Few words are as misused as the word 'Evil
'. In the present day America, Evil seems to
have become something of a myth and an abstract concept
. Movies, books, and
songs have inundated us one recurring theme: Evil equals
. Unfortunately, this proposition is the direct result of a repeatedly proven wrong
line of philosophy called Aristotelian logic
The standard progression of misunderstanding
People with wit, style, and poise are cool
has wit, style, and poise.
Ergo, the evil villain
If the common man had paid any attention in school
, they would have learned about a Venn Diagram
in at least one
of their classes. If the common man did learn this, and bothered to actually let their
brain think for themselves
, as opposed to the media
, they would be able to see for themselves the flaw in the example above
. But enough about the stupidity of the common man; if
you are spending your time reading an online encyclopedia, you are
far from common
Unfortunately the uncommon people fall for it as
, because no one ever puts it in quite the same words as above, so let us start with
an example of ultra-cool villainy from the movie The Fifth Element:
Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg
, played by Gary Oldman
Perhaps one of his most memorable roles ever, Gary portrayed Zorg as an extremely
charismatic, confident, and ruthless leader with the gift of gab
. He knew he was evil,
and didn’t care because it made him one of the most powerful men on Earth. Sure he had
his flaws, but what cool guns
and clothes he
had! How could you hate someone who can smile and delivery
witty dialogue while killing someone?
This is a man who would see all life in the Universe destroyed, and yet his character is
beloved by almost everyone who has seen this movie. Why?
Because he was just so damn cool.
Which in and of itself is fine. The point of a
villain like Zorg is to get the audience to sympathize and understand him better before
he gets his just reward. It is a writing, directing, and acting technique that, if used
well, can bring dimensions to a a character who might otherwise be a flat cliché
The problem starts when people think that Coolness and Evil are one in
. This has been a gradual progression over the course of history. For
There are countless etymological examples
of how words are twisted into other meanings. None have been so effective as reuse of
words with normally negative connotations. We are a society infatuated with Evil
. Need more proof
? Here is a
progression of words that once had positive connotations:
Over the course of a few hundred years, humanity has turned its collective face away from
the reality and existence of Evil, and maintained the philosophy that ignorance is bliss
. Evil, before the
modern-day comforts and standard of living, was a real and tangible force
. People knew the reality of persecution and tyranny
. In modern-day America, these concepts have
been reduced to outrage at the McDonald’s not serving breakfast after 10am
. As we water
down the language further and further to avoid
, we lose sight of what those words meant, and what they stood for
And yet, despite all this, most people in modern-day America still believe themselves to
have a good knowledge of what is, and is not evil
. In truth,
most are very sadly mistaken, and such lame uses of the word “Evil”
continue to numb us to the very concept the word stands for. Overuse and replacement of
meaning in words have stripped society of so many concepts
of Good and Evil
it’s almost a hopeless endeavor to bother writing about it.
So, how does the modern American society view Evil?
- ”My parents are
Evil.” – Did they beat you? Did they molest you? Did they murder others? Do they
feel no remorse for these heinous crimes? Or have they been dubbed evil because you got
grounded for two weeks for doing something stupid. There are certainly evil beings out
there who have spawned children, sometimes by force. But unless they have performed acts
of true evil, it is more likely that you are simply displeased with their disciplinary
measures. Disciplinary measures are a sign that they care, and caring about your children is not Evil.
- ”The corporations are Evil.” – Does this corporation force others to buy their products? Was a gun held to your head
when you decided not to buy their product? Was your family dragged out into the street
and systematically shot, because you commented negatively on their latest commercial? Or do they simply produce a good
or service that you personally dislike?
- ”The Government is Evil.” – Historically, America has
made many of the same mistakes of other countries. We have slaughtered
civilians in the past. We have enslaved others. We have had ghettos and concentrations
camps. We have committed genocide on indigenous peoples. I daresay you the reader will be
hard-pressed to find a country that has not done any of these things in the past. This is
the nature of man. To destroy. The fact that our government no
longer performs or endorses these actions (and fights against them) should be a testament to learning from our mistakes.
Instead, it is viewed as hypocrisy. Are regret and
atonement such alien concepts that we can no longer believe that even the leaders of our
country are capable of such things? If the men and women we trust to run that nation
cannot be trusted, how can we even begin to trust the common man? In
fact, who can you trust at all?
- ”My pet is
Evil”. – Is it? Has your cat or dog developed such a profound understanding of
right and wrong, had such a philosophical epiphany, and a knowledge of history, that it
has developed a remotely human concept of Good and Evil? Domesticated animals act the way
they do because either they are the Alpha leader, and thus have free license to act as
they please, or they are following the example of their Alpha leader, which is generally
the pet owner. If the actions of your pet displeases you, consider being a better leader.
- ”The (inanimate object) is Evil!” – Even keeping
an open mind to the concept that an inanimate object should become imbued with an
unnatural intelligence, and that this intelligence actively seeks to perform acts of
evil, it is hard to ever take these words seriously when constantly used in reference to
common household objects from Wal-Mart. Your toaster is not Evil.
Perhaps it does not work properly, that is called a malfunction. Evil does not give a damn about technological glitches, except when they pose an
- ”This (food) is Evil!” – Food
comes in many forms, some of which are animal. (see above notes on “evil pets”). Unless
your food is that of a human being, or has been corrupted by dark occult powers, it is
doubtful that those little chocolates or the plate of sushi is actually a force of Evil unto itself. Food may be ingested, and assimilated into
the human body, but Evil lurks in the
heart, or more specifically, the incorporeal soul and mind. So, unless your food
consists of souls and thoughts, (which, while very low in calories,
offers nearly no nutritional value), it is even less possible for your food to be evil
than it is for your pet to be evil. Addictive and delicious? Perhaps. But chocolate is no
more evil than cheese.
- I’m Evil when it comes to playing (game)…” –
Again, the assumption that evil means “cool”, or more specifically in this case “good
at”. Perhaps the self-proclaimed source of evil would
even go so far as to cheat at playing this game, but if someone is used to talking smack,
they don’t generally need to cheat. And if someone cheating is the worst example of Evil you ever experience in your life, count yourself lucky beyond any
imaginable odds. Still, most would never consider cheating on par with actually being
evil. If the gamer were truly evil, beating him or her at the game would result in your
being physically harmed or murdered as an example to others.
The line between humor and denial is wide indeed when it comes to coping with tragedy. As
older generations die off, content in the assumption that future generations will fix the
mess they made, the younger generations are less and less exposed to true evil
. What is true
evil? That is a subject debated for eons. Has true evil become any less vile? Doubtful.
If anything, the increase in technology has allowed evil the survivability of the cockroach
and forums with which to
congregate and exchange ideas.
Within your favorite hangout, evil could be lurking, but you’d never know, because the
concept has become such watered-down mush that thoughts of real atrocities rarely arise.
They rarely arise, because the tools to warn the next generation of the destructive
effects of Evil have been systematically worn down over the last century or two.
no longer conveys a subtle reminder of darker times. Instead, those
reminders have been turned into slang terms for pop culture. Television avoids any
in-depth coverage of truly horrific events such as pedophilia and mutilation, and instead
concentrates on less disturbing topics. Government attempts to combat Evil, but such
rampant distrust of government has caused support for these fights to wane and eventually
dissolve into bickering about petty details
from a press conference
months previously. The few parents and teachers who care, are
unable to act, because discipline in the school and home has become all but completely
outlawed. Nice guys continue to finish last, and women continuously fall for assholes
Where, in the midst of all this, have people been prepared to face the reality and ugly
face of real and terrible Evil? The only two situations left to expose and train us to
deal with evil are real life, and the movies. Since most Americans have never faced an evil
than mere violence, that leaves only the movies, where, if evil even has a human face, it
is an attractive and charismatic one. And so, though I am not a Christian, I close with
this quote by Charles Baudelaire
'Dearly beloved, never forget, when you hear anyone vaunt the progress of
enlightenment, that the Devil's finest trick is to persuade you that he does not exist!
- The Generous Gambler