevens (John Corbett)

Xena, Warrior Princess: Xena (Lucy Lawless)

And many more…

Film

LOTR: Strider/Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), Legolas (Orlando Bloom)

 

Harry Potter: Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), Severus Snape (Alan Rickman)

Good Will Hunting: Will Hunting (Matt Damon)

Ocean’s Eleven: Erm…everyone. Okay, Rusty Ryan (Brad Pitt), if I had to choose.

Princess Bride: Westley/Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes)

The Avengers: Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.)

Blazing Saddles: Jim (Gene Wilder), Lili Von Shtupp (Madeline Kahn)

Divine Secrets of the YaYa Sisterhood: Viv Abbott Walker (Young: Ashley Judd / Older: Ellen Burstyn)

Grosse Pointe Blank: Martin Blank (John Cusack)

 

Dead Again: Gray Baker (Andy Garcia)

Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence)

And many, many more…

Books

I can’t even. My brain hurts just thinking about this.

 

 

After I wrote my list of crushes, I thought, “Geez, Sarah, here’s something to look into, no? I mean, you’re crushing on some pretty unpleasant people.” Indeed. It’s a very interesting list. People who are crass, wicked, dangerous, manipulative… Criminals, demons, hit men…

Shiny, happy people aren’t my thing. Flaws are intriguing. That said, I don’t go for the truly evil. They’re not my thing, either. I find them disturbing. I love the reformed, conflicted, confused (or confusing) ones. For example, the sexist, womanizing, jackass billionaire Tony Stark (Iron Man) who, in The Avengers, consistently risks his own life to help innocents and, at the end, is the one who goes on a suicide flight to save the world. Or the hit man, Martin Blank, who has killed his share (and more) but is having a bit of a crisis and winds up saving a girl, her father, and some random folks along the way.

I think it’s safe to say I like my characters a little rough around the edges.

 

 

Character crushes. They are difficult to narrow down. At least for me. Who’s your crush? (Or crushes?)

 

This post is part of the Reel Infatuation Blogathon hosted by Silver Screenings and Font and Frock#ReelInfatuation

 

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When Does a Victim Become a Villain?

 

 

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. 😈

#villains2017

 

10 Things I Learned from The Princess Bride

 

 

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!”
Ice…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.

 

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This post is part of the Things I Learned from the Movies Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings#LearnedFromMovies

  • Special thanks to Silver Screenings for allowing me to have fun and be silly with my entries.

 

5 Things I Learned from Monty Python

 

 

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?

 

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This post is part of the Things I Learned from the Movies Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy and Silver Screenings#LearnedFromMovies

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.)

  • Special thanks to Silver Screenings for allowing me to have fun and be silly with my entries.

 

Villain, Villain… Who’s Got the Villain?

 

 

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.

 

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This post is part of The Great Villain Blogathon hosted by Speakeasy, Silver Screenings, and Shadows and Satin#Villains2016

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.)

  • Special thanks to Silver Screenings for allowing me to get all philosophical with my entries. Seriously, thank you for letting me play. (Also, she made all the beautiful banners you’ll see around. *holds up ‘applause’ sign*)