Evolution of Evil Since television had become a household product in 1947 it has been used by parents to help educate their children in a certain manner to which they may understand depending on their age. In present day America television shows such as Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow usually start by teaching basic skills such as reading, writing, and spelling to infants by using different methods such as the alphabet song to make it easier for kids to comprehend.
These shows and others alike also began to teach morality such as sharing, doing your part, and helping others less fortunate by using certain mascots such as a giant purple dinosaur to appeal to their childish behavior while teaching them lessons they will use all of their life. Once these lessons are fully comprehended by the kids villains, such as Scar from The Lion king and Plankton from SpongeBob, specifically geared toward children were introduced to expose children to character traits that opposed the very morals that were taught to them.
These villains were usually inherently evil usually having no reason to oppose the hero other than simple emotions such as jealously or greed being their motivation to do actions that are deemed as bad such as lying, cheating, and stealing. As these kids grow up and deal with certain situations with real villains in their own life their perception of true evil changes as they experience more own their own and develop more complex in depth relationships with people.
As these kids mature into teens and adults that can comprehend more complex emotions, the villains that are portrayed in the media obtain more human like features. I decided the best way to gain useful information would be to survey thirty college student that are in my age group so I could determine which villain that was created for children in the 1990’s is the most memorable and why. Then compare how they differ from the villains that are created for those same kids ten years later in present day society.
I decided I would poll students in all my classes except those in my English class to ensure that I could obtain the surveyor’s honest answer to the questions I would ask. I asked those students in my class to answer my eight questions that included a ranking system that would allow them to rank cartoon villains from the 1990’s as the most or least memorable using the numbers 1 through 5 with 1 being the most memorable. I asked the same ranking question again, but with 5 famous villains portrayed in present day media while allowing space after ach question to explain why or why they weren’t scared of the villain they ranked as the most memorable during their childhood and present day. I targeted my survey toward a certain age group to try to find a pattern in the answer to which characters are the most memorable and why they are memorable. I knew when analyzing the information I received I would have to take account the hero the villain was opposing and what makes them so memorable as well. I asked thirty people how much television they watch during the week and twenty-one out of the thirty said they watch at least one hour a day.
Out of the childhood focused questions the group of villains consisted of Hades from Hercules, Scar from The Lion King, Jafar from Aladdin, Mojo jo jo from the The Powder-puff Girls, and Plankton from SpongeBob Square Pants. Out of the five villains Scar from The Lion King average rank was 2. 33 which named him the most memorable character. Out of the seven survey takers that ranked Scar as the most memorable five out of the seven stated that they were not scared of Scar and that it was fairly easy to understand why he was the villain and why he did the mischievous things that he did.
Of those five that were not scared of Scar explained that The Lion King was a light hearted cartoon movie about animals in the wild. The least memorable character was Mojo Jo Jo from The Powder-Puff Girls with an average ranking of 3. 81 out of 5 by the survey takers. Of the two participants that named Mojo Jo Jo the most memorable character one stated he was afraid of Mojo Jo because he saw a part of himself in Mojo Jo Jo. The other participant stated that Mojo Jo Jo was just misunderstood and was in fact not at all scary.
Out of all five villains available 19 of the 21 surveyors who watched television as kids ranked the complexity of their most memorable characters as easy or fairly easy to understand. I then questioned the surveyors about five famous fictional villains displayed in today’s media. The list of villains included Jigsaw from the Saw, Joker from The Dark Knight, Green Goblin from Spiderman, Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, and Darth Vader from Star Wars where the Joker received the highest average ranking of 2. 3 out of 5 of the most memorable villain of present day media. Four of the seven people that said Joker was their most memorable villain were scared of Joker and described his motives as questionable and his personality as a “bad Mother Fucker. ” The three of seven that wasn’t scared of Joker described him as an interesting character, a great villain, and having memorable actions. The least memorable villain of these five modern day villains was Jigsaw from the movie Saw who had an average ranking of 3. 91 out of 5 between the thirty participants.
Although Saw was the least he seemed to be the most confusing character as the three people who ranked him as the most memorable stated they were complete unsure of his motives and the reasons for his actions. On average when asked about the complexity and morale standings of these present day villains the results mirrored those of the cartoon characters with a 19 of 30 surveyors giving their most memorable villain a raking of 3 or higher. After analyzing the results to childhood questions, I believe The Lion King is the most relatable movie to kids.
This movie more so than the others touches on basic principles that kids are learning during that age such as greed, jealously, and rebellion which is why it is no surprise that it is the most memorable. Simba, the love-able misunderstood tiger who seeks his rightful place as king, is opposed by Scar the symbol of evil that shows no moral empathy with the wrongful acts he commits toward his own nephew. Scar lacking of empathy allows viewers to clearly understand Scar’s motives leaving little room for confusion for the movies immature audience.
On the other hand Joker seems to be completely non-relatable to most people of major society because of his questionable motives that drives the evil actions that he commits. Of the list of five present day villains only Jigsaw and Joker challenge the moral divisions of the hero they are opposing which in turn the allows the viewer to question their own moral standing about certain questions such as save the love of your life, or the city that your love. These type of interesting questions aren’t one people are likely to face in reality.
Watching a character like Joker question the moral standing of Batman gives the viewers the chance to look inwardly where they usually would not. By watching the hero and understanding the reason why he made the choices he does gives the audience to analyze the choice they would make in the shoes of the hero which in turn makes the villain causing these choices to be so memorable. Surprisingly nine of the thirty participants said they didn’t watch television as they were growing although but were still familiar with the characters and able to rank them because of the conversations they had with their friends.
Four out of the nine participants said that they were not allowed to watch television that wasn’t solely educational. Two of the nine participants said they did not own a television inside of their home and only saw movies every once in a while. Three out of the nine simply stated that had no time or interest for television and were wrapped up in other things such as travel sports and other time consuming hobbies as kids.
However 5 out of 9 of those who did not watch television as a child ranked Joker with either a 1 or 2 as their most memorable character which shows the popularity of Joker to even those who may or may not having grown up watching Batman. The media of present day in comparison to the movies and shows of the 1990’s seemed to portray the most interesting villains are the ones that are complex and cause a question of morality of the hero which then in turn questions the audience.
These questions of morality such as is it okay to kill someone whom harms others; can only be answered by each individual viewer by challenging the very believes that are molded into most kids as they are growing up. The most famous characters and villains of are childhood are those that visual show and teach life lessons that we use today, but the villains that challenge those very beliefs as adults leave a lasting impression of self-realization and moral standing in which each individual carries daily.