Hitler vs. Cartman: Great Villains Make Great Literature (2023)

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Hitler vs. Cartman: Great Villains Make Great Literature (2)
Hitler vs. Cartman: Great Villains Make Great Literature (3)
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Nothing breathes life into a story like a good villain. If you absolutely hate the villain in the book you're reading, you're hooked! You're emotionally invested in the struggle between good and evil, and you're waiting for justice to be done.

These villainous characters must go deep into the hearts of the people. They must evoke visceral feelings of repulsion and dread, the way spiders and snakes evoke primal fear, the way rotting fecal ooze repels the senses. Villains are hard to write because we instinctively withdraw from the darker sides of life and the more grotesque aspects of ourselves. That dark side, that shadow, is the only place where a truly compelling villain can emerge. We can't rip off evil like the numbers on the meat counter at the grocery store.

"Number 22!"

"Here I am. Let's see. What's scary and scary about you?"

The movie CYRUS is a good example of a well written villain. The cast includes John C. Reilly, Marisa Tomei, Catherine Keener and Jonah Hill.

The emotional engine of the story comes from Jonah Hill's dark portrayal of Cyrus. Cyrus is 22 years old. He lives with his mother, played by Marisa Tomei. Their relationship was what psychiatrists call "stuck." Mother/child/husband/wife/lover and beloved, all become confused. Cyrus wanted to be with his mother forever. She was his best friend, his only friend, and he expanded his presence, almost to the exclusion of other men, to fill her life.


John C. Reilly plays a respectable shlub named John who meets Molly (Tomei) at a party. Following the usual sequence of events, John begins dating Molly and soon comes to her house, where he meets Cyrus.

Like many villainous characters, Cyrus is a charismatic individual. He exudes a relaxed but false honesty. He is well educated in modern therapeutic talk.

Let's stop and consider this concept, evil. what is it?

I have parsed my definition of evil into a simple formula: evil is the infliction of pain in order to avoid it. Evil casts its destructive spell on those in its path because someone (or something) finds a surefire way to spread pain over others.

Cyrus plans to sabotage the relationship between John and Molly. He was a bright, chubby boy who easily read John's mental roadmap. This gives him strength. He also draws strength from his mother's uncritical support for his efforts. She was his mother, for Mist God's sake. He can do no wrong.

Evil characters have malice and they have power. Many of them hide behind façades of charm or superficial goodwill.

Evil people try to get rid of the burden of pain by forcing others to experience it. What pain did Cyrus wish to avoid? He has no friends. He is out of touch with society. He creates electronic music on a set of keyboards and electronics. The music quickly fell into a dull monotone. Cyrus is a 22-year-old loser, a lonely fat kid. This hurts enough. If we follow the formula that evil is the pain inflicted on others to alleviate the pain of the self, we find Cyrus' motive. He would thwart any efforts Molly made to be happy. If she is happy, she will run away from his possession. She may become attached to another man.

John quickly understood the game being played. It was impossible to pass this information on to Molly. She won't believe him. Cyrus is too smart. Cyrus stood quietly behind Molly in the corridor, talking to John about their burgeoning relationship. Cyrus confronts John while showing the cardboard sign on the back of his mother's head. Cyrus made malicious and contemptuous remarks. "You don't stand a chance." "I'll pick you up." "You don't fit in."

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This is the moment in the movie where I really start to hate Cyrus and be terrified of John. This is where Bad Guys made me emotionally invested in the film's outcome. Cyrus' mask slipped off, and he looked eerily dazed, as if John wasn't even on his radar. John may be a douchebag, but he's a decent douchebag, and he stands up, goes his way, and is willing to fight for Molly. This is the narrative antithesis of hating villains. It presents an opportunity for the hero to tap into a courage he didn't know he had. Hate villains, love heroes. Sounds easy, doesn't it?

It's not that simple unless we're writing a comic book or a cartoon. Each of us is a composite personality. Our inner child is actually a little car full of bickering midgets. The steering wheel goes from one hand to the other, the brakes are scrambled and the car turns wildly.

A villain exploits the chaos of human nature by having a clear focus: obsession, obsession, purpose. This purpose empowers villains at the expense of ordinary people. Bad guys know who they are and why they act. In many narratives, protagonists struggle with doubt and ambiguity of motivation. His struggle isn't just with villains; it's his own confusion. When he sees clearly, when he knows what he wants, he gets the weapon he needs.

In this post, I've been thinking about two characters: Adolf Hitler and the obnoxious Eric Cartman from the South Park cartoon. Hitler wiped out millions; Cartman is a fictional character on a TV show. However, they have common properties.

My affection for Hitler is an abstraction of history. He has become a universal symbol of evil. Cartman, on the other hand, terrifies me. I hate this bastard, I hate him! This is a very personal engagement.

Cartman has many lessons. Everything he does is manipulative. He was totally insincere. He is a diehard. No minority is immune to his wrath. When he was told that white people had become a minority, he simply didn't hear the message. This is probably Cartman's biggest signifier: he can't hear anything he disagrees with. Intellectual and moral deafness is a common symptom of evil. Cartman and villains in general like to blame others for their emotional discomfort. This profound moral choice, to blame others, is a fundamental step into a world of evil. When writing about a bad guy, it helps to find him a culprit. Give him a scapegoat.

A villain without power cannot be fearful. It may be supernatural power, political power, military power, physical strength, but without great strength, the villain cannot arouse fear, loathing, and anger. It is the abuse of power that fuels the ire of readers. Most of us view power as a privilege that comes with responsibility.

We get angry when power is used to satisfy ego and desires.

Cartman's power comes from several sources. He's smart, creative, has no moral scruples, and is utterly selfish. His mother gave him everything he wanted because it was easier that way. Cartman is a boy without a father. His mother is always lazy. She gave in to her son's demands. If I take South Park as a microcosm, a model for the larger society we live in, Cartman's mother represents economic power. She made him rich compared to other kids. He has all the latest toys, the best video games, and is completely unsupervised.

To further extend Cartman's power, he has a follower: Butters. This lovable but goofy innocent will agree to any outrageous plan Cartman comes up with. Cartman generates momentum. While Stan, Kyle, or Kenny may have misgivings about Cartman's ideas, Butters is always there to support him. Plans, ideas, schemes always seem to disappear before they are thought through.

The consequences were never anticipated. The only constraints on Cartman's destructive power are the other boys' common sense and lack of malice. In the end, Cartman always leads himself to destruction, but he never throws in the towel. For some, this is an admirable trait. In Cartman, this is really annoying. Dangerous for someone like some former presidents!

In Hitler, it claimed millions of lives. If Cartman were a real adult, he would be a horrible monster. Think about what Hitler and Cartman have in common. scapegoat. blame. Moral and intellectually deaf. Reluctance to take responsibility for errors in judgment. A will that generates tremendous momentum and attracts followers who are willing to obey without question.

In the episode titled "Breast Cancer Show Ever", Cartman was beaten up on campus by a girl named Wendy Testaburger. When Cartman laughs at breast cancer and insists on telling hurtful jokes, she plays the righteous Avenger. When she schedules the duel, Cartman tries to bribe her when he realizes Wendy is serious. She won't take it. Although Cartman is beaten to a pulp, he twists the facts in his mind in order to win the fight, and in the eyes of his countrymen, he is still "Cool" or "Kewl". Kyle and Stan tell Cartman "You suck, you always suck. We hate you." Cartman cannot hear these statements. He's still Keel.

This astonishing deafness makes me want to jump out of the screen and smash fat mutts into a pulp. My emotions are fully invested. When a writer can raise the emotional stakes so high, the writer has successfully created a compelling villain.

I used a dumb villain in a dumb cartoon show to emphasize the power of a good villain to drive a good story. Ignore Cartman at your own risk. He's a top-notch little bastard.

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People ignored and called Hitler a clown. We know what happened to those people. History has had terrible villains. We're writers; we run fiction. Fiction's most fearsome villain resonates with the tyrants of history. Lazy writers might imitate these tyrants in their narratives. Good writers draw villains through themselves because they know that each of us is capable of being a monster.


What do you think makes the best villains so memorable? ›

Performance, motivation, and effectiveness are the three important factors that help create a good villain at a basic level. I say basic level because these three factors can be utilized in ways that can elevate a villain from better than one might think is just good.

Is Eric Cartman good or bad? ›

Cartman was introduced as an antihero of the show until Season 5 where he became the villain protagonist. However, later seasons have shown him constantly switching from a villain to an anti-hero.

Who is the most famous villain of all time? ›

1. Darth Vader ("Star Wars" trilogy) It's hard to think of a villain who is as memorable and has influenced so many others than Darth Vader.

Who is the greatest villain ever created? ›

1Hannibal LecterThe Silence of the Lambs (2)
2Norman BatesPsycho
3Darth VaderThe Empire Strikes Back
4The Wicked Witch of the WestThe Wizard of Oz
7 more rows

Who is the nicest guy in South Park? ›

#1: Leopold "Butters" Stotch

One of the most innocent, gullible and nicest characters on South Park, Butters is constantly picked on by other students (primarily Cartman) and abused by his domineering parents (including nearly being drowned by his mother in "Butters' Very Own Episode").

What disorder does Cartman have? ›

If anything, Cartman's behavioral traits — pathological self-absorption, proneness to delusions of grandeur and episodes of mania, a liability to turn angry or spiteful seemingly without provocation — suggest a mood disorder along the lines of Bipolar II or borderline personality disorder, not anxiety.

Who is the smartest character in South Park? ›

Kyle Broflovski is one of the main characters of South Park. Based on co-creator Matt Stone, Kyle is a member of the only Jewish family in South Park, and is by far the smartest kid in town.

Who is Disney's #1 villain? ›

1. Cruella De Vil (One Hundred and One Dalmatians) Cruella De Vil, 101 Dalmatians' glamorous, sociopathic, and elitist villain, is on top of our list.

Who is the hottest villain of all time? ›

20 Sexiest Villains from TV and Film
  • Billy Hargrove— “Stranger Things” ...
  • Gaston— “Beauty and the Beast” ...
  • James Witherdale— “Twilight” ...
  • Bane— “The Dark Knight Rises” ...
  • J.D.— “Heathers” ...
  • Count Dracula— “Bram Stoker's Dracula” ...
  • Candyman— “Candyman” ...
  • David— “The Lost Boys” Vampires and '80s bad boys?

Who is the number 1 supervillain? ›

The Joker

As Batman's arch-enemy and main foil, his outright insanity makes him someone who's easy to hate. Whether it's through comics, animation or live action – the Joker is the top supervillain of all time.

Who is the most unstoppable villain? ›

Thanos. On his own, Thanos is one of the most feared beings in Marvel. Not only does he possess superhuman strength, endurance, reflexes, and agility, but he's also one of the most intelligent characters in Marvel Comics. Once he's collected and put the Infinity Gems, now Stones to use, he's nearly unstoppable.

Who was the most evilest super villain? ›

Through his psychotic personal torture and conflict with one of Marvel's finest as well as nearly succeeding in total world domination and the actual destruction of Asgard, Norman Osborn is truly the most evil villain in all of Marvel.

Who is the oldest villain? ›

Oldest Superheroes / Supervillains
  • Metron. 13,000,000,000 years old. Immortal.
  • Guardians of the Universe. 13,000,000,000 years old. Immortal.
  • Martian Manhunter. 225,000,000 years old. Immortal.
  • Yuga Khan. 500,000 years old. Immortal.
  • Darkseid. 250,000 years old. Immortal.
  • Vandal Savage. 52,000 years old. ...
  • Mr. Majestic. ...
  • Bor. 6,000 years old.

Why are villains memorable? ›

Villains can be incredibly memorable characters. They're the source of the conflict in your novel, and they've got beef with the novel's hero. Even if we hate the things they've done, we love a good villain because they're often the biggest source of drama within a story. Readers love drama.

How do you make a memorable villain? ›

After all, every villain believes they are the hero of their own story. A worthy opponent. A great villain should be a strong and worthy adversary to your hero. They shouldn't be weak and easily beaten, nor should they be so powerful that they can only be defeated by random chance.

What makes villains more interesting? ›

In conclusion, villains are more interesting than heroes because they show different struggles, they perceive life in different ways, and they have more depth and character.

Why are villains so fascinating? ›

Heroes are supposed to be warm and caring. But villains have a choice to choose what things they want to be warm and caring towards. In some cases, the villains have more freedom because people don't have a lot of expectations from them. Another reason why people like villains is because villains are realistic.


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