In Which Villains Annoy Our Heroine

14 December 2003

If I see one more villain character who had a tough childhood or adolescence, I am going to scream, and I'm not making any guarantees about when I'll stop screaming. If you're hoping to see me soon, you'd better hope I haven't run into one between now and then, or I may scream our whole conversation out of frustration with these villains.

Having a three-dimensional villain does not mean having one who twirls mustachios and cackles evilly, then sits down and talks about how Mumsy never really cared or his first sweetums died or the like. If you're going to do the comic book villain thing, just do the comic book villain thing. If you need your villain to be a giant, totally one-dimensionally evil, burning eye, all right, go for the gusto. Just don't do that and then talk about how the burning eye would feel so much better if only your fantasy kingdom had competent opthamology.

On the other hand -- and I really do prefer it this way -- it seems like it's better if they don't start cackling to begin with. Hmmm. Maybe they can cackle towards the end. I think that's a pattern I'm much more comfortable with: we're presented with a character who gradually slips and slides into horrific deeds, rather than the bastard offspring of Hitler, Mao, and Stalin right from the start. (That's quite some genetic engineering there, is what I'm sayin'.) Especially if that bastard offspring then turns out to really just need more hugses.

Not that I'm against hugses, mind you.

I think this is part of what infuriates me about the incompetent mess that is the new Star Wars trilogy. Lucas has set out to tell the story of the downfall and redemption of Darth Vader, and he did okayish with the redemption in the original trilogy; could have been worse. But the downfall: he had a tough chiiiiildhood. He was a slave (doesn't get much tougher than that...although he was apparently the plays-with-electronics flavor slave rather than the picks-crops-under-burning-sun flavor), Yoda was mean to him, his mommy died. No woooonder he became more machine than man, twisted and evil.

It would have been more interesting to me if Lucas had picked up the angle he threw out a few times, where the power to effect social change had warped in Anakin, where he was too caught up in making things better to look at how he was going about it and whether he was actually getting there. Because that's human, that's believable, that's rounded. And maybe he'll get there in the third movie.

Hah. Right.

As I said, I don't care if not all villains (or heroes) are rounded. Some stories are more stylized than others. But to make a stab at it and Just, no. This is so bad that the Austin Powers movies snickered at it. Do not go out of your way to be mocked by Mike Myers, people.

What I really like is when the hero and the villain want the same thing. Not in a competitive way, but something like "healing sick people" or "safety and peace" or "keeping the Soviets on their own side of the border" or something else big like that, something they could both have in theory. But something with more than one approach to it. That's what I like about abstract goals, compared to objects. They get twistier. And you can't really say, "Oh, you don't really have that ring now that you slit that guy's throat to get it." Because you do; there it is. But safety and peace? Yeah for sure, your means can get in the way of your ends there, and that's a lot more interesting.

Anyway. Bleh, oh, bleh. I remember this now. I go to bed exhausted after a fairly non-strenuous day. I wake up early and still exhausted but unable to go back to sleep. I haven't had this much since we moved home, but it's very familiar from California. Well, I've got a chiropractor's appointment Monday morning bright and early; we'll pin hopes on that.

My grandma called early this morning to tell us that they had captured Saddam Hussein. I told Timprov that, verbatim, when he got up, and I got the most dumbfounded look. "Not her and Grandpa," I amended hastily. "The military." He laughed. I always tell people nobody should mess with my Grandma, but I don't think Hussein tried.

In the category of me being a kind person and nobody knowing it: I didn't call Scott early-early this morning to find out how his birthday party last night was. See? I think of all of these mean and cruel things and don't do them. I think that makes me a more restrained person than those of you who don't think of mean things.

Decorated the tree, mostly. We need a star for the top. Also needed at Target: two stocking holders. Because one among us has two stockings that are his. Because one among us is spoiled. Had a good time at Beth's open house holding people's babies, who were all very calm and sweet and didn't even need the Mommy Bounce to be good-natured. Also exchanged e-mail addresses with Maren, another writer in the area, and snitched a krumkake even though Mark and I were dining with the folks. Had my wild mushroom lasagna and tomato basil soup at Ciao Bella, and then we wandered around finding Sebastian Joe's. I was confident in my ability to get there, despite not knowing which side of France it was on, which afforded my mother much hilarity, but we did get there and have a pretty drive along the way. And their Pavaroti ice cream -- bananas and caramel and chocolate chunks -- is quite, quite good.

Mark was explaining to a couple of Beth's friends that he had had to develop an entirely new vocabulary for cookies after joining my family. It didn't occur to me at the time, and I tend to forget now that not everybody will know spritz, or pepparkakor, or brun brod, or any of the others. In my childhood, they were like chocolate chip or peanut butter or sugar, just regular cookie descriptors. Apparently this is not universally the case.

I've just started reading Heroes Die, borrowed from Stella, and I'm going to take some time to just flop and read and try to get to feeling a bit better before I attack any chores. Reading and relaxing. That sounds like a plan.

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