Evil Cockles of the Soul
I wonder, would voter behavior have been any different had Sen. Ted Cruz been elected for president instead of Donald Trump?
People have always been drawn to a good villain. They are portrayed as dark, shifty and dramatic; sort of how we view the bulk of our modern politicians.
During silent pictures, moviegoers would boo and hiss at the evil villain and his overly-exaggerated, dramatic gestures. They seemed to get great enjoyment out of his badness.
When talkies came about, villains had to speak, and what a better way to depict evil than to give them an accent. The phantom was no different in a tragic story about a hideous looking creature. The Phantom of the Opera attempted to steal the leading lady's heart without her consent.
Through the years, people relish a good dose of evil. From Count Dracula's Transylvanian verbal lollop, played by the dark and brooding Bela Lugosi, to the evil antics of Bullwinkle's Russian accented Boris and Natasha who's attempts at evil were always foiled, to Cruella de Vil and her drawled 'dahling' and sinister motives.
In more recent times there are Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Jafar in Aladin and even Beauty and the Beast's Gaston. The characters range from supporting roles to main characters and are often the most memorable part of the show.
I cannot help but wonder, when it comes to electing our officials, have we moved into the smacking-good villain stage of voting?
What were some of our presidential options? Bernie Sanders and his New England grumpy old Muppet, Hillary Clinton and her evil cackle and "What difference does it make?" screech that will forever be entwined with her, and Donald Trump's freakishly orange complexion and shouting nature. Can you still hear his tart, "You're fired!" exclamation running through your head?
The constructs built in my mind of these characters are truly evil to the core. Evidently, the constructs in others minds are equally as sinister. I wonder if it is the humor these images evoke, or if, perhaps, we simply love to hate people. Just look at the memes.
The point is, we seem to be embellishing our wild imaginings as ways to somehow relate to the people we are voting for, whether good or bad.
Does this do permanent damage to our psyche? I believe it does, as we assimilate these images, and what we know about the characters, with those we are attributing them to. Though it might be funny and provide hours of raucous entertainment online, we are dehumanizing the very people we are supposed to be selecting to lead us. Not to mention, from a Christian perspective, how this plays out with our souls when done not in jest, but out of spite.
It is clear that people like and remember the unlikable, even going so far as to publish images of Cruz, comparing him to Grandpa Munster. Because of this, I doubt Cruz would have suffered less a fate than Trump has.
Still, I cannot help but consider that we secretly desire a good villain that can take our attention away from the mundane and allow us to pile our daily annoyances upon.
We must remember, however, that with new media, we can share our creativity and ultimately bare the deepest part of our souls to the world.
Published March 30, 2017