Villains in literature we love!
For the first time in four years I now live in an apartment with cable. I spent a solid hour perusing the channels and came across some kind of Tori Spelling related documentary. I am fascinated with rich people and thus left it on while the cat stared at me like, “Dude, really?”
I explained to the cat that Murakami, for example, tells this story about the first time he decided he would write a book. He was watching television and he said to himself out loud, “I think I could write a book.”
So I’m watching this thing and Aaron Spelling was talking about some late night soap opera and he said and I quote, “Villains get the best lines.” This got me thinking. Are villains cooler than the good guys?
As I often talk about with anyone who will listen my quintessential good guy character is a kid named Angus Bethune who was first featured in a short story by American Author Chris Crutcher which was later made into my favorite movie of all time called “Angus.” Green Day is on the soundtrack by the way. Read and see “Angus.” Best good guy. Probably the character I have related to the most in my entire life in literature. Conversely, the only example I have because it occurs to me I like bad guys in writing.
Let’s take Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone With the Wind” for example. What a sociopathic spoiled girl she was. Beautiful, cold, self-centered.
Let’s take Satan in Milton’s “Paradise Lost.” Tell me that not bowing down speech wasn’t tops and I’ll call you a liar.
Who are some villains you love and why?
Everybody Can Go To Hell
Villains in literature we love!
19 thoughts on “Everybody Can Go To Hell”
The Judge and Iago because the words that come out of their mouth seduce me into wanting to be with them forever.
I love the bad guy from ANGUS, because he’s James Vanderbeek.
(And I love that Ash song on the soundtrack.)
Zahhak, the first evil king in Shahnameh, Iran’s national epic: He is cursed by Eblis (or Iblis), that epic’s Satan, with a serpent growing out of each shoulder, and he needs to feed each of them one human brain per night, which was how Iblis intended to empty the world of people–an excruciatingly slow, painful and emotionally tortuous, final solution. Zahhak is a really evil bad guy who is really interesting symbolically, and (shameless plug) if you’re at all interested in the current political situation in Iran, here is a post on my blog, with a partial translation of Zahhak’s story, that comments on what’s going on there.
i always root for mobsters in mob movies. like Public Enemies. it was hard to watch it knowing that it wasn’t going to end well for Johnny Depp. i root for the bandits in westerns. that may just be my genetics making me toe the line.
I think The Saint of Killers from the PREACHER series is the baddest dude ever. I mean, he called out God and then killed him. Too, Stringer Bell from THE WIRE is one of my tops. That he’s not overtly bad makes him that much more evil.
I’m going to be the guy who comes out swinging all Captain Obvious with Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Night–just to get it out of the way. (Even in Burton’s Batman, everyone quotes Nicholson’s, “This town needs and enema!” and “Ever dance with the devil in a pale of moonlight?”
Beyond that, on a literary level, the jungle got the best lines in Heart of Darkness.
John Huston – Chinatown ‘Mr. Gittes – Mr. Gittes, you may think you know what you’re dealing with, but believe me, you don’t.’
these are all so good. you i lived in bmore for 4 months and can tell you the wire is an exact accurate description. what about the classic misfit in a.g.i.h.t.f? he sucked but he got the grandma to repent. is there something to that or am i evil?
more bad guys
I think you’re right about the Misfit, Nicolle. O’Connor often said of her stories that the devil acted as an “unwilling instrument of grace.”
that should be i can tell you i live in bmore
b’lieve, hon! as they say
i am so bad at this sorry
people are talking movies you know what i just thought of from the movie “quiz show” which i think is one of the best contemp movies written. so the professor character was kinda a bad guy to his son a lot but he had such a choice bit when he goes, “don quixote is life” and the students go, “huh?” and he goes, “if you want to be a knight act like a knight.”
I totally disagree the professor was the bad guy. He was the one that prods his son to admit the truth.
BTW, I have no sympathy for McGwire’s tears or Bonds or Clemens or anybody of that fallen sport I loved so much as a child. They had countless chances to become clean. It’s a ridiculous spectacle.
dude, i think they should all be banned for life. everyone who ever used steroids. people have gotten banned for what i think are much more minor transgressions. steroid users fucking up my favorite sport makes me angry.
I’m totally with you, banned in this lifetime and the next.
The villains I like the best are the ones who seem semi-aware– on some level, whether winking or not– of their role as-a-villain. They know they’re the villain. It is a role they are playing. They are acting-well-their-part. They can’t help it. So they relish it. The reader/viewer relishes it along with them.
Ledger’s the Joker is definitely this way.
Some of Dostoevsky’s characters might qualify, too.
My personal favorites, though, are all from mythology or mythology-influenced literature: any unfortunate giant or dwarf smashed by Thor in Kevin Crossley-Holland’s “Norse Myths” for the former (a great translation!), and Gardner’s Grendel for the latter.
@ the sports guys: all yankees players are bad guys in a bad way. they are the good looking wealthy popular bully in high school. go red sox (when we were losing i liked us better)
JS: i have a copy of it with the orig 1981 cover. it is indeed a great translation, and i think looking to myth is never, ever a bad way to go.
also @ gg: could the prof have been a bad guy who got his son to do the right thing as in oconnor?
i totally agree. i hate the yankees with a venomous passion. they make me ill. derek jeter’s face makes me angry.
i’m an Oakland A’s diehard, but i do root for the red sox when they aren’t playing the a’s because the enemy of my enemy is my friend.
But what is bad about him? And what O’Connor?