Thursday, December 13, 2012

Questioning the Monologue of Evil Triumph

We're all familiar with the Monologue of Evil Triumph. Many of us have written at least one - some may have written more than one. It's that moment when the Hero is in a tight spot and the Bad Guy decides to explain every motive and action that took him up to that point. In fact, one of my favorite sequences from The Incredibles was when Mr. Incredible and Frozone are talking in the car about past battles - the part that ends with Frozone saying, "I mean, the guy has me on a platter and he won't shut up!"

It's so familiar it's being called out on the meta-level...and then later, the Bad Guy (Syndrome) still launches into a monologue before catching himself.

I've wondered sometimes how realistic the Monologue of Evil Triumph is. Do people do this in real life? And another thought - how many real life bad guys do it because they've been taught to do it by evil characters in stories?

A Monologue of Evil Triumph does some nice things for the author - at very least, it allows the author to show how clever she/he is in designing what the bad guy has done. By the time we get to the point where the good guy is "on a platter," we're often wondering just how much evil the bad guy has got going, and unless the good guy has already discovered all of it through experience, it helps to have the bad guy explain things (especially personal history and motive).

I suppose the Monologue also serves a certain psychological purpose for the villain. After all, he/she has gone to a lot of work to get this fantastically complex evil thing done, and it would be a shame if nobody knew just how cool he /she really was. That's the one aspect that makes me think that evildoer monologues are potentially realistic - they seem so for a person who is naturally self-centered and wants everyone in the whole world to know how big and powerful they are. A lot of bad guys fall into the symptoms of Narcissistic Personality Disorder/Megalomania.

Here's another funny thing I've noticed, though. The Monologue of Evil Triumph bears some odd similarities to Mansplaining, in its definition of "to explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening" (definition from UrbanDictionary.com). It's enough to inspire me to pay closer attention when I'm reading and watching movies, to see if I can find any gender differences in the way the Big Bad goes about claiming victory. Is the co-incidence of the male villain and the "Mansplain of Evil Triumph" just that - a coincidence? Or is there something gendered about villains' approaches to (near) success?

It certainly has me rethinking what I was doing for a scene in my WIP, a short story called "Mind Locker." The baddie in my story is a woman, and I got to the point where a Monologue became tempting, and my mind rebelled. No, I don't want a Monologue in this story. I want something else.
A conversation, maybe. A villain who is perhaps less Narcissistic and Megalomaniacal, and more maternal. It's a tricky twist, but one that I hope will be interesting and thought-provoking for readers.

It's something to think about.

6 comments:

  1. Interesting post. I've never really thought about, but you do see the monologue everywhere, don't you? The media is littered with them. I have one in my own writing that I've been meaning to cut out. Anyways, thanks for the lovely post! :)

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    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Danielle!

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  2. Aw crap. I'm guilty of both monologues and mansplaining.

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    1. That's okay, Realmwright. Many are. Just something to think about if you're looking for refreshing alternatives! Thanks for the coment. :)

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  3. Well, of course that's what you want to present. Villainesses always try to seduce and co-opt the protagonist. Drinks, conversation, bribery, that sort of thing.

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    1. Banshee, that's a cliche to discuss and break down another day.

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