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  1. Androxine Vortex
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    Androxine Vortex Member

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    Glorifying Villains

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Androxine Vortex, Oct 19, 2011.

    One thing I would like to discuss and see what you think about is the appeal of villains. You know when you're watching a movie you always find yourself saying, "Why do the bad guys get all the cool stuff?" I think I might be able to elaborate a bit on that. Let's look at it through the perspective of a story. The Protagonist vs the Antagonist; Good vs Evil, if you will. If the antagonist posed no threat towards the protagonist then it would be a pretty boring tale. So i believe authors/screenwritters/etc began making the villains more powerfull and posing much greater of a threat. But I think that mindset eventually evolved into an appeal to evil.

    That may sound confusing. Appeal to evil. Why would someone be appealed to something that is obviously wrong? Well maybe something tragic happens to that character and through a series of event and time, that character slowly begins to corrupt but in their vision they are justified and doing what is right. "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"

    People often view evil as being grotesque and hiddeous but I honestly believe that if evil were to have a physical form, it would be the most beautiful person that ever lived. Think about it. If sin was hiddeous and ugly, no one would be tempted by it, so it wears a false appearance of being something beautiful. So I think that over time authors began to make evil have some sort of appeal to their stories. I think this is why the bad guys have all the cool stuff. It makes the villains seem all the more powerful.

    Like today i was watching Transformers 3 (which is actually a very stupid movie. Curse you Michael Bay!) and the Decepticons have hordes, I repeat, hordes of fighters. They have an awesome super-ship-of-death and they are just the better looking. Now look at the Autobots. They are at least 10 feet smaller than the decepticons and in most cases are just lame compared to them. So watching this movie, i am inexorably drawn to loving the Decepticons even though I know deep down that they are evil. But that their original pursuit was a pure one, but it became corrupt with power and ambition.

    Today it jsut seems like we give too much glory to villains. The concept of good is being demoralized and dominated with a relentless bombardment of propoganda and "lets just make this super cool" approaches. It actually just gets a little annoying. I'm tired of the bad guys having to be 150% evil with snarling voices, spikes all over, etc. you know? The same old same old. I literally saw a commercial for a toy and it had two acion figures you could use to fight with. One was good and one was evil. The good guy was an old chineese man with a hat. The evil guy was cloaked in a dark robe with dark purple tentacles coming out of him and he had a large and menacing sword. So which would you rather play with?

    So what are your thoughts on this subject? Do you think that today we just automatically assume that the "bad guys" need to have the same canned appearance and attitudes? Do you also think that we glorify villanry and we make evil just seem so much cooler? I mean, why want to be a goodie-twoshoes when you could be an evil overlord with dragon wings and have 10000 servants and have untold power. And just remember, your arch nemesis is that old guy with the hat.

    Okay. I have finished my rant
    :)
     
  2. ShadowScribbler
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    ShadowScribbler Member

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    I don't remember who was the author that said this originally, but I'm sure you've stumbled upon this little jewel: make the Antagonist as detailed, if not more, as the Protagonist. This is especially true when it comes to my writing. I spend a huge amount of time and energy writing down each and every one of my characters and I take the time to develop them as much as I possibly can. But my villains? Or well, maybe villain is a far too strong word -- the less virtuous of my characters, those are my personal pride and joy. I am exceedingly proud of having them and work to polish them more than the protagonist because his motivations have to be stronger than the protagonist sometimes. It's not really about 'glorifying' it so much as realising that they have to be deep to be of significance to the story. It wouldn't matter if David had been an accurate slinger if he hadn't thrown down a giant-sized Goliath, right?

    You mentioned you imagine evil as "the most beautiful person that has ever lived" and it's funny you should phrase it like that -- that is Lucifer's original representation: God's most beautiful angel, Fallen out of envy and jealousy. But beautiful none the less.

    To me, evil has to be alluring. There has to be a certain element of glamour and I have to care about the antagonist as much as the protagonist -- otherwise, I just don't give a peanut that he loses, you know? Villains don't necessarily have to be evil overlords with chained dragons and a million minions either, just as the hero doesn't have to be the most virtuous of men to live. That's the beauty of writing; with some talent and a good idea, you can twist any concept into a much cooler one.

    I'll take sociopaths and psychopaths over 150% evil any day though, for what it's worth. xD
     
  3. Jetshroom
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    Jetshroom Active Member

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    Eveyone loves watching a psychopath.

    I don't think what you're talking about is necessarily always the case though. Certainly the antagonist needs to be intimidating, where the protagonist needs to be relatable, but in literature, that can be conveyed in more ways than just making them big and spikey.
    In television and movies however, it's not so easy to portray the diabolical scheming going on behind the scenes. You have to make the villian look more imposing than the protagonist so that it doesn't look like the protagonist should be picking on someone their own size.
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I suspect there's a parallel to Tolstoy's observation that "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." There are usually only so many ways to do the right thing, whereas there are countless ways to do the wrong thing. That gives the villains a lot more scope to be interesting (and why it helps a story if the hero is prevented from doing the right thing or has difficulty identifying the right thing).
     
  5. Metus
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    Metus Senior Member

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    The more I write, the more I find myself flat-out rejecting the big, evil, cackling antagonist. Antagonists aren't just evil, but they aren't powerful objects of desire. Something caused my antagonists to act the way they do- that is, flawed and corrupt, but possessive of emotion as well- and what that thing at the very least drives a sub-plot relating to the antagonist.
    I try to make my antagonists targets of pity as much as fear. At times, they even befriend or fall in love with the protagonist, but at the end of the day, their goals are contrary to the protagonist's. In the end, both parties always have to come to terms with that, either violently or tearfully.
     
  6. Lou Plot Point Olson
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    Lou Plot Point Olson Member

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    first: this is an ancient concept. yes the concept of villains having all the cool toys is what gives a challenge for the hero. maybe this is bad example but in today's cartoon- and be aware i plan to flog myself for mentioning such shit- villains are becoming more lesser and lesser compared to our heros and it's not entertaining.

    second: if you plan to apply any of this in your writing don't try and appeal he concept of appealing evil to teenagers. (stop listening at this point if you don't want to hear a rant about kids) teenagers have this appeal with superficially disregarding any type social trend and there fore make one. so all teenagers root for hook, and darth vadar, and satan, and the worst of characters. children are the future. FML!
     
  7. efgeesus
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    efgeesus Member

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    The idea of superbad evil villains is appealing if done right but yes I agree that subtle villains are better, i.e. not the stereotypically bad dressed in black with a scar on the face etc.

    I'm thinking of Robin Williams in 24 Hour Photo - creepier and creepier and its so effective because he is a gentle people pleasing type on the surface. There's depth to his character beyond the aesthetics and usual 'I will defeat you, muahaaaahaha!' style baddie we are often sold in mainstream cinema.

    To me evil is all about psychology. You can never get away from the 'why did they turn bad/go down the wrong path/ do what they did?'. Whereas with the protagonist you need to have a reason for them to defeat the antagonist BUT you don't need to explain to the same extent their actions as it is usually fairly obvious why they are doing what they are doing.
     
  8. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    Evil is sexy. Evil allows people to be deviant, badass, and impulsive with impunity - evil is meant to appeal to the more primal side of man, the self-indulgent, arrogant, and pompous side. Good is restrained, responsible, and humble. There would be no evil if there was no incentive.

    Which would people want to be on the inside?
    Which would people want others to be?
     
  9. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    My protagonist is a freelance assassin, so the goody two shoes go right out of the window. Her antagonists are not necessarily worse, they might even be on the right side of the law, but their motivations and goals are in conflict with those of my protagonist. That's enough for an interesting story.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    The villains often wield power and have a large amount of control over the direction of the story. People are drawn to those who have power and control.
     
  11. Androxine Vortex
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    Androxine Vortex Member

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    I made another thread of this in another forum and have got some very good respinses too. I want to put the link here so you all can read it because I really dont feel like having to retype these long responses I have already explained XD

    http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=227782

    so read it abit and tell me what you think. i think I did a decent job explaining "evil with perspectives" on page 4
     

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