Monday, December 15, 2014

Monday Forum - what is it about villians?

As I write, the Sydney hostage drama is till unfolding. I don’t want to comment until more is known, but it has been an interesting exercise in human psychology.

As the news broke, it ran around the office like wildfire. People started trying to contact relatives in the city, while rumours spread that the Church Street Mall in Parramatta and/or the big Westfield Shopping Centre were being evacuated. Neither was true.

I watched the twitter feed for a while, as well as the live media blogs. There was just too much misleading and in some cases quite distasteful stuff, especially on twitter, so I switched it off. Someone asked me why I was so calm. Had I contacted my daughters to find out if they were okay?

Well, no. One works in Strathfield, the other in the city, but it would be incredibly unlucky (and unlikely) for her to be involved in what appeared to be an isolated action by a single individual. And, in any case, what could I do? I also remember London during the IRA blitz. In this case, wll we can do is hope for the best. 

Events in Sydney quite blew away the intended topic of this Monday Forum, the villain. The topic was triggered by this comment from DG: “Well, in the case of the lascivious Cesare Borgia, apart from his patronage of Leonardo de Vinci (through ill-gotten gains through his awful family), there certainly wasn't much else in his favour or worth remembering.” 

This got me wondering. The Borgias including Cesare and Lucrezia have always got a very bad press. Certainly their morals were somewhat relaxed to put it mildly, but did they deserve the coverage they got? And, if so, why are we so fascinated with them at the expense of other, more worthwhile souls?   Why do we remember Captain Thunderbolt while Constable Walker is almost forgotten?

So for the purposes of today's discussion, what is it about villains that so fascinates us? Who are your favourite, least favourite villains?


Anonymous said...

"what is it about villains that so fascinates us?"

Villains is a romantic old term - or at least I think so.

So to answer your query above - I'd say that they are celebrated for doing stuff which we peasants might secretly consider, but are never actually game enough to do. Ned Kelly is a 'villain' in that way - except he is also recorded as doing quite unromantic stuff, such as murder and robbery.

On this Sydney hostage drama, I turned on the tv after reading your post, and SkyNews informed me that "at least one, and possibly more..." gunman were involved. My thought was "more cowbell".

I hope it resolves; I'm sure it will. But National Security Council meeting? There's that cowbell.


Jim Belshaw said...

I think that you are right on villain. Hitler wasn't a villain, just evil. Villain has at least some minimal redeeming feature, I think.

So far the response to the siege has been better than I first expected.

Anonymous said...

the combined Borgia-Sforza-Naples family was even worse than the polite histories tell

Anonymous said...

When I listen to debate among clergy in the Catholic Church about celibacy I have a good laugh and think of the Borgias.


Evan said...

I guess the stage villain needs charm.

Evil people aren't necessarily charming and can be quite repellent.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi all. The combined B-S-N family may well be even worse than the polite histories tell. I well remember the stories of the Emperor Tiberius and his swimming pool. Could they be published now?

And DG, you may be right. In fact, I'm sure that you are. I will bring my son up as a celibate clergy and he can do the same for his kids!

Not charm, perhaps, kvd. In the Victorian melodrama where good always triumphs in the end, we need a hiss object!