We Need More Redemption Stories

July 04, 2021


 

Once Upon a Time, we used to have stories about heroes and villains. Some of them were very black and white, and some of them sampled shades of grey. Then twitter happened…

A hero is only as good as his villain. But what is considered good enough? A villain that does awful things without a motive? Or a villain whose motives are valid enough that makes us want to rationalization their actions? How do we find the balance, and do we need to?

 

There are multiple reasons why a villain could be universally loved. They could have a tragic backstory, or they could be a potential love interest. What makes the enemies to lovers trope so popular is the sheer and raw honesty between the relationships that fall under it. When two individuals start off as enemies they already show their absolute worse to each other, but end up in love despite all of their flaws. There are three ways a story could go from there, they either leave each other because they’re too different, they could go all evil together or it could go how it typically does, the villain dies trying to redeem himself. And that’s the politically correct way of redemption we have now, death. Hope is no longer enough. If we truly believe that fiction can affect reality, what do these stories teach us? That we can’t come back from making mistakes? That people who make mistakes don’t deserve a second chance? That the only way we can have sympathy towards anyone is if they are flawless, a fruitless attempt since nobody can reach that impossible standard? That’s why we need more redemption stories, so we can learn forgiveness.

 

Here’s the thing, stories should not be boring. And while a merciless bad guy doing bad things works for a lot of people, it doesn’t for me. There’s nothing more engaging, and more fun than seeing a descend into madness, watching what could make people finally snap. And luckily we have fiction to explore those fantasies, we have stories to spin and fill with gory events without affecting the fabric of reality. But does fiction affect reality? Absolutely. Should reality affect fiction? No. And here lies the problem, where suddenly every villain in a movie needs to be as inhuman and unsympathetic as he could get. We are no longer allowed to understand how evil is made, and most importantly if it can be reversed. Instead of actually educating ourselves and others through stories, we’re applying our realistic standards to these fictional characters. Especially considering the fact that most real-life villains sympathize with fictional heroes and not their true representation. Despite what Twitter may tell you, it does not make you evil to feel sympathy towards a fictional bad guy/girl. Emotions are after all that make us humans.

 

These impossible politically correct standards are doing more harm than good. We need to show how human real-life villains were in movies, we need to understand that monsters can be just like us. Not only does it protect us and make us aware of the people we put our trust in, but it also shows how most of them managed to have so much power and influence. But, should we hold the same standards to fiction? No. In fact, I find it incredibly distasteful how some people compare fictional villains and events in stories to real-life tragedies. Not only does it minimize what a lot of people went through, but it also trivializes real-world suffering. The “woke” backlash does nothing but police creatives and shames them for writing engaging stories, it also encourages studios to doll out more mediocre films. You are not a social justice warrior for boycotting a fictional character, you’re a part of a cult working on oppressing freedom of speech. 

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