What’s the appeal? Why do our monsters keep appealing to us?
In the current book I’m working on, I’m going in deep with one of my “damned” – Arc. He’s a character that’s been described as “all bad,” “truly sick,” and a “great character” all in one go. There’s something about him, I’m told. And I agree. There is.
He scared the wits out of me when I first started writing him.
But the more I get to know him, the more hooked I get. What a character, I keep saying to myself, the deeper and darker we go together.
Yes, he still scares me, but not quite as much anymore. My curiosity is over-riding the fear. My empathy for him is over-riding the fear.
Empathy. It’s a key trait missing from a lot of real life bad guys.
And the real life ones are very different from our fictional ones.
So what’s the appeal?
In real life we walk home quickly and pray some psycho doesn’t follow us.
The sight of blood, particularly our own, is not so pleasing to us.
And if someone attacks us, or unwelcomely pushes boundaries with us, in even a pseudo violent sexual manner, we think of them in terms of incarceration rather than infatuation.
Why do our monsters keep appealing to us?
Over the next little while I’m doing a three part series on classic bad guys – Vampires, Predators and Psychopaths in Fiction, and what they represent in terms of symbols for our own selves and our interactions with society.
Special Agent William Hagmaier of the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit said this on the notorious Ted Bundy. Hagmaier was struck by the “deep, almost mystical satisfaction” that Bundy took in murder. “He said that after a while, murder is not just a crime of lust or violence,” Hagmaier related. “It becomes possession. They are part of you … [the victim] becomes a part of you, and you [two] are forever one … and the grounds where you kill them or leave them become sacred to you, and you will always be drawn back to them.”
Power – good, bad or somewhere in between – so much of what we do comes down to our search for it. And the bad guys are no different to the rest of us in that regard.
Next up – Vampires! I’ll tweet when it’s up.