If you’re going into a piece of media determined to empathize with the villain above the heroes of the piece, you’re not getting the same story as everyone else. As a result, these fans take their own headcanons as fact and harshly punish or harass other fans that have a different point of view. Point out that Kylo Ren and Hux are purposeful fascist allegories with the rise of the First Order tying back to Nazis? Expect to have people repeat the manufactured sob story about Kylo’s childhood (which literally wasn’t even that bad) as an excuse to spend the rest of their lives on the internet harassing you. (I know this because it’s happened to me and many others.) Try talking about how Loki’s initial entry into the MCU has him try to do a genocide and later try to take over the world as Thanos’ messenger. When you do, expect people to bring up how he’s a transracial adoptee suffering from abandonment issues and child abuse. We are literally not allowed to talk negatively/critically about the bad things villains do — even when we say explicitly that we like the characters we’re talking about — because he’s their blorbo or little meow meow now and fandom has decided to make that position sacred.
Think Your Fave Fictional Villain Is the Real Hero? Think Again.
I think the funniest thing about the response to this article is the number of people who didn’t read it or read it in bad faith insisting this is “fake journalism” out to oppress villain fuckers because I hate villains. I know I don’t really like Kylo Ren, Hux, or their fans who’ve been harassing me for most of a decade of this point with no sign of stoping (and every sign of escalating), but the last thing I am is a “villain anti” or whatever the Terminally Online are calling it these days.
Last year, I wrote about how we like villains and which villains get the hype. That I think is the sort of piece the haters decided this one was. Sight unseen, fueled solely by Kylo in the header and my reputation in fandom, Rey/Kylo shippers and an army of villain stans once again descended in order to tear what they thought was my argument to shreds and accuse me of… shaming the youth for loving villains.
Explaining myself or justifying myself won’t work. These are, after all, people who have repeatedly tried to get me fired and have spent years on a targeted harassment campaign (that they then lie and attribute to me against them) over fandom. My humanity, my actual fandom history and activities, or the truth? Literally don’t matter.
But I do think it’s funny that I could, and did, write an entire article saying that we should just like the bad shit our baddies do… only to have hundreds of people insisting I’m telling people they can’t like villains or that making villains makes you a bad person. Meanwhile, I’ve been terrorizing my timeline with my deep thirst for Mahito and I’m working on a Merry Bad Ending story for him and Junpei — who he kills in canon.
Do you see why I had that reading comprehension resource link on my sidebar that got me called abusive? Because this would be funny if the people utilizing what a pal called “weaponized refusal to read”, weren’t determined to destroy my actual real life in order to protect fictional villains from the tiniest bit of criticism or analysis. (While insisting that eye am the one trying to control people over villains/heroes.)
Oh what’s also wild are the amount of people purposefully misrepresenting my words even if they agree with me. I’m clearly talking about a specific phenomenon in the fandoms for specific kinds of media that curbs how we can talk about villains. Watching people either misrepresent the piece entirely or say “hey this isn’t in the article but let’s talk about this in ways that’ll lead to people saying stitch said them”… is annoying. There’s nothing here saying every story has a hero and a villain (antagonists are not always villains and I know you know that I know that) or that you shouldn’t like villains/should feel bad for liking them. I’m not telling people to condemn their villainous faves — simply that you can’t keep fighting people and harassing them over acknowleding or hating on a villain for the shit they actually do.
Yeah, I love critical engagement with media and journalism but if you cannot actually do it? If you’re pretending you are while stabbing the ghost of an argument that doesn’t even exist in mine? Probably… quit while you’re behind.
Anyway, I’m genuinely proud of this article because I was able to get it done while dealing with a distressing family tragedy and it gave me space to properly unspool some thoughts I’d had bound up in my head. It’s fun to talk and think critically about villains because of how easy it is to get sucked into the hype and become genuine apologists for them. I’ve actually never done a “hey these baddies are delicious, let’s keep them crunchy and sharp” article before (beyond this Kylo one from 2018). Writing one while absolutely going through it over villains in my new favorite series is… pretty refreshing? 10/10 will probably do something about villains next year too. I’ve got a plan…and Jujutsu Kaisen season two will probably be out by then.