Why everybody loves the villain!

It’s been the plot of many movies since the silent film era. The audience gets introduced to the good guy, normally a tall, dark and exceptionally muscled man; we meet his lover, the fair faced blonde that always seems to get in to trouble, then boom! The peace is broken and the bad guy is introduced. It is the way all films go. There is balance,  conflict, and then finally – equilibrium.

As films have progressed and Hollywood has become bigger and mightier, the villain in film has evolved from the distasteful hunch backed, top hat wearing, impressive moustache bearing man in black, to the strangely likable sociopath who in no way, shape or form resembles anything like the comical villains of the ‘20s and late ’30’s. In fact, the villains have changed into the guise of  ’ bad boys’, ones that  everybody -especially women- find oddly intriguing.

Every good guy has to have a bad guy. Every superhero has to have a super villain. Not only does it make for good TV and film, but it also appeals to our thirst for conflict and adventure as well as telling the age-old story of good versus evil. We as human beings love to see relatable people overcome great odds and save the day. We strive for justice and are attracted to the scenario of good triumphing over evil. But that does not necessarily stop the little voice in the back of our head asking ‘Why can’t the bad guy win for once?’

There has been at least one movie that we have all watched where the villain makes more of an impression on the viewer then the actual hero. Anyone can be the good guy, save the day and get the girl. It takes real guts to be the guy that wants to destroy the world in spectacularly inventive ways.

Take the Joker for example. A vicious, calculating, psychopathic killer with a clown like appearance, who finds amusement in mass murdeThe Jokerr and terrorism. Although we might not love him as a person, he makes much more of an impression in the movies then Batman himself ever has. We find ourselves drawn to him  more than the masked vigilante millionaire who, in my opinion,  at times can come across as a spoilt brat. Another thing about The Joker (again in my opinion) is that he is the Prince of Villainy. Other villains may pale in comparison to him and there is no motive for his actions except pure amusement as in his uncontrollable madness, he causes untold suffering.

As villains have evolved, they have become darker, more intelligent and a lot more appealing and relatable. Take Bane for example. Played by British actor Tom Hardy, He is another Batman villain who sees himself as a hero in his own story. Unlike the Joker, Bane has reasons for his actions and motives for his warped sense of the world.  His intelligence draws the audience in, his back-story causes the audience to feel sympathy, making the viewer question the good guys, and perhaps even come to an understanding of why Bane did the things he did.

Last of the male villains (out of the many I could have mentioned) is of course Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, another British actor that makes you love the character you are supposed to hate. Tom brings a certain finesse and intelligence to the fictional Nordic villain. His distinct gravelly voice lets you know that he is in change.

They say that the British make the best villains. I whole heartedly agree.

But where would this article be without a mention of the villains that have brought our male heroes to their knees since the beginning of the silent era, the villains that instead of doing their own duty work,  use their wit and their sexual advantages to make the hero do it for them? I am of course talking about the femme fatale.

Considering this ancient archetype dates back long before film was invented, I shall be sharing with you three characters ‘I’ think fit the description perfectly.  Starting with the original ‘New woman’ Marlene Dietrich as Concha Perez in “The Devil is a Woman. The character of Concha might not be a murderous  psychopath hell-bent in destroying the human race and everything it stands for, but villains do not always have to be killers to take the title of the ‘baddie’  especially when it comes down to the femme fatale.

Probably the most dangerous female played in Dietrich’s long filmography, the emotionless character of Concha effortlessly causes two men to fall madly in love with her, than continually leads both of them on, causing people to get hurt and hearts to break.  Her pure, detached state towards the whole situation during the movie causes the audience to have a love- hate relationship with the character. They hate her because she is, for lack of a better word, a total bitch and they love her for the exact same reason. The cool way she handles situations and the way she has both men wrapped around her finger gives her a certain power, and if there is one thing audiences love, it’s a powerful woman.Elle Driver - Kill Bill

The second female villain worth mentioning carries a sword,  wears an eye patch and appears to have no conscience whatsoever. You may have guessed who it is-  it’s Ellie Driver, from ‘Kill Bill.’ She is dangerous and sexy, and all boxed up into a psychotic little package. Ellie Driver is the type of villain that draws you in for no other reason than being a fun loving lunatic with a thirst for revenge. A woman who does her own thing whenever she wants and a woman that can hold her own in a fight.

I know most of the villains I have mentioned so far (excluding the last two) have been from comic books, but where would the wonders of female villainy be without the sexy and surprisingly relatable Mystique, the acrobatic, shape shifting blue mutant hell-bent on protecting herself and her kind. Cast out because of who she is, I think we can all connect to this baddie in one way or another.  Think of her as the genetically mutated femme fatale. She is sexy, dangerous and believes she is the hero in her own story.

All of the villains who I have have mentioned (and many more) have one thing in common. POWER. It doesn’t matter if you are a man or a women, deep down we are still just animalistic and primal beings, attracted to power. To me, that is what villains are all about.

In conclusion, I’d like to say I think that everybody loves a villain, even if they won’t admit it. There is something about the rebellious nature of the bad guy or girl that we all admire, that we all secretly strive to achieve.  We may not have the urge to go on a murderous rampage and destroy large cities with shiny expensive weapons and our army of henchmen (and if you do have that urge, please seek help immediately or call me for a chat) but all of us have the little feeling of rebellion, that voice that tells us just do something because you want to do it. The urge to rebel against a conforming society and truly be free is a powerful emotion.  And because the bad guys normally lose one way or another in the films, that doesn’t necessarily mean they lose in real life…. right?

Now I am in no way trying to convince you to become a super villain, but we as human beings have a fascination with the side of things that we do not experience often, the side of things that are free of tiresome rules and regulations.

But, again, that’s just my thoughts on the subject. Who are your favourite villains and what makes them so likable?

http://www.filmsite.org/femmesfatales.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFqaFu2maDg&app=desktop

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/relationships/10357878/Why-women-cant-resist-bad-boys.html

 

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Why Do We Get So Attached To Fictional Characters?

It happens to the best of us. When we watch TV, read a book or watch a film, we always find ourselves getting close to certain characters, coming to care about their feelings and actually becoming upset when something bad happens to them.  It seems that no matter what you are watching, there is always a character who you will somehow relate to.

So why do we get so attached to fictional characters? In reality, they are just words in a script, brought to life by the actors that play them, but it is not the actors that we become attached to, it is the person they are portraying.

In the words of the great Howard Sklar, “The way we respond to fictional characters has a lot to do with our ability to connect with others and to feel for a person’s situation.” He also states “As anyone who has watched an engaging film or read an engaging novel knows, we invest ourselves deeply in the experience of living with those characters; we tend to respond to them as though they were real individuals.”

As we watch a movie, a TV series or read a book, we find ourselves subconsciously filling in the gaps of the character’s lives and making up fictional stories about them to make them seem more human. The narration of the novel or storyline of the film or episode allows us to stare through the window and into the personal lives of the characters, somehow making us feel closer to them.

Then when something bad happens to our beloved character, they either get hurt, they die or are written out the series you have loyally watched for years, it is like losing someone close to you. It literally hurts.

When we see our ordinary characters go through extraordinary challenge sometimes coming out on top, we look up to the character as a role model and an example of how we should be ourselves.  When reading a book, we get to see the inner thoughts of our beloved characters. Even watching our favourite TV series or a movie, we learn so much more about that character than we would know of the real people that surround us every day.

Because we get to know them on such a personal level, we gain a connection with them where their success, becomes our success.

An example of this would be my own attachment and borderline obsession with a certain character in the US television show called ‘NCIS’. Ever since the first episode of season three, I found myself becoming more and more drawn to a certain female character called Ziva. She is an Israeli Mossad agent, with very bad temper and a love for all things deadly.  Not only did I find myself becoming attached to this character, I also found myself feeling upset and hurt when the actress decided to leave the show.

I am not saying that I can relate to this character on any level – I did not grow up in Israel, I did not work for the Navy and I am not a kick ass assassin (and even if I was, I wouldn’t tell you ) but there was always a sense of familiarity between myself and the character. A sense of comfort.

Another example would be the countless fandom’s floating around the internet, or the innumerable armature fiction dedicated to characters from books, TV shows and Movies, or the privately funded conventions where fans dress up as their favourite characters to go meet more likeminded individuals such as themselves.

In a nut shell, we are all human, we crave companionship when we are sitting alone in front of the TV, and we create that companionship with the fictional characters on screen.

If you are sitting there reading this article with a strange disbelieving expression on your face, just think about it… when was the last time you got so engrossed in a film, or a TV series or a book, that you actually cared about the characters?

Next time you sit down to watch your favourite film or TV show, or read your favourite book, keep this article in mind.

Which character are you attached to?

Sources

http://www.psychforums.com/schizoid-personality/topic109224.html

http://www.thecredits.org/2013/07/the-psychology-of-character-bonding-why-we-feel-a-real-connection-to-actors/

SCRIPTWRITING: A STUDENT GUIDE

SCRIPTWRITING: A STUDENT GUIDE PART 3

It is not easy being a scriptwriter. Not only do you now have to come up with amazing ideas that are both interesting and understandable, a story that does not offend the easily offended and write about your subjects and scenarios with an all most unfathomable expertise, you also have the job of creating a character an audience can relate to.

 It is not an easy job to write a character that is both original and identifiable, a character that has his or her flaws just like everybody else, but also has qualities that make an audience look up to and idolise them with a character that in the end, becomes a better person.

 But where do we even begin to think of these characters?

 As a writer, you sit there with your fifth cup of coffee cooling next to you and endless amounts of snacks with copious amounts of sugar surrounding your cluttered desk of screwed up bits of paper and novelty pencils. A new Word document stays open on your fingerprint smudged screen. The curser, blinking every so often, taunts you.

 To spark some ideas you consider searching the internet for something, anything that will help you come up with a character that everyone will love, but as time passes, you find yourself looking at Vines and funny cat videos on YouTube, and even though these habits are harder to shake than a long term drug habit , we have come up with five ideas to help you come up with believable, likable and original characters.

Star signs

 Surprisingly, the method of using star signs to invent the personalities of your characters is widely used by many authors and script writers. Using the already set-out template of good and bad personality traits can help a writer expand and improve their character. For example, if your character were to be a Capricorn, they would be confident, energetic and courageous and if he or she were to be a Scorpio, maybe you can give them a temper?

People Watching

 Instead of sitting at your desk in a dark and suspicious smelling dorm room, why not go outsideand sit at a table at the local cafe or a park, and just watch. Hundreds of people pass through every day, each with their very own little personal traits and appearances. You would be very surprised at how much you notice when you just sit and observe.

Famous people

 Basing your characters on famous people or famous characters is a great way to create a likable character that is relatable and familiar to the audience. People are more inclined to like a character if it reminds them of their role models.

However, remember not to copy everything about your chosen person, it is still your character.

Draw from your own experiences

 Basing a character around people you have met, people you know or people you don’t even like can be an extremely effective way to create a fresh new character with interesting personality traits. Just don’t use their real name.

 I once based a character on my Father, and even though he started out as a grumpy old man, as the script developed, the character evolved and become a much more likeable and three dimensional character. Even if you only have an outline of your character, if you are good at what you do, they will grow into something great.

Your imagination

 Not everybody can do it, and in my opinion, it is the least effective on this list. But if you take a moment to just sit and think of a random character, with a random personality and a random appearance, you will eventually come up with a character that will grow as the story does.

 So what have we learnt by this?

 Whatever happens, always remember to give your character a hook, maybe he is a mummy’s boy, or maybe he never goes anywhere without his funny looking dog named Spot?

 Whoever they may be, remember not to force the character. An audience can always tell when a character is forced. So if you are struggling to think of the next character for your next short film, just relax, have a cuppa and maybe watch a cheesy old film.

 It will come to you.

Here are a few links to help you along the way to creating a masterpiece.

 Five ways to start a script : http://2012.scriptfrenzy.org/node/2003510

 Developing your characters :http://www.wikihow.com/Develop-Characters-in-Film

 Characters for the screen :http://thescriptlab.com/screenwriting/character

And here is the link to the original article including parts one and two of  SCRIPTWRITING: A STUDENT GUIDE and many, many more interesting blogs and information.

The Birdies Film Festival : http://www.thebirdiesff.com/#!blog/cnms