Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Importance of Villainy…

Slider-villainMany people ask me, “Professor Metal, why do you call yourself a Villain? I thought no one is the villain of their own story.” I get this more often than you might imagine, in fact. More often than not, people do not understand my explanation. As such, I will attempt to explain herein.

People often misunderstand “bad guys”. It is just a thing they do. They assume we are all out for world domination or, barring that, just want to watch the world burn. Sometimes you see a villain in some medium that is just misunderstood, but otherwise a good person who has been forced into doing bad things by circumstance or accident. My favorite example of this is Mr. Freeze from the Batman mythos. He is a man who does bad things because he wants to do research to help his nearly-dead wife, and that sort of thing takes resources, both monetary and otherwise. He does not commit crimes or other evil acts out of a desire to do so, but because he has no means within the legal economy to perform this research.

Before you get ideas in your head about this sort of thing, I am not one of these types of villains. But they do exist, and are hardly worthy of the title. I am a Villain because without people like me, society could not advance.

I know that may seem a bold claim, but the fact of the matter is that we look to villains both as a contrast to that which is good and as a way to identify the darkness within ourselves.

Without the contrast of the villain, would we even know what good looks like? If everyone was good, would that property even mean anything? I think that you cannot have heroes without villains. You see this played out in our stories fairly regularly; a hero must have something which society contrasts him against. As it is quite popular these days, we shall examine this from the perspective of comic books and related media.

Take a look at Batman. He goes out to fight crime, and suddenly all of these villains that people had not even conceived of before start popping up. The Joker, Penguin, Poison Ivy, all villains that your normal run-of-the-mill law enforcement officer is not even remotely equipped to deal with. Why do they not start appearing in Gotham City in such force and numbers until after the appearance of the Batman? It is because, dear reader, there was nothing that needed that strong of a criminal response. There was nothing for them to contrast against, no need for their power. Villains cannot truly thrive in an atmosphere devoid of Heroes.

This is not to say, mind you, that villains cannot exist without contrast. But they cannot achieve their full potential without them. Which brings us to our second point: Villains help the common man by allowing them to identify the darkness within them and in the world around them, and to see the extent to which it can go if left unchecked.

Life is not, as you likely well know, all sunshine and roses. There are vile and horrifying things in the world. These things are not always easy to understand. In attempting to do so, we can see the vile and horrifying things we could also be. The young person who grows up seeing these things can easily find themselves going down such a path. Or they can see the effects of this on the world around them and choose a better path.

Being a Villain means being the person people look to as an example of what not to be or do. It means being willing to make horrible choices for what you perceive to be the best of reasons. Sometimes that vision can become clouded. But, to quote the wise Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, “All great things must first wear terrifying and monstrous masks, in order to inscribe themselves on the hearts of humanity.”

Ep 24: Superheroes and Persona; Can You Have a Secret Identity Crisis?

Welcome one and all to Professor Metal’s Irate Debate and Calamitous Commentary with the Philosophical Chain Gang
Today’s Episode is Superheroes and Persona: Can you have a secret identity crisis?
The Philosophers talk about what one’s identity is composed of
Sean addresses the philosophical concepts of identity as relates to superheroes
Bruce talks about what defines a superhero
Ryver interjects why the secret identity is so common in the realm of superheroes
Sean breaks down the concepts of identity that will be discussed
The Philosophers talk about the combined identity, when a hero is, for one of many reasons, inseparable from their heroic identity
Sean discusses the somewhat fluid nature of the identity of some super-powered people, such as Mystique.
Bruce brings up superheroes who are two people combined into one body
Sean compares this to the inverse of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Ryver talks about this in relation to Deadpool
Sean talks about the lack of accountability that can occur from using the masks to hide a heroes identity
The Philosophers discuss how this relates to The Watchmen
Ryver and Sean talk about the meaning and power of masks in history
Bruce talks about how this relates to Superheroes
Sean talks about the assumed identity of the Red Hood from the Batman mythos
Sean brings the conversation around to the concept of the Split Persona, the idea that the person behind the mask and the person they are when they are wearing the mask are somewhat different people
Ryver talks about how the identity of someone wearing the mask of Batman has, in a way, become larger and more prevalent than anyone behind it could become on their own
Bruce brings up the idea that Bruce Wayne is not the real person in that dynamic, but more a tool and strategy employed by the Batman
Ryver points out  that Clark Kent plays a very similar role for Superman, just in a different way.
Sean points out the disparity in those situations
Ryver brings up Spider-Man/Peter Parker as prime example of the Split Personality concept
Sean goes into detail about this disparity of identity
Bruce brings up the Hulk as good example, with no transparency of even memory between the characters of The Hulk and Bruce Banner
Ryver brings up The Flash as a Split AND group personality
Sean moves the conversation into group or Inherited personality, starting with The Dread Pirate Roberts
Ryver talks about how prevalent this concept is in comic books
Bruce expounds on the importance of core origin story, and some factors that may lead to some mantles being passed that occur outside of the storyline itself
Ryver talks about the Elseworlds and What If series of comics as a means to retell an existing story
Sean expands on the points about the Red Sun comics, and how this relates to literature
Ryver discusses the Green Lantern as an archetype of the inherited personality concept, and how this allows writers to tell different stories about the same hero
Sean talks about the seeking out of a person who fits a particular archetype for the Green Lantern, creating similar, though not identical, type of hero
Ryver explains this point in greater detail
Sean and Ryver talk about the fairly recent controversial passing of the mantle of Thor, and how this relates to the politics of the comics industry
Bruce and Sean transition to talking about how these concepts relate to personas that we can identify with, and why the outsider nature of many heroes makes them in some ways more relatable
Ryver discusses the therapeutic effect of this relationship between reader and comic
Sean talks about how this relates to both the real world and other media
The Philosophers expand on these ideas as it relates to the reader’s identity
Sean closes the main conversation with some interesting questions about why we feel the way we do when characters change
Professor Metal takes the last word to challenge comic writers to come up with characters that budding young villains can really look up to.

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Ep 23: The Walking Dead and Hobbes; Better off dead?

Welcome one and all to Professor Metal’s Irate Debate and Calamitous Commentary with the Philosophical Chain Gang.

Today’s Episode is The Walking Dead and Hobbes: Better off Dead?

Sean and Ryver talk about what The Walking Dead is

The Philosophers discuss why zombies are not the focus of the show

Ryver brings in how this relates to the work of Thomas Hobbes

Sean talks about how Hobbes looks at human nature

Ryver and Bruce expand on this view

Sean discusses Hobbes as a response to Rousseau

Bruce talks about books that try to highlight Rousseau’s ideas

Ryver and Sean bring up Lord of the Flies and the Ring of Gyges, which very much supports Hobbes

The Philosophers talks about the themes from Hobbes in The Walking Dead and other post-apocalyptic media

Ryver and Bruce discuss how this relates to Game Theory and the Cold War

Sean talks about the psychology that would lead to confrontational behaviour between the groups in The Walking Dead

Professor Metal presents questions about Canadian Zombies

The Philosophers discuss other post-apocalyptic media

Sean looks at how media wherein the Social Contract is stripped away looks at what happens when this occurs.

Bruce and Sean discuss how that plays out in the history of the real world

Ryver and Sean talk about how this relates to our current social contract

Bruce brings up that the economics of survival in the small groups in The Walking Dead make interpersonal conflict a luxury they really cannot afford

Sean discusses the importance of approval within the group as a powerful motivator

Ryver and Bruce discuss the motivations and advantages of the formation of societies

Sean talks about the other side of the post-apocalyptic coin: when our civilization takes off ahead of us, such as the storyline of Terminator

Ryver and Bruce expand on this point

Sean brings up that which enemy we fight in a given media is, perhaps, not as important as the fact that we are fixated on having media with some kind of enemy

Bruce and Sean raise the question of what we are like without civilization, and how what we think the answer is tells us something about ourselves

Ryver takes the last word to talk about The Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, and why he disagrees with some ideas raised therein.

And as always please give us your honest review on iTunes and Stitcher. It helps us make the show better with every one we get to read.

Help keep the show going and the moon safe by supporting us on Patreon

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