Monday, April 27, 2009

It's good to be bad

Star Wars, James Bond, Batman... you have to love stories with really bad baddies. I don't mean some confused, misunderstood fellow who is a good sort underneath. I mean the sort of person who, under no circumstances whatsoever, would you ever want to give your last rolo to. With such an individual, you can really get behind the hero as he seeks to destroy him and watch with satisfaction as he's pounded to a pulp and locked up for life... or at least until the box office decides there has to be a sequel. It's like sadism with no guilt.

Yet, when you stop and consider it, is being the good guy really the best option? Take, for instance, the case of Dolores Umbridge in the later Harry Potter books. There is no denying that she is one nasty piece of work. She terrorizes all the students at Hogwarts before switching sides in a pin drop to throw her toad-like self in with Voldermort's crowd. At the end of book 5, you do have the satisfaction of seeing her carried away by centaurs to undergo alien-style anal probing with hoofs (okay, so that was never actually specified, but you find the idea a good one too, just admit it), but then she's rescued to show up again in book 7 tourturing more people in the Ministry of Magic. Finally, when Harry prevails, we are told she is locked up, but is this really very satisfying? I tell you no! The prison is no longer controlled by soul sucking beasts of darkness. It's probably run by an ex-bus conductor named Stan who hands out free sundaes once a week.

Now let's pause for a moment to think what would happen if Harry had lost. The lucky characters would be dead and then rest would be at the mercy of the Death Eaters and Dementors (who, for the uninitiated have names like "Lucius" in the first instance and don't even have names in the second. Now that's scary).

So if you're in a situation where you have to pick a side, isn't it worth taking a moment to think what would happen in all eventual outcomes? If you pick the "goodies", then the reward if you win is probably to return to your life and raise some chickens. If you loose it's probably TOURTURE IN THE FIREY PITS OF HELL. On the other hand, if you become a "baddie" then your reward for success is UNIMAGINABLE WEALTH AND POWER versis a cosy prison cell with your own TV.

It's a tough choice, so pick carefully.

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