You know the guy.
Terrible posture, bony fingers, the laugh that sounds like a half-strangled weasel.
The guy who’s always stirring up trouble, who never seems to get along with anyone, who’s always muttering under his breath about how awful everything is.
The guy who never seems to stop scheming. The guy who wants to solve all his problems with death rays and blueprints for world domination. The guy with the shifty eyes and the wolfish grin and a melodramatic sense of style that makes you question how many cows were sacrificed to produce that much leather.
He’s the villain.
Oh yes. The bad guy. The antagonist. The crook. The arch-nemesis to the hero we hold so dear. He is the embodiment of all evil and the absence of all mercy. Destruction brings him glee. Children’s tears give him sustenance. He is terrible and he is wicked and yet we absolutely adore him (or her).
Ah yes, everyone loves a good villain. I mean, we hate good villains, but it’s the fact that we hate the good villains that makes us love them. Stories would be so boring if the villains weren’t any good at being evil. There would be no conflict, no climax, no epic final battle in which the hero rises dramatically against all the odds and strikes down the abominable villain, purging them from this world! Without a good villain, the hero looks just a little bit silly.
The villain therefore has a very crucial job. They’ve gotta be mean, they’ve gotta be fierce, they’ve gotta have so much power, they’re just one step away from utterly annihilating the hero and everything they hold dear. They have to strike fear into our hearts, make us believe they might actually win this round, and they have to do it all while having an edgy and bold sense of style. It’s not easy being a villain. Especially since they just end up losing at the end of the day.
That’s what Villain Awareness Month is all about. Recognizing the important work the villains put into their antagonizing as they make each beloved story great. Recognizing how dull our lives would be without them. Appreciating them for everything they do for us.
And laughing at them.
Because while villains are the embodiment of the things we fear most, while they’re the embodiment of hatred and ruthlessness and violence, they can always be defeated. There’s always a hero who can bring them down. And in a lot of cases, the hero gives us a reason to laugh in the villain’s faces. To remember that we can be brave. That we don’t have to be afraid. That there is always hope.
Villains are important. Good villains are important. Villains that become terribly powerful but ultimately lose are especially important. The evilness we find in them reminds us how strong our goodness is. It reminds us why we keep fighting.
So thank you, villains. Thank you for everything you do for us.
Any villains you’d like to thank?
May you never meet a villain you cannot vanquish.