A look at how we judge our villains — both in pop culture and in real life

maleficent-01So everyone’s going gaga over the new “Cinderella” movie. You know, pretty blue dress, orphan chick who marries the prince with a shoe fetish? That story. However, no one ever seems to pay attention to the villains as anything other than an evil character who makes the saccharine good guy look like an absolute saint.

As is the norm with “Cinderella,” you spend a good deal of it wanting to bitch-slap Lady Tremaine (Ella’s stepmother) until you hear the fantastic monologue she has that transforms her from merely an evil stepmom to a woman who lives in bitterness, having faced more loss and sorrow than she could bear.

Are all villains truly evil or is evilness a scale with varying degrees? Looking at a few examples, it seems that movie and storybook villains can be as complicated as real-life people.

Of course, my favorite one to dwell on is Loki Odinson/Laufeyson from the Thor movies. We definitely have the Scar-like resemblance in that hatred of the golden brother (Thor or Mufasa depending on which story you pick).

However, unlike Scar who is evil enough to have his own brother killed, Loki merely lies to his brother on his way to the throne to keep his brother on Earth. Loki even offers the throne back to his brother when impersonating Odin, but that’s another story. So while we have Scar’s fratricide as a darker, more potent evil, Loki’s mischief seems light in comparison to murder.

Speaking of the struggle for power, let’s discuss the modern spectrum of evil from foolish to downright midnight evil.

On the lighter side of wrongdoings, we have folks such as Aaron Schock and Bill Clinton. Schock was the youngest Congressman ever to be voted into office, but unfortunately, his fiscal talents were not as strong as his political skills. Schock spent over $10,000 of taxpayer money decorating his office to look exactly like the Downton Abbey study. Bill Clinton received oral sex from a White House intern, the now infamous Monica Lewinsky, and was nearly impeached for it.

Are these acts truly evil? Schock was forced to pay back the money out of his own pocket. Clinton’s actions hurt his own family more than they did the country. Is it our right to throw a man out of office for his personal life?

These actions seem mild in comparison to other acts, both in modern times as well as throughout history.

Vladimir Dracula, the real person whom the famous vampire was based upon, slaughtered and skewered many people in his life, hence his nickname “Vlad the Impaler.” Elizabeth Bathory tortured and killed more than 300 virgins so that she could bathe in their blood to stay forever young, kind of like the Evil Queen in “Snow White.”

Are we going to judge villains and politicians on the same scale we use to judge mass murderers? Life is rarely as simply as black and white, good and bad. Evil depends on the eye of the beholder — it’s up to you to decide where those misdeeds fall on your personal scale of wrongdoings.