24 April 2008

On Being an Evil Overlord

Best line every written by one of my students:
In conclusion, being an evil overlord could be a good occupation, if you maintain the ability to think strategicaly and to analyze your opponent's moves.
That's from an analysis of how villians always screw up in the movies, despite always beginning with so many advantages. The paper is for my political behavior class.

The paper reminds me of a book I once read that was written by a former Mossad agent (long lost, and I don't remember the title). The author pointed out that in real life, when you burst into a room of bad guys, you don't pause to announce your entrance and give them time to reach for their guns; you just go in shooting and try to kill them all before they realize what's happening.

I'd like to see more Hollywood movies where the characters really are strategic actors behaving rationally.

2 comments:

James K said...

That would be fun. I suspect it does happen because:

1) Its too original.

2) Writing a story where the heroes win against rational enemies would require a lot more work. If the villains are smart, the heroes have to be brilliant.

I can think of a few non-Hollywood examples though:

1) A graphic novel called Watchmen. The villain's master-stroke is too good for me to spoil.

2) Havelock Vetinari from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels. He's not exactly a villain, but he is a self-described tyrant and he's extremely intelligent.

3) There was a short story I read a while ago (in a compendium about evil overlords) in which the queen of small, but rapidly expaning kingdom essentially adopted the directives of the Evil Overlord list as SOP. For instance, when a hero arrives at the gates to challenger her reign of terror, shoe orders her archers to fill him full of arrows. Also, all hay must be brought into her kingdom in tight bales. Loose hay is destroyed with fire arrows at a safe distance.

James K said...

Doi! I mean I suspect it [b]doesn't[/b] happen, obviously. [smacks self in head]