Jump to content
Icelerate

Why are simple minded villains looked down upon?

Recommended Posts

I hear oft-repeated criticisms of one-dimensional villains who tend to only be "evil for the sake of being evil" without much depth to their actions and philosophy guiding them. However, protagonists don't seem to get much criticism of just being heroic just because it's the right thing to do which is basically being "good for the sake of being good". 

For example, a villain that gets maligned a lot for being one note is Surtr. His only goal is conquest and loves to see people suffer because he finds the screams to give him satisfaction. This is in spite of the people Surtr kills and oppresses not doing any wrong to him which people criticize as him having no motivation. Contrast that with Roy, for example, who has no reason to help the oppressed people on the Western Isles but does so anyway because he can't stand to see people suffer. It's not like the people of the Etrurian Isles did things for Roy's sake that puts him in their debt nor has the Etrurian government personally wronged him when in fact they just did him a favor. While Roy may be Surtr's polar opposite, his rationale has the same amount of depth as Surtr but I only see people criticizing Surtr for having no good reason to oppress strangers despite Roy having no good reason to liberate strangers. If anything, Surtr is more sensical because killing weak and oppressed people while you have invincibility is less likely to backfire then going up against a country that is more powerful than your own and is currently protecting your own from an even more powerful country.   

This is just one example but I do think people judge villains more harshly than protagonists even if the two have the same amount of depth. 

Edited by Icelerate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought Roy was also strategically recruiting allies in Etruria?

Anyway yeah, generic leader characters are as unimpressive as a flat villain. Surtr could've been improved if they shifted his motivation to being something simple but natural like self-preservation. Being a "I like to kill people and conquer" villain is boring because it's been done to death, and in in Book II's case, it's not explored or presented with nuance to make it fresh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, Johann said:

I thought Roy was also strategically recruiting allies in Etruria?

 

No. He only ended up recruiting them after defeating the Etrurian occupation forces and never intended to use them to liberate Etruria at that point in time. 

Spoiler

Roy:
“…The Etrurian government overlooks the bandits, yet oppresses the rebels who are trying to help the people? This doesn’t look good at all…”

Merlinus:
“Indeed…”

Roy:
“Is there anything we can do?”

Merlinus:
“That would be difficult… We would be turning against the Etrurian court. I can’t say that would be a good idea when we were sent here under their orders.”

Roy:
“I’ll send a messenger to General Cecilia and see what she has to say. We probably shouldn’t do anything too risky right now…”

(A Soldier appears)

Soldier:
“Master Roy! We have received a report that the lord of this area has dispatched troops to attack the villages and hunt down the remnants of the rebels!”

Merlinus:
“What! Master Roy, should we…?”

Roy:
“Well, I guess we don’t have time to wait for General Cecilia’s opinion… I want to help the people here. Even if it means that we’ll be going against Eturia…”

Merlinus:
“Master Roy…”

Roy:
“Let’s fight! So we can be proud when we return to Lycia!”

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Because I most agree that it's more believable that someone would try to stop someone from doing something wrong than believe that someone does something wrong just because. Most people, whether it's actually true or not, believe that most people start with a positive on the morality scale and it's usually life or whatnot that causes someone to do bad things. This is, of course, ignoring insane, psychopathic, sociopathic, etc. type of people though who do things usually just because, but having those kind of people always as your villians is really lazy writing and makes it feel like half the population must be evil.

I'm still ticked that the soldiers who follow Hans' orders in Fates to massacre do so with giant smiles. I expected at least some form of reference to some basic psychology that people follow orders even if it's wrong, but I was just laughing at the pure amount of evil that would have to be there in order to follow those orders.

TL;DR Villians with no motivation and heroes with no motivation are equally lazy in terms of writing, but villains are so much easier to write so the lack of any morality in them just comes off as lazy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, familyplayer said:

Because I most agree that it's more believable that someone would try to stop someone from doing something wrong than believe that someone does something wrong just because. Most people, whether it's actually true or not, believe that most people start with a positive on the morality scale and it's usually life or whatnot that causes someone to do bad things. This is, of course, ignoring insane, psychopathic, sociopathic, etc. type of people though who do things usually just because, but having those kind of people always as your villians is really lazy writing and makes it feel like half the population must be evil.

I'm still ticked that the soldiers who follow Hans' orders in Fates to massacre do so with giant smiles. I expected at least some form of reference to some basic psychology that people follow orders even if it's wrong, but I was just laughing at the pure amount of evil that would have to be there in order to follow those orders.

TL;DR Villians with no motivation and heroes with no motivation are equally lazy in terms of writing, but villains are so much easier to write so the lack of any morality in them just comes off as lazy.

If you want to bring real-life morality into this, then all the FE lords are far better than most real-life rulers. So villains being far worse than most real-life rulers shouldn't be singled out. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The majority of people irl will probably fit the "good for the sake of being good" thing. Yet look at just about any "villain" from the real world, and you'll find that they're not "bad for the sake of being bad". Some may seem that way but they're not. A serial killer who runs a cult might justify doing horrible things by claiming he got told by God to live his life this way and to convert others to that way of thinking for example. A rapist might be sexually frustrated with a disrespect for women in general because his mother was terrible to him growing up. Etc. Neither of them will say they're bad just because they want to be. Yet ask any decent person, a person who rescues children from abusive families, or just your average joe, why they do good things and they might say something like "because it's right". So I think this is why simple minded heroes aren't criticized and called underdeveloped characters.

Surtr has overstayed his welcome honestly, and yeah, he needs more of a motive.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i dont think its necessarily an issue of a villain with nuance or anything, people mock villains that try to be nuanced all the time and some of the most beloved villains in pop culture are fairly simple villains when you actually boil it down (emperor palpatine for instance has all the nuance of a plastic bag within the movies themselves, but people still really like him, or atleast like him enough that hes become something of a pop culture staple/the image many people conjure up when they consider a character type like him. The joker motivations for the shit he does can mostly be boiled down to 'for the lols' but hes the most iconic of batmans rouges gallery. Sauron never actually has a single spoken line of dialogue in the movies at the very least, and yet hes become the staple image of a dark fantasy lord. In the context of fire emblem, ashnard is basically a Saturday morning cartoon villain and yet a lot of people still fondly, as a villain, remember him in the fe community)

no surtr's problem is that he just lacks villainous charisma.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When you really boil it down, it's simply because no one can do evil for the sake of doing evil. Even card-carrying villains who make great shows about how "evil" they are have a reasoning behind their actions, even if it's as simple as they want money, wish to one-up a rival, or even just get a twisted sense of "fun" out of doing the wrong thing. Extremists often think that they're doing the right thing, and several villains try to excuse their actions by attempting to justify them. Others simply don't think of nor care about the consequences. Break it down, and every villain has a reasoning behind their actions, no matter how benevolent, twisted, or petty they are

This doesn't mean that villains with simple motivations can't be done well. A mercenary hired to capture or kill the heroes may not have the most interesting motivations, especially if they want money simply out of greed and not for more benevolent reasons, but they can become memorable if they use clever tactics to attack the heroes and put up a strong fight. Personality-wise, they may also charismatic, professional, threatening, etc. which may help their case. They tend to make better one-shot or reoccurring minor bad guys than the main villian, though.

On the other side of the coin, characters who do good for the sake of doing good are more interesting the darker the world is, and the more they go through. "It's easy to be a saint in paradise" but seeing someone hold onto their values, refusing to compromise and give in to the cruel reality that states they must do wrong to survive, and going through a lot of crap because they refuse to drop down a few levels, can be extremely interesting when done well. Especially if the character(s) in question know and acknowledge how detestable the world is, and don't blindly do the right thing without thinking of the consequences, but still refuse to be hypocrites or give in to temptation. Sadly, this is a rarity in fiction (with indeed, the only example I can think of is playing a light side character in Staw Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2), but real life actually has some good examples if you know where to look.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, NobodiePichu said:

i dont think its necessarily an issue of a villain with nuance or anything, people mock villains that try to be nuanced all the time and some of the most beloved villains in pop culture are fairly simple villains when you actually boil it down (emperor palpatine for instance has all the nuance of a plastic bag within the movies themselves, but people still really like him, or atleast like him enough that hes become something of a pop culture staple/the image many people conjure up when they consider a character type like him. The joker motivations for the shit he does can mostly be boiled down to 'for the lols' but hes the most iconic of batmans rouges gallery. Sauron never actually has a single spoken line of dialogue in the movies at the very least, and yet hes become the staple image of a dark fantasy lord. In the context of fire emblem, ashnard is basically a Saturday morning cartoon villain and yet a lot of people still fondly, as a villain, remember him in the fe community)

no surtr's problem is that he just lacks villainous charisma.

While I can't speak for palpatine, The joker and Sauron are force of nature villains which by definition are relatively simple in terms of motivation and what have you. They're not so much characters as they are supposed to represent an idea or theme the story is trying to explore and in doing so allow the author to explore how they're presence effects the world and characters around them. 

As for the topic at hand, I'm just going to echo what other people have said. In that within the bounds of our society no sane person ever wants to admit that what they're doing is bad or wrong and if they do realize that then they try to justify it to themselves in anyway possible. For example, take procrastination. You may realize it's wrong you should get your work done but as you contemplate the pros and cons your brain comes up with like a billion excuses as why it's okay to do so like "oh what's one more episode/day/hour" or "the assignment is super easy anyway I can finish it in like five minutes" or even "I'll just finish it at lunch or something". Again you realize what you're doing isn't good but you don't want to admit that. 

Another thing I'd like to mention is that in a society where we value people being good people and doing what's right. It's kind of hard to swallow to see someone doing something bad without any real reason or understanding of their reason. I mean just look at Sasuke from naruto probably one of the most controversial characters in all of anime. He's a fallen hero character and IMO a well written one but a lot of people don't like him simply because they don't really understand how or why he fell off the path of light in the first place. We like characters who do good and if they don't we generally want a reason for it because it goes against the beliefs and values our society has taught us. Again It's a lot easier to accept a character doing good things for the sake of it because that's generally how people are like in real life so we find it illogical when a character does the opposite and thus need an explanation.

I'm not saying characters who just do good for the sake of it are inherently well written because that's not what makes a character well written. I'm just saying seeing that sort of thing is a lot easier to swallow as viewers.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess people are not as bothered by protagonist having heroism as like their only defining trait because you don't usually raise an eyebrow when you see someone going around helping others because it's what people are supposed to do, you know? At least be decent human beings and not ignore someone in need and stuff. But when you see someone just spreading chaos you have to wonder why, as it's the literal opposite of what people are expected to do. When we're not given a reason it just looks much cheaper in comparison, you get me?

And as a lil side note I think characters like Roy do get criticized quite a bit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We, in the real world, are taught morality and "being good," so we identify with heroes of justice and give them a pass more freely. It's what many would like to see themselves as. However, characters like Roy are often criticized for being bland.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Dragoncat said:

Yet ask any decent person, a person who rescues children from abusive families, or just your average joe, why they do good things and they might say something like "because it's right". So I think this is why simple minded heroes aren't criticized and called underdeveloped characters.

 

1 hour ago, Otts486 said:

It's a lot easier to accept a character doing good things for the sake of it because that's generally how people are like in real life so we find it illogical when a character does the opposite and thus need an explanation.

 

53 minutes ago, Daes388 said:

I guess people are not as bothered by protagonist having heroism as like their only defining trait because you don't usually raise an eyebrow when you see someone going around helping others because it's what people are supposed to do, you know? At least be decent human beings and not ignore someone in need and stuff.

See, I must be living in a different world from the rest of you guys, I try and be helpful for the sake of it - say, at Pokemon night, I help kids learn how to play, occasionally give out cards from my extra bulk - and people just look at me like they think I'm going to molest their kids if they turn their back until I explain that someone helped me when I first started playing and I like to pass it along. Even then, I still get people acting like I'm some kind of scammer who's going to take all the little kids' good stuff in exchange for a bunch of worthless Pikachu Commons. I stopped actually trying to get good Pokemon cards long ago, now I just collect Mudkip, anyone who sees my binder every week can tell, yet people still look at me like I've got something to hide by being nice for the sake of it.

Anyways, On-Topic,

6 hours ago, Icelerate said:

I hear oft-repeated criticisms of one-dimensional villains who tend to only be "evil for the sake of being evil" without much depth to their actions and philosophy guiding them. However, protagonists don't seem to get much criticism of just being heroic just because it's the right thing to do which is basically being "good for the sake of being good". 

For example, a villain that gets maligned a lot for being one note is Surtr. His only goal is conquest and loves to see people suffer because he finds the screams to give him satisfaction. This is in spite of the people Surtr kills and oppresses not doing any wrong to him which people criticize as him having no motivation. Contrast that with Roy, for example, who has no reason to help the oppressed people on the Western Isles but does so anyway because he can't stand to see people suffer. It's not like the people of the Etrurian Isles did things for Roy's sake that puts him in their debt nor has the Etrurian government personally wronged him when in fact they just did him a favor. While Roy may be Surtr's polar opposite, his rationale has the same amount of depth as Surtr but I only see people criticizing Surtr for having no good reason to oppress strangers despite Roy having no good reason to liberate strangers. If anything, Surtr is more sensical because killing weak and oppressed people while you have invincibility is less likely to backfire then going up against a country that is more powerful than your own and is currently protecting your own from an even more powerful country.   

This is just one example but I do think people judge villains more harshly than protagonists even if the two have the same amount of depth. 

I have nothing against simpler villains with a lack of real, understandable purpose - heck, I've written one - I simply find it more satisfying when a villain has a driving motive, such as Gangrel. Though he seems a bit strained, particularly when almost his whole army casually throws down their weapons because their enemy's leader says sorry and somehow turns her execution into a martyrdom, in the end, he's not technically wrong - Chrom's father put Gangrel's country and people through a brutal war for years, and there's evidence of residual bitterness, so it makes sense that he'd want to make Ylisse suffer for all that his people have suffered, even if the execution could have been better. Surtr, in comparison, fails to evoke the same response from me because of that lack of motive - he's literally just burning everything to watch it burn. While this doesn't mean Surtr's bad in my view - indeed, when he first came out I thought him a refreshing change(plus he's Ganondorf on fire, how could you not like that?) - it does mean I'll take Gangrel over Surtr despite the former's problems. Besides, he beats Garon, who's basically Surtr but executed WAY worse due to managing to infect the Nohrian siblings with some sort of mind-clouding spell that makes them think he's a reasonable person until they see the sludge he's become at the end of Conquest.

Also, I'd recommend you tag the others you were discussing this with in Jotari's Surtr Thread, since I think they actually wanted to have a good discussion with you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, SoulWeaver said:

See, I must be living in a different world from the rest of you guys, I try and be helpful for the sake of it - say, at Pokemon night, I help kids learn how to play, occasionally give out cards from my extra bulk - and people just look at me like they think I'm going to molest their kids if they turn their back until I explain that someone helped me when I first started playing and I like to pass it along. Even then, I still get people acting like I'm some kind of scammer who's going to take all the little kids' good stuff in exchange for a bunch of worthless Pikachu Commons. I stopped actually trying to get good Pokemon cards long ago, now I just collect Mudkip, anyone who sees my binder every week can tell, yet people still look at me like I've got something to hide by being nice for the sake of it.

That's unfortunate, so sad that there are so many stories of pedophiles using things like this to get their victims, that people assume that every adult man being nice to a kid he's not related to is a pedo.

I'm also jealous you have people who play and collect the Pokemon TCG where you are. Here it's virtually nonexistant.

But back on topic, Gangrel is kind of a flat character like the rest of the Awakening cast, but he actually had a believable motive unlike Surtr. Ganondorf on fire though? Demise says hi. Skyward Sword...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have problems with one-note villains - or hell, even one-note protagonists - on their own.  It's when they don't work with the game's themes all that well.  There are a few places where they work:

  • SAT AM cartoons/simple entertainment: Anything that's just meant for a fun little distraction really needs nothing more than a foil for the protagonist(s) heroism.  And sometimes, a simple, generic villain is better for getting laughs out of people rather than a morally ambiguous, serious character.  Most video games - especially rated E games - would constitute under this category.
  • Political intrigue: Every political struggle has those who are pretty much nothing more than generic villains.  In the real world, there are definitely those who seek nothing more than wealth and power, and don't give a damn whose toes they step on along the way.  And that even trickles down to the simplest, most menial positions, right down to shitty retail jobs (a friend of mine just yesterday ranted about such people at their place of work).  Political intrigue simply isn't complete without someone who's literally just in it for the money; it gives the audience someone obvious to root against.  This is actually fairly common in Genealogy of the Holy War, and it works to give the player a cathartic release from all the pain and sorrow they go through.
  • Stories where moral complexity is protagonist-focused: This can be a bit more tricky, but in some stories the burden of complexity lies on the heroes instead of the villain.  Sometimes it's even the only way to make a villain worse than the protagonists.  This is pretty common in GTA, as most of the characters you play as are obviously criminals who commit acts like robbing banks and killing cops; to have someone worse, you basically have to have characters like the corrupt cop Tenpenny in SA or a lot of the antagonists in GTA V who are essentially just jerks who you look forward to killing.  This was also a bit of a bait and switch in MGS1 and MGS2, where the characters seemed to be little more than villains at the start but turned out to be really well thought-out (even if most of this complexity was displayed in drawn out exposition) and turned the moral compass on the hero.

Where they don't work:

  • Stories where moral complexity relies on the antagonist's motivations: This is mostly a problem with FE Fates.  Long story short, Garon's motivations (or lack thereof) are a significant reason why the story is bad; if he was simply not possessed and had good reasons for instigating a war with a nation of roughly the same size and martial strength, the story would actually have moral complexity.  But that isn't the case, Garon's just a cartoon villain, and so the "ocean's grey waves" are at low tide for this story.
  • The antagonist is supposed to be complex: In this case, you'll usually see the villain monologuing a bunch, and half of that might be backstory exposition.  The antagonist will probably reveal that their mother or lover died, or that some other tragedy befell him/her... but their motivations/personality is still in the generic category.  Now, not every instance in which the antagonist monologues means they're meant to be complex (the Joker, for example), but this is the trap that a lot of anime antagonists and edgelords in fan fiction fall into; they all have these horrible stories, but in the end they're just dicks who are evil for evil's sake.
  • When the protagonist is supposed to care about them: This also ties into FE Fates, but there are other examples.  In this situation, an antagonist can't afford to be a generic villain because then there's nothing to like about them.  It doesn't matter too much how many flashbacks they're shown to be a good person in, if they're just plain evil then the audience will not be able to relate.  I think of Fallout 4, and how the obvious antagonist... is related to you, yet you don't feel that much kinship to him.  He's not necessarily simple, but a good chunk of the moral dilemma with siding with him relies on how you feel about his relation to your character, yet there's nothing but that relation to make you care even a lick about him.

Though keep in mind that I'm just as willing to critique a bland protagonist as I am a bland antagonist.  Actually, even more so, as the protagonist is supposed to be someone I relate to or like and takes up the majority of screen time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Hawkwing said:

When you really boil it down, it's simply because no one can do evil for the sake of doing evil. Even card-carrying villains who make great shows about how "evil" they are have a reasoning behind their actions, even if it's as simple as they want money, wish to one-up a rival, or even just get a twisted sense of "fun" out of doing the wrong thing. Extremists often think that they're doing the right thing, and several villains try to excuse their actions by attempting to justify them. Others simply don't think of nor care about the consequences. Break it down, and every villain has a reasoning behind their actions, no matter how benevolent, twisted, or petty they are

Might I ask if this argument is borrowed from C.S Lewis?

 

57 minutes ago, Ertrick36 said:

I don't have problems with one-note villains - or hell, even one-note protagonists - on their own.  It's when they don't work with the game's themes all that well.  There are a few places where they work:

  • SAT AM cartoons

 

There's a review I'm fond of who presents a different reason for children's entertainment to be morally unambiguous. He argues that kids cartoons should teach "basic" morals that everyone can agree are good things, because children don't have the mental capacity to make rational or useful judgements about morally complex situations. I felt the need to mention this because I don't think children's entertainment is necessarily a "little distraction," it does have an important role in the development of children who ingest it. To convey good and useful morals to the impressionable is arguably the best use of unambiguous ethics.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, SoulWeaver said:

I have nothing against simpler villains with a lack of real, understandable purpose - heck, I've written one - I simply find it more satisfying when a villain has a driving motive, such as Gangrel. Though he seems a bit strained, particularly when almost his whole army casually throws down their weapons because their enemy's leader says sorry and somehow turns her execution into a martyrdom, in the end, he's not technically wrong - Chrom's father put Gangrel's country and people through a brutal war for years, and there's evidence of residual bitterness, so it makes sense that he'd want to make Ylisse suffer for all that his people have suffered, even if the execution could have been better. Surtr, in comparison, fails to evoke the same response from me because of that lack of motive - he's literally just burning everything to watch it burn. While this doesn't mean Surtr's bad in my view - indeed, when he first came out I thought him a refreshing change(plus he's Ganondorf on fire, how could you not like that?) - it does mean I'll take Gangrel over Surtr despite the former's problems. Besides, he beats Garon, who's basically Surtr but executed WAY worse due to managing to infect the Nohrian siblings with some sort of mind-clouding spell that makes them think he's a reasonable person until they see the sludge he's become at the end of Conquest.

Also, I'd recommend you tag the others you were discussing this with in Jotari's Surtr Thread, since I think they actually wanted to have a good discussion with you.

Gangrel just wanted power by his own admission, his supports never even mention the crusade nor does his short story on the Japanese website, where he says he doesn't care about Plegia.

Here's a good summary of his actual motivation.

Edited by Emperor Hardin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People at least just want to see a motivation I think.

I personally dont mind a purely evil villain, it works in the fantasy setting often times, and can be more interesting than constantly going with the "relateable" villain type. Especially if we are talking the more supernatural side of villains, where it just wouldnt make sense for them to be relateable.

But at the same time I can understand where people took issue with Garon for example, where we were told so many mixed things about him and he himself was cartoonishly evil. Surtr is a bit different, I honestly wasnt expecting anything great from the FEH story villain wise, as it has much less time to really tell a story compared to the other FE games, and doesnt have as much of an ending either. So I dont mind that hes just the kicking puppies, eating children levels of evil. Not every villain needs all kinds of layers of depth to them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Emperor Hardin said:

Gangrel just wanted power by his own admission, his supports never even mention the crusade nor does his short story on the Japanese website, where he says he doesn't care about Plegia.

He does seem pretty desperate to assure Emyrin and himself that he really didn't mean it so bad and curses that he's forever tainted by what he did. So on some level he probably did care.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, Etrurian emperor said:

He does seem pretty desperate to assure Emyrin and himself that he really didn't mean it so bad and curses that he's forever tainted by what he did. So on some level he probably did care.  

His motivation as revealed in supports was to unite the continent against Valm, but even there he says he went mad with the power of being King.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can say that for me personally, both villains and heroes are boring if there is no motivation behind them. However, as a lot of people have already said on this thread, it's much easier to write being good for the sake of good, because that's something some people actually do, or would do if they were placed in such a situation. It's very uncommon for one to be simply evil, without any reason to be. And I saw Joker listed as an example of evil for the sake of evil, but even he isn't like that. Joker is bad because he wants to be Batman's foil, he creates awful situations and then toys with Batman to see what he'll do about it, he is an orchestrator of chaos, not to mention at times he's weirdly honorable. He won't let other people kill Batman because he wants to do it, and he won't even do it if someone hands Batman over to him, like in an episode of the animated series where Harley catches him and Joker refuses to allow her to defeat Batman.

I think you can create someone who's evil for the sake of being evil though, it's just very difficult to execute. I would have liked Surtr to show a tinge more of madness and sadism, since they wanted him to appear evil for evil's sake, because to me, it just came off as cartoony. He didn't drag things out enough imo, if he enjoyed their suffering he definitely wouldn't just quickly kill them, he'd appreciate every detail of their face, their movements, the crackling of the flames, etc.

But, Surtr aside, humans aren't typically bad in that way unless they're like, unable to feel emotions or they had a terrible upbringing or event in their past. You don't just decide one day that you'll be evil, and even those people that experience trauma like that don't say "hey, I'm going to be evil now." They have their own twisted justification for their actions.

Edited by Florina's #1 Fan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

Might I ask if this argument is borrowed from C.S Lewis?

Aye. Reworded and summarized, yes, but it is still something I heavily agree with, and a conclusion I have reached on my own even before I read his books nonfiction work.

A person can do something good for the sake of doing good, even when they don't want to. They may do it reluctantly, or with much complaining, which in some cases may make them more insufferable than someone who does the right thing for the wrong reasons. I do believe that doing the right thing for the right reasons is becoming a rarity (if it was ever common to begin with), or at least, that when a persons actions are dissected, their true motives for doing the right thing can have ulterior and/or selfish reasoning as often as a person could have a selfless and benevolent one. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is a complex scenario that has several end products that are wildly different from another. I also don't buy into the lie that humans are naturally "good", but that's a conversation for elsewhere.

However, have you ever heard of a man who, when perfectly content with his wife, reluctantly entered entered an affair with another woman despite nothing forcing him to do so, solely because it was the "wrong" thing to do? Motivations can be complex, simple, petty, or benevolent, but every evil action has some sort of reasoning behind it, even when logic may not have been at the forefront when the decision was made.

23 hours ago, NobodiePichu said:

emperor palpatine for instance has all the nuance of a plastic bag within the movies themselves

If one focuses largely on the acting, yeah, there are several cases where Palpatines plans come off more that they succeed due to everyone being an idiot than him being charismatic and/or intelligent. However, his plans themselves, even in the movies, are pretty damn good, and often would of had him succeeding in some way no matter what turn of events take place. His actions in the Expanded Universe only solidify his position as a mastermind in pop culture.

16 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

There's a review I'm fond of who presents a different reason for children's entertainment to be morally unambiguous. He argues that kids cartoons should teach "basic" morals that everyone can agree are good things, because children don't have the mental capacity to make rational or useful judgements about morally complex situations. I felt the need to mention this because I don't think children's entertainment is necessarily a "little distraction," it does have an important role in the development of children who ingest it. To convey good and useful morals to the impressionable is arguably the best use of unambiguous ethics.

Agreed. I hate the argument that children are incapable of "rational" or "logical" judgments and actions and are lead largely by emotion. Their abilities may still be developing, but I know that ever since I was a child, I was lead more by my head rather than my heart, and I questioned why a villain was considered "completely evil" when some of their actions, intentionally or not, had positive consequences. Besides, if a person was considered completely evil, than that must mean that the only logical and moral solution would be to rid the world of them, which is completely ignoring the fact that humans are complex beings that can change for better and worse based on their choices and decisions on things small and large, and how they react to things both in and out of their control. This is not just limited to me. I have seen other children of varying ages provide insightful observations about the world, even when some of them have not fully developed their logical skills to completely explain their reasoning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, Hawkwing said:

If one focuses largely on the acting, yeah, there are several cases where Palpatines plans come off more that they succeed due to everyone being an idiot than him being charismatic and/or intelligent. However, his plans themselves, even in the movies, are pretty damn good, and often would of had him succeeding in some way no matter what turn of events take place. His actions in the Expanded Universe only solidify his position as a mastermind in pop culture.

Well personally i would disagree with his plans being intelligent and call them more convoluted, atleast in the main movies and disregarding the expanded universe, that wasnt so much my point, my point more so being that well hes hardly what i would call a deep character in terms of his motivations and mindset (he wants to rule the galaxy because thats what the sith do i guess, the rebels are impeding that goal, so they have to be destroyed. pretty basic all things considered) he has an onscreen presence and charisma to him that encourages the audience to take him seriously as a threat, something that surtr lacks. Palpatine feels big and important, Surtr does not.

to take another example, fire lord ozai is as complicated as a brick, but he works wonderfully as the big bad of avatar the last airbender thanks to his great on screen presence and he doesnt even really physically show up for 2 of three seasons. And thats the important difference in my opinion, evil charisma.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Human psychology.

As people have mentioned, it makes no sense from a human perspective to see people being evil for the sake of being evil. Humans are social animals, and we got to where we are through co-operation and helping each other, spreading knowledge and resources to people who want and need them. Seeing people be good for the sake of being good isn't something we really bat an eye at, since, at face value, it's something we've been seeing and doing for tens of thousands of years.

Seeing people being evil for the sake of it, on the other hand, is completely counter to how we evolved as a species. It makes no sense. It's not like we can't comprehend evil or why people do bad things, but seeing people do bad things just because is something we only see when we're trying to teach children the difference between right and wrong, or in stories that are trying to say something about it. Or if somebody has a legitimate mental illness.

Fire Emblem is none of these things, so continuously seeing people be evil for no reason draws a lot of ire.

Edited by Slumber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Spoiler

Something else to say about the simple stupid "evil to be evil" villain is that there have been people people with vaguely similar outlooks on life- that human life is completely expendable or whatever. The difference being that those people were real people who, while actually evil, had some reasoning for their worldview, and sometimes disturbingly deep reasoning, which is passed over in favor of a shallow puddle of a psyche. I'd argue that, in entertainment for the elders, this is more dangerous than having an actual relatable thought process presented on the part of the villain, because it breeds complacency. Once presented with someone whose wickedness is accompanied by conviction and thought, they will be without defense. I'm not a philosopher though.

 

8 hours ago, Tolvir said:

I personally dont mind a purely evil villain...Especially if we are talking the more supernatural side of villains...Not every villain needs all kinds of layers of depth to them.

I'd like to agree with this. A villain doesn't necessarily have to be thought provoking, but they certainly shouldn't be obnoxious.

People have mentioned how much charisma helps an otherwise plain villain, and I would like to add "commanding presence" to the list of equally effective traits. A villain who is legitimately intimidating can compensate for a lack of complexity with an abundance of awe- which is very hard to maintain when engaging in edgy monologues.

A common issue with villains who aren't thoughtful is that they aren't entertaining or engaging either. It would be better if they kept their mouth shut and allowed their actions to generate their presence, but superficial cackling simply becomes obnoxious. They're strawmen- less than stock characters, and there's really no reason for them to engage in soliloquy (commonly about Social Darwinism or Nihilism*) aside from presenting pretentious illusions of depth, or wasting the audience's time to fulfill an unnecessary and in fact frustrating quota.

*- The reason these two are so often the subject of such ramblings is because no one will question it if you completely misrepresent them for the sake of cheap villainy.

 

7 hours ago, Florina's #1 Fan said:

And I saw Joker listed as an example of evil for the sake of evil, but even he isn't like that.

Though it depends on the specific version, it is nice to see some acknowledgement that the Joker isn't so flat as people believe. He's never a 'justified' character, but his psychosis is sometimes well explored enough to be engaging. Not to mention that he rarely has anything less than an overflow of charm.

7 hours ago, Florina's #1 Fan said:

at times he's weirdly honorable. He won't let other people kill Batman because he wants to do it

That, however, isn't really an honorable behavior, it's an obsessive and selfish one. It's still a comedic trait which adds depth and charm to the character.

 

6 hours ago, Hawkwing said:

General pessimism about human nature and the idea that people change for the better and worse alike

I think we'll get along just fine, my friend.

On that note, do you believe that people are generally legitimate? Meaning, most political candidates, even the ones you disagree with, are actually looking to help people?

6 hours ago, Hawkwing said:

children are capable of using those tiny little brains in their chibi little heads

That reviewer has also mentioned how children are generally unlikely to misinterpret an obvious moral if there are slight or even moderate failings in how the episode advocates for them. As you said, they get the lesson without being able to "completely explain their reasoning," since they do not think so deeply or comprehensively about what they watch. This was also, as I recall, a reason he said that children's media should stick to simple and universal ethics, because children might agree with any moral television teaches regardless of its goodness, usefulness, or controversy. Thoughts on this?

6 hours ago, Hawkwing said:

If one focuses largely on the acting, yeah, there are several cases where Palpatines plans come off more that they succeed due to everyone being an idiot than him being charismatic and/or intelligent. However, his plans themselves, even in the movies, are pretty damn good, and often would of had him succeeding in some way no matter what turn of events take place. His actions in the Expanded Universe only solidify his position as a mastermind in pop culture.

To be entirely honest, Palpatine is a somewhat iconic character only because he's a Star Wars character. Don't get me wrong, Ian McDiarmid lends a ton of personality to that role, but that was in the prequels, well after the series became such a massive hit and well after I imagine the character had become well known.

This was all actually very off topic so I spoilered it. My bad, I got a bit carried away.

Edited by AnonymousSpeed

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

I think we'll get along just fine, my friend.

On that note, do you believe that people are generally legitimate? Meaning, most political candidates, even the ones you disagree with, are actually looking to help people?

It's not pessimism; it's realism.

Depends on the person. I can see someone sticking with a job they dislike or doing immoral things out of selfishness and/or greed. However, I could also see someone in that position being jaded with the reality of things, and start focusing more on how something can benefit them than how they can make a positive impact.

 While these kind of people aren't rare, I would say that most people in those kind of positions do have peoples best interests in mind. Partially because it's is supposed to be their responsibility in the first place (although the government system in place can effect how easy/hard it is for someone to shirk on those duties), but mostly because they have the power to actually make changes, and most people aren't looking to make dystopias as much as they are trying to avert them. So yes, I do agree that most people set out with the mindset that they are doing the right thing.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions", however, and sometimes people just plain don't think about all the consequences a single decision can have. It also depends on why a person believes something is "good" and how much they can be convinced otherwise. It's difficult to convince an extremist that they've gone to far and that their believes are flawed, or a tyrant who believes that they're sacrificing much for their subjects. Meanwhile, someone who knows that they're "evil" and/or that they have done the wrong thing several times throughout their life can be more easily convinced that they can be redeemed and that it's possible for them to change their lifestyle.

12 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

That reviewer has also mentioned how children are generally unlikely to misinterpret an obvious moral if there are slight or even moderate failings in how the episode advocates for them. As you said, they get the lesson without being able to "completely explain their reasoning," since they do not think so deeply or comprehensively about what they watch. This was also, as I recall, a reason he said that children's media should stick to simple and universal ethics, because children might agree with any moral television teaches regardless of its goodness, usefulness, or controversy. Thoughts on this?

In the first sentence, I'd chalk that up largely to how children haven't really had the opportunity to become fully jaded with the world yet. They can notice (and complain) about how plots and characters can be similar, yes, and perhaps to the point that they can easily predict what will happen. However, it would be a truly sad sight to see a child as cynical as critics and adults and tv tropers who could care less about the message and more about how well or badly done the other aspects of something are. Although a child pointing out hypocrisies in how a lesson was handled is a joyous sight, as it shows that they are using their minds and aren't blindly accepting everything thrown at them.

By "completely explain their reasoning" I was mostly referring to how kids are still developing their logical and analysis skills. They may not be able to provide their reasoning for why they believe something with the skill or experience of an learned debater, but they can still explain why they hold such a view. Also, curiosity is something that should never be looked down upon or discouraged. While it needs to be used responsibly, of course, I see only harmful consequences of telling children they shouldn't question anything, no matter how little it is. It helps them avoid the problems of blind obedience, and helps them to see the world in several different lights, expanding their worldview.

As for children's programs sticking to universal ethics, well, boil it down, and almost every moral is a simple yet universal truth that humans should take to heart but don't always do. Heck, even in adults programming, you can find lessons of why friendship is important, why it is important to be responsible, why certain things are morally reprehensible, etc. I don't think that the children's program needs to be simple, far from it. There's good reason why shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender are still renowned and loved to this day, as they have lessons that children can understand, but as a person matures they'll realise. The recent MLP show has a surprisingly large adult fanbase because of how applicable the lessons are for all ages, as well as how the characters having actual development and balance. Granted, not everything can be well-written, but aiming to deliver strong morals will have a lasting impact more than anything else will, and I believe that all shows, children to adult, should strive towards that.

A somewhat relevant quote I thought about from C.S. Lewis:

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring two pence about how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

18 hours ago, NobodiePichu said:

Well personally i would disagree with his plans being intelligent and call them more convoluted, atleast in the main movies and disregarding the expanded universe, that wasnt so much my point, my point more so being that well hes hardly what i would call a deep character in terms of his motivations and mindset (he wants to rule the galaxy because thats what the sith do i guess, the rebels are impeding that goal, so they have to be destroyed. pretty basic all things considered) he has an onscreen presence and charisma to him that encourages the audience to take him seriously as a threat, something that surtr lacks. Palpatine feels big and important, Surtr does not.

12 hours ago, AnonymousSpeed said:

To be entirely honest, Palpatine is a somewhat iconic character only because he's a Star Wars character. Don't get me wrong, Ian McDiarmid lends a ton of personality to that role, but that was in the prequels, well after the series became such a massive hit and well after I imagine the character had become well known.

I forgot to mention the fridge pages on TV Tropes for Star Wars. Needless to say, expect to see "it's a no-win situation" for his enemies and a "win-win" for him. Even in the EU, some of his plans can be ridiculous, but never absurd, in how paranoid and well thought out they can be. Helps that he had over 20 years of planning during his time ruling the galaxy, and he's not the sort of person to let a day be wasted.

 It helps that Papatine has managed capture several aspects of what's loved by a villian; he can be subtle, calculating, and cold; over-the-top, loud, and angry; creepy and sadistic, and pragmatic and powerful.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...