Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

The Minions of Mild Villainy

Originally posted on August 11, 2015

I was reminded of this archetype also in this summer’s Computer-Graphic Cartoon movie, Minions.  I liked the theme that simple minded folks (the cute lil’ Minions) happen to love the energy put out by someone who exhibits a strong sense of triumphant malevolence. A good villain is appealing in a weird way. In my childhood, there was “Dishonest John,” a wicked hand-puppet in the “Time for Beanie” television series. There were melodrama caricatures of villainy, which I elaborated as “Snidely Whiplash”—who happens to be half-sublimated as the “Editor of the professional journal, “The Journal of Punitive Psychiatry.” (Motto: I’ll give you what to cry for.”)

Staying with the theme of childhood villains, there was Doctor Sivana, the nemesis of Captain Marvel. Captain Marvel never killed him. He sealed him, as I remember at the end of one comic book, in a hermetic structure buried up to his neck in concrete under a dome at the bottom of the sea! Wouldn’t you know it? Doctor Sivana managed to somehow escape and made trouble in if not the next issue, a few issues later. He’s Baaaaack!

I also had a kind of grudging affection for the Ming the Merciless , Emperor of the planet Mongo and nemesis of the hero Flash Gordon. This precursor to Hitler-style tyrant had an appeal to a sickly kid: Power! For a kid, there was also the lure of freedom from conscience. But in the 40s there were certain no-nos. “Bring me the Earth-woman,” Ming would command. “I’m going to make her marry me.” There was a hidden morality there: No hanky-panky outside of marriage in the mid-20th century.

Mostly I’m nice with a pretty hefty conscience; but my Shadow—that part of the larger self Jung suggested included all the dis-owned parts. Ah, yes… Nyah ha ha.

Anyway, back to the Minions, it was fun to see a group of bumbling helpers of bad guys. They weren’t malicious in themselves—they weren’t smart enough—but they enjoyed that energy. I’m reminded of the bacteria that feed on the unfinished products of decay or the poop of slightly more complex animals in the “chain of decay.” Everything seems to get used in life. Ah, but back to the theme of gentle, humorous villainy, which leads right into Halloween, All Hallows Even, when the goblin’s ‘ll get you if you don’t watch out.

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