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Wicked Nerdery

Where psychology, pop culture, and true crime collide

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villain

The Most Dangerous Man In Westeros Did Not Deserve That Death

As many cheered and sang praises for the end of Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish on Game of Thrones, I sat in forlorn silence. Yes, I liked him. He wasn’t a hero, he wasn’t a strapping lord fighting for honor, but he was interesting. A character who always kept those around him, those watching him, on their toes. He was conniving, manipulative and ambitious. He kicked off nearly every major event on the show and triggered the War of the Five Kings around which most seasons were based. That’s someone who should have lived to win the Iron Throne, not bled out on the cold floor of the Great Hall in Winterfell.

Lord Baelish may have deserved to die, but not as he did. A man who had been scheming since before the story began deserved a far better end.

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Flipism: Of Villains & Their Love of the Coin Toss

The latest season of House of Cards had a cold open in which Frank Underwood briefly explained the concept of flipism: the belief that all decisions can, and should, be made with the simple flip of a coin. Frank discussed the birth of the ideology and suggested it be used to clear up the chaos he created in the latest presidential election. He’s not the first villain to speak in favor of flipping a coin, of using chance, as a way to make a final decision…in fact there’s a history of antagonists both promoting and using such tactics throughout pop culture.

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Is ‘Westworld’ Hero, Maeve, Actually A Villain?

It would be easy to define Westworld’s wonderfully strong madame, Maeve Millay, as a hero, but could she actually be a villain? In his book, I Wear the Black Hat, Chuck Klosterman defines a villain as someone who “knows the most, but cares the least.” Makes sense. The hero often knows only a fraction of what the villain does and one already assumes the hero cares the most while the villain cares little, if at all.

As a story progresses the hero may learn more, but that usually only pushes him or her to care all the more. What if, by the end, the hero is the one that knows the most, but cares the least though? This appears to be what occurs with Maeve so, is she still a hero or has she now become a villain?

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Hero to Villain: The Journey of Rick Grimes Continues

Last August, before the start of the sixth season, I wrote a piece concerning whether or not Rick Grimes had become a villain using the definition created by Chuck Klosterman in his book, I Wear the Black Hat.  According to Klosterman a villain is someone who knows the most, but cares the least.  Using that interpretation I went with yes.  Or, at least, “yeah, kinda”.  He had gone from a man who knew little of what was happening in the world, but was deeply disturbed by it, to a man who’d seen way too much and no longer cared about those around him (outside his core group, but even then he would disregard their feelings and thoughts in favor of his own).  I ended on a note of hope that Rick could change, go back to the more heroic guy he once was.

So, with a season passed, has anything changed?  Has Rick been redeemed in the arms of Alexandria?  A little, perhaps, but not really.  While he’s certainly getting along better with others, managed to see the Alexandrians as his people, it took some extreme events to have that happen and he’s generally not any kinder or gentler to those he still considers not “his people”.  The biggest difference, really, is that those around him have (mostly) stopped opposing him.  The original Alexandria citizens have stopped questioning him; when he says “this is how it has to be”, that is how it has to be.  Nowadays Rick might not be considered a villain only because everyone else is just as bad…or there’s someone who’s worse, who knows more and cares even less, like Negan and his Saviors.

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The Trial of Kylo Ren: Hero or Villain?

First and foremost this post will contain spoilers concerning Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  A lot of spoilers.  MAJOR spoilers.  If you’ve not yet seen the film and wish to remain spoiler-free then I suggest you just save this page and come back to it later.  If you’ve seen the film or simply don’t care about knowing everything keep on reading…

Seriously though, from now on there will be spoilers!

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When Characters Get Real, Audiences Get Mad

Certain characters achieve a level of venom from audiences that can be surprising.  Even when they aren’t the main antagonist, trying to take over the world, or even all that villainous, people loathe them…but why?  Why is it that certain characters garner more hatred than others?  Is it that they aren’t as clever, physically attractive, or entertaining as their more tolerated counterparts?  …Sometimes, but not always.  Usually there is a deeper reason behind the audience’s intense dislike.  It would seem that those characters on TV, film, and in comics who really get our blood boiling are those we’ve met – in one way or another – in real life before.

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Secret Psychopath: The Dark Knight’s Joker

Psychopaths are not easy to spot; in no small part because they are masters of disguise, skilled at fitting in even when they stand out.  With the ability to read a room and the expectations of those within it they can follow social norms to fly under the radar or openly defy them to whatever advantages there might be.  Whichever they choose though rarely are psychopaths spotted for what they are.  It’s only if you look closely, dissect with a rational mind, that you can see beyond the surface behaviors to the true person beneath.  It holds in real life and it holds in the fictional world…there are a number of characters in TV, film, and comics that hide themselves behind either subdued or over-the-top behavior so that you don’t notice who, what, they really are.

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Sinister is Sexy

Onscreen sinister is sexy, whether we care to admit it or not.  Villains in TV and movies are fascinating to watch; you can’t take your eyes off them.  (Casting may help, true, but Hannibal Lector is entrancing played by Mads Mikkelsen, Anthony Hopkins, Brian Cox, or Gaspard Ulliel.)  But why?  Why do so many of us fall for the villain even when he or she is so…well…villainous?

Please note: I’m not talking about the villains in slasher films like Jason Voorhees or Freddie Kruger, but the ones that lean towards sane, sober, and sociopathic; the ones that could actually exist, in one form or another, in the real world.

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Hero to Villain: The Journey of Rick Grimes?

In his book I Wear the Black Hat Chuck Klosterman defines a villain as someone who “knows the most, but cares the least”.  Makes sense.  The hero often knows only a fraction of what the villain does and one already assumes the hero cares the most while the villain cares little if at all.  As a story progresses the hero may learn more, but usually that only pushes him or her to care all the more.  This definition can also become rather dynamic if, by the end, it is the hero that knows the most, but cares the least.  Has hero become villain?  For example: Could Walking Dead’s Rick Grimes be considered a villain at the end of Season 5??  …Perhaps…

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