Booking Through Thursday — Villains

So, feeling my way to a question here … Terrorists aren’t just movie villains any more. Do real-world catastrophes such as 9/11 (and the bombs in Madrid, and the ones in London, and the war in Darfur, and … really, all the human-driven, mass loss-of-life events) affect what you choose to read? Personally, I used to enjoy reading Tom Clancy, but haven’t been able to stomach his fight-terrorist kinds of books since.

And, does the reality of that kind of heartless, vicious attack–which happen on smaller scales ALL the time–change the way you feel about villains in the books you read? Are they scarier? Or more two-dimensional and cookie-cutter in the face of the things you see on the news?

The question brings up a couple of interesting reflections on today.  The first one was remembering that morning.  I was in the process of breaking up with She Who Must Not Be Named, so I got up, showered, got dressed and went to work – no radio, no tv, no lingering.  In the car, I’d had a CD in and it continued playing, so I got to work and saw a friend and said a cheerful “Good Morning!” and she looked at me like I had four heads and said, “What’s so good about it?”

This morning, I went about my normal business again and didn’t realize what day it was until I wrote out a check to put in the mail.  So, I suppose I must admit it’s not in the forefront of my mind, but I do think about that day (and the days after) at unexpexted times.  Much like the strongest memories of my parents don’t occur on their birthdays or holidays or other times you’d expect, but surprisingly out-of-the-blue for the oddest reasons.  I'd never thought before that day was similar to the loss of a loved one, but maybe it really is.

Thinking about books, I don’t think 9/11 changed the way I read or the way that I think about villains.  When I read fantasy and horror, it’s easy to have the Big Bad as the antagonist – and comforting that there are good guys and bad guys, those villains are simple and not-realistic on purpose.  Pure escapism.  When I read other novels, I like books about the grayness in people’s lives.  What motivates a good person to sin?  What drives a bad person to an act of redemption?  Why do two well-meaning people end up at odds?  Certainly no classic villains there.

I guess villain that made me think of terrorism the most, was the Joker in the recent Batman movie, The Dark Knight.  This wasn’t a villain that was greedy, or power-hungry, or a religious or ideological fanatic.  Chaos for its own sake – on a very small and personal scale.  One of the few re-assuring things about the Cold War was that the prospect of nuclear destruction was both unimaginable and equal-opportunity – everyone bites it, it wasn’t personal.  But with terrorists, what if you’re the unlucky guy in that store, on that corner, on that airplane?  That’s very personal and all-too-easy to imagine ourselves or our loved ones in that situation.  And that’s scary.

Note: find this BTT link here.

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8 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday — Villains

  1. I don't think about it often either. Whoa there Darryl Whorley, I have not forgotten, but I have moved on. It helps that I live in Nashville and am not a prime target location. I guess some people could go after oak ridge, but I am not sure how much of a problem that would be for me. Our Islamic folk are pretty good natured and non radical. If we had terrorism here it would be a cult or seperatist group. I think, as a group, Middle Tennesseans are too apethetic to worry about it.

  2. Chaos for the sake of chaos is a good way of stating it. I think it says a lot about our hyper individualism that we have not found a united way to commemorate this day. You'd think it would continue to unite the country, but it really hasn't.

  3. I find it annoying that every book I read these days the author seems to feel the need to make a reference to 9/11.
    We don't have much connection to 9/11 here. I know we were all shocked when it happened but I don't think I saw anything about it in the papers at all this year. I think there was a movie on TV.
    Australia had the Bali Bombing instead. And that was a shock for a lot of Australians. I guess we'd always felt pretty safe before – a long way away from the rest of the world. To think that you could be on holiday in a beautiful peaceful place then all of a sudden have your world destruct like that. They have a service every year to commemorate that.
    lol – though I'm not sure any of that has anything to do with what your questions were.

  4. Cat — that's okay — I don't think I answered the questions very well either. I think we just end up reflecting and thinking. Being in California was very strange — folks were worried about sites in LA or San Francisco, but thankfully nothing happened — our lives went on almost unchanged. It's like it did and didn't happen.

  5. Food for thought. I think I am more curious than ever about the psyche of the "villain" — who more often than not perceives himself as anything but that. But terrorism has been around for a lot longer than seven years, and many parts of the world are continually affected by it. So recent events haven't rocked my world more than the older ones did. I am probably more keen than ever to read accounts from all perspectives to ensure I am not brainwashed into whatever viewpoint the media would have me take.

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