Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sharing Villainy

Back at good 'ol Storymakers 2010, J. Scott Savage spoke about how to write interesting villains.  The presentation fascinated me, and I've spent time since then thinking about my favorite villains.

My favorite villains all have several things in common.  But since I've been to Storymakers, I've been learning to show instead of tell, so let's take a look!  (For those of you with short attention spans like me, I've kept all videos far less than a minute in length.  If you already know the character, feel free to skip them!)

 Yzma from "The Emperor's New Groove" is quite possibly my favorite villain.  She shouldn't be likeable since she hasn't even a flea-sized bit of love in her body and tries to kill Kuzco. However, her tarantula eyelashes and pointy elbows make me laugh, and who can resist a villain who has a weakness for keeping eye candy (known as Kronk) around?  Yzma cares nothing for anyone except Kronk--and I bet the instant his muscles show signs of atrophy she's outta there.  Yet, she has enough personality and humor to be quite memorable.

Yzma: scary beyond all reason.

  This is my favorite scene from the movie, only 30 seconds but it sums Yzma up quite well!

Next up is Coach Sue Sylvester from the hit TV show Glee.  I love the roller-coaster ride Sue takes us on.  She's funny, but so cruel in her dealings with Will and the Glee kids that she's oh-so-easy to hate.  (Legalize cane lashings, anyone?)  Then, we learn she has a sister with Down Syndrome, and we discover Sue's tender side.  I begin feeling sorry for her and want to like her, then the next scene she's bitterly heartless again.  Oh yes, Sue, I hate your emotional roller-coaster but I ride it anyway--the thrills are just that good.

Not my kind of Cheerio

Here's a good example of Sue's hate for Will's hair.  Vicious!

The ultimate villain (in my eyes) is Dr. Horrible.  I rooted for him against the insufferable hero Captain Hammer.  I felt Billy's desperate need to be someone, to get into Bad Horse's good graces.  I agonized with him over his unrequited love for Penny.  His singing voice?  Awesome!  Then, when his dastardly plan backfired and hurt the girl of his dreams, he buried his pain and used his sorrow to his advantage.  Dr. Horrible could have used that terrible incident to turn things around and do good, but he didn't.  Nope, he used his giant mistake to further his own world-dominating dreams.  Jerk.

I hold a P.H.D. in Horribleness

This clip is from Bad Horse, head of the League of Evil.  Dr. Horrible would do practically anything to get into Bad Horse's good graces. 

I know there are other, more evil villains out there.  Darth Vader, Voldemort, Hannibal Lecter.   But for me to really want more of a villain, to feel something for them, I have to identify with them somehow.  My favorite villains have to have a great sense of humor, and not be pure evil.  They have to have something in their life that helped influence them to be that way.

I believe that's why Heath Ledger's Joker was so good.  We got small glimpses that showed us he wasn't born a tortured soul, but became one.  We didn't know all the whys, but his twisted mind made him even scarier--because he rejected any sparks of humanity he might have once had.  The Joker is not one of my personal favorites though, because he makes my stomach churn and I feel sick when I watch him.  I guess I prefer tamer villains.

When it comes to writing the children's fantasy I have in the works, I'm thinking a villain who tugs at your heartstrings before stomping on them will make him (or her) more appealing to my readers.  At least, that's how I feel about it.

That about sums up this glimpse into my favorites list.  Who is your favorite villain, and why?


Cathy Witbeck said...

Great blog. I love the little video clips. You are so techy.
I haven't really thought about it much, but I think the three witches from "Hocus Pocus" are some of my favorites. It cracks me up when Bette Midler says, "I feel the icy breath of death upon my neck." Sarah Jessica Parker plays the quintisential dumb blonde witch to perfection. Kathy Najimy has some good lines as well. They each use great facial expressions and all in all they make the movie great fun.

Karen said...

These are wonderful villains. I just never thought of having a favorite villain! I'm not as artistic as you when it comes to picking one. I'd probably say Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer because he's a cute bad boy. :D

Kimberly said...

Love this post - so thought-provoking! And I so agree that the villains who seem real, who tug at the ole heartstrings, end up being the ones we love to hate, and hate to love. They're so much more interesting, is the thing, I think.

My favourite would be Hrathen from Brandon Sanderson's Elantris. I despised him at first, but he achieved a sort of redemption in the end. I love to see a horrible villain turn out to be not QUITE so horrible.

Annette Lyon said...

Ooooh, you picked some good ones! (I was introduced to Dr. Horrible earlier this year--love that show!)

Kazzy said...

Ooooo, I love all of those villains! I think the best portrayed villains I have ever seen are Frollo from Hunchback (just as bad in Hugo's Notre Dame), and Ralph Fiennes character in Schindler's List. I hated him.

Debbie Davis said...

Thanks so much first of all Rebecca for all your encouragement! I love you so much lol. But I also love your same villians too. yezma is hillarious I love the way she is drawn and the funny things she does! I also love to hate Sue too. ha ha. I now what to go see this Bad horse show. but i love how you want your villians to be loveable so you can hate love them. =0)

ali said...

Great article Rebecca. Way to make me think. Hmm. My favorite bad guy? I LOVE Sue Silvester for sure. You just love to hate her, lol. I really love Mr. Zorg from Fifth Element.

kbrebes said...

Wonderful post, Rebecca! Col. Quaritch of Avatar is the epitome of evil!!!