Unfairy Tales

Let’s go to a dark place.

When I was a kid, I never wanted to be Luke Skywalker, I wanted to be Boba Fett. It wasn’t dwarves or hobbits I loved in The Hobbit, but the tantalizing hints of a necromancer living in the southern reaches of Mirkwood. In the first book of Lloyd Alexander’s The Chronicles of Prydain, I had to root for either a mysterious warlord called the Horned King – or Taran, the assistant pig-keeper. That’s no choice at all.

It’s the same, again and again: giant reptile king vs. Italian plumber, killer robots vs. whiny human refugees, vampire nobleman vs. stuffy English aristocrats. Sephiroth vs. Cloud. Grendel vs. Beowulf. Lucifer vs. God. The only thing that makes the hero worthy of respect is the fact that he eventually defeats the cooler-looking, more personable villain. There is nothing interesting about being the Chosen One.

So let us be wolves.

The truth is that we love the bad guys because we want to be like them. They stand apart from societal norms, these men and women of conviction who work toward their concrete goals, while simpleminded people work to thwart them in the service of the status quo. They are self-assured, confident and powerful. While the hero only stands up to foil them, the master criminal is a factory of innovation and planning. Ancient sorcerers spin their webs for centuries and mad scientists push science past the known limits. These are visionaries – we may not like what they see, but there is no denying they seek to change the world.

I know you agree with me. We celebrate horror and brutality every day. We gawk at suffering. We weave entertainment from sorrow.

So let us be wolves. Let children be feasted on, let us dance in the ashes, let wickedness be lauded and lovers always meet a bad end. There are no heroes here, no shining swords nor derring-do.

There is only a landscape of terror, where crazed and evil men do as they please.

Let us be villains.

———

Stu Horvath would like to welcome you to Villains Week, during which Team Unwinnable shall poison the reservoir, tie damsels to the railroad tracks en masse and take over the world, twirling their collective moustache the entire time. You can follow Stu’s secret agenda for world domination, 140 characters at a time, on Twitter @StuHorvath.

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