The Best Of Everything exists for one purpose and one purpose only:
To make me rich and famous.
But along the way to that route, it also serves to identify what is The Best in pop culture, as I did recently when in a major, groundbreaking, five-part series, I picked The Best Worst Villain Ever.
This is PART ONE: NAMING THE VILLAINS. Links to parts 2-5 are at the end.
The FBI released it's updated 10 Most Wanted Last week, and it was notable for (a) not including Richard Heene on it, and (b) for being boring.
Not to downgrade either Richard Heene -- whose true crime is giving his kids stupid names -- or the seriousness of the actions that get someone placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List, but I felt, as I watched the news story about the new guys on the list, a little let down, a little like, well, there should be something more to the 10 Most Wanted List than just... a bunch of murderous drug dealers.
Where, I wondered, are the REAL villains of the day? Where are the real bad guys, the bad guys that in their insane lust for power, their depraved genius plots to take over the world, kidnap the girl, destroy the sun, whatever, would show us a glimpse into the evil that lurks deep inside humanity, the evil that is so terrible that upon its rearing its ugly head, we have to rise above our own base natures and become heroes... nay, we must become SUPERHEROES, to fight such an evil.
In short, I wondered: where are the good villains?
I wonder a lot of things about a lot of things, many times wondering what's happened to the good parts of society. Because it seems like society is slowly dropping out all the good parts. We're giving up on Thanksgiving -- as I predicted, some stores are now open on Thanksgiving, making it only a matter of time until Thanksgiving takes its place among second- or even third-tier holidays, noted on a calendar and in sales at Sears, but nowhere else -- but my wondering isn't limited to holidays. I also not so long ago wondered why we don't get any new good superheroes; I recently picked up a comic book, a brand new comic book, reading a superhero comic for the first time in 20 years, and the superheroes in this comic book were the same ones that were old when I was first reading comics back in the 70s and 80s. Recently, I pointed out that we don't really have movie theme songs anymore, pointing that out because it's true, and because we're the poorer for it.
Unlike some so-called "thinkers" (Aristotle, Colonel Mustard), I don't just sit around and ponder things like some latter-day Thoreau mulling over my thumb in my ethereal blog-cabin. I do something about things, taking the time to explain how lame things can be cool, and what rock-and-roll really is, and now I'm going to do it again, via a series of posts that makes the world a better place by focusing on people who want to make the world a worse place. (Worse-r place? Why not?) By focusing on people who want to make the world a worser place.
I'm going to do that because, as I said, we need villains, and we need good villains. Wait, that's an oxymoron, and Nature Abhors An Oxymoron, as I learned in my physics class.
(Yes, I did learn that in my physics class. I think I've made pretty clear that I never actually learned, in school, what the school hoped to be teaching me, resulting in an "education" that has given me "intelligence" which can be best described as "a hodgepodge of half-truths, beliefs, and facts gleaned from comic books," although there's also a smidgen of "absolute certainty that neither dark matter nor velociraptors exist or existed."
(I haven't yet made up my mind about Fruitadens haagarorum, although the fact that the name calls to mind a cereal mascot makes me suspicious that the so-called tinosaur (really? Can we just quit being lame about this, please?) was invented as a publicity stunt for a new cereal along the Booberry line.)
(Then again, I tend to think everything is a publicity stunt, because in my mind, marketing departments no longer worry about television commercials and instead are always trying to get a pack of gum to be landed on the moon via laser shot from Shaquille O'Neal's bicep or something. The only thing I didn't immediately peg as a publicity stunt was Richard Heene's claim that his son floated away on a balloon, or didn't float away, or whatever it was he claimed. I didn't even know about that until after the fact.)
(But, just to be ahead of the curve, I'm going to go ahead and say this: The claims that Richard Heene faked Balloon Boy as a publicity stunt are themselves a publicity stunt, a meta-stunt that will have you all reeling, and I said it first.)
So we don't need good villains, we need bad villians, worse villains, worst villains. We need villains for the same reason we need rain, bitter-tasting foods, people who hate Brett Favre for no apparent reason, and the country of Uruguay: Without the bad, we don't know what's good. Or, put differently, good cannot exist in the absence of evil. Pizza can't exist without broccoli (maybe... I'm a little unclear on the science there) and Superman can't exist without Lex Luthor.
Maybe... although I think actually Superman existed before Lex Luthor did, and now that I think about it, I'm positive he did, and in fact, Superman created Lex Luthor, in that lab accident that made Lex Luthor go mad and start trying to kill Superman.
Whatever. The point still stands: Evil defines good as light defines dark. Some of humanity's greatest moments have come when good faced off against evil, and the greater the evil, the greater the good that overcame it.
We saw that when The Americans forced the Brits to leave this country, letting us found a country premised on idealism and equality and the determination to someday claim that any government intervention in anything is socialism and should be damned.
We saw that when Peyton Manning faced off against the then-undefeated Evil New England Patriots*, and failed to bring them down... only to have his greater and nicer younger brother rise up and vanquish Tom Brady and Bill Belicheat for once and for all, at least until this season started and they began scoring 300 points per quarter.
We saw it in World War I, and World War II, and we'll see it in World War III, which should be starting any time now, according to my 2012 Farmer's Almanac, which I got at a discount because for some reason it ends on December 21st. (Must have been a printer's error.)
Nowadays, though, nobody truly knows what evil is, what a villain is. Everything is Hitler this and Stalin that. People can be accused of horrible crimes and have half of Hollywood come to their defense, or their funeral. Public figures can shoot someone in the face and still hold office, but a politician who suggests that perhaps the richest country in the world shouldn't, maybe, let people die in the streets for lack of insurance is a fascist. We imprison an old man, rightly, for ripping off people in a massive Ponzi scheme, but then hand out a trillion dollars in bailout money to the Wall Street bankers and insurance executives who ripped people off in a different massive Ponzi scheme, and then we hurl insults at the President because he got awarded a prize he didn't earn, but also didn't seek.
It's time to set things straight, and teach people what evil truly is, what a villain truly is. It's time to stare, as Conor Oberst urged, to stare into "the face of every criminal strapped firmly to a chair," and not just to their faces, but into the faces of madmen and dictators and scientists who become reptiles and beings that eat planets and more, and time to show humanity what evil truly is, define it and categorize it and shape it, and in doing so, time to name The Best Worst Villain, EVER, who, when we look at him (or her, it could be a her, even though women really can't be great supervillains, just like they can't dunk, but, sure, her, okay) when we look at him... we see the dark half of ourselves that will then lose to the brighter half of ourselves.
So, over the next few posts (until I grow bored, to be honest) I'll do that, naming various villains and bad guys and supervillains and then slowly winnowing and sifting them out until only one remains, the one that embodies all of the necessary qualities it takes to be The Best Worst Villain Ever.
I will begin the way all endeavors must: with a bologna-salami-mozzarella sandwich and bowl of "Roast Beef" flavored Ramen noodles, which I had for lunch while I came up with a preliminary list of all the Villains I could think of, from real life and comic books and books and movies and songs and "various" and "whatnot."
This list is what I'll be working off of. It's not a comprehensive list of every bad guy ever, mind you. It's just the bad guys I could think of while I ate the aforementioned endeavor-beginning lunch. But if I couldn't think of a bad guy in that time, he's not a very bad guy, is he? So it's a pretty good list to start, although I retain the right to add to it. (And if you think of one I've left off, make sure you mention it.)
Here's the villains, bad guys, she-demons and others currently in the running for The Best Worst Villain Ever.
Marvin The Martian
"The Rake," from the Decemberists song of the same name.
The Red Baron (both the real one and the one from the Peanuts comic)
All the old guys who ran all the haunted amusement parks in all the episodes of Scooby-Doo.
The team that always plays the Harlem Globetrotters.
Rob Lowe in Wayne's World
Bowser (from Super Mario Brothers.)
Mr Norrell (who I think turned out to kind of be a villain?)
The Mariner (from The Mariner's Revenge Song by The Decemberists)
Master Control Program
Darth Vader (and absolutely nobody else from the Star Wars univere including especially not Boba Fett, so don't nominate him.)
Toth (from Raiders of the Lost Ark)
the Qotile from Yar's Revenge.
Ivan Drago (suggested by The Boy)
The guy from Country Death Song by The Violent Femmes (Just to prove that I can think of bad guys from songs by groups other than the Decemberists)
Binky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde.
Snow White's Stepmother, The Queen.
That was all I could think of for now, but I'll add to it.
I'll note that as I finished this up, I asked both Oldest and The Boy to name villains, and both said: The Joker. But I'd already thought of him.
Click here to go on to Part Two: Let's Lose The Chicks.