Duplicity Part Three: The Darkness Within

(First published in May 2009)

I think most if not all of the successful movie and TV characters have a blend of good and bad in their personalities. I believe this is because a purely “good” guy is boring. Too mono-dimensional. And boring. What people can relate to is a protagonist who, although basically a good person, shows just a hint of menace, and allows us occasional glimpses of the darkness within.

Conversely, some villains, particularly the more memorable ones, have some goodness in their hearts that prove they’re still human and not totally unfeeling robots. Because a purely evil villain is also mono-dimensionally boring.

A blend of goodness and badness is needed to add depth to the personality and make it interesting. Take for example Watchmen character The Comedian, described as ”ruthless, cynical, and nihilistic, and yet capable of deeper insights than the others into the role of the costumed hero”. Among the Watchmen characters, I find The Comedian to have the most complex personality, unlike Rorschach whose character’s world view is “a set of black-and-white values that take many shapes but never mix into shades of gray, similar to the ink blot tests of his namesake”.

I’m sure we can all think about our own favorite characters and find that they too have a mixture of good and ill, right and wrong in their personalities. They can’t be all good or all bad – black or white – because human beings are rarely if not never mono-dimensional, and those who seem so surely must have a hidden antithesis to their outward characters: an inner light to an outwardly evil person, or to a “good guy”, a certain darkness within.

1 Response to “Duplicity Part Three: The Darkness Within”

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Attempts at uncovering the underlying simplicity beneath apparently complex concepts as well as the core complexity within seemingly straightforward issues


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