Hi! This is Elisabeth Jayne, in my first ever post here as a contributor. I was mulling around a few topics to write about, but this one latched on pretty well this week.
In every form of entertainment media – be it TV, movies, books, comics, professional wrestling – there’s always a villain. A bad guy. Somebody the protagonist struggles against, someone to give the story meaning. After all, without an antagonist, the main character lacks motivation and reason. A hero is only as good as the villain.
Sometimes, of course, villains become more beloved than even the hero. Despite their flaws, the public still regards them in a special way, the stereotypical mother who just insists that her boy is misguided and misunderstood.
Whatever the case, there is a plethora of good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains that people will get behind. And conversely, there are characters that, for whatever reason, people dislike. The reasons may have a meaning behind it – maybe their back story isn’t convincing, or perhaps their overall development is shaky or they seem too cookie-cutter – or sometimes it’s just a personal preference; for some reason, they just rub us the wrong way, and no matter what anybody else says or presents to us, we cannot be convinced. It’s okay, we all have different preferences when it comes to our heroes and villains. But no matter what we feel towards a character, it’s important to differentiate between dislike and disrespect.
Dislike is simply just that. But disrespect takes that dislike to a new level. Now, all of a sudden, not only is that character detested, but the character is worthless. No matter what their relationship to other characters, no matter what other characters have specifically said about them, no matter what the writers have established, it doesn’t matter; they are worthless and a waste of time.
This blog post was inspired by an online discussion of the character of Harley Quinn. Someone had postulated that she was just a groupie and that she was ultimately worthless as a villain. I, personally, love her character, but all of that aside, it’s important to consider the whole picture. Harleen Quinzel was created by Paul Dini for the TV show “Batman: The Animated Series.” Therefore, we can safely assume that this series is the best source of material when it comes to discussing this character. Obviously, she is not physically strong, or much of a fighter, but all the fighting skills in the world means bunk if the smarts to use them aren’t there. And physical strength can only go so far. In the episode “Mad Love,” Harley tricks Batman into meeting her alone, then stuns him and strings him up above a tank full of piranhas sans utility belt. Later on in the episode, Batman himself admits to the Joker that Harley had come closer to killing him than Joker ever had. That was from the Batman himself, which I would like to think should be the final say when it comes to the threat level of a villain. To discount his opinion is to completely discount the character of Batman and all of the creators behind him. It’s a position that no one besides the writers behind him can take. To say otherwise is foolish and pretentious arrogance.
So, say despite all of that, someone still doesn’t like the character of Harley Quinn. That’s fine, not all characters can be liked by everybody. But to discount her as a villain and as a threat to Batman simply because of the dislike takes that to a whole new level. That is disrespect. Not just disrespect for the character, but disrespect for the hero and disrespect for every writer that has taken up the pen for them.
For example, to keep things in the same universe, I personally don’t like Bane. As a villain, he just doesn’t do it for me. I think his methods are somewhat cowardly, considering what he could be capable of all by himself, but I digress. Despite my dislike of the character, I won’t discount him as a villain, because Batman obviously considers him a threat. Therefore, he is a threat, so I’m not going to smear him by saying that he’s a worthless side character that is unworthy of being considered a villain with any kind of equal footing. Whenever he comes up, I simply shrug and go on my merry way with the episode/comic/whatever media I’m utilizing at the moment. That’s dislike without disrespect. It doesn’t dismiss his importance in the story arc, it just means I’m not into him as a villain, which is okay.
Ultimately, nobody will like every character created. We aren’t meant to, as a human being, because each person has different and varying tastes and preferences. But disliking a character for personal reasons and then taking that dislike to the level of disrespect, is a different ball game. When it comes down to it, the ones who have the final say are the writers and the characters that interact with them. If they consider them to be worthy, then they are, period, end of discussion. Hang it up, ladies and gentlemen, it’s over. Let it go. Just gloss over the ones you dislike and don’t let it get to you. Spend time investing in who you like rather than dissing who you dislike. After all, why would anyone want to waste time wailing on something they dislike, rather than enjoying something they do like? As Spock once said, “That is highly illogical.”
Sorry my first post was so long. I promise not all of my blogs are going to be like this! I hope you enjoyed it, despite the length. If you’d like to read more cool stuff, feel free to subscribe to this blog, or you can follow us on Facebook or Twitter for updates. Spread the word and keep flying.