Thursday, October 22, 2015

Villains With Whom I Identify

It's said we all love a great villain because villains represent the darkest side of ourselves. There's something so fun and fascinating about watching characters embracing the worst of human nature that most of us have been fighting against. While we might not want to BE a villain, we often find ourselves identifying with one. So the question is: which villains do I find myself relating to the most?

 Cedric the Sorcerer (Sofia The First) - He's a fairly bright and imaginative yet clumsy and bumbling young sorcerer who's rarely been truly good at accomplishing anything, to the point that he'd been discouraged and disrespected by others "since he was a lad." His overbearing father constantly put him down and was strict to the point of emotional abuse, unlike his mother, who doted on him and encouraged him. He wants respect, admiration, acknowledgement, validation, and emotional gratification more than anything, but rather than trying for that through becoming a better sorcerer, Cedric wants to use the Amulet of Avalor's power to take over the kingdom of Enchancia and make everyone bow to him. Aside from that last bit and the whole "sorcerer" thing, I find Cedric's life story mirrors my own in many strange ways. He's very identifiable and sympathetic to me, and it helps that he's depicted as warped and frustrated but not truly evil.

 Demyx & Luxord (Kingdom Hearts) - Of all members of Organization XIII, I feel my personality is closest to these two. Like Demyx, I'd rather be lazy than at work, come off as incredibly awkward sometimes, and can be fairly sensitive in regards to my feelings and being judged. Like Luxord, I love to play games and try to show courtesy to others.

 Lawrence III (Pokemon) - Lawrence, or Gelardan as he's actually named, strikes me as somewhat autistic. He prefers to be shut away from society in his own little world of his creation, dedicating his life to his hobby - collecting valuable and/or legendary Pokemon and all things related to them. He's eloquent and well spoken, with a high intellect and sense of ingenuity, but he seems a bit detached from the reality around him and beneath his exterior is emotionally immature. I feel like I could grow up to be like this guy, and that sort of worries me.

 Cyrus (Pokemon) - A young genius who was always different from his peers, had to deal with a lot of pressure and emotional abuse in his childhood, and hates the broken, strife-filled state of the world to the point of resenting humanity itself. While there are some differences between him and I, particularly in terms of where he ended up mentally and morally, 
I really empathize with Cyrus for what he started out as and find him to be a great cautionary tale.

 N (Pokemon) - This guy's story really personally affects me. He has a good deal of autistic traits, is so set in his own ideals that he wants them to be truth, does not get along with most of the human race, still hangs on to childish things and a sense of innocence, has an emotionally abusive father who disregards him the moment he fails to meet his expectations, and he learns valuable lessons about life in the world. I don't identify with N completely (I don't see animals as "friends" and I freaking hate math equations), I do see a person similar to myself in him and hope that he may continue to turn his life around in the best way possible.

 Lysandre (New Pokemon) - I'm almost ashamed to admit 
I have things in common with him given how insane he is and how poorly handled his character is. But I do relate to him in one big way - I appreciate the natural beauty of this planet and absolutely hate the sight of litter and pollution that blemishes it. Far too many human beings waste their resources and treat the Earth like a great big waste bin. Haven't they heard of trash disposal and recycling? While I don't at all agree with Lys' actions, I appreciate some of his views on the world.

 Xerosic (New Pokemon) - The oddest mad scientist in the franchise, Xerosic comes off as partially autistic, partially just sort of mentally unbalanced. He doesn't take a professional approach to his experiments, nor a particularly depraved approach - he's like a curious kid looking at the shiny equipment and wondering "what's this button do?" While I'm not big on science, I do relate to Xerosic's approach and feel he's a semi-decent guy beneath everything.

 Prince Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender) - Who doesn't identify with Zuko in some way? He grew up feeling like an outcast in his own family and nation, eventually became one because he'd dared to be true to himself rather than comply with what his evil father wanted, and he constantly struggles with making the right choices and finding his path in life. For all his anger and angst, he has a soft, vulnerable center, and is a very compelling, believable character. Anyone struggling with choosing their paths and finding their way can be inspired by him.

 Zaheer (The Legend Of Korra) - Of all the villains on this show, I found myself really drawn to Zaheer and even identifying with him in a way. His views are views that I can actually agree with and get behind, even if he takes them too far with his actions. Disorder truly is the natural order of this world: politics and governments made by often corrupt world leaders in order to control things and keep life in order are things that needn't exist. I don't want total anarchy without rules, but I do think that a world devoid of strict law and order would be a better one. I also admire Zaheer's spiritual beliefs and practices, which intrigue me and makes me want to emulate.

 The Riddler (Batman) - Edward Nygma has been one of my absolute favorite Batman villains since forever and I think it's because there's a lot about him that I like and even identify with. I enjoy his whimsy, zeal, and intellectual curiosity, even if his passion for riddles and puzzles of any kind becomes obsessive. He's also led a very troubled life, with an abusive father and difficulty forging meaningful relationships with people whose brains don't work the way his does, and he lacks both awareness of how he might come across and empathy for those whom he associates with. But he's always trying to rise above it all, and I really do appreciate that.

 Majin Buu (Dragon Ball) - This one's kind of embarrassing, 
but there's no other villain in the series that reflects aspects of me in any way. His sweet tooth for delicious foods, attention deficiency problems, and anger over things going against his wants and expectations are all things I share in common with the big, pink demon freak. Who would've thunk?

 Harry Osborn (Spider-Man) - I'm not rich and I don't suffer from any mental illness like he does, but I do have father issues, social problems, and frequent anxiety.

 Maximilian Pegasus (Yu-Gi-Oh!) - I feel I share his childlike sense of whimsy and his imaginative creativity, and that I enjoy many of the same things that he does - fine food and drink, games, comics, cartoons, artwork, studies on ancient history, and fun.

 Ken Ichijouji (Digimon Adventure 02) - Ever feel like you're cut out for something more than what life is offering you? Like your mind and spirit are more advanced than your peers, and other humans are worthless insects compared to you? Like you want to feel free to be yourself but are always feeling trapped and weighed down by something, like pressure and expectations from both your parents and society? And you wish you could escape all the trauma and troubles of your life through a new, better reality you make for yourself? That's me sometimes.

 Yukio Oikawa (Digimon Adventure 02) - As a boy, Oikawa was said to be a recluse and an outcast, lacking any sort of substantial relationship and interaction with anyone else. That's why he fell so hard for Hiroki Hida when he became his friend, and why Hida's death devastated him so much. Life was too much for him to bear, so he wanted to go to his dream world and live a life of adventure and joy. As someone who struggles with anxiety, depression, and sometimes suicidal urges and existential angst, Oikawa's character and story really speaks to me.

 Seymour Guado (Final Fantasy X) - If I had to choose a Final Fantasy villain I had any traits in common with, it'd be this creep, disturbingly enough. We both love our mothers, yearn for the comforting presence of other people in our lives, accept the inevitability of death and see it as a release from a painful life. But unlike Seymour, I'm not a psychopathic killer.

 Gendo Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion) - A sad, troubled, abused man who grew up to be an abuser who inflicted much sorrow and troubles onto his own son and many others. Like me, he has trouble opening up to others and trusting them since he's afraid of getting hurt by people he's grown close to, so he prefers to be withdrawn. I have empathy for Gendo and see where he's coming from, but he also serves as a warning of what not to become in my life.

 Terra (Teen Titans) - I think many people have been where Terra was for most of her life: lonely, confused, emotionally distressed, mentally unstable, morally conflicted, and just plain messed up. We hope we can overcome our external crises and adversities that we unwittingly neglect our internal ones. We're afraid of being hurt by people we care for without realizing how much we might hurt them at times. And we hope to change for the better and achieve some sort of personal triumph and final peace. I know I've been that way, so I totally feel this girl. 

 Light Yagami & L Lawliet (Death Note) - These are both self-righteous pricks with high intellects but low emotional maturity. I don't want to connect with either of them, but I often feel like both of them. Like Light, I'm dissatisfied with the justice system in this world and how it's turned rotten due to all the crime that goes unstopped or unpunished. Like L, I'm bright and inventive but autistic, not very social, and a bit odd at times. Like both of them, I'm not entirely mature and I won't settle for anything less than coming out on top in whatever tasks I take.

 Rezo The Red Priest (The Slayers) - This guy's another cautionary tale for me. Like me with my Asperger's Syndrome, he was born with something he felt was a curse for all his life, in this case blindness. Everything he did was for the purpose of curing his disability, but when he finally succeeded, it turned out there was a reason for that blindness and that curing it made things worse and cost him his life. His story reminds me that what I might feel is a curse or an accident might actually be a blessing, so there's no point to getting rid of that part of you.

 Shinobu Sensui (Yu Yu Hakusho) - Sometimes when I feel so depressed with life in this world, I hate humans. I hate my own humanity and would rather live among nonhumans. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing us all die. I do NOT, however, have multiple personalities.

 Shion Sonozaki (When They Cry) - I sometimes feel inferior to my twin sibling and question the ethical value of the family I was born into. I also have discipline and social skill problems and let myself get too attached to other people. Shion takes all that to absurdly high levels and it scares me. But despite her dark side, she's a loving, good hearted girl at her core.

 Gaara and Obito Uchiha (Naruto) - These two character are actually subversions of this in that they start off with some things in common with me and veer off into being what I'd never want to be and I'm left with no empathy for them. Gaara less so since I do feel legitimately bad for the guy's scorn and abuse filled backstory, but he still became a psychotic killer. And Obito? Feeling like you want to retreat into a new reality that's tailor-made for you due to all the pain in your life is a pretty understandable sentiment, but when you become so selfish about it that you want to massacre the entire world to assimilate everything into your ideal reality? Fuck you

 Kai Mikawa (My Bride Is A Mermaid) - I didn't think I'd identify with a spoiled rich snot like him, but surprisingly, I really do. I have a great fear of being left without love in my life and ultimately dying alone, unloved, and unwanted. For all of Kai's narcissism and misaimed approach, he really wants to be loved for who he is and feels the need for immense validation and emotional gratification. His "dying" realization that he has people who care about him was the one time in that anime that actually got me choked up. That is a pretty impressive feat!

 Koko (Zatch Bell) - Beaten down and ostracized all her life, frequently dealing with hardships, but never letting them make her stop seeing the light at the end of the darkness. She's got issues, but her virtues are something I'd really like to emulate as best I can.

 Tyrion Lannister (Game Of Thrones) - All that needs be said here is: "No, of that I'm innocent. I am guilty of a far more monstrous crime. I am guilty of being a dwarf.  I've been on trial for that my entire life. I wish I was the monster you think I am. I wish I had enough poison for the whole pack of you. I would gladly give my life to watch you all swallow it."

 Johnathan (Buffy The Vampire Slayer) - While I've not attempted suicide, especially not with a rifle from high up above my high school campus, I have felt the pain, depression, and yearning for attention and gratification rather than mistreatment that poor Johnathan felt. I want my own hurting to stop, but I would never wish to hurt anyone on purpose.

 Rumpelstiltskin (Once Upon A Time) - Another cautionary tale. Started off as a pure-hearted, innocent boy who just wanted love from his father but was denied that, became a emotionally damaged but affectionate and well meaning spinster who struggled with cowardice and instincts of putting his self-preservation ahead of others. And then he became a vile, selfish, manipulative, misogynistic, misanthropic villain who's essentially the Devil himself. I can identify with him because at his core he suffers from anxiety, loneliness, and a lack of love, so he seeks comfort and emotional gratification from others. But in addition he feels he needs self-validation, and the means to that end is power. He feels he can only keep others in his life through dominating them with his power, and he continuously clings to his power addiction while failing to recognize the difference between true love and his controlling, possessive form of love that he uses his power to perpetuate. At this point I doubt he will ever be truly happy and fulfilled. But I still relate to many aspects of his better self, particularly the Rumple seen in episodes 3x8, 2x14, and 1x8.

 Regina Mills (Once Upon A Time) - Like with Rumple, I can identify and empathize with her but while realizing what sets her apart from me and thus what I ought to avoid. Back in Seasons 1 through 3 when she was still a great character, Regina was the dark mirror image of the typical fairy tale heroine. She had a troubled life with an abusive mother, a true love she couldn't get with, and a desire to end up happy. But instead of choosing a path of love and goodness, she chose a path of vengeance and villainy, ultimately continuing the abuse cycle of her own mother. She's always looking to let her frustration out on someone or something she blames for her current unhappiness, whether it be her mother, her husband, or even her stepdaughter. She wants so much to be happy yet she pursues happiness in the wrong way, sacrificing all the potential for true happiness that's right in front of her for the sake of obtaining a false ideal of a "happy ending." I can understand how misguided by her own emotions she is and hope that she can overcome her troubles and find her true happiness. Well, I did. Later into the show, I'm not so understanding.

 Killian Jones (Once Upon A Time) - "A man unwilling to fight for what he wants deserves what he gets!" This was the first personal standard that Killian Jones, later known as Captain Hook, made clear. He's not the kind of guy who will stand around expecting anything to be handed to him on a silver platter - he feels entitled to nothing that he won't actually fight to obtain. In addition he's also fiercely loyal, loving, and protective of the people closest to him. But serious character flaws such as self-centeredness, pride, anger, chauvinism, foolishness, and vanity are constantly weighing him down from being a better man than he is - the man he wants to be. But unlike Rumple and Regina, Hook actually makes a sincere effort to try and better himself. He recognizes the problematic aspects of himself and actively works to fix them. That's something I can really relate to and appreciate since I'm always struggling with bettering myself even when it seems that drastic self-improvement and change may be impossible. So in the end, Hook is truly my hero.

 Ingrid The Snow Queen (Once Upon A Time) - She was born with something that she felt she had no control over, something that made her different from others, even her own sisters. And even when she tried her best to keep it in check, she ended up losing someone she loved and branded a monster for her abnormality. She then sought to get perfect love, comfort, and understanding from an ideal family of people that were like her, not realizing that she could have love from others even if they weren't like her, like her sisters. She did evil things for the sake of a not so evil cause, and I sympathized with her. I'm glad she found happiness in the end.

 Isaac Heller (Once Upon A Time) - Oddly enough, I share this man's passion for storytelling and playing around with different tropes, realities, and characters. 
I share his curiosity and contentment with doing whatever the hell he wants even if it makes trouble. 
I too feel as though I'm often pushed aside in favor of people who meet the societal norm of a good person or "hero" and find myself more drawn to villains in stories. But I wouldn't become a villain and go as far as he did. Isaac also serves as an inspirational figure for me. The guy's a hack who has the muse for creativity but lacks the gift and skill. I know I can be a way better writer than him one day!

 Anastasia The Red Queen (Once Upon A Time In Wonderland) - While this spinoff series' main villain was an irredeemably inhumane psychopath, it also gave us 
a secondary villain and eventual heroine that I could identify with in Anastasia. My living conditions aren't as bad as her's were and I've not been in love the way she was, but I do recognize the feeling of realizing how much you screwed something up and what it might have cost you, and the desire to turn back time and correct your error through any means necessary, even if they seem a little unsavory. Plus, Emma Rigby, who portrayed the character, is around my age! How cool is that?

 Gaspard & Sirus (Dark Chronicle) - I have sometimes felt the maligning that Gaspard had to deal with in his childhood. I also love my mother, who has done everything to provide for me for most of my life, and I want to find the right path that leads me to what I'm truly looking for in the end. And like Sirus, I sometimes really resent humans as a species!

 Wilson Fisk (Daredevil) - So he's somewhat autistic, a social recluse, an awkward loser, a big eater, and has a Good Samaritan Complex? I can somewhat relate!

 Vlad Masters (Danny Phantom) - A very bitter man who only ever wanted love in his life and hates been written off as just a Fruit Loop. I can relate to him too!

 Lord Shen (Kung Fu Panda 2) - This crazed peacock is the epitome of self-validation seeking taken to the extreme. Ostracized for his skin condition and frailty, not treated too well by his parents, paranoid over Kung Fu masters and pandas in particular to the point of attempting genocide, and never, ever feeling at peace. Unlike Shen, I try to go about my life the right way and struggle to find my inner peace. But I understand Shen's position and I pity him.

 Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz (Phineas And Ferb) - Similar to Cedric, Doof is a warped and frustrated nice guy with some emotional and mental issues, but not exactly evil. He just refers to himself as evil because he thinks being "evil" makes all the trauma in his comically harsh backstories amount to something. Abused by his parents, abandoned by his friends, unlucky in love, looked down upon and mistreated by many people, and always running into hardships in his life, the poor guy never catches a break but he keeps pushing forward, doing his best, and even getting some good things going like an improved relationship with his daughter and an inseparable friendship with his nemesis. This Doof is more identifiable than he had any right to be.

 Stanley Pines (Gravity Falls) - While not exactly a villain, Stan is a morally dubious crook and has been an antagonist whenever the situation called for it. So many things about this guy speak to me - his family trouble, him getting disowned by his father, his greed for making money, his awkwardness and trouble in social situations, even his frequent dishonesty! But most of all I empathize with his and his twin brother's relationship. As kids they were a lot like my twin brother and I, and ever ending up like the two of them did is a truly frightening prospect for me. But no matter what, I know that like Stan, I'll always fight for my loved ones when it matters.

 Ricky Owens (Scooby Doo: Mystery Inc.) - The man's a slob, a glutton, a whiner, an opportunist, and has some serious anger issues (it's Lewis Black, what did you expect?) For some reason, I can see some of my own unsavory features in him, and feel personally moved when he rises above the terrible situation he made for himself in the end. I just hope my life goes better than his did, and that I never get into any abusive relationship with an terrifying evil parrot.

 Peridot (Steven Universe) - Come on, how can I not love and identify with Peri? Socially awkward, silly, confused, emotionally unstable at times, obsessive, compulsive, and a bit neurotic to a possibly Autistic degree? She’s so relatable!

 Ryan and Sharpay Evans (High School Musical) - These twin siblings are drama queen weirdos with a lack of social tact and desires they often find themselves struggling to even begin to fulfill, but they always have each other as one another's closest friend. There's something about that I really appreciate seeing, and as I've said before, they're not evil at all.

8 comments:

  1. "I feel like I could grow up to be like this guy (Lawrence III), and that sort of worries me."

    Well, do you have or ever had an Ancient Mew card?

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    1. Same here. So maybe there should be a Lawrence III club. Requirement for membership being said trading card.

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  2. Just for fun, I'm going to now play devil's advocate and point out the UNindentifiable parts of these villains, parts we can't relate to.

    Cedric: Wow, is this guy incompetent! He doesn't lack talent, he doesn't even lack willpower, he's just so DUMB. Does he not even realize that if he managed to steal that amulet, he'd be cursed and thus unable to use it? There was a whole episode about it and I still don't think he gets!

    Demyx & Luxord: None of those qualities are even real, they're elaborately faking them through drawing on the memory of their past selves!

    Lawrence III: No, your worries are unfounded, you could NEVER grow up to be like this guy. Anyone who legitimately can't see how risking destroying the world for a collection goes beyond just autistic and into straight-up delusional!

    Cyrus: "Some" differences? The man is practically an automaton! I get that it's because his emotions are actually passionate and strong, but that just further proves that you have to be REALLY unwell in the head to be able to suppress to that extent.

    N: Hey, even I know more about social skills than this guy!

    Lysandre: Like Larry III and Cyrus, he loses me when he decides the acceptable solution to this problem is mass destruction.

    Xerosic: He's an okay guy underneath, but on the surface he's a total misanthropic asshole! There's no excusing that, or the shit he pulls with the Ultimate Weapon.

    Zaheer: I would have been with you the whole way through on him, up until the last third of his story arc, in which he became the most ruthless and powerful villain in the series and kind of turned me off of him on a personal level.

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    1. Riddler: Depends on which Riddler, really. Some of them I feel OK relating to, but others just creep me out (looking at you, Jim!)

      Majin Buu: I'd relate to Fat Buu more than Evil Buu, myself.

      Harry Osborn: Unfortunately, the Harry you picture lost me personally at the last minute when he used an abusive tactic on poor Gwen Stacy. I feel bad for him, but still, f*** him for that!

      Ken Ichijoji: Unfortunately, the new reality he wished to build for himself was a sociopathic one of him as the despotic tyrant of an entire world of innocent creatures. Can't relate to THAT.

      Seymour: Yeah, the psychopath part REALLY makes me struggle to identify with him, because Jay-sus, is this guy crazy!

      Light: Really? I could relate to Light for like, half of the first chapter/episode, and that was it. He just got worse and worse from there on out.

      Rezo: But then he doesn't learn from his mistakes and tries to pull basically the same shit AGAIN! Yet another reason I ignore that particular Slayers series.

      Sensui: Sure, I think everyone feels like that once in a while, but we aren't so delusionally black and white in our morality that we go out and actually kill humans as a result. No sympathy here!

      Kai: But what is up with this guy's phobia!? Fearing the outdoors for vague reasoning to the point of wearing a spacesuit whenever you have to venture there is just incomprehensibly silly.

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    2. Jonathan - Then he became part of the Terrible Trio. And then he died. Yeah, like Rezo, I'm ignoring the franchise at that point.

      Rumpelstiltskin - I feel I related to him the most in Season 1. In Season 2, things came out about him and his past that lessened my identification with him considerably, and overall his power-hungry misanthropic nature is a big turn-off.

      Regina - Probably the least relatable of the show's villains you listed here. I can get parental issues and a desire to have happiness, but many of the characters have those, and most of Regina's exclusive characteristics are pretty alien to me (like her increasingly unfunny "sass".)

      Hook - I feel Hook is less relatable to me in how he's written and more in how Colin O'Donoghue plays him. Colin is such a nice, dorky guy, and that comes through in Hook even beneath that bad-boy swagger. His vengeful sociopathy and obsessive romantic devotion, however, I can never connect with. Sorry, Killy!

      Ingrid - She was much more identifiable before her dumbass sister trapped her in the urn where she gradually descended into total madness. Afterward, she was just a scary monster!

      Isaac - You said it yourself, he's a hack. I cannot for the life of me figure out how his villain-hero AU story was supposed to work given the premise he claimed he was going with!

      Gaspard & Sirus - But again, they decided to translate their feelings into killing people. The empathizing stops there, especially with Sirus!

      Wilson Fisk - All you say is true, but then he came to the conclusion as to what role in his Good Samaritan complex he was REALLY meant to play and goes with it without remorse.

      Vlad Masters - The problem is that he's a sociopath. He has the traditional sociopathic dilemma of wanting love yet not comprehending how to give it himself. Not to mention his Nice Guy entitlement issues when it comes to Maddie Fenton.

      Lord Shen - You said it yourself: GENOCIDE.

      Dr. Doofenshmirtz - He'd be more relatable if he just had one tragic backstory. Having so many of them that are so absurdly over-the-top lessens how much I can identify with him.

      Stanley Pines: Unfortunately, he indulges in almost every known vice and sinful behavior of the human species! He's a great and identifiable character on the inside, but on the outside...yeesh!

      Ricky Owens - Maybe he's identifiable on a personal level, but none of his life choices make any sense. Starting an industrial waste company? Leaving clues and messages under a lame pun of an alias? Hiring teenage girls to do your dirty work? Betraying and helping to murder the woman you loved? The whole scary evil parrot relationship? WTF is wrong with this guy?

      Sharpay - Much like Stan, she has a very identifiable core, but her outside personality is as far removed from my own as possible. That said, if she gets along so well with Ryan, I'm sure we'd be good friends too.

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    3. I only take issue on your words on Demyx and Luxord (if their human counterparts HAD such personality traits, it counts), Sensui (I get that Shinobu's black and white worldview led to trouble and that he ultimately became an evil man, but the guy had a serious mental breakdown and mental illness - killing humans wasn't initially a goal, just a side-effect. It only became a goal when "Minoru" and "Kazuya" started pushing for it.), Ingrid (scary monster or not, I felt she always kept an identifiably human quality to her), and Doof (his character was parodic from the start, so it fits that his childhood trauma and backstories would be too - if he wasn't such a cartoon, it might be a different story) but otherwise all this is correct.

      However it should be noted that the list was never about villains with whom I identified 100% - it's about villains with qualities I identify with now, whom I could have identified with 100% had their fictional lives or my real one taken a different turn, and whom I very feasibly could identify with 100% if my life were to take a downturn in the future (one cannot ever predict their entire future with any sort of total accuracy after all). One can always focus on what sets villains apart from themselves and say "I'm glad I'm not that evil and that I will NEVER wind up like them or in their position!" but it's when you really look at a villain to compare and contrast them to yourself that you confront uncomfortable truths about your own nature and human nature in general. Any given villain could be you, and if you're not careful with the choices you make in life and the circumstances you wander into, you might become a villain.

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