Sunday, May 15, 2016

Heroes vs Villains

The only difference between a hero and a villain is perspective.

I remember discussing happily-ever-afters and heroines and heroes during a talk at the Red Dirt Festival.  I stated that I thought every one deserved a HEA and proper romance.  I brought up the fact that Medusa was not evil.  She'd been punished for something beyond her control and TURNED into a monster.  Cinderella's step-sisters deserve their own HEA.  Good God, they'd lived with their mother for far too long.  She'd twist a nun into a psychopath.  They never stood a chance.

Readers love villains.  I'm not talking about the pure evil character who tortures, rapes, and kills.  I'm referring to characters who have their own agenda and don't understand why others are so against said agenda.

Tom Hiddleston is Loki.  Loki is, perhaps, one of the most misunderstood characters of our day.  When I read Norse Mythology in my younger days, I thought he was quite the fucking asshat.  Trickster, indeed.  But the Thor movies cast him in a sympathetic light.  And you really can't go wrong with Mr. Hiddleston.  Even when he is shoving some multi-pronged eye-fucker-upper into some man's ocular orifice and grinning maniacally while doing so.  He is burdened with glorious purpose, and we love him for it.
Readers/viewers simply want to sit down with him over a cup of tea, pat his hand, and tell him that they will try to fix whatever the problem may be.

The Green Goblin in the Spiderman movies.  (Toby not Andrew.)  Dafoe's character becomes deeply twisted when exposed to the green badness.  He completely loses his shit and tries repeatedly to kill Spiderman.  But even in his death throes, his love for his son shines through.

And for some brilliant anti-heroes, how about some Boondock Saints???
Connor and Murphy just living their lives.  Working and drinking.  Then they becomes mixed up in a clusterfuck of gang wars and bodies start hitting the floors.

What do you do when you're a killer and have all these horrible predilections???  You become a serial killer of serial killers.  Thanks, Dexter.

Being a hero isn't simple.  But being a villain is beyond complex.

Have you seen Megamind?  Yes.  The Dreamworks picture with Brad Pitt, Tina Fey, and Will Ferrell as Megamind.
It's amazing.  In the beginning of the film, it shows baby Megamind in his little ejection pod heading for a wonderful affluent home with acres of land and money to spare while his planet blows up behind him.  But Brad Pitt's little ejection pod pings our Megamind away from the house and to the penitentiary.  Brad Pitt's hero character has every possible need met while our little blue-headed friend doesn't have the best role models.
Their lives are shaped accordingly.

Not every hero is a pure hero while every villain is not a pure villain.  There are too many nuances in their stories that need to be peeled away in layers to reveal why they are who they are.  Therein lies magic.

We, as authors, need to be able to craft characters in such a way that readers empathize/sympathize/understand why our characters are the way they are.  We need to let their deepest emotions and secrets bleed through the work so that readers can understand and not simply dismiss.

Not only are we the voice of the hero and heroine, but we are the voice of madness and fear.
Nothing better.

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