Designated Villains

You might have heard that in response to a picture of a large extended family which includes a baby who happens to be adopted and black, a group of MSNBC clowns thought it was appropriate to make a series of jeers,( singing ‘one of these things is not like the other one’ for starters), mocking the family, the politics of the family, and the Republican party (the family was Mitt Romney’s).  A couple of them have apologized more or less, but personally, I cannot even imagine what kind of landscape you must have in your head, heart, and soul that means those kinds of things just spew out of your mouth as easily as a ‘how are you?’

Ace has more, and he also has this, which is what I want to talk about:

Gabe has written about this. In Hollywood fictions, as well as in alleged “news” stories recounted by the media, there are Designated Heroes and there are Designated Villains. Whatever the hero does is heroic not because of the intrinsic heroism of the action but simply because it is the Designated Hero doing it — and thus the action is heroic, simply because he performs it.

Likewise, everything the Designated Villain — here, the Romney family — does is villainous. Not because adopting a black orphan is villainous, but simply because the Villains are performing the action, and you know they must be up to no good. After all, they’re the Villains.


One of my little habits and idiosyncrasies that drives my husband nuts is that I am seldom surprised by twists and turns in movies. Conversely, I am always astounded that anybody is surprised.

There are several reasons why I am seldom surprised, but the above is one of them. Movies are made in and by Hollywood, and Hollywood loves its designated villains, and they are as predictable and recognizable as the villain in any fairy tale.

For instance, we recently watched White House Down.

Now, I thought it was a mildly fun movie. There’s some cool action, some very witty lines (and even more cheesy lines, but they were funny, too, albeit for different reasons), a super cute kid, and Tatum Channing’s muscles are pretty.  There’s a lot of ridiculously over the top action, and we tend to enjoy that.  Lots of things blow up. We watched with ClearPlay., by the by, so the hundred and one profanities and a couple other things were omitted, but if you are at all opposed to violence in your films, give this one a pass.  If you set the Clearplay settings to avoid violence you will have a totally incoherent film that lasts about ten minutes.  Anyway, we don’t mind violence in our films, so we had fun with it.

But it’s also a Hollywood Fairy Tale with predictable archetypes and villains. Here be spoilers, although, again, for the life of me, I cannot imagine why they are spoilers in a movie so obviously deliberately calculated to glorify an imagined Obama presidency and be the leftwing propaganda tool that it is.

There are three layers of villains. I told you, Here Be Spoilers, so you’ve been warned.

The first set of villains are the up in front bad guys, fairly obvious even to the most obtuse of viewers. Naturally, they are disgruntled ex-military types and right wing hate groups, white supremacists, etc. Yawn. I suppose the fact that dumbest of them is tattoed all over with very pretty and stylish crosses is also supposed to mean something, probably that it’s time for a bathroom break.

The second layer is the head of White House security who is angry about the death of his military son and the Prez’s plan to withdraw all the military as he believes that makes his son’s death in vain.  He also suffers from a golf ball sized brain tumor on his frontal lobe, because apparently it’s no business of the medical establishment to report that the head of security at the White House has a brain tumour so his ability to make good judgment is seriously compromised. And although his wife doesn’t have a golf ball sized tumor, she’s in favor of her husband becoming a terrorist and blowing up the White House and the Middle East because….? I dunno. It was a plot hole bigger than the tumor and never addressed. But anyway, he’s pretty obvious from the get-go, too. The first scene he was in I knew he was a baddy, but they weren’t trying very hard to hide it.

The third layer is the man behind the man behind the scenes.  Supposedly this is a huge plot twist which you won’t find out until the last ten minutes or so of the show.  But I knew he was a baddy early on-  from his second scene, when Speaker of the House Eli Raphelson is on the phone with President Sawyer. Sawyer wants to withdraw all troops (ALL troops, not just American troops) from the Middle East and sit down to peace talks with Iran and everybody else (although Israel is not mentioned so far as I recall). Raphelson says it’s naive. Sawyer says he knows Raphelson is just speaking for his good friends in the military industrial complex, even though he knows that Raphelson is inherently honest and sincere, but he has proof that his pals in the military industiral complex (which does not, bty, make as much money as our own government does) have been double dealing. Raphelson says that of course he’d like to get all those guys before a congressional hearing, but the prez is naive and it’s more complicated than that.  Nevertheless, he promises,  he will await the proof.

Nothing in this scene indicates anything other than mutual respect by two principled leaders of opposing sides- and, yet, by the time that dialogue ended, five minutes later, I had already known for about 4.5 minutes that Raphelson would be the mole behind the mole, the bad guy we would see revealed only at the last minute.  It was the second that we learned he was friendly with the ‘military industrial complex’ that I knew he was going to be the most villainous villain of the piece.  There were absolutely no surprises for me in the plot of this film.

Why? Because it was Hollywood, and they are totally predictable.

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  1. Tamara
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    The other huge clue that someone is a baddie/probable serial killer is when the intrepid FBI/CIA agents visit the home he grew up in and *gasp* there is a religious motto on the wall.

  2. Rachel
    Posted December 31, 2013 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Interesting that the main bad guy also has a “Jewish-sounding” name.

    • Headmistress, zookeeper
      Posted December 31, 2013 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

      I agree, that struck me, too.

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