02 February 2014

Sympathetic Villains?

Did anyone hear about the kid who set himself on fire in his school’s cafeteria in Colorado?

Yeah, as so many other things in the world, that’s pretty messed up.

What’s more messed up, is that I went to that school. I attended Stanley Lake High School the first year it was open. I’ve been in that cafeteria. I’ve trolled those halls. I marched their football field at 6am. I spent a year of my life there.

It’s strange when these things happen so close to home. Not that I live in Colorado anymore, but I did, and I know people who still do, and it feels ugly to have something like this happen so close to the place I at one time called home.

Yesterday myself, my husband and a good friend of mine were talking. I brought this up, because I was freaked out about it, and we transitioned to the too many acts of violence that have happened in schools and other public areas.

Like, who thinks that’s okay? In what state of mind does someone’s brain said, “Let’s go kill some people?”

One theory that we came up with is that these shooters (or whatever they decide to use as their weapon) want 15 minutes of fame, even if they’re dead. And the horrible thing is, that the media gives it to them.

Instead of saying, “These kids are messed up, and idiots. Don’t be like them.” The media delves into their lives, finds out who bullied them, if their parent’s made them eat brussle sprouts when they were little, what series of events took place to guide them to this horrific end for both them and whomever else they got close enough to, to take out.

Let’s face it, I don’t think that any of us want to think that our friends, neighbors or children/family members are capable of going into a school or a mall and shooting people. So we look for the reasons behind the actions. In some ways I think we want to or try to excuse the shooter because of their circumstances.

Okay, now don’t get all crazy on me here. Everyone is going to have a different opinion on this—which is fine by the way—and you’re welcome to leave comments below.

My brain got going yesterday, and started to wonder if that’s why so many people like sympathetic villains in stories. A bad guy with a dang good reason to be doing what he’s doing. (Magneto from the X-Men comes to mind.) It can make the actions of the bad guy somewhat excusable. Or at the very least understandable.

Does that make a better villain, or worse? Which would you rather read about?

I have friends who argue both sides of this line, which I think is great.

Personally, I like to understand where the villain is coming from, but I then like to have the villain do something so horrible that I’m like, “Uh, no. Someone has to take care of that guy no matter how mean the other kids in his 8th grade chess club were to him.”


Lollie-LuLu said...

I personally subscribe to the notion put forth by Tom Hiddleston as to what the appeal of Marvel's villains and heroes is: "What Marvel is so clever at is that they make their heroes flawed and their villains heroic."
And Joss Whedon: "Villains are heroes in their own minds."

In regards to the incident with the young man you mentioned first, my sincere thoughts and prayers are with his family. Truly a sad incident.

-Jo- said...

I have to agree that Marvel is pretty great with their characters.
Complexity in characters is cool.
But not like Bow ties are cool.