Posts Tagged ‘ Darth Vader ’

Villains: The New Hero?

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

This is a guest post by Vinnie Penn, whose show, The Vinnie Penn Project, airs on Connecticut radio station 960/WELI.  He’s wondering why his son’s friends prefer villains instead of heroes. Times have changed since Vinnie was a kid, and it looks like not everyone wants to be the good guy anymore. boy in superhero costume

My 6-year-old son came home from school in a bad mood one day. This is not commonplace. It seems he and his friends were playing “The Avengers” during recess and he didn’t get to be Hawkeye, his favorite superhero in the group. (“The Avengers” was the game du jour for the majority of the Fall of 2012, thanks to the blockbuster summer film based on the much-loved Marvel Comic series.) He was relegated to Thor, which you’d think would be considered a score, what with this particular character having a franchise all his own, and even a sequel due this coming Fall. But, no, my son prefers the archer Hawkeye, a hero with zero super-powers, just a sharp eye and an arrow for every occasion. He kept getting bounced between Thor and Hulk, both dead last picks on this elementary school playground, Iron Man, Captain America and Hawkeye being the most-coveted. With – get this – villain Loki right up there with that trio.

By Spring 2013 life got better at school. My little guy came home beaming one day that he “got to be” Luke Skywalker during recess. (The whole thing begs the question of who was doling out the roles; what is the process – could it be the time-honored rock, paper, scissor? I never inquired.) I suggested maybe he landed the plum gig of Luke because that’s his name. He shook his head no, still waving an imaginary light-saber, off, ostensibly, to destroy the Death Star. As of a few weeks ago he was Batman almost every day for a stretch, opting for Robin one day just to mix things up. Life was good.   

Then, one night at dinner, he brought up Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Recess again; he was curious as to why any of his classmates would want to be the bad guy at all, basically inferring that being the bad guy was the stuff of short straw-drawing. “Daddy,” he began, “how come they all fought over who got to be Darth Vader?” I suggested it could perhaps be the voice, the “I am your father,” and so on and so forth. But when he pressed, moving on to The Joker, Batman’s ultimate nemesis, and wondering why everyone wanted to be him – “Even Matthew!!” – I drew a real blank. The Joker of my youth bordered on buffoon and got very little screen time. Today’s Joker is, arguably, the star of the show. In the Tim Burton film version Jack Nicholson is billed before Michael Keaton, the former playing the villain and the latter the hero! When did the villain become the star?

“They all say The Joker’s cool,” my Luke added, incredulous. He went on: “I’m like, cool? He’s the bad guy!” Then, after a pause, a gulp of milk, a bit of thought, he said softly, “But whatever. I love being Batman.” He’s a rare breed nowadays, I thought to myself. Not necessarily my son – the hero.  

Image: boy in superhero costume, via Shutterstock

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