“Every villain is a hero in their own mind.” But can a villain be a hero in other people’s minds?
Everyone has a dark side, and watching them materialize through villains who live out our dark, intrusive thoughts is satisfying. Whether it be a stereotypical villain like Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes, “The Menu”), an unsuspected villain like Rose from “Get Out” (Allison Williams, “M3GAN”) or a misunderstood villain like Maleficent (Angelina Jolie, “Girl, Interrupted”), villains have profound impacts on their audience. Villains — like so many people — hide behind a hard exterior, attributing their callousness to a deep fear of getting hurt. And, buried under their perceived nefariousness, villains can teach lessons of love, happiness and perseverance better than their heroic counterparts. No one connects to a story where the protagonist gets everything they want with ease. The relatable feelings of jealousy, anger and hatred coupled with positive affect make us feel seen.
But the villain title can be damaging. Being labeled a villain carries a negative connotation that can overshadow the good hiding within. Apart from standard villain characters, the media villainizes certain celebrities, and this tactful villainization can be career-ending. Popular culture begs the question, what really is a villain? Can villains ever be good, or would that mean they aren’t actually villains? The term is highly subjective; no two villains are alike.
These pieces dig deep into all the different villains that impacted the writers’ lives, whether it be in a positive way, a negative way or a mixture of both. We’re finally giving villains the limelight, and what you’ll discover will be haunting in a way no one could imagine.
— Zara Manna, Senior Arts Editor