Despicable Me. Army of Darkness. Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Barbie and Friends. Can you tell what’s similar about those titles.
They all share a theme. Evil.
Why is it that it seems like every modern teen tale tries to glorify “the dark side”? Vampires, witches, barbies, zombie gore fests…has anyone else noticed that the word “bad” seems to pop up in book and movie titles with alarming frequency. In fact, when was the last time you saw a true hero onscreen, instead of the omnipresent antihero.
Darkness exists in all story, albeit with the children’s ones getting off pretty easy. It also exists in real life. But should we glorify it, putting evil men up on a pedestal and saying, “Boy, I wish I could be like them.” Or short of that, so much of evil is made out to look ‘cool’. Whether through savage stylized violence or whatever other means, people walk away thinking how awesome it was.
Now I’m not saying that evil should be ignored in storytelling, but quite the contrary. Darkness can and should be present in great story, but it should have a purpose, and only one purpose fits the bill. The only real purpose of evil in life, and what should be the only purpose in storytelling, is in fact to glorify good.
Instead of making the good guy’s negative traits be the what you admire about his character, have his heroic qualities stand out instead, using the undesirable antics of his friends or enemies to help the reader (or viewer) realize just what really is so amazing about that character.
Please don’t ride me out of town if I mess up this quote, or cite the wrong source, but I believe it was Tolkien, probably in the Silmarillion, (or possibly Lewis, it’s been so long since I read it). Paraphrased, what the author had written was, “Good will be better for evil having been.” That’s the whole purpose of darkness and evil in stories. And in reality, that’s the reason God allowed evil to take over for a time.
Eden was perfect, it says that in the Bible. But because Satan was allowed to be successful in tempting Adam and Eve, when heaven and earth are remade, we’re going to get something better! Better and more beautiful, fulfilling, and joyful than perfect!