Thursday, August 14, 2008

Top 10 Characteristics of good bad guys

I love the movies. Not any more than anyone else I suppose, but I love them anyway. They boil down complex human emotion to it's elemental level. A great movie is one that has a simple message that doesn't deviate from that message, but maintains an interesting story line around that message.

One of the biggest difficulties in making a good story is making a good bad guy. Great bad guys in our recent past include but are definitely not limited to Satan, Darth Vader, Cardinal Richelieu, Megatron ( Transformers, not the one from the movies, I would point you in the direction of the Beast Wars series to see them at their best) and more recently Heath Ledgers Joker (Mark Hamil of Star Wars fame did a GREAT job with the Joker in the Batman animated series and shouldn't be forgotten). We know we like the bad guys, but why do we like them? Maybe because they represent us if we had enough guts. Or maybe because they prove our point for us without making us work for it. Or maybe we just like seeing the bad come out and play once in a while. To this end...

Good bad guys are...

10. Men of action - Much like heroes, villains are men of action. They DO things. This sounds stupidly simple, but look at it this way. How many of you have neighbors that would be bad guys if they would just get off of their lazy kiesters and do something. The better part of potential bad guys lie dormant in trailer parks right now with their beer hats and their nachos waiting for the perfect time to strike. If they only cared.

9. Astonishingly poor judges of character - Bad guys make a habit of employing people dumber than they are. This is for two reasons. True villains think that since they are men of action, they are smart. The don't like to be shown they are not the smartest by hiring someone smarter than they are. They also don't want the next bad guy in line to have their seat, so they want to make sure they have underlings they can keep a thumb on. These criterion seriously limit your field of choices vis a vis a potential right hand man.

8. Above average intelligence - The baddies were the guys that never did homework, never studied, never put in an ounce of effort and averaged a B. The reason Bad guys didn't get straight A's is because it wasn't within their character flaws. There is an exception for the Bad guy that has the 'they never appreciated me' origin. Those bad guys got straight A's and nobody noticed or cared because their parents always wanted them to be in the clergy and didn't care about academia (tool of the devil). Please don't think that good guys must be stupid or some such nonsense, I'm just saying that a good bad guy needs smarts.

7. Extremely high in ego - A good bad guy really believes that they are somehow endowed with some kind of chromosomal enhancement that makes them better than everyone else. They usually don't believe they are better because of something they did, but rather that God or nature has given them advantages that the rest of man kind simply can not hope to even understand much less equal. They don't blame you for your lack of superiority, but they are far too important to the future of mankind to allow you to hinder them with your obvious flaws.

6. A finely developed sense of humor/irony - Irony is usually lost on heros and yet we as regular humans love it. We love seeing the little patterns in life and ascribing meaning to them. Now once in a while we will see humor in a hero to be sure, but the best lines are usually the bad guys. 'Pray I don't alter the deal any further', 'No, I expect you to DIE Mr. Bond'. Bad guys love irony because they are an integral part of it and irony is usually what makes a bad guy 'cool'. Without the bad guys, there is less irony and therefore less to appreciate about life.

5. Have a sense that most people are beneath their contempt - A really good bad guy views other human beings as tools to be used to his ultimate aims. Bad guys only have attachments to other humans in that they serve to cover their weaknesses, show off their strengths or assist them in their goals. Apart from that, they are not at all interested in anything that the rest of humanity has to offer. Unless of course they admire other great achievers in history, but all of them are already dead.

4. Are masters of manipulation - A really good bad guy can get the rest of the bad guy world to follow him and believe they are doing themselves a favor in doing so. Often they can get the good guy to use their misplaced sense of morality to put themselves in a pickle without having to do much. The good bad guy can do this because they know your weaknesses better than you do. The good guy always represents the absolute of good which is fairly easy to overcome with the gray of not SO bad. It is the Devil himself that claims to ensnare the hearts of men with 99 Truths and 1 lie.

3. Surprisingly short sighted - Even the best of bad guys fail because they just don't see the big picture. The biggest reason for this is that moral equivalence and manipulation require a loss of perspective big enough to let it make sense to the weak minded. Since the bad guy has to put themselves into this lack of perspective, they also lose the sense of what is best in the long run. what else is typified by short term gains for long term losses...let me think...

2. believe that force is usually necessary - Bad guys don't have enough time to be bogged down by things like democratic process and checks and balances. They want you to start living their model of better life now. So they will circumvent every method of governance possible for their greater good. Great phrases like 'if you wanna make an omelet you gotta break some eggs', and 'In the end you'll see I'm doing this for your own good' are made by the printing press of this ideology.

1. A deep seeded sense of misery - A good bad guy is constantly searching for a happiness/contentment that can not be found through bad guy means. The always feel like they are lacking just a little bit and search for what will fill the void. Obviously absolute power would be the ticket. Ask any 6 year old what would make them happiest and aside for all the ice cream they can eat and their birthday every day, 'Everyone has to do what I say' will show up high on the list. Of course we all know that happiness is not something to be gained but rather a state of mind. Truly happy people are simply happy with small regard to their circumstance. Truly happy people enjoy the journey more than the destination. Miserable people are made more miserable by the fact that the end of their quest does not quench their insatiable fire.

Any resemblance of these traits to humans that you know is purely coincidental...or is it...hmmmmm.

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