Friday, April 22, 2011

Episode 11- Hate the Sin, Love the Villain

Relentless. Ruthless. Witty retorts. A rockin' theme song. Villains often captivate us with their acts of savagery and urbane smiles. Why do we love a good villain?

In this episode, Tim and Nick explore the lure of villainy, the idea of justice for antagonists, and what it means to have compassion for those characters we love to hate.

Time to ambush the villain's hideout. Sneak in and take a listen to a new (and long delayed) installment of Derailed Trains of Thought.


Show Notes

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  1. I could write a whole treatise on Lex Luthor and his relation to Superman. He’s my favorite supervillain. He is the opposite of Superman in that Superman has godlike powers and Luthor is a mere mortal. He can’t fight Superman physically (unless he has kryptonite or a suit of armor or the like), but he is brilliant. He has contingency plans in case things go bad. Even if Superman knows he is responsible for something bad, he can’t prove it. But his greatest tactic is he uses Superman’s morality against him. He knows Superman won’t stoop to killing him, that he won’t overstep the law. And since Superman has pledged his loyalty to the president of the United States, Luthor gets himself elected. What irony.

    What astounds me, though, is something that the two of them have in common: they are both “supermen.” The term was coined by Frederick Nietche (sp?), who used it to describe a man who was completely independent and relied on no one for help (including God or religion). Superman isn’t that superman, but Lex Luthor is. That is why their conflict is timeless and epic: it is a battle between two “supermen.”
    To take it a step further, if you’re like me and see Christological parallels in the Superman story, then Luthor would be the Devil. He doesn’t have the power Superman does, but he is a master manipulator. He is quintessence of pride.

    I’ve heard about the first two villain categories you mentioned, but by different names. They were called “the sinner” and “the zealot.” The last one I had not heard about, but it is fascinating.

    (I always hated Ben Linus, even when they wanted you to feel sorry for him. I always assumed he was lying about his remorse).

    The third category of villain I heard about (and this was in the context of comic books) was “the unstoppable force.” The example given for this was Galactus from Marvel comics. He destroys planets and eats them because he must satisfy his hunger or die. Because of this, some characters and readers argue he is neither good nor evil. There is even a storyline where Galactus is put on trial vicariously through Mr. Fantastic, who argued that very thing. The author of the book this was in argued that Galactus’ genocidal acts could not be labeled anything but evil. This was category where the line between good and evil was most blurred. What do you guys think?

    A villain who has a turn around? What about Darth Vader? Mind you, he goes from good to bad to good again, but before the prequels were made, all we ever knew of him as a good guy was backstory mentioned by other characters. I know some people aren’t as fond of “Return of the Jedi,” but it is one of my favorites because of the redemption of Vader. Look at that scene were the Emperor is slowly killing Luke and he begs his father to help him. The wounded Vader looks back and forth at his son and the Emperor, wrestling over who he should help, to whom his loyalty belonged. Then suddenly, he grabs the Emperor and tosses him down an exhaust port. The Dark Lord of the Sith had turned to the Light Side again and dies a hero. Say what you want about the prequels, but I think they add more potency to that scene because we see Anakin come full circle.

    Hey Nick! I’d love to voice act for “The Revolution.” I’ve never done it before, but I think it would be fun. Maybe we could just do it ourselves, at least one script, I think. Even if I don’t voice act, I’d like to help out with it. I want it to get finished.

    We should make “Who’s Going to Murder You” as a YouTube video! It sounds hilarious!

  2. Excellent choices for soundtracks this episode.

  3. I just remembered another example of a villain turn around: the title character of the animated comedy "Megamind." That is about a supervillain who actually manages to defeat the superhero and take over the city. However, with no nemesis, his life suddenly becomes empty and boring, so he creates a new hero to be his nemesis. But this new hero goes bad, so Megamind must become a hero in order to stop him. Like Pixar's "The Incredibles," it is both a parody of and a tribute to the superhero genre. I highly recommend it.

  4. Okay, I'm almost finished catching up here. Some good thoughts, Nate. I only have a few things to add:

    I'm not real familiar with the Galactus story, but you may have a good case there for another category of villain. Of course, it seems that sometimes "the unstoppable force" could also fall into the "pure evil" category. I think Sauron or Melkor from Tolkien's universe could fall into both of those categories. But as Nick said, these categories are very nebulous.

    I can't believe we didn't mention Darth Vader as a villain who converts! You're right, Anakin's story is an especially relevant one, as he turns from a hero to a villain and then back to a hero at the very end. Good catch.

    If The Revolution ever does get turned into an audio drama, I would advocate that it be as professionally done as possible. No offense, Nate, but I would rather get people who have studied and trained on acting more than you or I have to do it. We need some people who have had more acting experience to give it the right sense of gravitas.

    I have not seen Megamind yet, but it sounds like I need to. Thanks for all your input, Nate! We appreciate it.

  5. I agree professional actors would be better choices, but acting has long been an art I've been interested in as a hobby. I'd like to try my hand at it again.

  6. I'd be happy to do voice acting or regular acting for you. I've been in quite a few sketches and was in one play in college, and always wanted to do more.

  7. Man, all this volunteering for voice acting makes me want to produce The Revolution. Maybe someday...