As kids, fairytales were often read to us. We would get enamoured by the mystery, the adventure, the magic and the happy endings. Fairy tales were our main source of entertainment. The good guy in the tales would always win and whisk the princess away into the sunset. But there is an important element that we always miss out on while talking about fairy tales; that of the villain. Every fairytale has a good old fashioned villain. One who is evil, tormentor to our hero, one who would often capture the damsel in distress or pose as the main hurdle in the love story. These villains were evil, vicious, devil like and also pivotal to the story. Because without the villain the hero would not have the opportunity to show case his courage, his bravery. The villains of the story where who made the heroes shine and without them there wouldn’t be a story. These lecherous villainous characters are often underrated and sidelined. But they do have a glory of their own. They are smart, genius and often cunningly bold, leaving a lot that we can learn from them. (Cautionary tale: this article is meant for entertainment purpose only and the villainy taught by villains should not in reality be executed in any way whatsoever, nor does this article aim at glorifying them, but instead just gives them their due appreciation)
As we grew up, fairy tales were replaced by movies and TV shows and the villains in our tales became more sinister and darker. Upon some contemplation I realised that there was one thing that the show Gossip Girl taught me, that when it came to blackmail, dig deep enough and you shall find dirt on anyone which can be used as leverage. Though mind you this show does have a lot more to it than that, but it was an important lesson in manipulation and blackmail that the show taught me, if I were to ever come across a situation where I might need it. That got me thinking about all the other villains and the amount of learning potential they have to offer.
Arguably the best villain out there has to be Joker from the Dark knight. Heath Ledger’s portrayal of this iconic character has been hauntingly perfect. There is a lot that the Joker teaches us as far as villainy is concerned. First off and probably the most important is his cause. He is one of those rare breed of villains who torment their hero’s just for the sake of it. There isn’t apparently any concrete reason behind the Joker’s antics. He torments Batman, takes payment for it and then burns the money; clearly financial gain isn’t his target. Revenge is not on his list either. The absence of any strong motive is what makes Joker so complex a character and the most sinister. Who do you fight or reason with a madman who has no reasons behind his actions? You can’t bribe him, you can’t make a deal with him because there isn’t anything particular he is after. No dialogue sums up the Joker’s intentions better than Alfred’s dialogue “some people just like to watch the world burn.” Joker is much like Moriarty in that sense, Moriarty too made a life out of tormenting Sherlock because he was bored and wanted someone smart enough to play with. So the essential lesson here is, if you want to be the greatest villain out there, make sure you don’t have a concrete reason, do it for fun.
This message can even be taken in a positive manner, if you had to. Doing things for fun. We often let responsibilities and consequences burden us. Once in while we too should do some things for fun, because we love them, and because we enjoy doing it. The peace and joy you get from doing something for fun is like no other. As twisted as it may seem, both Moriarty and Joker’s actions do have life lessons hidden in them. Another important lesson that Joker teaches us is that “If you’re good at something, never do it for free.” A simple statement, yet a profound truth hidden in it which often gets missed because of its context. The joker was talking about his skills to kill Batman, but if you can alienate that aspect from the statement, and look at it under isolation, you’ll find meaning in it which you can apply to life as well. We often let emotions get in our way and get taken for a ride. But important rule in life is that business and personal feelings don’t go hand in hand. If you’re good at something charge a fee for it, without feeling guilty about it, irrespective of who it is at the other end. People might often tell you otherwise, but money is important. You cannot enjoy other worldly comforts or turn towards spirituality and ponder upon the questions of the universe if your basic needs aren’t fulfilled. And for that, you need money, so charge away.
Most importantly, be confident in whatever it is that you do. Both Joker and Moriarty have a stylish flare about them as they go about doing their work. A little style and flare never hurt anybody. In fact it gives you a positive boost. I guess these villains do teach us a lot more than just villainy, a lot more of life!