Prince Humperdinck. Dorothy without the Wicked Witch. Stefan Salvatore without Damon. Clarice Starling without Hannibal Lecter. Old Yeller without rabies. (Did I go too far? Alright, lemme hear it: "awwwwwwwwww.")
*Side note - You don't have to have some epic story with a clear-cut, monstrous villain or antagonist for this post to relate to you. After all, every character should have a little bit of a villain in them, right? So readers and writers of contemporary realistic fiction, never fear! I'm one of you!
2.) Everyone knows Disney movies. Easy example.
3.) Gaston is both a good and bad villain, so he works well for my purposes.
4.) Did I mention I'm obsessed with Beauty and the Beast?
What do we know about Gaston?
He's the town hottie, and he knows it. Quite a brute though, but the townspeople have this love/fear relationship with him. In the song "Gaston," they start off by saying that he's "perfect, a pure paragon" and "everyone's favorite guy" ... but then we learn more. He basically intimidates them because he's a bully. (Remember that kid you hated in school? That's him. Gaston stole your lunch money. Then he took steroids, popped his collar, and became that mean dumb jock in high school who snagged everyone's girlfriend.) People hang on to him and suck up to him because he has power.
Enter Gaston the Uber-Villain. (Say that in a Terminator accent, please.) Now Belle has to pay, because she humiliated him. Who does he go after? First her eccentric father, then her exceptionally hairy, fanged boyfriend. Eek!
He provides a wonderful foil to the Beast, who is the unconventional hero in this story. The fairy tale teaches that beauty is only skin deep, and not to judge on appearances alone. Therefore, if the gorgeous, manly specimen is truly "beastly" within, then the hideous beast can be a kind, learned gentleman who spouts Whitman at will and understands that sometimes all a woman needs is dark chocolate and a bubble bath. Ahem. Basically, their contrasts enhance each other.
Why Gaston's a Crappy Villain
Did someone say one-dimensional? We get it, he's a shallow meanie. Duh. There are SO MANY things we don't know about him. First off, how did he become so darn proud and entitled? What made him so obsessed with his looks? Was he a scrawny kid who got teased but then hit puberty first? What kind of family does he come from -- large/small? poor/rich? I want to know! (Stomps foot.) Does he have any goals or dreams for himself? (Perhaps Mr. Universe aspirations?) Has he ever had a real friend?
Or, if a character's going to be all evil, at least give him some real personality! See Hannibal Lecter and Prince Humperdinck. Throw Bellatrix Lestrange in that group too. She's all sorts of awesome.
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