I know this blog post may get on some people’s nerves, so haters be warned before you read any further. I just feel a desperate need to address this topic. Countdown to troll hatred in 3, 2, 1 …
What the Hell has happened to the fantasy genre? I remember a time when vampires, demons, witches, and warlocks were evil creatures bent on the domination of mankind and must be destroyed or contained. Nowadays, it seems like these creatures of the night are sexy, desirable and something we all aspire too.
I mean, I grew up when Hammer films were the mainstay of horror. Christopher Lee was the best Dracula ever, period, and made the prince of darkness something to be feared. New, according to movies like Dracula Untold, he was a father, husband, and a great leader, admired by his people who took on the curse of vampirism to save his people. It made him out to be sympathetic, not terrifying. That’s not the Dracula of legend, nor is it the one portrayed by Bela Lugosi or Christopher Lee.
It’s as if society, as a whole, wants to make evil desirable. I truly believe this shows the moral decay as a whole. Evil is no longer something to be destroyed outright. It’s something we want to change, to help through compromise not killing.
TV shows like Once Upon a Time and Lucifer want us to believe that it’s not the villain’s fault for being evil, it’s just that they had a bad day or a miscarriage of justice happen to them that caused them to turn evil. Really? Tell that to the victims of Ted Bundy, Adolph Hitler, or ISIS.
This is why, in my opinion, that Star Wars gets it right. There is a true distinction between good and evil, the light and dark side of the force. Yes, they did make Darth Vader sympathetic and brought him back from the dark side, but he only turned through the machinations of a truly evil villain in the Emperor. Manipulation is one thing, but when you show truly evil characters (like the devil himself in Lucifer) to be good guys, that’s where I draw the line.
I mean, Vader himself shows no heart, no compassion until the very end, and it cost him his life. Kylo Ren is the exact opposite. He wanted to rid himself of any good inside of him and killing his father (spoiler alert, Han Solo) was how he accomplished that. He is now beyond redemption. That is the definition of a true villain.
Making evil sexy is the media’s way of tamping down the morals of society. We no longer aspire to be heavenly, angelic or good hearted people. Bad is the new good. Being bad is sexy, no matter who you step on or kill to get there. There are so many examples on TV and in the movies that make this point for me, they’re too numerous to mention.
Yes, there are also many examples that stick to the philosophy of good vs. evil in the classic sense. These are mostly those from the superhero genre, like The Flash, Arrow, Agents of Shield, and Supergirl. However, even Marvel steps into the dark side with their Netflix series Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, but again, their villains are not sympathetic nor appealing (i.e. Kingpin and Kilgrave).
This is why there are no good villains in the Forever Avalon series. I show a distinct division between good and evil. Good is good and bad is bad, no gray lines here. Evil is not something to be desired or wanted, it can only be destroyed. There is no distinction as necessary as this today. I’m not trying to get political here, but we would be better people, a better society if we purge that evil and hatred from our lives, starting with our media.
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse. The Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.
4 thoughts on “Sexy vampires, super zombies and nice demons? What has happened to the fantasy genre?”
Thank you! It’s nice to know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way!
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I take it your opinion of this has changed, given that you post about Overlord a lot and Ainz is in no way the hero. He’s a villain who kills everyone who gets in his way without remorse and has no trouble mass murdering 50,000 people.
I also find it curious that, after perusing your blog, whenever you refer to Dracula you’re referring to the movies and not to Bram Stoker’s novel. If you did read it, you’d find that Dracula is filled with sexual undertones, the same undertones that are relatively common in fin de siecle fiction.
The Haye’s code has had a bizarre effect on people, older people especially, who think that these sorts of things are brand new.
Villains who are unquestionably evil (even if the notion of objective evil is something philosophers have been contemplating since the start of civilization) often suffer from being horrifically boring and I think this blog post came from an overwhelmingly naive viewpoint of the world.
Hitler was a horrendous person has gone down, and will continue to go down, as one of the worst people to ever exist and hopefully one of the worst people who will ever exist. But unlike a great many of these one sided “I want to take over the world, mwuhahahaha” villains, he was complex. There’s a reason so many documentaries about him are still made today. He’s an enigma. He slaughtered people like cattle while also sympathizing with animal rights. HE didn’t think he was doing wrong and that’s a mistake a lot of amateur writers creating villains make.
People are fascinated by Avatar’s Fire Nation precisely because from their point of view, they’re doing nothing wrong. They’re based on the real Imperial Japan that conquered and butchered people without second thought because they thought they were spreading their prosperitiy by crushing other cultures and assimilating others.
Very few real evils in the world have thought that they were the evil ones. That’s the difference between the Fire Nation and Kraven Darkholm. The Fire Nation was interesting and thought that they, without a shadow of a doubt, were making the world a better place by spreading their fascist autocracy. They’d industrialized and hit a point where they thought they were the future (I’m sure that sounds familiar) and even though they were wrong, interesting conflict spawned because they were convinced they were right.
I didn’t find Kraven interesting. I got the impression he woke up and punched puppies because he loves evil, Satan and evilly being like Satan. I never saw what makes him tick, or why he does what he does. People like that in a villain, and to go back to the point about Hitler, it’s why there’s so many documentaries about his bad childhood. People like to see how these awful people are formed, in real life or in fiction. Nobody wakes up one day and wants to create an autocracy (I hope).
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I appreciate your insight. Yes, my opinion has changed since I first wrote this post. Using Ainz from the Overlord as an example, here is someone who has his humanity ripped away and the evil acts he does no longer affects him because of that. I think the meaning behind my post is taking the evil that I grew up with, yes mostly movie monsters, and making them hyper-sexualized, i.e. Twilight, etc. When I created the character of Kragen Darkholm, I based him on my thousands of hours of D&D rpg. I was going by the basic fantasy tropes of my time. I always liked the face of evil hiding behind the mask of good intentions, like a John Wayne Gacy before he was caught. I’m still working on that balance in my writing.