When you think of a villain or a bad person, what image do you have in mind. Are they big, small, tall, ugly, odd? Well, real villains look just like us, some are attractive well adjusted individuals who just commit horrific crimes. However in movies and TV, villains are easy to spot and this is just to make us feel safe in our world.
Initially you’re probably reading this wondering if this is actually a thing, but I actually studied this concept in university and it blew my mind because the media we consume shapes the way we view our world and society as a whole.
The villains we grew up with like The Joker, Freddy Krueger and even Mojojojo reinforce an idea that bad people look over the top. They have certain voices, they’re outcasts and they also look weird as hell. So we throw this assumption into real life, we assume every person we interact with or cross on the street aren’t bad, because they look normal.
Thing is, real villains aren’t like that. People who commit horific crimes look just like us, a lot of them don’t even have a messy childhood or something that explains their motives to commit acts of evil. There’s no sad tale, no horrific face scars, they’re just like me and you – normal, and that’s terryfying. People can’t navigate their everyday lives with the assumption that everyone they interact with could be planning their next evil act.
Especially in a society that’s as trusting as ours, we rely on people to pack our food, to drive safely on the road. We even trust them to travel safetly between places, whether it’s as on a bus, inside an uber, or as a pedestrian. We inherently put our lives on the line every single day and we’re not even aware of it. Yes, we can look for signs of someones stability, or if they ‘look’ like they’re up to no good, but in reality we have no idea what’s really going on in the minds of other people, therefore we’re kind of fucked.
When you look at serial killers that facinate the public like Ted Bundy, it’s not because they commited murders, it’s because of how they got away with it. Ted Bundy didn’t ‘look’ like a villain and he used that to lure people and even pretended to have injuries to get sympathy from the women he was planning to kill. He used the fact that he didn’t look like a villain, and that is scary.
That’s why media focuses a lot on creating easy to spot villains, so we can feel safe in the idea that we’re safe – when we’re not.