Samson Corwell

Is having a favorite villain ethical?

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This came to me one day as I was reading about supervillains. It doesn't seem uncommon for people to have a favorite villain. Would this be something that would be immoral or unethical?

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"Immoral" usually applies to actions and perhaps to beliefs, not to tastes or emotional reactions. If you mean "does having a favorite villain indicate a bad character?" I don't see why. What would be the arguments for it?

I used to love Alexis on Dynasty.

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You can like a villain without endorsing his ethics or world view. Often villains offer great insights into potential pitfalls of the virtuous or talented. The best villains are those with great potential who succumb to or embrace a "dark side" which leads them astray.

Ellsworth Toohey and Gail Wynand (pre-meeting Roark) are good examples of this. Both are doubtlessly geniuses who, with the right direction, could have been Howard Roarks of their own who could have contributed much to the world and lead wonderful lives. Yet despite their abilities, both men became fixated upon destruction and turned against their own minds. Toohey's keen insight into human psychology could have made him a great intellecutal leader and teacher, but instead he became a "conqueror of souls" obsessed with using his talents to make others self-destruct. Likewise, Wynand's creativity and passion for work could have made him a heroic industrialist of a great media product, but instead the hatred of quality he saw in others drove Wynand to try to destroy all of the good in the world before the second-handers could get to it.

Both men act as warnings for those who try to lead good lives.

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Colonel Landa from Inglorious Bastards is my favorite villain.

I like him because he is terrifying. Although, he isn't frightful because of any appearance or sadistic evil doing. He is frightening because of the mind games and his intelligence.

I really hope I don't encounter someone like him.

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My top five favorite villains are Bob Ewell from To Kill a Mockingbird, Keyser Soze from The Usual Suspects, Hans Gruber from Die Hard, and Percy Wetmore and Wild Bill Wharton from The Green Mile. Elmo Blatch from The Shawshank Redemption is super-enjoyably creepy, but he's only on the screen for a few seconds, so I can't put him in my top five.

J

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I have very fond memories of Snidely Whiplash.

I don't know if they are moral feelings, but they sure feel like it.

:smile:

Michael

I love Snidley Whiplash!

He's so purely over the top and bad for the...

Who am I kidding, it’s the mustache.

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I don't see anything wrong with having favorite villains, it's just part of having favorite stories, I mean what would Little Red Riding Hood be without the Big Bad Wolf?

Anyway, in trying to think of favorites myself I find I don't have a list, but how about Jorge of Burgos?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niNfGbH6Rns

Calls to mind an exchange I had on OO, when someone criticized the "goofy visuals" I had used to illustrate a point. Next time I'll retort that I have the lost works of Aristotle on my side!

Then there are those villains with such campy charm:

And there are villains who reform themselves, Gail Wynand and Darth Vader come to mind.

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Ian Richardson (and the actress who played his Lady Macbeth type wife) - unforgettable, chilling, superb villainy, in House of Cards on Brit TV.

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I had a certain sympathy for the villain Vandamm in Hitchcock's North by Northwest (due to my 'bias' for James Mason, one of my all-time favorite actors. :smile: )

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I am a JM fan too! There is a story about him, when a fellow actor saw him on the street looking ancient (he was then about 45)."What on earth has happened to Mason? Is he ill?" No, he had just decided that his days as the premier English heartthrob leading man were numbered, and decided to appear older in order to get the good character parts he wanted and keep working. And so he did.

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Real life villian: Lenin.

Movie villian: Scorpio Killer in Dirty Harry. Andy Robinson was the actor and unjustly ignored for an Oscar.

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Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish from Game of Thrones. Sorry to say it, but none of Rand's villains come even close to how evil this guy is.

He is 100% focused on obtaining power. Whereas Toohey and Taggart were trying to destroy what is good and human, Baelish, when he doesn't totally disregard them while comitting horrific misdeeds, sees the good and the human as mere obstacles at best and as detestable weakness at worst. He simply doesn't care. To top it all off he is really smart and good at what he does, and he does it in style.

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The%2BFountainhead%2BRobert%2BDouglas.JP

It must have been between writing The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged that Rand decided that evil must always be impotent, The result is that Atlas's several villains are all Dummköpfe. None has anything that approaches the intellect and suave malevolence of Ellsworth Toohey. When a hero is deprived a worthy adversary the dramatic tension evaporates.

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And there are villains who reform themselves, Gail Wynand and Darth Vader come to mind.

Darth caved in to maudlin sentiment. Feh!

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Moriarty was the villian for me prior to knowing Ellsworth.

Currently I rather enjoy Bowd Crowder on the FX show Justified. Sumptin bout that hillbilly :)

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When a hero is deprived a worthy adversary the dramatic tension evaporates.

Hence Rand's need to Satanize Kant, to provide herself with "a worthy adversary."

Ellen

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When a hero is deprived a worthy adversary the dramatic tension evaporates.

Hence Rand's need to Satanize Kant, to provide herself with "a worthy adversary."

Ellen

Bold, overhanging, and, as it were, threatening rocks, thunderclouds piled up the vault of heaven, borne along with flashes and peals, volcanoes in all their violence of destruction, hurricanes leaving desolation in their track, the boundless ocean rising with rebellious force, the high waterfall of some mighty river...

[and, most horrific and powerful of all, the unmatched destructive influence of Kant's evil ideas]

...make our power of resistance of trifling moment in comparison with their might.

But, provided our own position is secure, their aspect is all the more attractive for its fearfulness; and we readily call these objects Sublime, because they raise the forces of the soul above the height of vulgar commonplace, and discover within us a power of resistance of quite another kind, which gives us courage to be able to measure ourselves against their seeming omnipotence.

Everything that provokes this feeling in us, including the might of nature...

[and most especially the evil might of Kant]

...which challenges our strength, is then called Sublime, and it is only under presupposition of this idea wihin us, and in relation to it, that we are capable of attaining to the idea of the Sublimity of that being which inspires deep respect in us, not by the mere display of its might in nature, but more by the faculty which is planted in us of estimating that might without fear, and of regarding our estate as exalted above it.

J

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Rand herself found things to admire in serial killer William Edward Hickman. She wrote about him in a journal when she was considering writing a novel with a hero who shared certain characteristics with Hickman. I recall this being a subject that was picked to death (no pun intended) as a criticism against Paul Ryan.

I think what Rand recognized is that heroes and villians do share some basic values, but that their implementation of those values is quite different. It brings to mind a saying that a friend of mine often uses in business when he is discussing incompetent, but otherwise talented and intelligent coworkers... "If only he would use his powers for good instead of evil."

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Rand herself found things to admire in serial killer William Edward Hickman. She wrote about him in a journal when she was considering writing a novel with a hero who shared certain characteristics with Hickman. I recall this being a subject that was picked to death (no pun intended) as a criticism against Paul Ryan.

I think what Rand recognized is that heroes and villians do share some basic values, but that their implementation of those values is quite different. It brings to mind a saying that a friend of mine often uses in business when he is discussing incompetent, but otherwise talented and intelligent coworkers... "If only he would use his powers for good instead of evil."

Hickman looked like a Viking. Ayn Rand had a thing about Vikings.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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Rand herself found things to admire in serial killer William Edward Hickman. She wrote about him in a journal when she was considering writing a novel with a hero who shared certain characteristics with Hickman. I recall this being a subject that was picked to death (no pun intended) as a criticism against Paul Ryan.

I think what Rand recognized is that heroes and villians do share some basic values, but that their implementation of those values is quite different. It brings to mind a saying that a friend of mine often uses in business when he is discussing incompetent, but otherwise talented and intelligent coworkers... "If only he would use his powers for good instead of evil."

Deanna,

That's about right. And having seen what mobs do in Russia, I imagine she had a horror of lynch mobs (even media lynch mobs) that were openly driven by altruistic-sounding homilies and respective victimization stories.

Just like the American press at the time.

She misfired in her perception of Hickman (who was a despicable little weasel who even died yellow--begging for his life--after all that bluster), but I think her heart was in the right place.

She knew what mobs running on bromides were capable of and was interested in protecting the innocent, especially innocent greatness. Weird, I know, but I think her manner was weird because of her different traumatized perspective and she had a lifelong characteristic of focusing so hard on one aspect she only saw the rest as a blur like with peripheral vision. This allowed her to see the mob clearly but pay little attention to the murdered girl.

Michael

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