When I left the Anglican ministry I wasn’t sure I would ever be ordained as a Catholic priest, so I re-trained for a new career as a scriptwriter.
One of the most interesting things my teacher said was, “If you want to create a believable villain you must understand why he believes what he is doing is good. Nobody gets up in the morning deciding to be the most wicked and depraved person–not even Darth Vader. We all think we are good and believe our cause is good. You must understand how and why your villain believes he is a good person.”
This is an amazing insight, and it not only helps script writers create credible villains, it helps us to understand more deeply the inner motivations and personalities of the people we would like to label as wicked villains.
It is certainly true that what the villain does is objectively evil. He or she may very well be a truly evil person.
BUT. The crunch is that they do not perceive themselves in that way. Even the most depraved serial kidnapper, torturer and killer probably believes himself to be good but he simply has lapses in which he drifts into doing bad things and even then he probably blames someone else for his sickness. He still thinks he is good.
While this is no excuse to let criminals off the hook, it does allow us to have insight into their character.
Look, for example at the behavior of Andrew Cuomo. He has celebrated the barbaric crime of late term abortion. Does he turn away in shame? No he does not. Instead he doubles down and justifies his position and begins to blame those who have called him out.
Why does he do this? It is because he really, honestly believes that he is defending the rights of women. He believes he is helping women. Sure, he may also see the political benefit from such a position, but he also believes that position is not only right, but that it is so right that it deserves a crusade and publicly moral stance.
When you are inclined to cast Cuomo or Pelosi or anybody else as villains in your own personal screenplay remember that they think they are delightful.
This is the deepest, darkest secret of the human race. This is the mystery hidden from the foundation of the world. This is the bubbling heart of darkness at the core of the human race–that even in our worst depravity we truly believe we are wonderful.
Remember Darth Vader saw himself as the savior. So do all those who impose horrific ideologies of death on the world.
All the great tyrants looked in the mirror and saw a wonderful person, and here’s the kicker…
…don’t you look in the mirror, and don’t you think you’re really rather wonderful?