The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

I Am All the Bad Guys

venom bad guy

A week ago, I voluntarily went to a seminar/exercise about “workplace styles, motivators, and communicators”. I thought this would be good for me to learn ways to be a leader when you’re an introvert. (I’m supposed to be a tech lead in my new job, but so far I haven’t done anything leady yet. And I’m dreading it. None of my experiences with being a leader have been positive or yielded positive results. But you can’t advance in this line of work unless you take some kind of management role. )

Unfortunately, this seminar wasn’t what I thought it would be. I thought they’d bring in a speaker or professional expert on the subject. But it was just a guy who works here (at my new job). And I think most of the attendees were people on his team.

Not to say any of this is bad. The big disappointment was that the content wasn’t what I thought it would be.

I wanted it to be about how to make your personality work with other kinds. Like finding adapters and techniques to work with extroverts, charismatics, etc. It was more about knowing who you are. Well, I already know who I am. I’m ISTJ. Heavily introverted and judging, fair to middling on sensitivity/intuition and thinking/feeling. An analytical person.

personality test word cloud

A large chunk of this class was taking time to take a Meyers-Briggs test on 16 Personalities. I’d taken M-B’s before, but not on this site. It’s got a cute little interface. I found out that these days I’m an INTJ these days, which they label as “architect”. Doesn’t surprise me–the last time I took it, only one point sepearated my N from the S. They’ve also added a -A/T for “identity”, either Assertive or Turbulent (I’m turbulent, which means I like organization and plans). They even had a little list of TV and real-life people that match your personality.

The answers did not please me.

Let’s take a look at the list of so-called “Architects”:

  • Elon Musk (called a guy who rescued kids trapped in a cave a pedophile)
  • Arnold Schwarzenegger (steroid infused actor turned governor turned washout)
  • Vladimir Putin (current stand-in for Saddam Hussein as evil foreign leader)
  • Michelle Obama (former first lady – practically perfect in everyway)
  • Friedrich Nietzsche (asshole philosopher, claimed God was dead)
  • Christopher Nolan (makes films that seem artsy and depth but don’t make sense when you look past the surface)
  • Colin Powell (Republican politician – ’nuff said)
  • Samantha Power (UN ambassador — couldn’t find anything wrong with her, but I’m sure there’s something)
  • Walter White (Breaking Bad – made meth)
  • Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish (Game of Thrones – manipulated several people into his own machination, including one resulting in the death of Eddard Stark)
  • Tywin Lannister (Game of Thrones – stood as judge of his son’s kangaroo court, killed by a crossbow on the potty)
  • Gandalf the Grey (Lord of the Rings)
  • Yennefer of Vengerberg (The Witcher – I have no idea who she is)
  • Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
  • Seven of Nine (Star Trek: Voyager – former Borg)
  • Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes’ arch-nemesis)
bad guys club

Yeah, they’re architects. Architects of destruction. Do you see how many bad guys are on this list? How many villains? Even middling good guys I can point out some grievous sins, like Schwarzenegger’s love child with his maid, Elon Musk’s smoking up with Joe Rogan and dating some punky brewster. Even Gandalf constantly abandons his troupe.

And if they’re not bad guys, they’re jerks. Katniss Everdeen was always a bit of a two-faced pill, I thought. The only non-fictional one I could say is all good is Michelle Obama. Did everyone else’s list have this many assholes on it?

anakin skywalker

Why does life seem to keep trying to tell me I’m the bad guy. First I’m in Slytherin and now this. You have no idea how hard it is not to give in to selfish urges, to bite the bullet and do the right thing. It’s always so easy just to fulfill your whims. To eat that entire box of Rice Krispie Treats. To sit on the couch and not help with dinner. To leave your car skewed in that parking space. To buy things you’d like to have just because you want them.

There’s no earthly reward for being good, just for following the rules. You have to be GREAT. You have to be EXCEPTIONAL. Otherwise you’re just one of the cattle, one you don’t need to pay attention to because it never gets out of line. The only reason it stays good is fear. Fear of punishment, fear of consequences. The knowledge that if you do something, someone else is going to suffer and that means you have to give up your desires. It’s a bum deal man.

Couldn’t I have been anyone else from Game of Thrones? Not even Hot Pie? Or Ed Sheeran?

The Dark Side is Not an Evil Side (Obligatory “Two Sides to Every Schwartz” joke)

One of the things I wish Star Wars would do with its storytelling is to resolve that the Dark Side is not evil. Nothing is inherently evil in this world. Only humans (and some well-evolved animals) can be evil. It takes a good brain to be evil, because evil is gaining pleasure from the pain of others.

So not spiders or guns or poison or magic or anything is evil. It’s what you do with those powers that determines your fate. It’s why I feel bad for Slytherin house. They all get painted with the same brush. You get sorted into Slytherin, it’s a death sentence for your social life. But there’s nothing evil about ambition or resourcefulness or determination or self-preservation.

It’s the same thing with the Force, which is essentially magic. It’s just that people who use the Dark Side of the Force keep using them for evil. But there’s nothing that says they have to hurt people. That’s why I like Kylo Ren as a character, and why I’m holding out for his redemption.

There are force-neutral powers, like telekinesis, jumping, persuasion, telepathy, and force concealment, (which is like “masking your scent”. I guess other force-sensitives can tell what side of the coin you land on so there’s a way to cover that up. Who knew?) But these powers can be used for good and evil. You can read someone’s mind and invade their privacy. Deceiving others about the nature of your powers seems like it should be on the Dark Side, but it’s not. And Persuasion is basically like mind-rape. I can’t believe there’s not more controversy about this–I guess it’s okay to force your will on someone else as long as you have a wispy beard.

star wars force infographic
Source

Midichlorian Manipulation – Create, maintain, or save life by “influencing midichlorians”. This was how Anakin believed he could stop Padme from dying. Of course, no one knows what midichlorians are or how they work, so I don’t know how this can be called good or evil. In fact, this might be all bupkiss, made up by Palpatine. And isn’t healing others a good thing? The Light Side has healing, detoxification, revitalization, but if someone’s not breathing, you just stop?

Force Rage – Tap into fears, pain, and hate, turning them into rage that can increase speed, strength, and ferocity. Well, isn’t that what normal anger does? Anger isn’t an evil emotion. Anger over an injustice can lead to a greater good. If your kid is trapped under a car, fear and anger lets you lift that F150 off the ground.

Force Choke/Crush/Grip – This is just telekinesis. We always see Dark Siders doing it–lifting someone and choking them or throwing them around. They’re just focused on specific body parts. But it’s no different than anything the Light Side can do.

Force Drain – Tap into the strengths of an organic target, exhausting it immediately. Can be used to affect a wide area, depending on how mastered in the technique.This seems to be the inverse of the Force Heal (though it’s not clear if the life and vitality is transferred to the user or it just dissipates). Most of the time you see a “drain” spell, it’s in the context of magic meant to harm. Final Fantasy does this. Magic: The Gathering does this. Vampires do this. Not many arguments that removing health from someone in order to gain isn’t inherently evil, but there are examples.

In Blade, the female protagonist lets the hero drink her blood to regain his strength. I think Buffy does the same thing with Angel at some point. Rogue is an X-Man X-woman X-menman X-person superhero with power-draining powers. Metroids can drain and inject energy, and we all remember the tragic ending of Super Metroid. And in real life, there are many blood-drinking insects and animals, but they’re so small that they don’t individually do significant harm (unless they transmit a disease). And here’s a fun fact: Male garter snakes will emit and act like a female garter snake when rising from hibernation. This gets other male garter snakes to cluster and coil around them, transferring body heat and helping them wake up.(See also definition 3 of trap)

Force Slow – Cloud the target’s mind, slowing them down mentally and physically. This is a weird one, but I can see instances where it doesn’t need to be considered harmful. Like if you’re a cop and you’ve got to handle some whacked-out PCP meth-head brandishing a sword at an intersection. And Zack Morris could have used it to deal with Jessie Spano.

Force Corrupt – Temporarily manipulate the mind of another sentient being to make him/her serve your own cause. Isn’t this just Force Persuasion? And that was labeled as a core power. Moving on.

Force Lightning – This is just the collection and projection of energy. I consider it to be Force concentrated, like how electricity is concentrated fire (like all good science, this is based on Avatar: The Last Airbender, and not actual science). We only ever see Sith use it, and only ever to harm others, but that doesn’t mean it has to. Why not repower that Moisture Reclamator and help a farmer out.

Transfer Essence – Basically, you switch bodies, or transfer your soul into an inanimate object. (Does that mean anything? Like a rock? Or a droid? Or a ship? Is this where Emperor Snoke came from? I have a fan theory that Snoke is really Palpatine, who survived the fall and Death Star II explosion using his strong connection to the Force, but that’s why he’s all scarred and weird looking.) As long as you can’t “Project: Genesis” someone, this doesn’t seem so bad. In fact, Hollywood has taught us that the results are always hilarious, like in Freaky Friday and Shrek the Third, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

It seems like the most distinguishing characteristic of dark Force powers is avoidance of death. The Light Side has no defense against that, except for being a Force Ghost. Not to mention we’ve seen Luke using some of these Dark Side powers (in ROTJ, he chokes some moblins in Jabba’s palace).

The best thing about Kylo Ren is how conflicted he is. He has a huge legacy to live up to. His loved ones betrayed him (Mom and Dad got divorced, Uncle/teacher tried to kill him). Everyone’s always talking about his “raw” power, but no one tells him what to do with it. He’s just a puppy looking for a master. His best strengths are telekinesis (holding blaster bolts) and telepathy, both neutral powers. And he can shrug off a bowcaster blast, something that sent a dozen stormtroopers into the sky.

So I’m looking forward to seeing what happens to him in the future. And I hope that it ties with how the force works in the context of Light Side vs. Dark Side.

What is the Point of the Sith?

hot sith woman star wars

What is the point of the Sith? They don’t seem to have a goal that their reaching towards, except for opposing the Jedi. Meaning they seem to be one-dimensional villains that only exist for the purpose of the story.

They act as a counterpart to the Jedi. In fact their credo exactly mirrors all their traits. No empathy, just ambition and power and victory. But to what end? What do they want? Keep in mind Sith is not the Galactic Empire. The empire wants control over all planets in the galaxy so they can have power/unity/order. Or so other planets with a resource can’t just say “mine, you can’t have”.

But the Sith is a philosophy/martial arts discipline, like being a Jedi. It has a credo, it has a beliefs, deities, temples, artifacts. Its main idea is obtaining of strength and power through the “dark side of the force”, meaning greed, hate, anger, and fear. It’s a very Klingon way of life–focus on fighting, victory, and passion. 

The thing about the Sith is that, instead of the Jedi who teach in collections and have a widespread population, there are only ever two Sith at one time. In the whole galaxy. Somehow they lasted a thousand years doing this, but this seems a real flawed way to establish a dominating force. You can’t exactly take over the galaxy with two people*. Not to mention that once you become a Sith, you’re either an apprentice scheming how to kill your master (which means your teaching will always end prematurely) or a master always worrying about when your apprentice is going to kill you. That’s no basis for a system of government.

*Yes, I know that Palpatine essentially did that, but he used political influence and minions in addition. He could have done that without being a Sith. I’m talking about the Sith as an entity in itself.

The Jedi have actual goals–peace and prosperity in the galaxy. But the Sith don’t seem to have goals. Or their goals are personal to the character, which still means the Sith simple exist to oppose the Jedi.

At first I was going to rant about Sith just being a one-dimensional villain. But maybe

I thought it was rather stupid to have an entity that exists solely to oppose the other party. Seems a wasteful life if your purpose is just to be the antithesis of this other guy. Then I heard about the “steak dinner”.

It’s the meeting that leaders of the Republican party had when Obama got elected in 2008. I mean, like, the day he was inaugurated. The oval office chair wasn’t even warmed yet, Obama was party-hopping, and they were making their counter-battle plan. What was that plan? To do the opposite of whatever Obama wanted.

For the sake of “their side” they had to be a united front and fight him on everything. Didn’t matter whether it made sense or not, whether it was good or not, if Obama wanted it, they didn’t that was the policy. They didn’t want to raise America up, they didn’t have an issue to push, they didn’t have a different morality to live by. They just wanted to oppose Barack Obama. If he said yes, they said no.

And the key was being united among all the party members on this. Everyone had to be in on it. For the sake of their team, every Republican had to click that “no” button when the president said “yes”. Their goal had nothing to do with America or the country or any political issue. It had to do with hurting the other guy. You didn’t win, so make it as hard for the other team as possible, no matter how petty it gets.

In other words, I thought portraying the Sith as simply opposing the Jedi was unrealistic… until I saw this. I guess it’s more plausible than I thought.

In Which I Find Out What Hogwarts House I’m In

harry potter sorting hat

I’ve never taken a sorting hat quiz. I read all the books, watched all the movies, but never truly knew which house I’d be sorted into. Maybe because I was afraid the answer wouldn’t be what I thought.

I always believed I’d be in Hufflepuff, the house for the nobodies, the extras. I’m not ambitious, I’m not clever, I’m not brave. It’s where you go if you don’t have a significant role in life. Hufflepuff is for the soldiers, the guys in the trenches working hard
and not switching sides. Those who are patient, fair, humble, and
tolerant. It’s for the people for, not so much what they are, but what they are not.

I’m not sure if the sorting hat uses the absence of traits rather than the presence. I think I do demonstrate loyalty (to those who earn it) and hard work (through writing).

There’s a fan theory that the sorting hat isn’t looking for personality traits that you HAVE, but those you find desirable or admirable. It explains why cowards like Peter Pettigrew and Neville Longbottom get into Gryffindor, and dullards like Crabbe and Goyle get to Slytherin despite not having enough personality to even get into the Hogwarts custodial closet.

Addendum to that theory is that the house cultivates those valued traits. One could argue that Pettigrew had to be brave and daring to betray his friends. And that Neville developed into someone brave and confident.

And there’s a lot of scholars who don’t like the sorting hat. It’s bad enough having cliques in school. Or getting labeled as an archetype, like jock or nerd or prep. Teenagers isolate you from others enough without having a structure in place for it. But there’s a school mandated categorization that separates you by personality.

I think it would be great if you were sorted into houses but not know why you were sorted into that house. You know there’s a reason you were lumped together, but you spend all that time figuring out why, what you have in common. Bonus points if you discover it’s all just random and there is no logic to it.

Anyway, I figured with hype around the new Time Magazine quiz, it was time to give it a try. To see if I would really be sorted into Hufflepuff as I always believed. Here are the results, weighted by veritability (i.e. how much I trust their results).

I’ve never heard of PlayBuzz so I don’t put much creedence here.
Sorting-Hat.com

Bonus points for the very domain name being specific, but still, doesn’t look sanctioned by any Powers That Be.

Now we’re getting into some that I have more faith in.

Well, this makes some sense. Everything’s pretty split down the middle. I’m just a little more “wit and wisdom” than “loyal and hard-working.

A British newspaper, and a good source of journalism.

Another Ravenclaw. Well, I guess it fits being set up with girls who are crazy or emotionally unstable.

Hm, well, that’s two for Ravenclaw and two for Slytherin. No one says Hufflepuff yet. But really how much faith can you put in these tests. They’re asking questions like “is your favorite animal a A) griffin B) badger C) raven D) snake”.

But now let’s get into the really legit tests.

Written by researchers using scientific personality tests. There’s a lot of controversy on personality tests in the social science community. Especially how no personality is set — they can change day to day, mood to mood. So they’re no clear test of, well, anything. I mean, what is a personality anyway? A set of commonly seen traits in a person’s decision making? That can be temperamental as what you had for breakfast that morning. Nevertheless, this is just for fun.

 Hmm, still disconcerting, but better Ravenclaw than another house.

What better test is there than from the progenitor itself? So far it appears that I’m not exactly what I thought I was, but if there was any test I take as gospel it would be this one. If no other tests existed, I’d still consider this the final word. This should be the ultimate decider of what house I’m in, no Susan bones about it. Let’s see what the results are.

I’m a Slytherin?

I mean, I know I have some dark parts in me, but I thought I was keeping those in check. I’m not a bad person. I don’t desire power. I’m not racist (am I?). I’m not clever or cunning. I can’t figure out those MindTrap riddles to save my life. I don’t have any ambition — I don’t want to be a politician.

I mean, yeah sometimes I see things going on and think I could do a better job than those clowns. I’m not corruptible. I don’t have any skeletons in my closet. I’d be a perfect politician, except for the lack of money and charisma. And I’m a terrible leader. I’m too selfish and can’t think on my feet. I don’t
like the idea of fraternity. Why should I be protected because I’m “one
of them”. What if I’m an asshole?

I’m trying to be brave and chivalrous, not narcissism. I mean, yeah, one of the big reasons I’m trying to be a writers is to be well-liked, to get the admiration and accolades. But that’s not authoritarian. That’s not ego-riffic.

The only trait I see that seems close is self-preservation, which means hesitating before action. Weighing all outcomes. That’s why I’m an outliner. And I never disregard the rules. Maybe I’m resourceful, but not very.

Well, I mean, come on. On a different day, it might sort me into a different house, right? Slytherin is scary. That’s where the villains all live. This is the place for Skeletor or Darkheart. The living quarters are literally IN the dungeons. Maybe it’s soothing to hear water lapping against the lake, but I don’t want to sleep among the skulls.

This is like being offered a chance to join the Hitler Youth and
their arguments for joining make sense (just not their cause). It doesn’t produce any of the kind of people I like. There’s no intellectuals. No one who likes to talk about geek stuff. They’re like Young Republicans.

And geez, what would others think of me? “Oh, he’s a Slytherin, don’t
talk to him. He’s the bad guy.” Like I need more to ostracize myself
from others. No wonder they need a sense of fraternity. It’s them
against the world. Am I just there to be the bad guy so the good guys
have something to fight?

Slytherin’s for people who play the long game. Like Byronic Snape. But he was still a total douche to Harry. Slughorn was a coward who hid from conflict and then played favorites based on non-character criteria. Regulus Black was brave enough to betray Voldemort, but it cost him his life. That’s about it for “good guys” who came from Slytherin.

Well, there is Merlin. The prefect letter mentions that. It says it’s a “cool and edgy” house (great, I’m in with all the punks and goths)

This is the first image that comes up for “cool and edgy”. Really something I want to be a part of.

It also says it’s a house that cares about honor and traditions (sounds like a frat house). They play to win. And graduates go onto great things, like Merlin. Not nursing cute little ferrets like Newt Scamander. People get sorted into Slytherin because the hat recognizes the “seeds of greatness”.

Maybe it’s that Slytherins have a long row to hoe. That seems to fit Draco Malfoy and Snape and Regulus Black, those that redeemed themselves. They had a deep pit to come back from. That sort of describes me, wallowing in my own sociopathy and trying not to succumb to those dark desires a la Jekyll and Hyde. Not everyone with that darkness inside them escape it. Some take the easy way out.

Slytherin shows that people are complex, like John Green says (where he says books allow you to “imagine humans complexly” which allows empathy/sympathy and to become a better person, not someone who assigns people simple labels). I guess that’s true. No one in Slytherin really fits a certain archetype. No one especially good at sports or knowledge. But couldn’t there be better ways to teach this lesson than with a house of bullies?

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Prince Hans

prince hans frozen
PRINCE HANS OF THE SOUTHERN ISLES
Origin: Frozen (2013)
prince hans motivation frozen

Motivation: Most antagonists are driven by hurt feelings or misunderstandings. Hans is a true sociopath. Yes, Prince Charming is the bad guy. And it’s just what I wanted to see. Hans falls under the sin of avarice — he’s too far down the line of succession to ever inherit his own throne, so he’s looking to marry into one. He even explains this in song (before he takes off his hollow mask of concern). What I’m wondering is — most marriages were arranged (in this time period) for the purposes of gaining land, title, or alliances. Happens all the time in Game of Thrones. Why did he have to lie about it? And was this the only kingdom Hans could find?

charstrengths prince hans frozen

Character Strengths: Deception. One hundred percent. Hey, he fooled me. I was busy analyzing the Duke of Weselton when I was in the theater. Hans only reveals his true nature when Anna is teetering between life and death. And Hans nudges the scales towards death (in a totally ineffectual James Bond-villain way, but more on that later). It’s the convincing flaws that pull you over. He’s clumsy. He can fake true love like an actor. Sheep’s clothing in a winter shawl.

What I wonder is, even if he is a psycho, could he be a good king? We never really see a demonstration of his abuse of power (although I’m almost certain that would come later, much like Scar). He demonstrates competent leadership. And although his concern for the people was false, he did provide for them (a blanket on every bed and hot glogg in every cup). But then he’s like The Stepfather – a guy doing good things with bad means.

evilness prince hans frozen

Evilness: It’s rare a Disney movie provides someone genuinely terrifying, at least for an adult. It’s okay if it goes over the kid’s head. But imagine being a father and this guy comes in wanting to date your daughter. This is a real concern of women with wealth — marrying a man who turns out to be a gold digger. His acts of heroism are only to convince those around him. He saves Elsa from the Duke boys, only to condemn her later when he can look more heroic. He’s playing the long game.

The sad part is how many women/girls remain loyal to him DESPITE all this. There are countless Hans/Elsa fan fiction and fan art. My daughter’s best friend has a Hans doll but no others because she likes him. Fans have started a petition that in the Frozen sequel, Hans should be redeemed. That’s just the power these men have over women. Even when they plainly show their true colors, they’re still loved. Eww.

tools prince hans frozen

Tools: Prince Hans has no henchmen. No big guns. No navy backing him. No allies. He works on his own, with only his words and actions to aid him. Personally, I think this makes him scarier. Imagine what he could do with some tangible strength behind him. Unlike a lot of villains, he knows how to pick his targets. I bet he wasn’t even going to say “sandwiches”.

complement prince hans anna frozen

Complement to the Hero: Before his big reveal, he’s just as adorkable as Princess Anna. Even though you know she’s going to learn not to fall in love so quickly, you don’t think Hans is going to a bad guy. He’s like the fiancee in every romantic comedy that the main character breaks up with to be with the other. That’s how all these Disney movies work, right? They’re both young, maybe a little naive, royalty, quick and impulsive. But that’s Hans’s strength. He’s a chameleon. He changes to whatever he needs to be. That’s the mark of a sociopath.

fatal flaw prince hans frozen

Fatal Flaw: Oh, Hans. Haven’t you learned anything from the mistakes of others? First you reveal your whole plan, then you lock the hero in a room without actually killing them. You just couldn’t resist showing off how smart you are. It’s a common downfall of his kind. It’s how they caught the BTK killer. But no, all you had to do was stay in the room and make sure she froze to death. That’s all you had to do. Would have taken ten minutes.

But to be fair, even I didn’t know about the lock-picking capabilities of snowman noses.

method of death prince hans frozen elsa

Method of Defeat/Death: The blizzard gets worse after Elsa escapes jail. Hans finds her on the frozen fjord and tells her that Anna died from her Sub-Zero ice blast. Elsa collapses on the ice, and when her back is turned, Hans pulls out his sword (where did that come from?) But Anna’s not quite dead yet. She must choose between saving her own life or saving Elsa’s. She chooses her sister, and as John Woo time starts, Anna steps in front of Hans’s swinging sword. In that instant, she freezes solid. So solid, Hans’s sword shatters and the blast knocks him out. When he regains consciousness, everything’s thawed and both sisters are alive. In a crowning moment of awesome, Anna punches him in the face. A diplomat takes him back to the Southern Isles, where he’ll presumably get the business from his brothers.

method of death prince hans frozen

Bonus Defeat: In Frozen Fever, Hans is shoveling manure when a giant snowball, created by Elsa sneezing into the royal Birthday Bugle Horn, sails about two hundred miles over the ocean and crashes into him. I believe his bones should be crushed instantly from impact at that velocity but, you know, it’s a cartoon.

prince hans final frozen punch anna

Final Rating: Five stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)
Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp)
Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
Percival C. McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)
Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
Pinocchio’s Villains (Pinocchio)
Sykes (Oliver and Company)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Shere Khan (The Jungle Book)

shere khan
SHERE KHAN
Origin: The Jungle Book (1967)

I had to double-check that I hadn’t done this one already. Disney’s done so many poncey cats that they all blur together.

motivation shere khan tiger jungle book

Motivation: Shere Khan is the most fearsome beast there is. The Terminator of the Indian jungle. But he has one weakness – fear of fire. Why? We don’t know. I expect something traumatic in his cubhood. But he’s pretty safe because the only way to something starts on fire in the forest is lightning. No one can create fire except for man and there is no man in the jungle oh no wait there’s TOTALLY man in the jungle.

charstrengths shere khan jungle book

Character Strengths: Classy, stylish, and supremely confident. Usually big cats, especially tigers, are portrayed too cuddly, as in Robin Hood or The Lion King. This one, by looking at it, I’m afraid he’ll kill me. Others treat him like the Queen of Hearts, but where that was fantasy, this is teeth and claws.

evilness shere khan jungle book

Evilness: So if maintaining his throne is motivation, the movie does him a great disservice. Because while everyone acts intimidated enough, Shere Khan never DOES anything. He doesn’t show up until the last fifteen minutes of the movie, and he cannot even frighten the one guy he’s gunning for. Not only that, but Baloo and Bagheera overcome their fears when they see Mowgli in danger, making the tiger’s reputation sheer bupkiss. Khan is nothing more than a maguffin to keep the characters moving.

tools tiger shere khan jungle book

Tools: He’s got nothing but a reputation and claws. He doesn’t kill anything. Kaa fools him, the vultures jeer him. This is not Life of Pi.

complement jungle book shere khan

Complement to the Hero: The “idea” behind this conflict is good. When they finally meet, Mowgli is not afraid and Khan doesn’t know what to do. I find that hilarious, but rarely do villains go down in history for not making the protagonist quake in fear. In fact, most of the movie is troubleshooting Mowgli’s brash, childish behavior — teaching him to fear what he should. On the other hand, the lack of fear works out for him, as if he’d run from Khan, I bet he would have died. On the other other hand, he’s not exactly confronting his fears, making him hard to root for.

fatal flaw shere khan jungle book

Fatal Flaw: Overconfidence. Khan is the six hundred pound gorilla in the jungle (I mean, besides the actual six hundred pound gorilla in the jungle). Everyone treats him like The Mad King. When Mowgli stands up to him, Khan should immediately notice something amiss. Instead, he thinks it’s cute. He’s even willing to give his enemy a ten-second head start. This, of course, violates one of my favorite rules of combat: never interrupt your enemy when he’s making a mistake.

method of death shere khan jungle book

Method of Defeat/Death: Mowgli picks up a stick, daring Khan to attack him. He does, but Baloo CONVENIENTLY jumps in and stops him. While Baloo has the tiger by the tail, the vultures who Mowgli CONVENIENTLY came across fly him to safety. As a CONVENIENT storm rolls in, Khan shreds Baloo, until a bolt of lightning CONVENIENTLY strikes a CONVENIENT dead tree, setting a CONVENIENT branch on CONVENIENT fire. Mowgli ties it to Shere Khan’s tail (who CONVENIENTLY doesn’t notice) and the tiger runs off, presumably with PTSD for the rest of his life (if he didn’t burn alive first).

shere khan jungle book final

Final Rating: Two stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp)
Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
Percival C. McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)
Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
Pinocchio’s Villains (Pinocchio)
Sykes (Oliver and Company)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Aunt Sarah (Lady and the Tramp)

aunt sarah lady and the tramp
AUNT SARAH
Origin: Lady and the Tramp (1955)

This is a hard one. This is a romance story — there’s no real villain. Lady encounters a few different obstacles, but no stand out antagonist. Jim Dear and Darling neglect her for a while, but then that stops. The Siamese cats are only present for one scene. Tramp acts as her villain when his selfish side comes out. A rat shows up for the climactic battle, but plays no role in the plot. And a dogcatcher presents himself as the last obstacle. The conflict comes from the two different worlds. Like Saturday Night Fever or Silver Linings Playbook.

motivation aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Motivation: She seems like one of those Dolores Umbridge types — snooty, harsh, insensitive, overbearing, and above all, British. That means she’s going to run the house the way she wants, despite the established rules. Because those young people just don’t know any better.

strengths aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Character Strengths: If you can say anything, she’s decisive. She believes she’s acting in the best interest for the baby. Which is noble, I guess, unless you’re the dog. Despite her unlikability (who’s sister is she anyway? She looks pretty old.) she’s trustworthy enough not to burn the house down.

evilness aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Evilness: Does it count if the evil traits aren’t intentional? Clearly, she believes dogs do not belong near a baby (probably due to growing up around high infant mortality rates). But cats are okay despite the many old wives tales about them (racist cats, double). And the cat food doesn’t fall far from the tree. Her poor, sweet babies make mischief, shift the blame to lady, and get coddled. The end result is that Lady is forced to wear a muzzle, which too closely resembles a Hellraiser torture device. How’s a girl supposed to eat?

tools aunt sarah siamese cats lady and the tramp

Tools: Aunt Sarah isn’t really trying to do anything, so I hardly can call Si and Am tools (unless you count their earworm song). All she needs to do is make sure the little yuppie larva is still breathing.

complement aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Complement to the Hero: I’m not sure what to say. Lady’s a dog. Sarah’s a human, but not Lady’s owner. I can say that characteristics of Lady are missing in Aunt Sarah. Lady is sweet and romantic and ladylike (hence the name). Aunt Sarah is a cow. But they have no real relationship to each other.

fatal flaw aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Fatal Flaw: Nice kid. Baaaaaaaaad judge of character. A rat sneaks into the nursery while Lady is chained up. And Aunt Sarah ignores the distressed barking, meaning Tramp has to sneak in. Don’t tell Mom the babysitter’s stupid. (BTW, what evidence do we have the rat was going to hurt the baby? All it was doing was looking in. Talk about circumstantial evidence.)

method of death aunt sarah lady and the tramp

Method of Defeat/Death: Nothing really happens to Aunt Sarah. Jim Dear and Darling come home, discover the dead rat, and Aunt Sarah realizes her mistake. At the end, she’s even sent a Christmas gift to the dogs. I love a good redemption story. Just not this one.

aunt sarah lady and the tramp final

Final Rating: One star

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)
Percival C. McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)
Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
Pinocchio’s Villains (Pinocchio)
Sykes (Oliver and Company)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)

yzma emperor's new groove
YZMA
Origin: The Emperor’s New Groove (2000)

I really don’t want to do this one. The whole movie is a radical departure from the golden fairy tale or epic quest of derring-do. This feels more like a long Saturday Morning cartoon. Even the art style feels cheaper. I’ll give Disney props for taking risks, but this one just doesn’t click. Given all the production issues present, I’m not surprised.

evilness yzma emperor's new groove

Motivation: Well, at least I can give credit for providing the main character motivation within the piece. Usually, the villain’s instantiating incident happens before the movie. But the story is short enough as it is — maybe it was just filler. Kuzco fires Yzma as his royal adviser for attempting to usurp his throne. So Yzma immediately carries out her plan to usurp his throne.

yzma strengths emperor's new groove

Character Strengths: So we’ve learned that boys make good hunters and girls make good witches. Yzma’s magic comes in the form of nondescript bottles that cause transfiguration. Personality-wise, she’s more witty than other queenly counterparts and her Eartha Kitt voice rounds out her affable craziness. Kinda like the Joker or Deadpool. Someone who’s not sympathetic, but you still enjoy anyway.

yzma secret lab emperor's new groove

Evilness: The above-mentioned plan consists of assassinating Kuzco with some poison. We see the whole “feeding the poison, waiting for him to die” scene too, which seems a little dark for a Disney buddy comedy. But her flunky mixes up the bottles and Kuzco transforms into a llama. So immediately her claim to cruelty is flushed. All we’ve got here is ambition. Although making those sultry supermodel poses while being “scary beyond all reason” might be grounds for evil.

tools yzma emperor's new groove

Tools: Let’s face it: all the charm of Yzma comes from Kronk. Without him, there’s no movie. He even got his own Direct-To-DVD so you know I’m right. The problem is he’s largely incompetent. Slower than sloths swimming through a swamp. He pulls the wrong lever, he fails to procure the correct potion, he doesn’t kill the Kuzco-llama when he’s supposed to. How long does it take for Yzma to realize how poorly she’s hired? And her sorcery is more like alchemy. You never see her do any actual magic, which makes her closer to Jafar (actually, they do look a little alike).

motivation kuzco kronk yzma

Complement to the Hero: Yzma says that “she practically raised” Kuzco, so we can give a few points for the villain creating the hero and then vice versa. But a throwaway line does not a duo make. And her big move — turning the hero into a llama because she didn’t properly label her bottles — reeks of amateur hour. The whole plot sounds like a kid’s stage play.

fatal flaw yzma emperor's new groove

Fatal Flaw: She should have taken a lesson from other evil queens and witches — never delegate your work. Because Kronk’s conscience got the better of him, Kuzco can get away. And the chase scene leads to some comedy set pieces, but no serious threat from the queen witch. The hero easily shortcuts to Yzma’s “secret lab” (big air-quotes around that one for bad storytelling shortcuts) where she uses her lack of proper labeling to her own advantage. Just bad luck in the end. Her desire for complicated plans doesn’t count, because she always realizes easier solutions beforehand. There’s nothing wrong with brainstorming.

yzma method of death emperor's new groove

Method of Defeat/Death: Before Kuzco has a chance to take the anti-llama potion, Yzma topples her cabinet, mixing it among other transfigurationals. Comedy ensues as they keep trying drink after drink, each time with different results, as Yzma and Kronk chase them out the side of the palace. Yzma accidentally turns herself into a cat, but manages to capture the last vial. But she can’t open it, and falls 50,000 feet to not-death. Her fate is that she eventually becomes one of the squirrel scouts (still a kitten).

final yzma emperor's new groove

Final Rating: Three stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
Percival C. McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)
Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
Pinocchio’s Villains (Pinocchio)
Sykes (Oliver and Company)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Analyzing the Disney Villains: Percival McLeach (The Rescuers Down Under)

percival mcleach rescuers down under
PERCIVAL C. McLEACH
Origin: The Rescuers Down Under (1989)

The movie is better than I remembered, but I think it’s more processing than kids can handle. Maybe that’s why it’s Disney’s smallest net gain (although it had a small budget).

It seems like whenever Disney makes the setting part of a character, it fails. Lilo and Stitch did the same thing with Hawaii. It comes off as propaganda. Maybe it’s because the world is smaller and these places aren’t exotic anymore. Maybe because we don’t care about worlds we can visit. We want either worlds we know with fantastic characters (like New York style superheroes) or totally new worlds with ordinary characters (like Lord of the Rings and Guardians of the Galaxy).

Anyway…

motivation mcleach rescuers down under feather

Motivation: McLeach joins the over-populated league of villainous hunters.  Fortunately, he’s the last one in my list (unless you count Shere Kahn). But unlike others, he’s a poacher, meaning he captures or kills animals illegally.  What he does with them from there, I don’t know. I assume he sells them to some other party, dead or alive. Hopefully, he doesn’t get taken advantage of because of his 3rd grade education. I expect his plan is early retirement, maybe with the golden eagle – his particular goal for this movie.

charstrengths mcleach rescuers down under wanted poster

Character Strengths: I really don’t know. Same as the other hunters, I suppose. Tracking, knife skills, doesn’t need supervision, loves working with animals. And he can lie pretty effectively. Well, at least enough to fool a nine-year-old.

evilness mcleach rescuers down under

Evilness: The voice of George C. Scott adds a lot to McLeach’s character. You can tell the guy is having fun.  This and Patton are his finest performances because he makes the part his own.

McLeach follows on the heels of Madame Medusa. Both are in the business of kidnapping small children to do their dirty work. But where it was clever for Medusa to have uncharacteristic sociopathy (greed and child abuse), McLeach is just another in a long line of overly masculine hunters searching for that trophy. Said trophy is probably the last one, so points for that.

tools mcleach rescuers down under

Tools: Having a pet Komodo dragon is pretty neat, but you gotta wonder how much he’d get paid for that. Maybe it’s his backup plan. And the way she’s animated makes her look like a snake with legs, not a lizard.  That, and its gremlin-like voice, results in something that crosses the uncanny valley to something creepy, not a comical henchman.

complement mcleach rescuers down under

Complement to the Hero: I don’t really get Cody. Is he an orphan? How did he find this golden eagle? What does the eagle get out of it? I get that it’s a lion and the mouse thing, but still, it just invites trouble. And how can he talk to animals? Why does he have the same ability Penny does? Are they long lost cousins? And of course, Cody suffers from whiny kid syndrome — acts like a twelve-year-old, even though he’s nine.

fatal flaw mcleach rescuers down under

Fatal Flaw: McLeach’s method of defeat does not reflect his personality. It’s all pretty much by accident, so the most you could say is that either A) he needed to pick more capable henchmen or B) needed to take less risks.

method of death mcleach rescuers down under

Method of Defeat/Death: Cody is suspended in a cage over a river. McLeach is about to shoot the rope in order to drown him, but Joanna accidentally knocks him into Crocodile River. But that doesn’t kill him (too “Temple of Doom” I guess). The crocs swim away after a beating.  Thinking he’s won, he doesn’t see the giant waterfall behind him. Joanna even waves him goodbye. Personally, I think he could have survived it.

final mcleach madame medusa rescuers down under

Final Rating: Two stars

PREVIOUS ANALYSES:
Ichabod Crane (The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad)
Lady Tremaine (Cinderella)
Governor Ratcliffe (Pocahontas)
Pinocchio’s Villains (Pinocchio)
Sykes (Oliver and Company)
Alameda Slim (Home on the Range)
Rourke (Atlantis: The Lost Empire)
The Evil Queen (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs)
Ursula (The Little Mermaid)
Dr. Facilier (The Princess and the Frog)
Gaston (Beauty and the Beast)
Willie the Giant (Mickey and the Beanstalk)
Hades (Hercules)
The Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland)
Jafar (Aladdin)
Shan Yu (Mulan)
Man (Bambi)
Clayton (Tarzan)
The Horned King (The Black Cauldron)
Mother Gothel (Tangled)
Cobra Bubbles (Lilo and Stitch)
Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians)
Madame Medusa (The Rescuers)
Captain Hook (Peter Pan)
Amos Slade (The Fox and the Hound)
Madam Mim (The Sword in the Stone)
Claude Frollo (The Hunchback of Notre Dame)
Scar (The Lion King)
Prince John (Robin Hood)
Edgar (The Aristocats)
Ratigan (The Great Mouse Detective)
Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty)

Things I Like: This Report on Misogynistic Disney Characters by Haley Callahan

misogynist disney characters tinkerbelle



We’re living in a tumultuous time for gender dynamics. There is an Internet Civil War going on, as happens when the winds of change start a-blowin’. GamerGaters are fighting Social Justice Warriors are fighting Sad Puppies are fighting Feminazis are fighting misogynists are fighting ableists are fighting Tumblr. Everyone seems to want something and no one seems to know what that is, but they’re willing to fight for it. Mostly through comments and pestering e-mails.

And I’m just sitting here eating popcorn.

I don’t know. I dabbled in the wars in the early years, not to hurt anyone, just from my own confusion. Now that my confusion is cleared I have no reason to participate. But it bothers me that so many key types are being wasted on a loud majority. They’re like the kid in the back who was bad, so now the whole class has to stay behind.

And there’s no shortage of people voicing their opinion. But that’s all they’re doing. Voicing. Shouting into the wind (where the wind is YouTube).  Shouting but no one listening.  No one attempting to educate.  Those that are, without some agenda or a presentation with more holes than a kindergartner’s paper snowflake, are the ones I listen to.

Cue Haley Callahan a.k.a. T-Belle, The Philosofan.  I first heard about her when “Some Jerk With a Camera“, one of my new favorite Internet reviewers who I recently discovered (and might warrant his own “Things I Like” in the future), tweeted this video — misogynist Disney characters.

Now from my ongoing analysis of Disney villains, I know that most of the negative male portrayals tend towards the poncey-side (Captain Hook, Governor Radcliffe) or masculine gun nuts (Percival McLeach, Rourke).  Not to mention that anything controversial, even from a villain, is anathema for the family friendly Disney.  Even villains can’t smoke, because the kids might be influenced.  Duh, that’s why they’re the BAD guys.

Anyway, I had some expectations based on my existing knowledge.  But what kicked this into my forebrain was the examples I didn’t think of.  I don’t want to spoil anything for you, in case you click the link (although the answer’s right on the thumbnail).  I’d rather you go in for yourself, fresh, like I did, so you can have the same feeling of discovery and “huh, I never thought of that before” that I did.

“But, Eric,” you say, “that can’t be all that makes you think the whole world needs to know about The Philosofan.”  You would be correct.  Because the presentation is what really sells this.  Her history in show choir contributes a lot to the entertainment value of the video.  I love how she personifies herself as a “mama lion”.  The few female reviewers there are, you don’t see many of them claiming a defensive role.  They’re more deadpan snarkers or chirpy fangirls.

Basically, each entry starts with a monologue by the “villain” illustrating how insidious their misogyny is.  It made me understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of this kind of treatment, and opened a new lobe of sympathy.  And it all caps off with a bombardment of all three characters assaulting our protagonist in different ways.

You can see her getting forced into a corner by these arrogant bastards, sociopathic liars, and deceptive pomps, laying on the hate thick, shrinking her down to the size of a pea.  You can feel what women must go through when they find themselves on dates with these manipulative assholes, or worse, relationships, never seeing what hit them.  Geez, if I was in the same position, I might have fallen for it.  And the ending?  Well, I didn’t see it coming. (It’s been a long time since I saw Kill Bill.)

So go watch it, and tell me you don’t fall in love with her.  Sadly, her other videos don’t reach the same level of impact, but I look forward to what she produces in the future.