Why are we drawn to the Dark Side? - A Halloween special


'Come to the dark side we have cookies' has become the standard fan-shirt-phrase for each Star Wars fan. And indeed, Darth Vader and a vast number of other bad guys from various movies will be the most popular characters. From Hannibal to Tony Montana - people will always be drawn to the dark side. Moreover, actors who have ever played a bad guy like Tom Hiddleston or Jeffrey Dean Morgan really do enjoy their roles. But why is this so? What makes characters like the Joker so popular? Today's blog will try to answer this question (don't expect any good answers though). 

While the nice characters try to act according to moral norms, the bad guys do what the hell they want. I think in all of us there is a deep desire to have that freedom, too. I doubt it is us wanting to kill, but rather to have the freedom to act however we want. The Netflix show 'Daredevil' is dealing with it extensively. While Matt Murdoch is trying to be righteous and not to kill people, he is encountering a problem: Is he better if he trashes his enemies but keeps them alive? Will this behaviour make his opponents even angrier and more aggressive? Because that is exactly what happens in series 2: All of his former enemies come back stronger than they were before and keep on attacking innocent people. It is hard to be good. So, while the Punisher simply ends the bad guys' lives, Matt is on the horns of a dilemma. If the bad guys are keep coming back does it then make sense to kill? His moral norms are standing in the way because he learned not to kill. It is the abstract form of a dilemma we all have every day. How do we treat people right? Even those who are not good? In my opinion, it is influencing all of our decisions, our social interactions, and our behaviour in general. In the movie world, everything is simply black and white. We have the bad and the good. But this is something you cannot find in the real world. It is much harder and less obvious what is good and what is not. The good character in a movie will always be good and living according to a code, which can be dull sometimes. But the bad guys are the one's who rebel against the norms and are an exaggerated form of us doubting the system. Maybe that is exactly, why many of us are rooting for the bad guys because they are standing for the doubting part of us. Plus, they will never have our dilemma and our problems. We all need a bit of freedom to do what we want. 

Another much simpler reason for our love for the dark side could also be the fact that bad characters are usually presented as much more charming, much cooler, much funnier than the nice guys. So, while Batman is this ever depressing and deadly serious person, the Joker is crazy and so cool. Who wants to be a depressing and sad character if there is the chance to be funnier and a bit out of line? Would people rather listen to friendly Rock music or loud and crazy Punkrock? My point is clear: Bad characters are definitely different. They have unique personalities and we might not understand them all the time, but maybe that is exactly what draws us to them. Especially for Halloween, we all just want to be the bad guys for once, right? But what about violence in films? If we enjoy violent scenes, does it turn us into psychopaths? 

Whenever I get to watch 'Carrie' and try not to laugh throughout the film, I really enjoy the last quarter of the movie. When Carrie literally slays the dancefloor after being harassed by her classmates I enjoy every second of her revenge act. Maybe it is due to the fact that the whole scene is so hilarious but there is also a moment of relief. The same goes for each Tarantino movie, especially the 'Django Unchained' scene where Django suddenly becomes this superhero and is killing each one at the Candyland accompanied by the voice of 2Pac. It is what I would call a perfect scene. Does this mean that I enjoy violence or that I am some sort of psychopath? Of course, the answer is no, because it is not the violence that I am enjoying in these scenes. To me, these scenes have one purpose only: To give the unheard or less powerful the power to take revenge on their enemies. The Walking Dead, for example, is playing with that sort of intention: Whenever Rick and his crew is being threatened they find a way to get rid of the bad guys. And you do celebrate that they find a way because you see how they were suffering under these bad people and you want them to be strong for you. You want them to survive. The same concept you'll find in 'Inglourious basterds'. Shoshanna's family is being killed by Nazis, so naturally, all you want her is to take revenge on them. When she finds a way to do so, you are so happy for her, not because she is simply killing Nazis. But more because the film gives the voiceless a voice. The victims of the Holocaust are getting the chance to be more than just victims: Suddenly they have more power than the Nazis. It is a beautiful concept. That is mostly why we enjoy violence in movies, not because of the violence but because what it means to the one's who have been treated awfully. This, of course, doesn't mean that you should go out and take revenge on everyone, instead try to take it with more class. Just like Oscar Wilde once said: 'Always forgive your enemies - Nothing annoys them so much.' 

Then, of course, we have the other side of it: Violence without this sort of relief. Like the premier of Walking Dead's season 7, this sort of violence is more to shock and hence is not supposed to be enjoyed. I doubt no one did like the way both characters were killed. Especially, because both characters were considered as the coolest and nicest characters of the show. The purpose is another, so the reactions will be different I hope.  It was indeed traumatizing and sad. I think everyone can agree on this. 

You see, this blog did not really answer the question but one thing is tried to make clear: Bad guys are never just bad guys in movies and enjoying violence in movies do not necessarily make you bad. Maybe we all need a bit of a dark side to be reminded of how hard it really is to be good. Being bad is so easy, but being good takes a lot of strength and guts. I hope you enjoyed this blog and if you have any thoughts or anything you particularly liked or not liked, I would be happy for some feedback. Til then, happy Halloween everyone! 

P.S.: All photos taken by me, do not steal it, please!

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