History’s “villains” and “heroes” are, essentially, ordinary folk like you or me. In what way would the story of your own life (so far) be depicted differently if it were written by someone who sees you as a villain (or as a hero)?
Each person has his or her own history, one which tends to be self-narrated. Who are the “heroes” and “villains” in that narrative?
Potential assignment: write an exaggerated version of the story of your life that transforms the mundane or quotidian individuals in your life into heroic or villainous characters.
Considering the us/them binary and the presentation of the villain as “Other,” it is somewhat strange that we take pleasure in prominent presentation of villains. Why is the representation and inevitable downfall of individualized villains so affectively satisfying?
Instead of imprinting the zeitgeist (spirit of an era) of a particular historical milieu onto a singular historical figure, would it be more helpful to characterize the systemic and subconscious tendencies of a historical moment as a poltergeist (spirit of influence/disturbance/noise)?
If textbooks do indeed provide narratives—in the sense that they are constructed—then we are denied the initial third of the narrative arch (antecedence, exposition, and incitation). Would history’s “villains” have more nuance if this aspect of their narratives were to be “fleshed out?”
Nothing quite captures the contemporary zeitgeist like Google Image’s search algorithms. Enter a word, and all of the imagery that is prominently associated with that word—at that moment in time, coloured subtly by the individual’s search history—will appear. When the word “villain” is searched, what patterns among the images can be recognized, and what do those patterns say regarding contemporary assumptions about villainhood?
“How to Write a Memorable/Convincing/Engaging Villain”—the title of countless blog contributions and writers’ guides (e.g., https://nybookeditors.com/2017/01/guide-writing-convincing-villain/). How could textbooks be written differently if the writers attended to the suggestions of these blogs?
“Every villain is the hero of his or her own story.” A variation of this adage has been attributed to nearly every author of the twentieth and twenty-first century (most recently, George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame). How would the story of an historical “villain’s” life be written differently from the perspective of the “villains” themselves?
(Created by Aaron Thacker, 2018)