Today’s topic for the 100 theme blog challenge is number 12, insanity. This sounds pretty easy. Insanity. I know just what that is. It’s when someone is…well, insane. Crazy. Bonkers. A nutter. But, the more I think about this topic, the more I think about how not-easy writing about it really is. It’s a single word, but there is so much that can be written on it, can’t it? And I’m certainly no expert on mental disorders, so I had to think of a different way to write about such a topic. And then I got it, in the form of a question. Why is insanity so appealing?
Don’t look at me like that. It is, in a way. I mean, they have an entire archetype commonly seen in stories that is related to insanity. The mad scientist. No, not angry scientists, though many of them do seem to have some bone to pick with society. Crazy scientists. Why was this stereotype even invented if insanity wasn’t in some way appealing or intriguing? And insanity, as you’d expect, whether they be mad scientist or not, is most often portrayed in villains. Because you really don’t see that many crazy good guys, do you? No, it’s the villains that think up all kinds of bizarre plots for such goals as world domination or other methods of obtaining unstoppable power (the terrible movie “The Blood Waters of Doctor Z” featured a mad scientist that turned himself into a fish in his plot for world domination; I have no idea how he thought that would work, however), while the poor good guy always has no choice but to go and stop it. Our hero very rarely is crazy. Maybe brave or foolhardy, but it is most often the villain who is deeply disturbed, which is all the more explanation for their wild plots.
And so, to kind of expand on that, when it comes to villains, what kinds does this Duck usually like the most? That’s right, you guessed it. The insane ones. In many stories, I typically like the villain the most. Or, at the very least, I often find them to be the most interesting, and I wonder why they do what they do. But, the villains that always interest me the most are the crazy ones. The weird, eccentric ones. Because, frankly, villains that got it together (bad grammar on purpose) are boring. It’s the crazy ones that are obviously in need of some therapy that always capture my attention most of all, and that is what I’m here to discuss, with as few tirades as I can manage.
Let’s take Bowser, for example. A lot of people know about him, no? He’s the main villain of the “Mario” series and an experienced princess-napper. And I don’t think anyone would consider him insane. Nope, he’s a huge jerk, but he’s not crazy. He doesn’t like his rival, Mario, which is understandable, as the ‘stached plumber constantly puts a stop to Bowser’s plans. He also seems to have a thing for Peach, especially in “Paper Mario”, but hey, you can’t really blame him. And you don’t need to be a villain to understand his desire to rule the Mushroom Kingdom. I mean, who doesn’t want to rule the world or a kingdom of ‘shrooms? Antagonist or protagonist, world domination is pretty appealing. And so, while Bowser is quite the creep, I don’t find him to be that interesting. His plans are uninspired, but I don’t get the crazy vibe from him. And that just won’t do. You’re too sane for my tastes, Bowser.
And then I come to the villains that are nuttier than those bags of peanuts that you get on airplanes. These disturbed villains can be many things. They are usually interesting. They are most often rather…unique individuals. And they typically range between comical or downright disturbing. I may like a villain in a more lighthearted series because I think they are hilarious in a way that only someone nuts can be. On the other end of the spectrum, some crazy villains are scary because of their insanity, and that’s why I find them to be particularly…villainous. Because they manage to truly frighten me, while at the same time making me curious about them all the more.
Let’s take two examples of some of my favorite villains. These two are insane by every definition of the word, and they are Dr. Nefarious of the “Ratchet and Clank” series and Lord Ghirahim of “The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword”. Now, this post is in no way intended to just talk about how great I think these villains are, even though I certainly do. It’s intended to explain my point on insanity. And explain it, I shall.
Dr. Nefarious is insane in a way that is on the lighter end of the insanity spectrum. This robotic villain is not someone to take lightly, as his plots have involved trying to turn all organic life into robots and trying to turn back time in order to undo all the times in the past that the good guys have prevailed over evil, which he is more than capable of doing because he’s also a genius (we got a mad scientist here, folks). And no one can disagree with me that this guy is crazy, from his bizarre plans to his maniacal ranting and screaming. And I will never fully understand why he hates organic life when he used to be one himself (and don’t ask me how that happened because I’m still not sure). All I do know is that Nefarious is a nut and seriously needs to be put into an insane asylum. But, his bizarre behavior is what makes me like him so much, as he is quite an entertaining character in an already rather hilarious group of games. Few can deny that his cut scenes are some of the best scenes in the series. And if Nefarious wasn’t insane, he wouldn’t be nearly as great.
And then I come to Lord Ghirahim, another character that is positively crazy. This guy is just weird. I don’t know. Nefarious, I kind of get. A little. But, this guy is, well, a lunatic. Ghirahim is rather flamboyant and, like pretty much all villains, quite enamored with himself. He can be pretty darn feminine and is known by all to make some pretty strange comments that can make you laugh (probably one of his most memorable lines is, “This news has just filled my heart with rainbows.”), but that doesn’t make him any less scary. That’s right, this guy is frightening. Rainbow-filled heart or not, Ghirahim is a terrifying dude in the way he can start off all calm and composed one moment and then threaten to do all kinds of unspeakable things to Link the next. And seeing as he starts off so much more powerful than our hero at the beginning of the game, this makes his threats all the more frightening because he is more than capable of carrying them out.
Ghirahim is evil and sadistic, and even though he can say some pretty corny things, he is not as laughable as you may think. He will stop at nothing to achieve his goals, and you know what, he actually does. Oftentimes heroes stop the villains, but unfortunately, Ghirahim manages to be a bit more competent than Link even is. You may be able to laugh at Ghirahim’s strange dialogue and his goofy victory dance, but it’s his insanity, the same thing that makes him behave this way, that makes him so much scarier than he would have been without it. I have to give Nintendo credit for managing to create a villain that can say goofy things, and yet we still can take him seriously. Not everyone can do that, and that’s why Ghirahim is another one of my favorite villains, as he is by far one of the most complex characters I have ever known.
So I was right, after all, wasn’t I? Insanity is indeed appealing. At least, it can make certain characters more interesting or entertaining, because it often makes them either funny, frightening, or a combination of the two. When I try to look for any correlation between the characters I like and those that I don’t, often times it is the weirdos I find the most intriguing. And most of the time, it’s the villains that are the nutty ones, and that may be one reason why the villains are usually my favorite characters in a story. Insanity is interesting. Insanity can make certain characters stand out from all the rest. The mad scientist archetype is proof enough of that, with such examples as Dr. Eggman, Dr. Nefarious, and Professor Hojo, not to mention the most famous of all, Dr. Frankenstein. If insanity wasn’t intriguing, then who knows if these characters would even exist.
Not an Insane Duck