I’d like to explore a concept that I’ve heard in the conspiracy theory circles about dark-hero programming. I’ve kept it in the back of my mind for some time now, but I recently watched a show about some meth cooks that piqued my interests again.
VICE has a 17-minute documentary about the real life duo of meth cooks in Alabama named Walter and Sammy. They were responsible for the most potent crystal meth in the South. He said the meth wasn’t blue, but rather white. Other than that, there are several similarities to the television plot like Walter’s pursuit of maintaining his anonymity (he coordinated through drop-off points). Here’s that documentary The Real Walter White:
When AMC’s Breaking Bad premiered in 2008, one of Alabama’s most successful meth cooks was already knee deep in building a massive meth empire. His name? Walter White. In this documentary, Walter tells us the secret behind his product, how he stacked up thousands of dollars per day, and why his partner is now serving two life sentences.
I’m posting about this doc because it is a demonstration of the ability for the entertainment industry to paint traditionally “bad” guys as the hero. The concept of the dark-hero and his /her ability to gain sympathy from the audience is evident in this example. Even though they are definitely evil, or “bad,” they are portrayed in a light that lets you know they are just a human with good intentions. For example, the show Dexter has the main character who is a serial killer (albeit a vigilante), but you find yourself rooting for this killer. Same goes for pretty much any rapper who glorifies violence. And of course, the ultimate in manipulation comes from Disney who is taking a turn for the dark side through films such as Maleficent that shows us the tale ofSleeping Beauty through the eyes of the evil villain (although I’m sure we’ll feel bad for her at some point). In fact, Disney has a new show calledDescendants that focuses entirely on all of the villains! Here’s QZ.com talking about it:
For decades, Disney’s films and series have taught audiences that crime doesn’t pay. But now, the company is changing its tune.
Last week, Disney Channel announced a new original movie called Descendants, a live-action adventure-comedy about the teenage offspring of Disney’s classic villains, including 101 Dalmatians’ Cruella De Vil, Snow White’s Evil Queen and Aladdin’s Jafar. The film’s modern-day take will involve the kids questioning “the evil that’s always been in their hearts,” the network said.
Descendants is scheduled to air in early 2015, a year after Disney releases yet another fresh take on a memorable baddie: Maleficent, starring Angelina Jolie as the horn-tipped villainess from 1959’s Sleeping Beauty. The film, opening in May, re-imagines Maleficent’s backstory, in the same way the mega-successful Broadway musical Wicked (based on Gregory Maguire’s novel) offered a sympathetic take on The Wizard of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West. “In general,” Jolie told Entertainment Weekly, “it’s a very good message to say, ‘Let’s look at something from the other side.’”
Truth be told, I kind of agree with this lesson because all of the villains in fiction or reality were good hearted children of God at one point, but I think that message will get lost (or not brought up at all). Instead, our culture of death will focus on emulation of these evil characters in an attempt to gain fame and fortune (there are plenty of news stories that demonstrate life imitating art through the desire to kill like Dexter, or cooking blue meth like inBreaking Bad or even parallel tales of cancer patient science teacherscooking meth).