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

 

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.

 

Villain 2016 Banners

 

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*)

 

Philosophy, Families, and Kindness

 

Last week, while reading a history book with my son, we saw a sidebar about Confucius stating that he advocated family loyalty and kindness.

This confused my son. He asked about unkindness within families.

I debated what to say.ThoughtBubble

I don’t put rose-colored glasses on my children. The world is not pink.

However, there is only so much information they need. When one of my boys asks me something, there is a split second where my mind quickly determines how to answer by factoring in his chronological age, his emotional age, and his sensitivity. I go from there.

So, with my 8-yr-old, I simply said, “Some families treat each other badly. They are…not very nice to each other.”

To which he cried and said, “Like if you don’t get a birthday card from your parents? Because that would be awful. Cards are a wish for good things and, I don’t know, it means ‘I love you’ and ‘I’m thinking of you’.”

I stared.

He continued, “So ‘unkind’ like if your father never wrote you a card?”

Yes. Just like that.

Can I bottle this innocent beauty? Just for a few more years…

 

Handwritten Notes

A typical note for my kids.

If, for my son, not ever receiving a handwritten note is what it means for family to be cruel,
I’m not going to correct him. Not right now.

 

My Sunday thoughts in 200 words or less.