"My mind sees that I am nothing, my heart sees that I am everything, between these two poles my life unfolds."

Friday, February 8, 2013

Rooting For the Bad Guy


If you read enough books or watch enough movies, you'll soon recognize that you often end up rooting for the bad guy - at least I know I do. A few weeks ago, I finished the last (of 5) Thomas Ripley books by Patricia Highsmith. When necessary, the protagonist Tom quietly and efficiently murders anyone who threatens his (illegal) business interests and the very comfortable lifestyle he now enjoys in the countryside of northern France. He much prefers gardening, classical music, antiquing and learning to master the harpsichord - but knocking off nosy meddlers is sometimes simply in his best interests. And even though he's obviously a sociopath, he's actually quite charming and likeable - his neighbours all love him!

Written in the first person, Highsmith very masterfully draws the reader into the mind of Tom Ripley and before long I found myself almost willing Tom to eliminate certain characters and thoroughly enjoying it when he inevitably did. Hey, they were getting in the way! I began rationalizing and justifying his behaviour - and if I'm honest, it was a little unsettling. 


Who's your favourite villain of all time & why? (Not counting Grumpy Cat!)
Do you feel even slightly conflicted when you cheer them on?

32 comments:

  1. I haven't read those books - must take a look. My favourite is Dexter. I don't really think he's a villain, but he is a killer! I love watching him track down another monstrous victim and administer justice and revenge, Dexter-style! And all while wearing a very tight-fitting, torso-hugging little t-shirt. I also used to feel sorry for Thor's adopted brother Loki when I used to read my brother's old Marvel comics.

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    1. Dexter is like a really violent Batman. Loki though he's awesome.

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    2. Hi Sulky, I've never watched Dexter. It'll probably be one of those series I eventually end up watching on Netflix. I've heard it's very good.

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    3. Hi Adam, interesting analogy - Batman is one of my favourite superheroes.

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    4. No, Jane, I have no conflict whatsoever cheering Dexter on.Ha! I suppose I like the humour as well. You must watch it, it's addictively brilliant. Yes, he is like a really violent batman! So, you'd love him!

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  2. Well, just to mention a few interesting characters in the movies...

    I really liked the Joker played by Heath Ledger in Dark Knight. What a shame that this actor died so young; he had so much talent. Of course, I love any part Alan Rickman is in; he plays such a great villain! And can I admit that I was fascinated by Hannibal Lecter in 'The Silence of the Lambs'. I gave him two thumbs up when he was finally able to get his revenge on that sleazy, opportunistic doctor.

    As for books, I'd really have to think hard to remember, but one certainly stands out:

    The vampire Lestat in Anne Rice's vampire series. He is extremely lovable despite the fact that he kills humans for their blood.

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    1. Can you believe I've never seen Heath Ledger's Dark Knight? I also love Alan Rickman and actually had a second pic of him in this post from when he played Hans Gruber in Die Hard, but then I stumbled across the Grumpy Cat one :) I have to say though, that I despised the Hannibal Lecter character so much that I couldn't watch Silence of the Lambs all the way through.

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  3. Best villains: Boris and Natasha, but I'm dating myself here.

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    1. Had to look this one up! Love Dave Thomas :)

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  4. Oh sure, foreclose Grumpy Cat to me. Well, since I've just seen The Hobbit movie, I would say that poor twisted little Gollum has always been a fave of mine despite his villainous ways.

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    1. Yes, Gollum is such a sad, pathetic creature that I find myself flip-flopping when watching him. When I read the books, I had nothing but hatred for him, but the movies certainly humanized him for me. Gandalf was right (as he always is :) - he did have an important part to play in the end.

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  5. don't have one, I've never liked villains, and I never like when in YA books they make bad boys an object of lust and love. The same goes for movies and books for me. Villains should never be cool. Not counting the Grumpy Cat, we do lurv him... sort of :)

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    1. I appreciate you sharing your contrary opinion Dezzy :) In fact, I was so conflicted while reading these books and afterwards, that is what led me to write this post in the first place. As a result, I have now posed an additional question to my readers - which was in my original draft, but I'd removed at the last minute.

      It is thought-provoking as to why some villains, at the hands of a skillful writer or director, can be made likeable. Humour is almost always the tool used. I've witnessed myself fall victim many a time to it.

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  6. Niestety nie mogę sie wypowiedzić, bo nie znam książki. Brutalych filmów jednak nie lubię. Pozdrawiam.
    Unfortunately, I can not get wypowiedzić, because I do not know the book. Brutalych but I do not like movies. Yours.

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  7. I rewatched Thelma and Louise the other night and found myself very uncomfortable for the same reason. When I saw it as teen, I was all RAH RAH RAH, kill the mens. This time though, while that hadn't changed I was a little horrfied by the intensity of my delight for that part of the movie. I was kinda hoping they'd kill more...yikes.

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    1. Interesting! Yes, I remember feeling the same way when I was younger. I guess it's safe to say that maybe we've matured a bit - and we have sons of our own now :)

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  8. Godzilla! I always root for Godzilla to win and I have no conflicts about it. lol. A lot of gangsters movies I always seemed to cheer the bad guys. Like Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, and Bugsy Malone.

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    1. Hehe, funny when I was pondering 'villains,' Godzilla never came to mind... why am I not surprised you thought of him!! It's true that even all the old-time gangsters were the stars and had big followings.

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  9. I think Kevin Spacey's new character in House of Cards (Netflix) will become my newest favorite villian.

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  10. I love Grumpy Cat! Go Grumpy Cat! LOL! I don't know if this was my favorite villain, but you know the movie, Interview With A Vampire? I love Tom Cruise as Lestat. Or Johnny Depp in a Secret Window!! I will never look at a corn field the same way! LOL!

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  11. yep I sometimes do .... I love the show Dexter, and that is basically the premise of the show! What a crazy plot line that is

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  12. Ugh, you caught me in a bad place because I have a lot of favorite bad guys.

    I guess I can go with the most recent one, even if he isn't such a bad guy? Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones I guess.

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  14. Well, Jezebel. I always thought she got a bum rap in the Bible. Daffy Duck would be a close second.

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  15. I am with you Francie, and Maria Magdalene too.

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  16. We all feel different about the bad people in movies and books. I don't usually like evil in movies or books, but once in awhile there is an ok one.

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  17. oh my goodness! I never though anyone but myself did this. secret about me? I always rooted for Jafar in Aladdin. I always felt like that makes me a bad person!

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  18. Interesting post, but I really can't think of any villains I like! Maybe Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers film series. I just felt sorry for him.

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  19. I agree with the first commenter. I love Dexter. He's a great anti-hero. Very deep, very complex, and you understand why he's doing what he's doing. It's great.

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  20. I really can't like Tom Ripley lol! But now that you've got me thinking about it, I think the one bad guy I've always rooted for is Prince Nuada in Hellboy 2. I can't help agreeing with his motives, and well, it doesn't hurt that he's pretty easy on the eyes :)

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