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Why villains are cool and gay villains even cooler

Why villains are cool and gay villains even cooler published on No Comments on Why villains are cool and gay villains even cooler

I’ve been chatting with Vermont author Alex Potter, a writer of sci fi and fantasy short stories, for my upcoming article in Out in the Mountains. He really likes villainous characters, especially queer villainous characters, so naturally we had to go off on a tangent involving Jareth, Frank and other gay characters we love to hate. Conversation went something like this:

Me: “My two favorite villains are from movies…Frank [Tim Curry] from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and Jareth [David Bowie] from Labyrinth. Frank is very queer in behavior and appearance and is even labeled as such, while Jareth’s queerness is much more implied.”

Alex: “Frank is SO much more interesting than Brad and Janet, and in a very real way represents so much about what both of the ‘heroes’ would rather do/be/allow themselves to experience.”

Me: “Villainy, queerness and sexiness seem to go together. While they may be antagonists, they’re also incredibly attractive [physically and personality-wise]. Their moral transgressions [being evil] and sexual ambiguity [being queer] make them more interesting to viewers than the so-called heroes.”

Alex: “I absolutely believe in the intricate link between villainy/queerness/sexiness. For me, one of the main representations of this in media culture was stunningly handled in the character of Alex Krycek on the XFiles. The actor’s interpretation of the character spun a minor role into a fan phenomenon. The character was definitely played for a villain, but there was always this weird ambiguity about what exactly his motives were, and you always had a sense he had entirely his own agenda. He was sex on legs, and interestingly enough, whether he intended to or not, he sparked all over the screen with his *male* costars. So yes, I come from very much the same place you do in linking the appeal of the villain with the trangressive characteristics they represent.”

Me: “I think that villains represent an excessive sort of self-expression that people [readers or viewers] wish that they could practice themselves. Villains have all the fun [at least until their ignominious defeat]. What do you think?”

Alex: “I have a theory that all of us have an understanding of some level of villainy, as human beings, that allows us to really appreciate these characters. But villains in fiction, whether it be books or movies or tv, offer such a fun and rewarding way to connect safely with that piece of our psyche. Villains really do, as you say, have all the fun. They have a freedom of action that most of us, bound by society and rules, can’t even imagine. And there is a DIRECT line between that and queer culture, queer experience. Historically, we’ve (queer people) been placed in a position to go against society’s rules. We’ve often been cast in the role of the bad guy or the transgressor. So we’ve also gained that level of freedom that people unwilling to cross those boundaries have not gained… along with all the inherent risk.”

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