"Entertainment Weekly" recently released the names of the 50 candidates for the title of the "Most Vile Movie Villain" ever.
The public will be able to go online at the Entertainment Weekly web site and vote for the most vile of the bunch. I noticed something about the candidates. Many of them are amongst the most well-known characters in cinema history.
The candidates include Darth Vader ("Star Wars" movies); Leatherface ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre" movies); Annie Wilkes ("Misery"); Maleficent ("Sleeping Beauty"); Norman Bates ("Psycho"); Nurse Ratched ("One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"), and Hannibal Lector and Buffalo Bill (both from "Silence of the Lambs").
Yep, Cruella De Vil ("101 Dalmatians") is a candidate as well, as is Freddy Krueger, the Wicked Witch of the West, Hal ("2001: Space Odyssey") and Anton Chigurh ("No Country for Old Men").
Ricardo Montalban's allegedly fake chest.... errr, I mean his character, Khan Noonien Singh ("Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan"), is also vying for the title.
Conspicuously missing from the list of candidates was Jason Vorhees from the "Friday the 13th" movies. I guess we now know who's better: Freddy Krueger, or Jason Vorhees.
Freddy apparently won by a claw. Cue the cheesy drum and cymbal sound.
Why are we drawn more to the bad guys in movies?
Usually these people are crazy, murderous, people-eating psychopaths. One of them even dresses up and pretends to be his mother.
Imagine trying to explain that on the third date!
My first guess is to say we are drawn to the complex nature of these characters, and the total mystery of why these broken people are what they are. What drives a person to use a sledgehammer on the legs belonging to the object of his or her desires? Other than wanting to keep the person from escaping to the land some of us call "reality."
Do people look up to Superman as a role model? Some do, but many prefer Scarface, a drug dealer whose friend was a gun. No, Scarface isn't a candidate for the "most vile movie villain" title, despite telling everyone to "say hello to my little friend."
Then there's "Silence of the Lambs."
Who had the more memorable character in that movie? Anthony Hopkins or Jodie Foster?
Anthony Hopkins, or course, because everyone remembers the line about the liver, the chianti and the fava beans, followed by some gross tongue gesture, which is Freudian on some level.
How many lines did Jodie Foster have in the movie which immediately come to your mind?
It just boggles the mind we identify more with the bad guys than the good guys. Honestly, who was the sicker character? Batman or the Joker (the Jack Nicholson version)?
It makes me think society needs people like Dr. Phil, because we have this obsession with being bad. We relate more with ill-adjusted people than we do with the well-adjusted ones.
I'd suggest you spend some time with "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," but some people might like spending a night with Nurse Ratched ...
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.