I found a funny but interesting meme on Facebook and shared it to my author page there. One of my author friends then posted a link to someone who wrote a tongue in cheek blog post about TV and World War II and how unbelievable it would be if it were a fictional show (or even book).
Here is the meme (and the rest is below)
And here is a couple of quotes from the blog:
“Let’s start with the bad guys. Battalions of stormtroopers dressed in all black, check. Secret police, check. Determination to brutally kill everyone who doesn’t look like them, check. Leader with a tiny villain mustache and a tendency to go into apopleptic rage when he doesn’t get his way, check.”
“Not that the good guys are much better. Their leader, Churchill, appeared in a grand total of one episode before, where he was a bumbling general who suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Ottomans of all people in the Battle of Gallipoli. Now, all of a sudden, he’s not only Prime Minister, he’s not only a brilliant military commander, he’s not only the greatest orator of the twentieth century who can convince the British to keep going against all odds, he’s also a natural wit who is able to pull out hilarious one-liners practically on demand. I know he’s supposed to be the hero, but it’s not realistic unless you keep the guy at least vaguely human.”
“So it’s pretty standard “shining amazing good guys who can do no wrong” versus “evil legions of darkness bent on torture and genocide” stuff, totally ignoring the nuances and realities of politics.”
The rest can be read HERE
In reality, the bad guys are rarely sympathetic. Oh yes, there are occasions when they are, when they have a good reason for being bad, but even with those reasons, they’re still a bad person. Someone we hope is stopped somehow. Whether its the leader of a nation on a psychotic rampage, the person who is going around robbing convenience stores and shooting all the clerks in the face, or the twisted serial killer that takes pleasure in torturing his victims before he kills them. They are all bad guys and any situation from their past that makes them what they are still makes their acts unforgivable.
In reality, sometimes, the good guys really are the good guys. From the man who’s public speakings help keep a nation from falling into despair during a time of war, to the fireman who wades into the flaming building in search of people (and sometimes pets), to the average guy who happens to know CPR and performs it while waiting for the EMT’s to arrive. For first guy, yeah he has a motive. If his nation doesn’t keep heart and hold strong, he’s likely to die with the rest of them. But for the other two, what is there to gain personally other than the satisfaction of helping another person? Those last two especially are the ones in real life who are really good.
Just as there have been plenty of people throughout history who were very, very bad. There have been those who have been the exact opposite.
And the fiction worlds of a lot of older TV shows and books tended to follow that history. The bad guys were clearly bad, the good guys were clearly good.
The lines between those two in modern times have been blurred and muddled. Bad guys do good things on occasion, the good guys are selfish and whining and only do what they do because they have to, and half the time people end up rooting for the bad guy, or at the very least feeling very sympathetic towards him.
In Lord of the Rings, the good guys were clearly good. Even the dwarf and elf were able to get along and eventually become friends. While the bad guys, were so very, very bad.
In the original Superman movie, Superman was very, very good and pretty dang selfless in his quest to protect humanity. While Lex Luther was very, very bad and had no redeeming qualities.
In the modern Thor, Loki is a selfish, backstabbing, lying, murderer and yet people love him. People are entranced with the bad guy that occasionally does something good (usually with ulterior motives) and had has a repertoire of funny and snarky comments and one liners to accompany his actions.
Is there a point to all of this? Not particularly other than I find it fascinating. Is it a sign that people aren’t really sure what is good and what is bad anymore? Or is it a sign that the people want to see the bad guy redeem himself somehow in the hopes that whatever darkness they carry withing themselves can be redeemed? Do they want to see the good guys as more a gray area because they see so little good around themselves that they can’t believe anyone could be that good? Or perhaps as a way to justify any selfish motives within themselves or those around them who they feel are basically good people? Or do people just feel the blurred lines are closer to reality? And if so, why ever are they searched for in fiction? The place most people go to take a break from reality.