I have a theory about villains and why we love them. We do, we love them. We admire them. Sometimes we fantasize about being the hero of the story, but just as often we fantasize about being the villain.
The Joker, Hannibal Lecter, Anton Chigurh… why would anyone admire these people? It is not for what they do, very few of us really wish to murder innocent men, women, or children. We do not admire their actions. We admire, we envy, we long for their freedom.
Villains do what they want. They are not bound by the morality that binds you. They are not held back by the social sensitivity that restrains me.
I have, on more than one occasion, thought about robbing a bank… Its not a very practical idea. Most small banks don’t carry enough money to make it worth it. Sure, maybe you make $20,000 in a single heist, but if you get caught (and often they do) you you’ll spend a few years in prison. $20,000 divided by 3 years, works out to about $.75 an hour. That’s worse pay than flipping burgers. But practical economics is not what keeps good citizens from robbing banks.
The well intended person is held back by two greater obstacles, fear and morality. We are afraid to rob a bank, afraid to get caught, afraid to get shot. Fear is external. And something else is happening on the inside. Deep down inside, most of us believe theft is wrong. So we subjugate our desires, scolded back by deeply implanted rules.
The villain has no such barrier, no fear and most of all, no internal editor, no scolding angel in the ear. What would you do if you could turn off that voice–that nagging, cautious, fearful, guilty voice?
Imagine a single day where you could say and do exactly what you want, with no hesitation. Would you rob a bank? Probably not. But you might put a brick through the window of the car that boxed you in. And I bet you would have a thing or two to say to your boss, your condescending teacher, your boyfriend, roommates, or parents.
You could wear anything thing you want that day. You wouldn’t care what others think. You could say exactly what you feel, and not worry if others got hurt. You would, for one day, be free from the need for approval. And it would feel wonderful.
There are things I do not share with the world, because they might be offensive, or because they are so small and frail they might not survive harsh criticism. I’ve had wonderful imaginings that I’ve tried to explain, but have been unable to express clearly. When an idea is very young a disapproving face is enough to kill that seed in the ground, before it gets chance to see the light.
We owe a lot to society, for our roads and education and such. We owe a lot to friends and family. But we don’t owe our social circles everything, Sometimes when we give too much, and it leaves us with the overwhelming urge to tie someone to the railroad tracks.
From a shoot I did with Stormy Leather, a great burlesque performer in New York City, who is very comfortably in her villainy.