Atheist “New Humanist” asks about Hollywood Redemption Stories

James Robins wrote the article Why does every Hollywood baddie need a redemption story? for the New Humanist (Atheist, by any other name) magazine (August 31, 2021) which is published by the Rationalist Association (Atheist, by any other name) which is about “promoting rational inquiry and debate based on evidence rather than belief” without a universal premise for rationality nor demanding evidence nor basing views only on rational nor evidence.

In any case, Robins notes a tendency for Hollywood to redeem baddie so leads “villain to be transformed into a good-hearted hero” and so asks, “Why can’t we let baddies be baddies?”

I will note this much up front: the article is 99% rant and ever bothers answering the question.

Of the movie Cruella, Robins notes, “filmgoers everywhere rose in chorus with a single indignant word: Why?”

The question was posed since, “In the rogues’ gallery of iconic villains, Cruella de Vil [Cruel Devil] ought to have pride of place…that most dastardly archetype” yet now, “Far from being the tyrannical inheritor of obscene wealth” she is “a scampish Dickensian orphan who yearns to become an haute couture [high-end fashion] designer.”

Robins asserts that, “It takes a special kind of arrogance to come up with stuff like this. Rather than purely malevolent, Cruella has suddenly and inexplicably become a striver and a good-hearted hero.”

To denote the subjective nature of this, how about I say that it takes a special kind of arrogance to come up with stuff like this? Rather than a complex character with humble beginnings with a tragic turn, Cruella has been traditionally portrayed as purely malevolent without a premise and without redemption.

Robins myopically notes, “Cruella…was made by Disney, a company that of course bears no ill will towards things that children love, and only wants to acquire their treasures by charm and good manners.”

S’what? Come again?

An oddity about Disney is that during times of strong traditional values, they were making movie about children with dead parents being traumatized in occult saturated environments not, “charm and good manners” but charms and amulets.

Thus, Robins’ odd characterization of “Disney’s beloved staple of animations for children (especially those made in the 1960s and 1990s) were often perfect little morsels: sweet confections carefully shaved of fat and fancy, with good jokes, no lulls and few ethical qualms” is quite odd, to say the least.

I will note that one insightful statement, that some such as myself have also made in other words, was when Robins noted, “By strange alchemy, ephemeral entertainments like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice are somehow bumped up to the status of Hamlet or The Iliad…In short: adults are ordering their lives around films made for children.”

As I have put it, ancient cultures sat around the flickering light of fires to hear tales of myth, legend, and ethics that built up the culture.

We sit around sit around the flickering light of movie screens (of whatever size device) hear virtue signaling tales of myth, legend, and utter lack of ethics that deconstruct the traditional culture and build up the cesspool in which we live today.

So why are villains transformed into a good-hearted hero and why can’t we let baddies be baddies?

Two views which intersect:

1) Because many neo-tales are told of people doing horribly terrible things for what we are told good reasons—such as the pragmatism which demands that the ends justify the means.

Thus, the anti-hero is actually heroic but is only heroic because they win in the end, not because they are unlike the villain in terms of character.

The typical modus operandi is that a character will be placed into a situation (generally if not always actually a false dichotomy) where we are pushed to accept that they either do good and perish (they, their families, etc.) or do bad to survive and so that bad-doing is what makes them good.

2) Because as much as we want to see baddies get their comeuppance, we are fallen beings created in God’s image and, at some level (such as the unconscious level of the soul’s cry) we see the baddie in ourselves and long for our redemption and so (even if grudgingly) see the redemption of other baddies.

3/Intersection) We desire to excuse the “good” “hero” doing “bad” because we want to see them succeed since that reflects our God given lives and soul’s desires. Yet, we need to cautious about this turning into a worldview philosophy that merely does just that, excuses bad-doing in the name of good since such pragmatism becomes of stuff of which subjectivism is made.

For more details, see my relevant books.

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