Months ago I promised a second post to the one just previous to this one. I promised it “tomorrow.” Months ago.
My tomorrows almost never get here.
The Perfect Villain, Post Two
Long, long ago, before the word villain meant evil, or enemy, it meant ordinary. Plainness was villainy. Commonness implied evil, denoted the hateful, or the wretched low.
Remember, there was a day when very religious people would look at a man born blind in some near empty village on the poor side of the world and ask, “Who sinned, him or his folks, that he was born to this misery?” They did not feel themselves mean-spirited; they accepted the currency of their culture.
The impoverished, itinerant, lisping teacher who answered the question about the blind man was himself, well, ordinary. One of the great praises fit to him was this; he had nothing in flesh and blood anyone would want.
The next time we make a movie about him, we should make sure he is the least attractive fellow in the film and surround him with other homely characters. He should be wispy, shadow thin, slightly stooped from malnutrition. Give him a large, hooked nose that dominates his face. His hair should be thinning by thirty, cranky curly, like someone spun him down out of a cotton candy machine, then suddenly let him drop. He should be missing a tooth or two in front; dark, dark, brooding eyes, thin lips; small, recessed ears. Let him have smallish hands, but calloused thickly, like someone who gave up the family carpentry business at the worst possible time, his father dead and his mother saddled with a lot of other, more dutiful children to raise.
He needs to be the kind of grown up man who remembers telling his dad he had to be about his father’s kind of work. He should be able to do this as a child, just after he scares his family out of its collective wits. He has to be the kind of son who can call his mother “Woman” and then ask her what he should have to do with her.
He should get up early to “meditate,” then stay up late to teach. In between he should walk a series of thirteen minute miles along a hump-backed spiny ridge road in blinding heat.
His feet should stink.
He should know just how hard it is to keep a group in line during the day. Then he has to know how to sleep in the middle of snoring fishermen at night.
Then he gets up to do it all again. He seldom gets a good rest. He lives in danger and dies there as well.
He eats a lot fish. His breath smells like it.
He is short. Really short, really, really short, Danny DeVito short.
He is all this, so he is the Perfect Villain; common looking man without a woman. Ordinary man with an extraordinary message. His is the kind of message sure to make people bone-deep mad.
Yes, let us make another movie about him. The fellows with him, whom we also attempt to deify, will be the kind of men who go with another fellow, who calls out to them because no one else will listen to him.
He is the Perfect Villain.