“The fact is that we have no way of knowing if the person who we think we are is at the core of our being. Are you a decent girl with the potential to someday become an evil monster, or are you an evil monster that thinks it’s a decent girl?”
“Wouldn’t I know which one I was?”
“Good God, no. The lies we tell other people are nothing to the lies we tell ourselves.”
-Derek Landy, Death Bringer
Villainography is back! And this week I’m having a chat with ASV Staff Writer and BeepBoxer Tyler M Bauer (M for Mystery).
As I did with all the other interviewees, I gave them a couple days head start to get them really thinking about their answers. I asked them all the same preliminary question: “Who is your favorite villain?”
TYLER: When I think about the definition of the word “villain,” I think “the guy who is the most villainous.” And I then I think of Admiral Greyfield from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. There’s probably a more evil guy than him somewhere in my mind but he was the biggest one I could think of.
PHILIP: Can you tell us a little about Admiral Greyfield? Some background, maybe.
TYLER: Like his back story?
PHILIP: Just so.
TYLER: Or my relationship with him.
PHILIP: This is getting weird.
TYLER: I had just signed up on match.com —
PHILIP: Let’s go with the back story. We know you love back stories. [This is a reference to Tyler’s novella-length back story that he wrote for his DND character.)
TYLER: Well, in the game, a meteor shower kills 90% of the people on earth.
TYLER: . . .
PHILIP: I’m sorry that was inappropriate. Please continue.
TYLER: So after doomsday, Admiral Greyfield creates the New Rubinelle Army, which–I can’t remember–but I’m pretty sure is made up of surviving members of the old Rubinelle Army, or something.
Basically, he makes himself leader of the country that existed before the apocalypse.
PHILIP: Gotcha. So what does he do that makes him particularly villainous?
TYLER: Greyfield essentially establishes himself as the sole leader of the entire planet. He’s like, “I’m king now, and even though everyone is pretty much dead, we’re restarting this war.” There was a war going on before the meteor shower, you see.
PHILIP: Had a bit of a god complex, did he?
TYLER: He was a cruel and cowardly madman. Absolutely.
PHILIP: Are you saying God is a cruel and cowardly madman?
TYLER: He is everything I despise in a person.
PHILIP: You despise God?
PHILIP: Nevermind, that’s another show. So, in your opinion, is there a correlation there? Between having despicable qualities and being “villainous”? As in, does a person’s bad qualities make them a villain, in your opinion?
TYLER: Hmm. No, because everyone has bad qualities, and everyone has good ones. I don’t think being “villainous” is an inherent quality.
But back to why I hate Greyfield. He nukes an entire city of innocent people–his own people–just to kill one man, Captain Brenner, one of the protagonists in the game.
PHILIP: Interesting. Do we know why Greyfield’s such a dick?
TYLER: It’s been so long, I don’t remember the exact motivations. I think he simply wanted power. And the meteor shower-apocalypse let him obtain it.
PHILIP: What would you say to a person who thinks Admiral Greyfield is just a washed-up, goody two-shoes?
TYLER: Well to that person I’d say that they’ve never even seen him so I don’t even know how they came to that conclusion.
PHILIP: This is all hypothetical.
TYLER: I would admit that he’s not the most complex of villains. He’s kind of a single-faceted Hitler-type bad guy. But one could also say he’s being tempted by the other antagonist of the game, who is giving him all these super weapons.
In my mind, he’s more like an angry child whose been given a rocket launcher.
TYLER: But I don’t think he hates people for who they are. I think he hates them for not siding with him. Like, he’s a super paranoid guy.
Not to mention, he really wants to go back to the way things were. Before the meteors.
PHILIP: So he’s a man of war, who doesn’t know anything else? You mentioned earlier that he was cowardly. Maybe he’s afraid of, I don’t know, what comes after.
TYLER: I think from our perspective all we can do is conjecture. I think when it comes down to it, he’s just really an insane man. Incredibly narrow-minded, and, just all the negative qualities of a person in power.
PHILIP: Okay, let’s move on then. If you and Greyfield absolutely had to be enemies, how would you defeat him?
TYLER: I don’t think I’d try to kill him. Even though he deserves it. I would try to remove all his power. Make him just a man with nothing–the opposite of what he wants.
Hmm. Or maybe I’d just shoot him in the head.
PHILIP: Final question. What makes villains cooler than heroes? Or if you disagree with that statement, tell us why.
PHILIP: Excuse you.
TYLER: Was I supposed to choose a villain I like? Because we can do this over.
PHILIP: Please, no.
TYLER: In general, there are some aspects of bad people that you could think of as “cool.” Maybe it’s their disregard for the rules everyone else follows. Perhaps it’s their confidence, their belief that they can accomplish something despite the world being against them. Rule-breakers, you know.
But there are villains who go beyond that. People who stop doing it for just themselves, and begin to do it for the sole purpose of hurting others. Before crossing that line, you could even be an anti-hero.
But a villain is one who is against humanity at all times and in all things.
PHILIP: Do you think the perception of villains as “cool” has contributed to the seemingly growing role of the anti-hero in today’s society?
TYLER: I think the anti-hero has arisen because people want to see characters who more closely resemble actual people. Anti-heroes think of themselves first, and others second. While a hero is that, only reversed. A villain is just the first part, the thinking of themselves only part. Not sure what I’m talking about now.
PHILIP: Hah. Which is totally fine. Haiku time.
TYLER: Oh, you bitch.
PHILIP: That’s only three syllables.
Showers clean both Men
Open hand catches closed fist
Where there’s life, there’s hope
PHILIP: Thank you, Tyler. Wave goodbye, now.
TYLER: Thanks. Bye.
And so we forge on. Have any thoughts on the interview? Let me know in the comments, and join me next week as we delve further into the definition of a villain!