Villains Take Center Stage

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Last Updated: Jun 25, 2014

From Disney’s Maleficent to cartoons like Despicable Me, it seems like villains are taking the center stage in movies and even on TV shows.

According to Dr Stacey Abbott of Roehampton University in London, there has been a long history of villains presented as glamorous and romantic in film and in literature.

University College London’s Dr Luke Seaber complemented this point saying that there are villains in children’s media that tend to be more interesting than the protagonist. One of the leading reasons for this is that villains have a broader range of actions and moods available for them compared to the beautiful princess and the handsome prince. Lately, children stories are turned into adult shows and books, which is why there is a shift of focus from the heroes to the villains.

TV shows also has its share of villains as the main character starting from Hannibal, the younger version of Psycho’s Norman Bates in Bates Motel, James Spader from the Black List and the rest of the leading characters in series like Crossbones, Gang Related, and Power.

According to University of East Anglia media studies lecturer Dr Keith M Johnston, this style of having villains taking the lead role is a shift to long form television. This means instead of having stand alone stories, where one episode can tell an independent story, shows now use long form, where one story would last an entire series or even longer. And this can be done with a villain as the lead character because it can provide a richer psychology to the story.

According to University of Kent Lecturer Dr Mrgrethe Bruun Vaage, the long span of a TV show can activate the same parts of the brain that develops friendship. Which is why even if the gangsters from the Sopranos and Walter White from Breaking Bad are doing illegal and nefarious activities, fans are still in love with them.

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