Post by Adamant Ace on Jul 6, 2014 18:52:53 GMT -5
Heroism is taking action to help those who can't help themselves without any real expectation of compensation or fame. Villainy is helping yourself/achieving your own goals at the expense of other. One also has to determine if 'the end justifies the means' is a valid course of action. Largely, it doesn't justify it, as the suffering that would probably be inflicted wouldn't necessarily be balanced out by the end goal.
A sympathetic villain is like Mr. Freeze (I'm thinking the Batman: The Animated Series episode Heart of Ice). He didn't become a villain intentionally, but instead sought revenge for the wrongs done to him and to his wife. His efforts in seeking revenge and in trying to help himself and his wife, while something that anyone can sympathize with, put the lives of others at risk and made it necessary to stop him. A sympathetic villain has motivations that the average person can understand and even agree with, but their actions go too far and make it necessary for others to step in to prevent them from causing harm to others.
A misunderstood villain is someone who isn't necessarily an actual villain, but is perceived that way by society. Anti-villains and Byronic heroes are some major examples of this. Spider-man is often a victim of this due to J. Jonah Jameson's constant mud slinging. Mutants in the Marvel universe are also a victim of this. Magneto in particular decided to embrace the perception of villainy that normal humans have of him and act as he felt was necessary to defend his fellow mutants, no matter what people thought of him. Clayface for example only wants to be normal and his crimes are usually related to try to get medicines that can keep him human looking longer etc. Mr. Freeze could also be an example of this.
A hero can keep from sliding into villainy by refusing to rationalize that the end justifies the means.
Grade: 100 bonus points for the irony of switching to blue from red in the villain class.
Continuing my tangent from the first assignment, the difference between heroism and villainy is simply a matter of politics. Rather than being a strict black and white Good vs. Evil scenario, it more often falls along the lines of Law vs. Chaos. The morality of the situation can be blurry depending on who the respective hero/villain is, but the hero is most often acting within or in preservation of the status quo, while the the villain operates outside or in opposition of it. This distinction, especially in the case of revolutionaries, is how villains' actions can be vindicated by history should their side win, and they are remade as heroes once their idea of right is law. To pull from a classic, Robin Hood was certainly considered a villain, being known as a notorious outlaw and decried as a murderer by those in power. History remakes him as a folklore hero, but he was a vigilante against and outside of the law, which for his time marks him and his band as villains.
Establishing that villainy is a construct of social contract rather than of morality makes the sympathetic and misunderstood villain very easy to comprehend. The sympathetic villain is the Robin Hood character, operating outside the law and using underhanded methods, but for reasons that can generally be agreed upon as benevolent. The classic moral conundrum of the thief who steals medicine he can't afford to save his dying family is the sympathetic villain. The misunderstood villain, on the other hand, is either someone who has been declared anathema by society unjustly, ala Doctor Manhattan midway through Watchman, or is someone who commits atrocities for the "greater good", such as Ozymandias from the same work. The first form of the misunderstood villain is almost interchangeable with the sympathetic villain, while the second can be nothing but a villain in the eyes of society. They are held in contempt as monsters, and only time will tell if their actions actually have the effect they desired while taking them.
The hero walks a fine line. As villainy is determined by the society of which the hero is an enforcer, many heroes end up "villains" as a result of their society turning on them in such a way that they can not abide what they would have to become to maintain their hero status. Civil War era Captain America comes to mind as the exemplar of this.
Grade: 200 Points for continuing thoughts from previous assignment.
In my opinion, there is nothing that separates the hero from the villain, in this day and age. We have heroes, anti-heroes, villains, anti-villains and all those in between, including the incredibly rare neutral party. The labels of hero and villain means less to me than the colour of a random building. I believe that villains can be capable of heroics, and heroes villainy. So what is the line between heroics and villainy? Heroics is to do something for others, while villainy is to do things for one-self. This is because if one is selfish, one has no regard for what happens to others. This is what I consider the main concept around which heroics and villainy revolve around - considering others or only yourself. To clarify, by this I mean that an act of heroics is to consider others in your actions, while considering only yourself in your actions is villainy. This obviously has notable exceptions (i.e. eating ice-cream at home is not villainy if you don't share it with others) but otherwise I believe it demonstrates the theory rather clearly. On the matter of the sympathetic, misunderstood etc. villain, I would like to say that these seem to be victims of circumstance rather than true villains.
My definitions: Hero, someone who is labelled a hero, and who (generally) is heroic, pursuing a Heroic goal. (See Superman) Anti-hero, someone who is labelled a hero, and who may use villainy to pursue a Heroic goal. (See Batman) Villain, someone who is labelled a villain, and who (generally) is villainous, pursuing a villainous goal. (See Lex Luthor) Anti-Villain, someone who is labelled a villain, and who is either nicer/more heroic than other villains, or one who uses villainy to pursue a Heroic goal. (See Skitter) Neutral party, someone who either supports both sides (heroes & villains) indiscriminately/equally, or does not support anyone at all. (See mercenaries)
Grade: 100 chocolate points, cuz now I want ice cream. Possibly villainous ice cream.
Bob: In other places and other times, Heroism or Villainy might be a matter of ethics or morals- but here in Metro City, your job description as a hero or villain seems to be more clearly defined by a piece of paper rather than who you really are as a person. In most mass media Heroes fit certain visual cues of beauty and strength and villains as commonly weak, cowardly, and imperfect, and the real line is drawn using the golden rule(r): upholding the right, defending the weak, protecting society, following the social mores... or if you are a villain...ignoring all of that to step over the line. Now in Metro City none of this applies in the standard way of the world at large- villains are PART of the social fabric; they are upholding certain social rules as well. There appear to be villain rules in play here that every single villain is following, which frankly should be impossible to enforce, but its working so we aren't gonna push it. Sympathetic villains, misunderstood villains... I believe that these terms are a very personal matter of point of view, and trying to define something so innately personal to each and every person's worldview and then to try to apply it to the world at large is doomed to failure. I personally am going to find some specific villain to be sympathetic or misunderstood sooner or later, and then Rorschach is going to toss them out of a penthouse window because they are human garbage.
I'd have to say the main traditional method for keeping a hero from sliding into villainy is: don't get caught breaking the law. Watch the Dark Knight recently? That cell-phone tapping toy Bruce used? Massively illegal as hell. Many of the actions that darker, stealthy heroes take are both morally and legally questionable. In Metro City, the main rule for both heroes and villains seems to be: follow the handbook, and don't get caught doing something stupid, like hunting down and killing your sister's murderer in public with the wrong card on. I would imagine that there is a half life to hero types in Metro City. Heroes reach that half life just by living and interacting with people and become villains because they broke some rule sooner or later, like radioactive gold 194 becoming stable platinum 194. It would be interesting to see if hero decay causes the overall amount of villains to increase versus heroes over time in MC, or if there is a corresponding shift to heroism by some villains as well. Or just good recruiting. __________________________________
Doug: I am going to try very hard to avoid the Heroes = Kant / Villains = Hume, Absolute ethics vs Relativistic ethics thing. But I am going to say this: A hero accepts certain very strict social limitations on their ability to do their job. Heroes choose to follow those rules of combat and to be "good" people. Villains normally reject this entire argument, and anything goes. The potential solution set a villain can choose from is considerably larger than a heroes', and that is a major headache for heroes. Heroes typically don't bother kidnapping innocent relatives, threatening massive unequal retaliation to property, or just causing random chaos if their actual plan is thwarted. Villains do this constantly. Also, as I have pointed out before, heroes by definition, REACT. They react to whatever a villain plans, and this means less time to prepare or act, and a fairly small solution set when heroes do react. Villains however, ACT. They go out and pretty much do whatever the heck they need to do to promote whatever plan they have in mind. They have time to plan and tremendous flexibility in how they are going to act. In Metro City I'm not sure how impaired the average Villain's option set is, at least I don't know yet- but I suspect whatever villain started the MC3 has some way to enforce the villain's rules, so there is some impairment. Nevertheless, speaking in game theory classes, the overall solution set favors villains
I suppose there are villains I would sympathize with or see as misunderstood, but Bob is right- emotional loading and content is a very personal view, not some sort of clear-cut category anyone can select from without fail. I am not going to agree with everyone because my personal experiences define and inform my opinions.
So what keeps a hero from sliding down the slippery slope? For the average hero, even in Metro City, I really don't know. They work from a pretty small playbook, and they mostly seem mind blind. I'm a telepath. For me, it's easy: I usually know if you've been bad or good, and I can typically find a legal way to prove it from your own thoughts and actions. Game, Set, Match 90% of the time. When minds and walls are transparent, you can't really be blamed for looking around in glass houses. People like Bob have a much harder time, because finding good evidence and convincing other people beyond a shadow of a doubt months later without the bad guy's help is hard. The ever-increasing urge to vigilantism must be horrible. A good support network is a help, as is a strong moral fiber that is in line with what society wants. But for those driven to a different moral compass or a greater calling outside of social norms, well... a red card may be calling.
Late at night, right before bed, when we count the dead... Bob and I check our position against that dark line. It's never been that far away from us. How do you manage?
The basic different between a Hero and a Villain is what they sacrifice to meet their goals. As I quoted in the previous assignment, evil is treating people like things. A Hero will slide into villainy when they forget to treat people like people. Sadly this is too easily to do. Look at The movie versions of Magneto and Xaiver. What and who they sacrifice to meet the same goal - a better world for mutants - is very different. In fact Magneto has justified his position by dehumanizing non-mutants. Yes, I know that word is ironic.
Magneto is an excellent example of the sympathetic villain. His goals are easy to empathize with and its easy to see why he is the way he is. You want to reason with him, because he's not crazy. However, you can't reason someone out of a core belief. (I'm paraphrasing Ben Goldacre.) Heroes wanting to redeem villains should always hold this in mind.
The misunderstood villain is a different case. What using happens is their goals and motivations are, well...misunderstood. What it looks like their doing and what they're really trying to do are two different things. A third level of confusions is added when the villain isn't too sure what she/he wants either - this is the classic case of "How did I wind up here?" These villains are a bit easier to redeem, however, they can also decide to take the eviler of two paths.
The best way to keep from 'sliding' into villainy (this isn't the same as diving in head first shouting "WooHoo, baby!") is to constantly ask yourself what you are sacrificing to meet your goal. If something requires you to treat people like things, make another way.
The difference between a Hero and a Villain is the decision to adhere to the social contract or not. Robin Hood is counted as a hero in folklore. If you ask the Sheriff of Nottingham (yes, this is a real position) however, he will tell you that Robin Hood was a criminal.
Heroism is going to be defined by the masses, just as Villainy is. If (A) is discovered attacking an armored car in downtown, and (B) arrives to stop the attack, (B) will be identified as the Hero, if, after the fact, it is discovered that (B) was on a company payroll to protect that armored car, its contents, and the company's interests, his Heroism is going to be tainted. When further investigation shows that the armored car was transporting a very dangerous chemical through a highly populated city area, both the company and the Hero are going to lose face.
Fast forward two year, and after a lengthy investigation information about the event becomes public knowledge. It becomes known to all that the armored car was knowingly being used to transport a chemical agent through the city as a part of a larger plot motivated by corporate greed. The Hero was recruited by the company by way of a large donation to a well loved charity. The Villain was a disgruntled employee/scientists, that had been fired for having ethics contrary to the company vision, that was trying to hijack the armored car because all official channels to stop the company's plot had either been blocked off, or could not effectively respond in time.
With this new knowledge, the Hero's actions are called into question. The Villain gains support as a champion for the people, and the company, that was once loved for its generosity and important support of the city through jobs, is seen as the real villain. All of this demonstrates that Heroism and Villainy are just as much social constructs beauty, gender roles, or fashion trends.
As a villain, I can choose NOT to be restrained by arbitrary rules imposed by others. (I have the option to obey them, but I'm not required to.) So it's fundamentally very individual on the Red Card side of the street, since the only true limit on what I can do, is my own relative power, and my own mental and emotional limitations.
Sometimes, this can lead to a mistaking of Villainy for Heroism. Let's say in order to avenge several million people duped by a crooked bank on wall-street, I decide to rob the bankers that duped those people (all perfectly legally did they dupe them, not one sees a courtroom..) This is technically and legally a Villainous action-I've chosen to elevate ethics over legalities, in simple terms, doing the right thing, in what the Laws of Society tell me are the wrong ways. (Punishing evil, by stealing from, hurting, or killing the evildoers protected by the law.)
Now, if I keep the money? well, hey, I'm a villain, I'm allowed. I'm also allowed to inject some murk into the proceedings if some JO Hero busts me for what I've done-by filtering that money back to some of (or many of, or most of) the victims harmed by the banksters I've just done some really hilarious things with. (come on, drowning a billionaire bankster in his toilet, hilarious! amirite? or overdosing that drug-company exec who decided cancer-pills should cost ten grand a bottle...)
basically, most of the so-called "Sympathetic" villains out there, are avengers of the common man. They strike at the 'lords of society', the corrupt, or corruptible, systems that make every-day life for working joes hell, bankrupt grandma's retirement, or do harm to the weakest of society's masses in the name of 'cost' or 'profit'.
Heroes can't do it. They can break some laws, sure, but never can they target the cream of society with what that rotten foam at the top really deserves. (or even the rotten foam at the middle- for instance, killing a cop for abusing his power, or even just beating an abusive cop up? Heroes can't do it, but you KNOW there are people in positions of power, from the cops to the City Council to the mayor, to the 'pillars of our fine community' who really, really, deserve it...a lot. In funny or ironic ways whenever possible. barring funny, gruesome works too...)
If you haven't caught the vibe yet, yes, revenge is a stronger motivation for 'sympathetic' villains. They are striking at those that exist in that aether of power that rests 'above the law', often hidden behind their false idols of Corporation, Government, or Political/social Status, to Paraphrase Bartleby- "...safe from judgement, lives shrouded even from each other..."
often those shrouds are merely mutually agreed upon blindness. The Liberal candidate who accepts PAC contributions from the rapacious businessman, the Conservative who doesn't ask where those millions from his donors really came from, the businessman who makes a big deal about social issues while funding sweatshops just over the border, the banker who contributes to 'social change' at home while scheming to impoverish millions to buy influence among other billionaire bankers...society is ripe with targets for a vengeful one, and most of those deserve more than a short court-date with a hung jury or weekend in the fenced golf resort 'minimum security' prison.
The 'sympathetic' Villain provides this release-he or she doesn't bother with corrupted courts, instead delivering sweet vengeance for the ones too lacking in influence to strike back in the 'legitimate' ways.
Whether avenging the murder of a loved one, or the murder of ideals, it's hot justice served NOW upon the deserving, no due process, no appeals, no 'outs', no clever lawyers or backroom testimonies, no mercy and no regrets.