Naughty Boys Need Love Too
If you're like me and you've got fewer than 18 brain cells active at the moment, then I would suggest leaving this page and heading to the fluffy fun of the Hall Of Fame. This is where I do some hard-core (not that kind of hard core...) analysis on some of my favorite villains, to try to figure out just why we like who we like. Heeeeeere we goooooo!
Gendo Ikari, Neon Genesis Evangelion
So it's only fair that I get to analyze two of my personal favorites.
Gendo Ikari (above) and Treize Kushranada (below) are each military-connected, overly-philosophical, callous with humanity's destiny, seemingly cold, and always impeccibly dressed. Epaulettes and gloves aside, these two yearn for control over humanity, and they do so with a calculating intellect that makes their actions all the more evil. Their ability to rationalize their actions almost makes you go, "Yeah, I get it. He's right, humanity must pay." Then you shake yourself and say, "Hey! Wait a minute!"
I think we admire characters such as these because they never, in spite of their excellent acting, suffer from the Crisis of Conscience. This in itself qualifies them for villainry but it's their rationalization skills that escalate them to Super Villainry. They may speak as though they truly regret the necessity of their actions, but that never stops them from acting. Only characterizations, archetypes of leadership, can posess this kind of action without guilt. Guilt sucks, no one likes suffering from it, and these guys represent absolution through uncaring.
So why do we admire such despicable characters? In a way, humanity yearns for release from responsibility. Case in point: consumption of alcohol. We search for opportunities to release ourselves from accountabliity for our actions, seek out ways to do the things we would never dare to do if we thought we could be caught and punished.
If you are at a restaraunt and the server forgets to charge you for part of your bill, do you remind him or do you pay the shortened tab and run to the car before he can discover his mistake?
We as humans possess a desire to violate social mores without having to deal with the guilt of transgression. It's this desire that makes us so fascinated with characters who transgress easily without fear or guilt.
Ikari and Kushranada are more than just bad guys who do nasty things, they are symbols of our own desire to transgress, lived out with style and grace. Our social conditioning still tells us they're bad, but deep down inside we glow with admiration everytime they succeed at one of their nefarious plans.
Treize Kushranada, Gundam Wing