I Heart Villains

Hello there! I have survived the Game of Thrones premiere which was beautiful and awesome! How I fair the rest of the season is a toss up. I’m sure you all will hear my tears and woes at length.

So guys. Villains.

Villains.

How’s that for an intro?

But really, I have always loved villains. Most of my close friends know that my favorite characters in books/movies/shows tend to be villains. I don’t know what it is that fascinates me so much about the evil ones–maybe because they always seem to be so much more layered and multifaceted than the heroes. Maybe I was growing up in a different time where heroes were less relatable. They always made perfect choices and did the right thing and knew what that was, unlike kid me who was a little bit selfish at times and didn’t like to eat her green beans at dinner.

My first villain love was Darth Vader. I’m sure it wasn’t love at first sight, but sometime around the first time I saw The Empire Strikes Back (I was nine) something in me recognized that DV was just misunderstood. There was something there that we weren’t seeing. I wanted to know what that thing was. One of my favorite villain backstories has to be that of Voldemort in the Harry Potter series. There’s a lot of pain there, and maybe was a little on the cliche side, but I love it. I hate bad guys who just exist to cause heroes strife. I need some backstory with my baddies!

I read a Tom Hiddleston interview once in which he said, “Every villain is a hero in his own mind.” (Hiddles plays Loki in the Thor/Avengers movies by the way).

Here is a short list of some of my favorite villains and why they will always have my heart! Even if they’d rather just pull it out of my chest…

1) Severus Snape

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Snape is one that kind of skews that line between hero and villain. Perhaps he’s more of an anti-hero. I started reading the Harry Potter series after the sixth book and right before book seven came out. The big marketing tag for the final book was “Snape: friend or foe” because *spoiler alert* he had just killed Dumbledore. I had faith throughout the series that Snape was indeed a friend. I know JK had a big pay off coming for us, and she didn’t disappoint. Snape’s final chapter at the end of Deathly Hallows–with it’s large and painful backstory–had me in tears. So much so that I had to take a half hour break before I could finish the rest of the book.

2) Darth Vader

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Darth Vader is a great tale of what can happen when a hero chooses Path B instead of Path A. We didn’t have his complete story until the prequel trilogy came out, but let’s look: he was raised by a loving mother, then taken in by Jedi’s who are inherently good (though I could argue things about Jedi’s in a whole other post), and taught by Obi-Wan Kenobi. He has all these great influences yet in the end, when tragedy strikes and fear grips him, he chooses the dark side. Darth Vader is classic greek tragedy. Instead of letting things go, he attempts to take destiny in his hands, and then ends up fulfilling it. #oops

3) Klaus

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Okay everyone, please stop judging me for writing a character from The Vampire Diaries on this list. Yes the show is cheesy and poorly written 8 times out of 10, but Klaus is one of the darkhorse, amazing things about this show. Part of me wonders if that is large in part thanks to Joseph Morgan, the actor who plays him, who seems to have a great understanding of his character. Klaus was introduced as the big bad of season two, out to sacrifice heroine Elena as a means to his own end. We are at season 4 now and Klaus is still hanging around, when rumor has it the writers had intended on having him defeated and killed in season three. During that time, we’ve seen him as a human before he became one of the world’s first vampires, we’ve met his entire family, and we’ve also seen the beginnings of what might be a man falling in love with one of the good guys. Klaus definitely fits the “hero in his own mind” category of villain. And soon he might get his very own show soon! If that doesn’t say GREAT character and villain, I don’t know what does.

4) Hades

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I was on the phone with a friend the other night, discussing awesome disney villains. His vote was for Scar and mine was for Hades. I think it’s another reason why I love villains so much more: sarcasm. It’s something that seems to evade most “heroes”, especially in Disney movies (maybe not in later movies). Hades was so likable and funny that you kind of forget until the very in that he’s not the one that you are supposed to be rooting for.

5) The Joker

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Okay so I don’t know much about The Joker outside of any film version of Batman. But what I do know is this: he has no definitive origin story. Anywhere. There seems to be no reason in particular that The Joker is evil. I know earlier I said that I like to have my villains with a bit of backstory and know where they’re coming from, but I think not knowing where The Joker comes from makes him that much more interesting. The fact that he seems to exist just to torment Batman and wreck havoc on Gotham is more than enough for me. “Some men just want to watch the world burn,” is what Michael Caine’s, Alfred, says in the Nolan version of the movies. I mean, what’s a more intimidating backstory than that?

 

Who are your favorite villains? Or do you, unlike me, prefer the heroes?

Wishing you all a wicked Wednesday! 😉

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Bring It On!

I really wanted to update my blog today, but wasn’t sure what to write about other than how proud I am of myself for buying lots of healthy groceries yesterday and how excited I was over my first run of Spring! (It was terrible, in case you were wondering. Taking off for 6 months = barely making it two miles).

Well instead, I decided to take a page from Meghan’s book and do a Throwback Thursday post 🙂

A couple weeks ago, The Vampire Diaries had an episode that featured a cheerleading competition (sometimes normal high school things happen on that show in between all the supernatural fighting). Since then I’ve been having massive cheerleader flashbacks. Yesterday I actually wore my 8th grade cheerleading t-shirt on my run. I can’t believe I still have it!

Screen shot 2013-03-28 at 10.41.25 AM Look! Me circa 8th grade in my cheerleading picture. Unfortunately, all the high school cheerleading pics are at my mom’s house in Florida.

I was in 8th grade when the movie Bring It On came out. Yes, I saw it in theatres about three times with my cheerleading friends. Yes, I could quote every line. I even remember one embarrassing moment when my team decided it would be a good idea to do one of the cheers from the movie at a football game. It made no sense to anyone in the stands, except us.

Cheerleading has always had a reputation for being a “girly” sport–that is, if someone is even able to admit that it is in fact a sport. I was a part of a generation of cheerleaders who helped bring cheerleading into a whole new category other than just a bunch of pretty, popular girls waving pom-poms and rooting for the home team. We were athletes. To paraphrase the movie: We had fun. We worked hard. And we won competitions. Most of what we did wasn’t even seen by the people we cheered in front of at every game because no one goes to Cheerleading competitions. But we still did it, because we loved it.

It was one of the reasons why I loved and still love Bring It On so much! It showed a side of cheerleading that most people didn’t even know existed at the time. In any other sport, you practice and practice and get a handful of games to prove that your team is the best. If you lose a game in football or basketball, you can always redeem yourself the next week. In cheerleading, you train and practice year round and get three minutes to prove yourself. You use it or you lose it. Competitive cheerleaders have to be so many things: gymnasts, dancers, acrobats…you have to smile and preform and make that round off back-hand-spring-back-tuck look effortless.

Wow, I got a little carried away with the Cheerleading feels just now! Back to the movie….

I’ve never seen the sequels that followed, but the original will always be one of my favorites. It brings me back to a time when I was a little girl who had sprained her ankle three days before competition but sucked it up and went out there anyways, and suffered the pain of it after happily when we scored a trophy! I was proud to push my body and make myself the best I could. I loved bragging about every bruise and injury. I loved the adrenaline rush of competition. Just watching that part of the movie makes me feel that excitement all over again.

Plus, Jesse Bradford was easy on the eyeballs too. Even though back then I, like Kirsten Dunst, had no idea who The Clash was. *loser sneeze*

And we have the same birthday. May 28th!

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Happy Thursday everyone…

The weekend is almost here!!

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Fiction is Not Your Life Coach

No one can deny the allure of fiction. Most people enjoying escaping into other world’s and people’s lives. Whether you’re a fan of Doctor Who or Grey’s Anatomy, everyone gets their fictional fix in some way. People use it for escape and for entertainment. But more and more lately I’ve noticed fiction being used as a scapegoat for things happening out in the real world, especially when it comes to teenagers. Is that fair though? Does fiction have a social responsibility?

I remember a couple years ago, sitting in a college Lit class and having a discussion about a book my class was studying. My teacher voiced an opinion that has stuck with me since I heard it: Fiction does not have responsibility. When a writer is telling a story, through whatever kind of medium, they are not trying to tell people how they should live their lives. Honestly, it was a thought that never occurred to me before. The thought changed the way I consume fiction and the way I encourage others to consume it as well.

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I see this debate come up often because I am a massive fan of YA Lit. Of course people are going to be opinionated over the things that teenagers read and watch. As they should. I remember how impressionable I was as a teenager. However I notice I don’t see these arguments happening in regards to any “adult” oriented types of fiction. No one accuses the writers on Game of Thrones for condoning things like “abuse” the way they do on shows like The Vampire Diaires. In one situation, we can watch the story unfold and if something bad happens we can back away and say “wow, that’s messed up” but in the latter, something similar occurs, and audience members bust out their pitchforks and begin accusing show writers of condoning bad behavior. I doubt that the writers’ room is filled with people making choices to write situations to glorify any type of violent behavior, their jobs are to tell a story about a specific group of characters and situations. Not to give life advice via the fictional things they create.

I use these two shows because I am a fan of both and I know them well. People may bulk and say “well one is meant for adults and the other for teenagers…impressionable minds KATIE!” Well if that is the argument  I put this thought to my readers: Is it not the responsibility of parents, teachers, etc. to teach these impressionable minds to be discerning and to break through surfaces to form their own opinions? Perhaps the responsibility lies not with the creators and writers of these stories when it comes to teens, but with those who are responsible for the teenagers who read and watch this stuff.

As a writer and avid reader, I might have a skewed interpretation of the fictional things I consume. But I always come back to what my teacher told me in that Lit class. Writers are not trying to tell people how to live their lives. They are telling a story, about a group of characters made up in their heads. Sometimes those characters do good things and sometimes they do bad. Critics always cite Bella Swan as being a horrible role model for teenage girls with the way she caves in on herself after she is deserted by the love of her life…but I doubt that Stephanie Meyer’s point in writing her character that way was to tell heartbroken girls that they should just give up. Works of fiction, such as Twilight, are not mean to substitute for teaching teenagers (or people in general) how to react to the world around them. Writer’s, for the most part, do not share the opinions of their characters.

Fiction should always be separated from reality. It should never be mistaken for fact. Good readers and watchers should be able to make the distinction. It’s probably easier to do when reading books that take place in 1872 or watching shows that involve time travel or made up worlds. Fiction is fiction. It romanticizes, it sensationalizes, its supposed to be dangerous and take risks. We can find entertainment, escape, and inspiration within the stories, but we should never, ever use it as a handbook for our lives.

It’s a multi-leveled argument I’m sure and their are always exceptions to the rule. Feel free to continue the discussion in the comments 🙂

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p.s. Apologies for a super opinion-y post. I’ve been getting a lot of questions on my fangirl tumblr about this subject and reading many different  opinions and just wanted to address the topic myself.