Title

The Evolution of Villains: A Study of Society's Mutative Anti-Heroes

Author(s)

Jamie R. Milliff

School Name

Chapin High School

Grade Level

11th Grade

Presentation Topic

Psychology and Sociology

Presentation Type

Non-Mentored

Oral Presentation Award

2nd Place

Abstract

Fictional criminals in various media are emblematic of what society finds the most terrifying, and tend to shape the heroes that people identify with. Modern culture has become increasingly fascinated with the villain of the fairy tales, yet there has been little to no research into how they have changed over the ages. How much has the perception of evil changed over time? To face this issue, three separate observational case studies of villains from pop culture have been performed on an individual character that has manifested in assorted styles and eras. Those that were chosen were Professor Moriarty from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Joker from Batman, and Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. The hypothesis is that if a character has been sustained over time, there will be a marked change in the type of threat that he poses in his respective community. Using threat assessment analyses featuring one of the three chosen villains at different points in time, the researcher was able to build profiles based on each time period of the character’s portrayal in media. The analyses of the character, which includes scope, inter-human relations, and vulnerability score, are based on an accepted computer science threat assessment. They show that while the target audience directly impacts how “evil” the character is rendered, the true change over time is reflected in the depth of the villain’s personality and their steady humanization. This conclusion can be expanded through further research into why these changes occur.

Start Date

4-11-2015 11:30 AM

End Date

4-11-2015 11:45 AM

COinS
 
Apr 11th, 11:30 AM Apr 11th, 11:45 AM

The Evolution of Villains: A Study of Society's Mutative Anti-Heroes

Fictional criminals in various media are emblematic of what society finds the most terrifying, and tend to shape the heroes that people identify with. Modern culture has become increasingly fascinated with the villain of the fairy tales, yet there has been little to no research into how they have changed over the ages. How much has the perception of evil changed over time? To face this issue, three separate observational case studies of villains from pop culture have been performed on an individual character that has manifested in assorted styles and eras. Those that were chosen were Professor Moriarty from The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Joker from Batman, and Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs. The hypothesis is that if a character has been sustained over time, there will be a marked change in the type of threat that he poses in his respective community. Using threat assessment analyses featuring one of the three chosen villains at different points in time, the researcher was able to build profiles based on each time period of the character’s portrayal in media. The analyses of the character, which includes scope, inter-human relations, and vulnerability score, are based on an accepted computer science threat assessment. They show that while the target audience directly impacts how “evil” the character is rendered, the true change over time is reflected in the depth of the villain’s personality and their steady humanization. This conclusion can be expanded through further research into why these changes occur.