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Archive for November, 2010

In a world of total fascism, oppression, and depletion of civil rights… are villainous acts justifiable? Does a freedom fighter automatically become a villain if he does wicked deeds for the betterment of society? Can a terrorist also be considered a hero? Or is he simply a villain? We are often exposed to the proverb: “See no evil, hear no evil, & speak no evil,” but where does doing evil come into play? Do no evil? Where was THAT in the hero handbook, huh? These questions haunt the plot of V for Vendetta.

Our main character, known only as V (who is inspired by the acts/attempts of Britain’s infamous Guy Fawkes), takes it upon himself to stir up and even overthrow the fascist English government by blowing up the Houses of Parliament. Though his main goal is a positive effort; to return freedom to his nation’s people, V commits heinous acts along his journey in order to achieve his means and get his message across. The message: This government sucks. Let’s get rid of it. So… is frivolous murder, treasonous planning, and the destruction of official government buildings/symbols grounds for villainy? Absolutely. V is a terrorist. V is seeking revenge for the torture/experimentation that he faced in the past.V wants to carry out Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up Parliament. V wants death upon The Chancellor and all of his cronies. But V is not entirely bad. Beneath the grinning mask is the idea that the government should fear its people, not the reverse. Beneath the mask, there is the hope that the English nation can once again listen to music freely, practice or not practice any religion of choice, and stroll the streets without restriction of curfew or “fingermen” brutality. Beneath the mask, V seeks to save society from the clutches of a dictatorship. Beneath the mask, V is just a man that wants freedom, choice, and equality. So, how can a man with such just intentions be considered a terrorist? Well… the aforementioned crimes certainly do not help his case. He is very much a double-edged sword. Either he is a terrorist to the well-being of his nation’s government/figurehead or a freedom fighter representing an oppressed, silenced, and scared nation. Unlike most stories, V’s placement on the hero/villain chart falls somewhere in the middle. He cannot be one without the other. He has motive: revenge (which earns him villain points) and action on behalf of an oppressed people (which earns him hero points.) So what do we do with this?

"Introduce a little anarchy..." -The Joker

This graphic novel character is much like Batman/Bruce Wayne, in this respect. The people love him for getting rid of the bad guy and the cops hate him for making a mess and breaking laws. (Of course, I can’t exactly place these two characters on the same totem because Batman never kills people. It’s kind of his thing…) V takes a slightly different approach to dealing with the big bad. “Who ordered the whoop-ass fajitas?!?” So, what do I call him? A messy hero? A cunning villain? He’s both, really. But then I think… would V really go through with blowing up Parliament if he wasn’t fueled by revenge? But am I allowed to consider, the “what if’s?” Because without the revenge, it is no longer V for Vendetta. It would just be V. Perhaps a lovely movie of a man sitting quietly in his “Shadow Gallery” listening to soft tunes on his jukebox. But where’s the fun in that? Vendetta (n.): “an often prolonged series of retaliatory, vengeful, or hostile acts or exchange of such acts.” His intentions (with regards to society) were noble, but his execution was wicked. However, The Chancellor’s oppression far outweighs V’s villainous acts, in my opinion… so, we’ll go with V’s definition. He’s simply, “a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate.

 

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Put Money in Thy Purse!!!

This is my second viewing/reading of Shakespeare’s Othello in the past five years, and the majority of my opinions on the characters have not changed. In my view, there are two villains at play here. That’s right, I said villain NOT hero. Othello is the tragic villain and Iago is strictly a villain. Now what differentiates a villain from a hero? We’ve established that a hero is someone who possesses bravery, selflessness, devotion, passion and cunning. This person will stop at nothing to take action for the greater good of mankind and is admired for his/her noble qualities. Contrariwise, a villain works to undo all that is good in their world in an effort to achieve their selfish means and corrupt their environment with evil doings.

In simpler terms… villain (n). a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel. (Dictionary.com)

So if we take it a step further, what’s the difference between a tragic hero and a tragic villain? I’m glad you asked. A tragic hero sets out to live the best possible life he/she can with no intentions to corrupt the world, but encounters insurmountable obstacles along the way that eventually lead to their demise and mental instability. A tragic villain is someone who did not initially intend to be villainous, but circumstances inevitably lead them to evil misdoings.

First, there is the Moor. Othello begins as a completely pure and innocent character who is desperately in love with his wife Desdemona. Though most of the Venetians secretly disapprove of the ebony and ivory union of the Moor and Desdemona, they do little to impede upon the happiness of the newly weds. However, a figure in the shadows (someone very close to Othello, in fact) wants nothing more than to wreak havoc upon the man he loathes so much. (The man who bestowed noble rank upon a fellow officer, Cassio, instead of himself.) Most townsfolk would view Iago as a good and loyal person, on the surface. However, beneath his charming smile and quick-witted snares, Iago is nothing but a menace. He is jealous that Cassio was promoted over him by Othello. [And here we’re thinking… “Get over it, dude!” But Iago takes it to a whole new level.] For revenge, Iago enlists the help of a few characters, including: Emilia (his wife), Roderigo (Desdemona’s biggest fanboy), and many random passersby. [None of Iago’s recruits knew he was playing devil’s advocate until it was too late. What a pity…] Iago pits many characters against one another in order to reap the benefits of the turmoil. These evil actions make Iago a villain. His jealousy, devious behavior, and lies lead to nothing but tragedy… but no one knows Iago is to blame for their misfortune until the very end of the play.

Othello is slowly poisoned by the treacherous whisperings of the cunning Iago. It’s hard to say whether Iago is simply an extremely intelligent man, or a very lucky one. Or both? He always seems to smooth talk his way out of any scenario. Iago’s convincing act possesses Othello’s mind, causing the Moor to being villainous deeds. Because Iago poisoned him with the idea that his wife, Desdemona, was unfaithful to him with one of his best mates, Othello went insane. So insane with rage and jealousy that he went through fits of apparent epilepsy. But because Othello did not set out to be wicked at the start, he is a tragic villain and not just a villain. The jealous Iago wanted revenge and Othello was merely a victim in the man’s evil plight. Tragic…

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November the 5th

(Because it had to be done…)

Remember, remember the 5th of November… the gunpowder, treason, and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be FORGOT.

The Infamous Guy Fawkes (click for the story)

“VoilĂ ! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim & villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation, stands vivified & has vowed to vanquish these venal & virulent vermin van-guarding vice & vouchsafing the violently vicious & voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value & veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant & the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it’s my very good honor to meet you & you may call me V.

[Yes, yes… it’s a bit early in our class schedule to be talking about V and Guy Fawkes, but my friends and I always celebrate Guy Fawkes Day/Bonfire Day by watching V for Vendetta and quoting the movie like crazy, cause we’re nerds like that. But this story really does make you wonder how different the world would be if Guy Fawkes and his team had succeeded in blowing up the Houses of Parliament. ??]

Happy Guy Fawkes Day, all!

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The Tragic Hero

The tragic hero is a lot like Mrs. White from the movie Clue… “looking pale and tragic.” Just kidding, guys…

When I asked my teenage sister what a tragic hero was, here was her response: “Well we’ve got a hero and they do something heroish….erm, heroic. He feels guilty. Then he dies. TRAGIC HERO!” Erm… nice try, sister. But here’s my take on the subject.

Let’s analyze the topic bit by bit. First, what is a hero? By my working definition, a hero is someone possessing a unique past or birth, who grows and learns from extreme trials and tribulations throughout their lives (be they incredible physical feats or a superb mental breakthrough) and the lessons they learn are applied along their journey. These lessons include: acceptance of fate, mind over matter, selflessness, and overall strength. The hero rescues the damsels, slays the beasts, and often puts asides his/her own feelings in order to do what is right for the whole of society.

Next, what is a tragedy? Here’s the technical definition: tragedy (n.) a dramatic composition, often in verse, dealing with a serious or somber theme, typically that of a great person destined through a flaw of character or conflict with some overpowering force, as fate or society, to downfall or destruction. (Dictionary.com)

In simpler terms, a tragedy deals with a character who is destined for despair based on poor actions or mistakes in life, inevitably leading to feelings of deep-rooted guilt and sorrow. With this being said, the question is… what is a Tragic Hero? This recipe is simple. Just stir the ingredients together, and voila! Tragic hero!

Tragic heroes are basically your run-of-the-mill heroes (unique & powerful of brawn or brain), but their stories are much more poetic and they arouse senses of empathy and fear in audiences. Tragic heroes must discover their fatal flaw/mistake throughout their journey and eventually develop a guilty-conscience for what they have done or become.

Oedipus is a fine example of the tragic hero. From birth, his parents were told a prophecy that the child would wed his mother and kill his father. In an effort to prevent this tragic passing, the royal family has the child’s feet nailed together and he left to die atop a mountain. However, the child is later saved, adopted, and given a whole new life. Despite this change in parents, Oedipus still, though unknowingly, marries/sleeps with his mother (Jocasta) and kills his father (Laius) at a crossroads. After discovering the truth about Oedipus’ life, Jocasta takes her own life and Oedipus gouges out his eyes. Tragic, indeed. Oedipus’ life turned upside town as soon as the prophecy was spoken. Even after his parents went to extreme measures to avoid the cursed future (though cruel as it may have been), the misfortune still found Oedipus and his family. The once newborn son of King Laius and Queen Jocasta was transformed into a murdering king with an oedipal complex (which is where the condition derives from, obviously.) The now blind king asks to be banished because he cannot bear to remain in a place of such great misfortune and woe. This guilt stays with Oedipus eternally, as guilt tends to do in the tragic hero.

Oedipus the King

Normal Heroic Qualities + Tragic Fortune/Mistake + Eternal Guilt/Suffering = The Tragic Hero

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