Because I’m scheduled to write a blog about villains today, I’m also thinking about the bad guy who committed these atrocities.
There are bad guys, there are Bad Guys and then there are BAD GUYS. I am here to talk about the latter today . . . the unredeemable epitome of evil. Not every author can pull off the ultimate BAD GUY, and J.K. Rowling is amazing because she is one of the few who can. Being bad for the sake of being bad just doesn’t cut it in literature these days. How one dimensional is the witch in Hansel and Gretel who had an entire chalet made of gingerbread but chooses to eat children instead? (And btw, Gretel wins the Badass Bavarian Babe Award for shoving said witch into the oven and saving her brother, which, intentional or not, was an epic display of girl-power for the male chauvinistic early 1800’s when the Brothers Grimm wrote Hansel and Gretel. Yeah!)
A literary villain must at least have motive --- Voldemort was driven by the hatred of his father and a fear of death, but also a desire to rid the world of those he deemed unworthy. Genocide --- that’s a red flag for me that someone is the ultimate BAD GUY. The killer in Norway is reported to have said his attacks were necessary in order to launch a revolution to “save” Europe from Muslims. Really? Would someone please hand me a black Sharpie so I can scribble a pair of devil horns on this guy’s head?
Sitting in the movie theatre at the moment Harry killed Voldemort, what struck me the most was that everyone cheered! It reminded me of how the internet lit up when Osama bin Laden was announced dead. A tiny, naïve part of me felt guilty, like I had a little bad guy in me too for celebrating the death of another, no matter how heinous his crimes were.
But as an author, is there any other way to satisfy a reader when you are dealing with the ultimate BAD GUY? Imagine sitting in the dark movie theater with your nearly empty bag of popcorn clutched in your hand and watching Harry point his wand at Voldemort and shout, “I SENTENCE YOU TO 21 YEARS IN A NORWEGIAN PRISON!”