Villains in Fiction: My sympathy for the devil

There’s been quite a bit of discussion on the Interwebs about villains since The Avengers hit the screen. All the ladies who like the bad boys took up with Loki, who is one of those perfectly flawed characters—a combination of a natural tendency toward mischief and bad personal circumstances made him who he is: a villain.

It doesn’t hurt that Loki is personified through Tom Hiddleston, who is both talented and good-looking, with the added benefit of a silken voice and British accent. (Yes, I’m one of those girls. What’s it to you?)

This just cracks me up.
Source: http://cheezburger.com/6813554944

The running joke seems to be villains are irredeemable unless they are good looking. It’s an interesting joke, since I’ve always had a soft spot for villains. Not because they are “misunderstood” or victimized, but because they are essential not only to a good story, but also the rise and triumph of the heroes.

Fellow blogger John K. Patterson tweeted this morning about how some people dislike the orcs and goblins in Tolkien’s stories because they have no redeeming qualities. I replied, respectfully disagreeing with these detractors. They have many excellent qualities, like unquestioning loyalty to their leader and a surprisingly apt army (both organized and well-managed).

It’s not that they don’t have morals. It’s just that they have evil morals.

There are several kinds of villains. The first and most simplistic are the “naturally evil” creatures, like orcs or demons or something. They are evil because that’s just how they were created. Then, you have the grow-into-a-villain types like Loki, who are hypersensitive to slights and may have been unstable to begin with. Lastly, you have the good guy who just up and switches sides, like Saruman, due to lust for power or the loss of hope.

In my brain, there’s no such thing as a misunderstood villain. I understand them perfectly. I know exactly why Loki thinks he’s justified, and on a certain level, I sympathize. He could have been a great guy had he avoided that pesky psychotic break.

Saruman was a great guy—leader of the good wizards—until he got greedy.

And why are we hating on the orcs? I mean, they’re uglier than sin itself, but that isn’t really their fault. They were created to be bad, and we’re always preaching ‘to thine own self be true.’ If we’re going to look for redeeming qualities, here, it’s that orcs love to be bad, and they are good at it.

If you can’t find a redeeming quality in the villain, then find one in their purpose. Without the villain, our precious heroes would never have the chance to shine. They wouldn’t be heroes—they would just be ordinary people, living regular lives. Without the potential for evil, there is no reason to cultivate good.

No villains means no conflict. No conflict means no story. No story means no entertainment. I mean, can you imagine how boring it would be to hear about Frodo’s life in The Shire? Hobbits aren’t exactly an exciting bunch. They eat, sleep, smoke and garden as far as I can tell. Woo frickin’ hoo, you guys.

And, allow me to point out, that every good guy is someone’s villain.

Evil is a matter of perspective.

Zombie cat toy

I have two rambunctious cats. Both of them have their favorite varieties of toys. The striped one likes toys that can be thrown and fit in her mouth because she likes to play fetch. The black one likes toys attached to strings and wands because she likes to chase them and do backflips in the air trying to catch them.

A few months ago, I bought them some new toys. I bought a fox with a squeaker, and a mouse attached to a string and wand with a squeaker. The striped one liked the fox–it was easy to carry and only squeaked every once in a while. She carries it all around the house. The mouse, however, squeaked every time it moved and the black cat was TERRIFIED of it.

So, being the excellent cat-mother that I am, I stomped on the mouse to kill the squeaker inside. It worked! And once she figured out it no longer squeaked, we were able to play.

When we were playing the other night, everything was great up until the point it started squeaking again. The cat ran away, and I sat in the armchair, baffled. It was dead. Now, it is undead.

It goes from being silent one moment to squeaky the next. It’s a little creepy, this zombie cat toy. *Shudder*

In other news, I managed to pull a muscle in my back yesterday. While doing laundry. No, not lifting the laundry basket or anything like that. I had the clothes on my bed, and I bent down to pick up a sock and fold it. And then I pulled a muscle. Because I’m awesome.

I hope you all had an excellent holiday! I have some funny stories to tell you later this week. Have a good Monday.

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, my strategic leak management system was systematically dismantled and cleaned, because, you guys, the leak is fixed, and now they are coming to fix the drywall!

I am so excited. It’s really the little things.

Also, Thanksgiving, that great American holiday of being grateful for the fact that one day a year we can totally stuff ourselves, is tomorrow. Wait, that’s not why we’re grateful? Well, what about being grateful for pie? Can I be grateful for that? Anyway. Whatever you are grateful for, I hope you have an excellent, drama free holiday. And if it’s not drama free and there are funny stories you’d like to share with the class come Friday, feel free to post in the comments.

I’m sure I’ll have a couple interesting stories to add to the klutz chronicle. I mean, there will be knives and fire involved (I have a gas stove). This holiday is comedy gold.

Happy Thanksgiving, my hearts!

Birthday tiara!

Okay, so I’ve made a little progress on my list of birthday demands, the two most important being:

Birthday tiara!

It’s a terrible cell phone picture, but you get the idea.

Aaaaand I’ve made some definite progress on my Viking novella, as exemplified by my recent excerpt. I am really loving how the draugar is falling into place, and where it’s taking the mortal villains, and how it will affect my heroes. Guh, they are going to be so screwed for a little while. It’s crazy. Or maybe I’m crazy.

WHATEVER I DO WHAT I WANT.

I hope you guys had an awesome weekend! May Monday be submissive and pliant.