Why Do We Love Halloween?

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Before we don our costumes for a night of (hopefully) wholesome fun, I’d like to close the month of October with a simple question: Why do we love Halloween?

As many of us know, Halloween (once known as All Hallow’s Eve) comes with a creepy history, its origins stemming from believing in the supernatural and the hope of scaring away evil spirits. Today it’s one of the most marketable holidays in the world, second only to Christmas. Horror movies pop up in the theaters, costume stores open for a month or two, and sales increase in pumpkins and candy.

Ironically, Halloween only takes place one day a year. And what do we do on that one day? The major consensus is usually dress up in a costume and either collect candy, go to a Halloween party, or both. And yet we spend an entire month paying homage to Halloween in one way or another. The same can be said for Christmas; it’s only one day, yet we spend well over a month celebrating the Christmas spirit. However, Halloween and Christmas are so different from one another that you could write an entire essay comparing the two.

So how is it that Halloween managed to work, despite the dark stories of how it came about? What makes it popular in spite of its religious controversy? While I consider Halloween to be one of my top five holidays, I have to admit that it’s such a strange phenomenon. So I decided to poke around on the internet to see why other people love it. And these were the two responses that corresponded with the majority of Halloween-lovers.

1: It’s fun.

And yes, for many, that is hard to deny. As the ABC comedy Black-ish pointed out in its Halloween special, “it’s the one time of year you get to not be you!” Someone also asked this question on answers.yahoo.com, and one of the people who answered said “It’s a day out of the year to show your imagination off.” In fact, some of the people who answered couldn’t believe that anyone would dislike Halloween.

However, while I do enjoy it, I can see where those who dislike it are coming from. For one, there have been a lot of freaky images popping up on computers in the last month, many of which are likely capable of giving heart attacks. And religious controversy aside, Halloween seems to glorify horror and terror—which, ironically, a lot of people seem to go for. Why is that? What is the appeal of horror? This brings me to my next reason for explaining Halloween’s popularity:

2: Some people like to be scared.

There’s a lot of psychology behind this, which I won’t get into. What I will get into, in order to explain this point, is one of the Nostalgia Critic’s Halloween editorials, “Should we scare the s$&@ out of kids?” In the editorial, he brought up these points:

  1. Scaring kids can get a point across, like don’t talk to strangers and be careful of what you wish for
  2. Intense moments allow kids to experience these feelings—adrenaline, hope, and (as he puts it) the appreciation of being challenged.

When he brought up these reasons (particularly the last one) I couldn’t help but think about the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. You wouldn’t think that such a bloody, gritty trilogy would gain so much popularity over the years, but it has. Why? Because it challenged its readers. It talked to its target audience like adults. And I think that we all want to be challenged. We all want to be taken seriously. We all want to be treated like smart people. And that’s exactly what Hunger Games did, both in the books and in the movies.

The same could be said for Halloween. All Hallow’s Eve appeals to our thirst for excitement and creativity. It creates a time for those who love danger and thrills to get their fill. It challenges us to understand the dark side of humanity. And whether we’re aware of it or not, it allows us to appreciate the lighter moments of life all the more when the sun rises on November 1st.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “Happy Halloween!”

Sources used:

https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081029210927AATQ3YS

http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2010/10/28/why-love-scare-halloween-science/

http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videolinks/thatguywiththeglasses/nostalgia-critic/41043-should-we-scare-the-shit-out-of-our-kids

http://www.pumpkinpatchesandmore.org/halloweenhistory.php

Photo source: http://www.hgtv.com/holidays-occasions/kids-costume-ideas/pictures/index.html

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Top 12 Disney Villain Songs

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

To continue the Halloween festivities, I’m making a return to villains by talking about a segment in Disney musicals that many look forward to: the Villain songs. Most of the time, the villain song is where we find out more about who the villain is, what motivates him/her, and (sometimes) their evil plans. They can be bouncy and fun or bone-chillingly intense. And I’m not just talking about songs from Disney’s animated musicals; they can also be from live-action films, stop motion films, and more. So let’s get ready to enjoy the creepy and psychotic side of music with the top 12 Disney Villain Songs!

#12: Mother Knows Best reprise from Tangled

The original version of this is…okay. Mother Gothel’s vocals are good, the tune is bouncy, and it’s nearly impossible to get out of your head once you know the lyrics. However, I don’t find it as memorable as other villain songs.

But then we got the reprise, and holy cow, was that an upgrade! When Mother Gothel suddenly reappeared in the scene, everyone jumped out of their seats in the theater. And the reprise was so bone-chilling and intense that I’d be stupid not to add it on here. It’s right on par with songs like “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and “Cell Block Tango,” and it was just the right tune to show the dark, twisted side of Tangled’s villain.

#11: Professional Pirate from Muppet Treasure Island

Before anyone asks, Muppet Treasure Island was filmed and released shortly after Disney bought the Muppets. Moving on!

Putting the movie’s celebrity aside, this song is another fun little number that showcases everything cool about sailing the high seas and having swashbuckling adventures. If you’re a big fan of pirates, this song is just right for you!…even if it is sung by a guy who still makes people flinch after working on the Stephen King miniseries. Seriously, what is it with Tim Curry and scaring little girls? Oh well. Next one.

#10: Fidelity Fiduciary Bank from Mary Poppins

This isn’t technically a villain song, especially since Mary Poppins doesn’t have any villains. However, the scene is an interesting commentary on how banks and money can increase a person’s productivity while also increasing a person’s dependency. The bankers say, “think of everything you could do with a bank account! Think of what you could do when you turn your little nest egg into a fortune!” But no one shows interest in what Michael really wanted to do with it. The song that came before this was “Feed the Birds,” which inspired Michael to do something selfless with his money. And how did the old man respond when Michael states not once, not twice, but three times in the span of five minutes that he wants to feed the birds?

“Fiddlesticks, boy! Feed the birds, and what have you got? Fat birds!”

The use of it in Mary Poppins, as well as in Saving Mr. Banks, shows that the biggest villain we will ever encounter, more often than not, is man’s dependency on money. Fidelity Fiduciary Bank: So poignant, so underrated, and yet so low on the list.

#9: Friends on the Other Side from Princess and the Frog *

I talked about this one before, so I won’t go into too much detail about it here. What I will say is that it’s still a fun song, easily the best number from a mediocre movie with mediocre music. The vocals are great, the music is great, and the visuals—though a bit gruesome for a kids’ animated movie—are great.

#8: The Mob Song from Beauty and the Beast

I know a lot of people like this song, but I had to put it low on the list. For one, the true villain song of Beauty and the Beast is the Gaston number. For another, while it captures the intensity and dark tones of the situation at hand, it’s ironically overshadowed by other songs in the musical, like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Be Our Guest.” However, it’s still a good song worth talking about. Again, a lot of people do like this song, and for good reason. As I said before, it still captures the intensity and dark tones of the situation at hand. So while it’s not my favorite, I still enjoy it.

#7: Marley and Marley from Muppet Christmas Carol

Insert Disney-bought-Muppets-before-this-movie and move on to topic at hand.

Statler and Waldorf are two favorite characters in the Muppet franchise, so it was worth it to tweak the Dickens classic and allow them to have a song together. On top of that, the song serves as a rare glimpse into what happens to the bad guy after he gets his comeuppance for his crimes. There’s even a part where they laugh about one of their evil deeds, and then shudder just a few seconds later when they remember where their evil got them. It’s creepy yet fun, hilarious yet horrific, and encouraging yet discouraging.

#6: Gaston from Beauty and the Beast

As I said before, this is the true villain song of Beauty and the Beast. After being rejected by Belle, the townsfolk get together and remind Gaston why he’s the most popular guy in the village. Everyone wants to be like him, and it doesn’t take him long to join in and praise himself. It’s also the start of Gaston’s transformation from man to monster, making him the perfect villain of the story as well as the perfect foil to the Beast. This song is so repetitive and so fitting for Gaston that it would later become a running gag in House of Mouse.

#5: Poor Unfortunate Souls from The Little Mermaid

Poor Unfortunate Souls is the perfect combination of scary, fun, creepy, and crazy. It starts as a waltz, and like other villain songs, ups the drama and spine-tingles by the time we reach the second chorus. This was the first awesome villain song Disney gave us, and if we can’t give The Little Mermaid credit for that…well, there’s plenty of other things to give it credit for, even if it’s not Disney’s best movie. But the song is still awesome.

#4: My Lullaby from Lion King 2 **

Disney Sequels are, admittedly, bad. They’re created only to milk success from their predecessors until the money bin is bone dry, and everyone knows it. With that said, Lion King 2 is one of the few sequels that wasn’t necessarily terrible. And one reason for that is its villain, Zira. She’s like the Bellatrix Lestrange of Disney; she’s so vengeful and bloodthirsty that it’s hard to forget about her. And nothing in the movie shows it best than the villain song, “My Lullaby.” While the vocals aren’t terrific, it still represents Zira’s character perfectly. Nothing pleases her more than the dying gasps, fearful squeals, and mournful cries of her foes. And if you become someone she hates, you don’t have a prayer.

#3: Be Prepared from The Lion King **

Since it tied with “My Lullaby” in my top 12 Intense Songs countdown, it only seems fitting to mention it here as well. While “My Lullaby” keeps the same tone throughout, “Be Prepared” starts classy and creepy, and then ups the craziness as it progresses into the second half. And again, I’m not the only one who can see this being a motivational song for the Nazis.

#2: Savages from Pocahontas **

While this isn’t the real villain song of the movie, it still has a purpose beyond moving the story forward: it shows that prejudice and hatred are sometimes bigger villains than people. Some of the lyrics are definitely overused and overdramatic, but they still get the point across. And the way it weaves three tunes together in the last third of the whole song is perfect and spine-chilling.

#1: Hellfire from Hunchback of Notre Dame **

Again, this one tied with another song on my top 12 Intense Songs, so it’s fair not only to include it here, but also to give it the number one spot. Unlike “Savages,” Hellfire is more intense, and the lyrics are more gritty and realistic as opposed to cheesy and cliché. The song alone is a psychological thriller. It also takes a surprisingly dark subject for kids and makes it into a cautionary tale that fits with the rest of the movie. It takes a villain who’s already a religious hypocrite, and makes him go even crazier with power. It’s not just creepy; it’s terrifying, and we can’t help but love it for that.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

* Also mentioned in Top 12 Fun Songs (https://lgalfonso.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/top-12-fun-songs-2/)

**Also mentioned in Top 12 Intense Songs (https://lgalfonso.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/top-12-intense-songs/)

Photo source: http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2013/04/13/disney-villain-signature-songs-on-a-scale-from-1-to-fabulous/

Top 12 Harry Potter Characters

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

It’s still October, and I’m spending this week talking about something just as awesome as villains: Harry Potter. Harry Potter, as many know, is a series of children’s books loved for its poignant themes, its imaginative world, and, of course, its memorable characters. Now, some of the choices on this list may be surprising, and others not so much. Also, keep in mind that there will be spoilers ahead, as many of these characters aren’t fully explored until the end of the story. With that said, here’s my top 12 list of Harry Potter characters.

#12: Narcissa Malfoy

I realize that readers didn’t officially meet her until Half Blood Prince, and on top of that, we didn’t see her a lot. However, for being a pure blood and having a husband, sister, and son working for Voldemort (not to mention having a name derived from narcissism), Narcissa is a surprisingly decent person. When we meet her in Half Blood Prince, she’s concerned about her son’s safety as he takes on a dangerous mission for Voldemort. Though she understands how loyal her family is to Voldemort and his ‘pure-blood ideals,’ she doesn’t like the idea of losing her family to him. And there’s also the scene at the end of the series where Harry pretends to be dead, and Narcissa lies to Voldemort—putting herself at risk—so she can find her son and make sure he’s okay. Keep in mind, Voldemort is not an easy wizard to lie to. Not only can he read peoples’ minds, but he’s also not likely to forgive anyone for anything. So yes, Narcissa did take a big risk, and deserves a spot here for it.

#11: Draco Malfoy

Another character who surprised me by the end of the story. He starts out as a 1D bully with supposedly no redeemable qualities whatsoever. Had he remained that kind of character in the end, he wouldn’t be mentioned here. But as I read further into the series and reread some of the books, I couldn’t help but find Draco more identifiable. He’s used to being spoiled and admired, so when Harry comes along and becomes the most talked about person in school, it only makes him meaner and angrier. He was so consumed with jealousy that it was almost too easy for him to accept the mission Voldemort gave him in Half Blood Prince. But as the book progressed we realized that, as bad as Draco is, he’s not a killer. And when he has the chance to kill Dumbledore, unarmed and already close to death, he can’t bring himself to do it. He’s one of the few bullies who’s not completely evil, and that’s plenty enough for me.

#10: Kingsley Shacklebolt

Of all the members of the Order of the Phoenix, he probably gets the least amount of screen time and is also one of the most undeveloped characters in the books. So why is he on here? Well, when he does appear, he showcases how surprisingly cool he is. He’s like the Samuel L. Jackson of the Harry Potter world. Heck, in the films, he can take some of the stupidest lines and make them sound unbelievable. For example, in the books, one of the other characters says “you can’t deny, Dumbledore’s got style.” I’ve always felt like that statement was a gross understatement of Dumbledore’s awesomeness. But when Kingsley said it in the movie, I thought to myself “YES! Dumbledore is awesome and don’t you forget it!”

Kingsley Shacklebolt, one of the most underrated characters in Harry Potter.

#9: Minerva McGonagall

On the surface, she seems strict and not easily impressed. But once you get on her good side, you see someone who’s smart (then again, she’s a teacher, so she’d have to be), compassionate, cares a lot about Quidditch, and loves seeing people acting on courage. She might seem like the kind of person who would punish Fred and George Weasley for their pranks, but in the fifth book, she just stands by and watches as the twins torture Umbridge with a satisfied smile on her face. She’s also loyal to the people she cares about, rushing out to stand with Hagrid and taking four stunning spells to the chest. And that is no small feat.

#8: Ginny Weasley

When I was growing up and reading the books, Ginny was the one I looked up to the most, particularly in the last three books. She’s stubborn, quick as a whip, tough as nails, free-spirited, and down to earth. She shows kindness, but only to the people she deems deserving of it. Everyone else falls victim to her Bat Bogey Hexes. Even her older brothers respect how powerful she can be when you push one of her buttons.

The amazing thing is, she didn’t start out this way. When we meet her in Chamber of Secrets, she’s shy, vulnerable, and overshadowed by the presence of six older brothers who care about her a lot, but didn’t always let her play with them growing up. After being possessed by a cursed diary, she grew into a powerful and confident young woman. She’s also one of the few characters who can talk to Harry when he’s angry, telling him what he needs to hear rather than what he wants to hear.

#7: Fred and George Weasley

Hands down, everyone’s favorite pair of twins. They’re hilarious, brilliant, and daring. They also have some of the best lines in the books, and I love reading some of their dialogue out loud because I always imagine them dramatizing and exaggerating everything they say. And while the movies couldn’t exploit everything Fred and George did in the books, they still captured the twins’ personality perfectly.

#6: Remus Lupin

If Remus Lupin doesn’t show that teachers are awesome, I don’t know what will. Everyone remembers his first lesson in Prisoner of Azkaban, and his popularity only continued to grow from there. Of his group of prankster friends, he was the voice of reason and responsibility. On another side, Lupin’s backstory showcases the downsides of bigotry…not that there are any upsides worth considering, but I digress. He hasn’t had a lot of chances to prove himself a good man, mostly because everyone is afraid of the fact that he’s a werewolf. I also like how they designed the werewolf in the movie, a bit of a monster, but also sad because of it.

#5: Neville Longbottom

Neville has to be one of the most developed and 3D characters in Harry Potter. I love how we got to see him grow up and mature from a shy, emotionally wounded, insecure boy into a war general. Before he got to Hogwarts, his family didn’t know if he would have enough magic in him to qualify as a wizard. But his growth into a hero started with having Professor Lupin as a teacher, continuing with lessons from Harry, and ending with his taking charge of Dumbledore’s Army, standing up to Voldemort, and destroying a Horcrux. And the guy who played Neville was treated so nicely by adolescence that Harry Potter practically coined the term “he Neville Longbottomed.”

#4: Severus Snape

Here’s another character who wasn’t fully explored until Deathly Hallows. We’d heard a little about him in the first six books, like how he was into the Dark Arts as a kid, he was bullied by James Potter and Sirius Black, and he’s always been skilled at Potions and defensive/offensive spells, going so far as to create some of his own as a student. But I think everyone was taken aback when Rowling revealed exactly why he worked for the Order and why he was sorry about Harry’s parents, despite the fact that he hated James so much. When I first read that he was in love with Lily, I rolled my eyes and thought “oh, wow. Once the movie comes out, there’s no way they’re going to pull this off.” Thankfully, Alan Rickman proved me wrong. He performed that scene so well he eventually became one of my favorite actors and turned Snape into one of my favorite characters.

#3: Luna Lovegood

Thanks to the 1971 adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, I’m a firm believer in the phrase “a little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” And if you want proof of that, look no further than Luna Lovegood. She’s one of the few people who truly don’t care what anyone else thinks. Her opinions aren’t always popular, but she sticks to them no matter what. She never compromises on anything, and that’s a great message for kids and teenagers.

#2: Albus Dumbledore

Certainly not perfect, but still a remarkable character. He’s one of the wisest and most powerful wizards that we meet in the series. Like Luna, he can be a little bizarre, and we can’t help but love that about him. He’s also empathetic, mysterious, and the sort of person you wouldn’t want to anger. His first concern is his students, and that’s what makes him a good headmaster. He’s such a supporter of equality and the power of love, and he holds those ideals very close to his heart.

#1: Hermione Granger

For someone who didn’t know about magic until receiving her letter, she was the most talented witch in her year. She’s nearly always two steps ahead of everyone, even wizards twice her age. Being someone with a supposedly inferior blood status, she’s also one of the first to sympathize with those that others would just look down on. No one shares her opinions on the way house elves are treated, but she does everything she can to ensure better lifestyles for them. Even after the series ended, she made a lot of accomplishments, including translating The Tales of Beedle the Bard, continued working to promote dignity and equality for non-human creatures, and helped terminate pro-pureblood laws. She was cool as a teenager, and she continues to be cool in the world of Harry Potter, earning her the number one spot on this list.

And that’s my take on the top Harry Potter characters. I hope you enjoyed it, and if you have different opinions on who is the best and why, please comment and share what you think. Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

Photo sources:

http://www.today.com/id/43715572/ns/today-today_entertainment/t/whos-best-harry-potter-supporting-character/

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/narcissa-malfoy/images/18309902/title/narcissa-hbp-photo

http://www.giantbomb.com/draco-malfoy/3005-6754/

http://harrypottermaximo.blogspot.com/2011/04/biografia-de-kingsley-shacklebolt.html

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/professor-mcgonagall/images/7083857/title/professor-minerva-mcgonagall-photo

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/ginevra-ginny-weasley/images/1628228/title/ootp-screencap-glare-screencap

http://www.fotolog.com/awesome_sweet/280000000000024337/

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/remus-lupin/images/14289867/title/remus-lupin-photo

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/neville-longbottom/images/30853447/title/neville-longbottom-photo

http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Pandora_Lovegood

http://hubpages.com/hub/10-Powerful-Quotes-of-Albus-Dumbledore

http://www.harrypotterfans.com/2010/12/potter-personalities-hermione-granger/

Top 12 Underrated Villains

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

I’m continuing my Halloween celebrations by continuing to talk about villains. When you think of awesome baddies, who comes to mind? Maleficent? Sauron? President Snow? Those are excellent choices. But what comes to mind when you think of underrated villains? This list contains villains we don’t talk about who, for one reason or another, should be taken seriously if they ever existed in our world. They could be from video games, books, movies, and more. They could also have silly reasons for being on the countdown, hence the number 12 villain:

#12: Victoria from Twilight

Honestly, the only reason I put her on this list is because she wants to destroy the most hated literary character of all time. Had she succeeded, we’d applaud her for it. And…that’s it. I’ve got nothing else. Next!

#11: Pennywise from It

I know a lot of people are afraid of clowns (hence the absence of a photo), but I put him pretty low on the list. He has dozens of chances to kill the main characters, and he doesn’t take advantage of any of them. When he finally does try to kill them, they’ve already figured out how to destroy him. The reason I’m talking about him is that, while he’s not frightening in practice, he’s terrifying in theory. This is the kind of killer who could pop up out of nowhere and turn himself into anything. And what’s worse, he can be invisible. Imagine how awful it would be if there’s someone hunting your child and you can’t see him.

#10: Hugo from Norna; or, the Witch’s Curse

This time, I don’t have a photo here because there isn’t one that exists. Sad excuse, but it’s true.

Anyway, if you’re familiar with Louisa May Alcott’s background, you might know that she wrote plays when she was young that she and her sisters would perform. One of the plays she co-wrote with one of her sisters was Norna; or, the Witch’s Curse. It’s enjoyably corny. The logic is off, the dialogue is over-the-top, and the characters are cliché to the point where it’s both annoying and hilarious. But the character that stood out to me is Hugo the bandit, whom the real villain—Count Rodolpho—hires to assassinate one of the heroes. But in an unexpected twist, Hugo returns to Rodolpho’s castle and demands more money if Rodolpho doesn’t want it known that he killed his own wife and conspired to kill her brother.

Good grief! That’s diabolical! Agree to take part in an evil plot and get paid for it, and then go back and demand more money to keep it secret! Why don’t the main characters worry about this guy? Rodolpho is psychotic, of course, but Hugo is the real threat in the story.

#9: Van Pelt from Jumanji

You wouldn’t think that Van Pelt would be freaky, considering the fact that he’s the only human from a game of angry monkeys and giant spiders. But while the other creatures don’t care who they kill, Van Pelt’s only target is Robin Williams. Seriously, what did Williams ever do to you? Okay, he didn’t always appear in good movies, but he always gave good performances! Why would you want to kill the most charming icon of comedy?

#8: Barbossa from Pirates of the Caribbean

I love Jack Sparrow, but darn it, give me Barbossa! This guy is so disgustingly evil that it’s awesome. He’s always one step ahead of everyone, and whenever there’s a setback, he’s always prepared to fight through it. Geoffrey Rush’s performance as Barbossa was phenomenal. He was born to be an evil pirate, and he enjoys every breath of it.

#7: Fairy Godmother from Shrek 2

I always suspected someone from Cinderella outside the stepfamily was evil, but I never guessed it’d be the fairy godmother. She gives people what they think they want without considering what they need, and she doesn’t care. Heck, she’ll give it to you even if you don’t want it because it’s what she wants. She has no morals, no limits, and no empathy whatsoever.

#6: The murderesses from Chicago

The musical Chicago has a song called “Cell Block Tango,” where the women sing about the men they punished for pushing them too far. When you get down to it, the song appeals to human instinct rather than human morals. Take a look at some of these lyrics:

“If they used us and they abused us/how could you tell us that we were wrong?”

“If you’d have been there, if you’d have seen it/I betcha you would have done the same”

#5: Ramses from Prince of Egypt

This is another sympathetic villain from another underrated work of art. In this retelling of the Exodus story, the main antagonist is Moses’s brother. They both have opposing views and opposing duties, but at the same time, they value their relationship with one another. Ramses wasn’t born evil; he was just raised with a twisted view of the world thanks to the expectations of his father. He wants to be a powerful ruler, but he feels he has to persecute the Hebrews in order to achieve his goal of building a better kingdom. His life is the perfect tragedy, and that’s what made him the perfect antagonist.

#4: Syndrome from The Incredibles

The best way to summarize his villainy is to take a look at his to-do list.

1: Become inexplicably wealthy

2: Use that wealth to create a lair and powerful robots

3: Murder every superhero in the world with the robots

4: Update and recreate the robots if a hero takes one down

5: When all the heroes are gone, send the strongest robot out to wreak havoc

6: Take out the robot yourself, save the world, and become a hero

#3: Thrax from Osmosis Jones

In the movie, Thrax is a representation of the scarlet fever. And his goal isn’t just to kill for pleasure; his goal is to become famous from killing. All he wants is to be the fastest-killing illness the world has ever known, and he won’t stop killing people even when he gets it.

#2: Umbridge from Harry Potter

I could punch this witch in the face, I hate her so much. Voldemort is the main antagonist of Harry Potter, but Umbridge is truly a sadist who shows off the dark side of politics. She does so many horrible things and justifies it with her social position. For example, when she gives you detention, she’ll make you write lines using a quill that carves into your skin and writes with your blood. And if you show any sign of pain, what’s her response?

“You know, deep down, you deserve to be punished.”

She’s so evil that even JK Rowling, the creator of her, can’t stand her. In an interview you can see here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnb-XIZwbY0&index=16&list=FLzYLqDvrB2c-8DAPOSyVsrQ), she says she finds her behavior “the most revolting in life.” And given some of the other baddies Rowling created in Harry Potter, that’s saying a lot.

#1: Xehanort from Kingdom Hearts

A wise guy from Disney once claimed that “Knowledge…is the real power.” If that’s the case, everyone should be afraid of Xehanort if he existed in real life. There’s a lot to his story and character, but the two things that set him apart from other villains is that a) he’s motivated by a thirst for knowledge, and b) he’ll go further than anyone to see his plan through. To put his plan simply, he wants to start a war to answer a question about the human heart and to create a new world. But what makes him truly terrifying is that he’s virtually unstoppable. Even if you kill him, he’ll find a way to come back from the dead to see his dream become a reality. And if that doesn’t earn him the title of “most underrated villain,” I don’t know what will.

While I’m sure there are plenty of other underrated villains in the world of storytelling, these are the ones we wouldn’t want to exist in our world. Whether it’s a bandit who would backstab a villain for more money, a woman who gives you everything without caring if it’s good for you or not, or a genius who wants to start a war, these are definitely baddies who deserve a little more appreciation.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “So long.”

PS: If you’re wondering why I had a photo of Yzma and Kronk at the top of this list, it’s because they’re my honorable mentions.

photo sources:

http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2013/12/15/lets-pause-and-appreciate-yzma/

http://twilightsaga.wikia.com/wiki/Bryce_Dallas_Howard

http://villains.wikia.com/wiki/Van_Pelt

http://shrek-2.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/the-prince-of-the-egypt/picks/results/818561/which-character-like-least

http://www.monologuedb.com/monologues-for-kids/the-incredibles-buddy-pine/

http://www.my-italia.us/page/news/osmosis-jones-thrax-fire-song

http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Dolores_Umbridge

http://forums.khinsider.com/birth-sleep/141661-master-xehanort-has-something-up-his-sleeve.html

What Makes an Awesome Villain?

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it’d be appropriate to discuss something truly terrifying in our favorite stories: the villains. They add drama, they do all the dastardly things we wouldn’t dream of doing, and some of them don’t even care. But have you ever wondered what makes a villain memorable? Some villains knock it out of the park in terms of their awesomeness, while others immediately strike out. What are the make-it-or-break-it qualifications that determine your villainy? Well, let’s take a look at some of our greatest villains and find out.

Qualification 1: Carrying Out Diabolical Plans

Let’s face it, people. It’s not the plan itself that makes a villain powerful; it’s the way they carry it out. Scar wanted to be king, so he got it by killing his own brother and making it look like an accident. Maleficent wanted revenge, so she put a curse on the king’s daughter and made them wait sixteen years for it to take effect. Judge Frollo wanted a gypsy woman, so he burned down Paris in his search. Syndrome wanted to be a hero, so he killed off all the other superheroes that would get in his way. In many respects, the distance you’re willing to go to get what you want determines the kind of person you are. And in cinema and literature, it’s no exception.

Qualification 2: Interacting with Sidekicks

Some villains don’t have sidekicks, but a few others do. And many times, the sidekicks take up all the silliness and make their bosses look darker and more evil (or they could be the dark, evil ones while their bosses look like the buffoons). On one hand, some villains don’t have them simply because they don’t need them. But on the other hand, how different would Gaston be if he didn’t have Lefou? How sane would Captain Hook be if he didn’t have Mr. Smee? And let’s be honest: would television remember the Brain if he didn’t have Pinky?

Qualification 3: Embracing Villainous Identities

Villains have a variety of personalities. They can be quiet and classy, or they could be loud and insane. They also have various evil laughs (for example, compare the Wicked Witch of the West’s laugh to that of Maleficent’s). And in one way or another, the best villains are the ones that stand out. Remember how shocked everyone was by Heath Ledger’s bone-chilling performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight?  Remember how easily the Candy King made himself look concerned and sympathetic in Wreck-it Ralph? There’s many more that we can’t help but love because of their uniqueness.

Qualification 4: Justifying Evil Deeds

Usually, what makes a villain complex is that their logic differs from the heroes’. Sometimes, they come to conclusions that we wouldn’t dare think about. And at other times, their excuses for their evil deeds are similar to the ones we might use to convince ourselves that we’re doing the right thing. Judge Frollo, for example, justified his arrogance and prejudice by calling himself a man of God. And then there are those villains who become more evil as the story progresses. Gaston was a jerk in the beginning of Beauty and the Beast, but he wasn’t necessarily the bad guy until he decided he would do anything to get what he wanted. Elphaba was the protagonist in Wicked, but eventually came to the conclusion that she might as well be evil if that’s the way everyone sees her.

Qualification 5: A good villain song doesn’t hurt either

In musicals, the villain songs can be some of the best. They illustrate the villain’s personality, as well as their thoughts and feelings about what they’re doing, or what they’re about to do. They can be bouncy and fun, or they can be spine-tingling and intense. In the case of “Pretty Women” in Sweeney Todd, the song is ironically soothing and calm while the vengeful barber builds up to the moment when he can murder the corrupt judge. Other fine examples are songs like “Be Prepared” from The Lion King, “Cell Block Tango” from Chicago, and of course, “Hellfire” from Hunchback of Notre Dame.

And that’s all I’ve got about what makes great villainy. Stay tuned for next week, when I take a look at some of our underrated villains. Until then, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “October has just begun!”

Photo sources: http://disney.wikia.com/wiki/List_of_Disney_villains

http://archive.bebo.com/c/photos/view?MemberId=7904860938&PhotoAlbumId=9050483831

http://ogeeku.com/2014/08/11/aniyoshis-daily-news-pinky-and-the-brain/

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/05/maleficent-and-the-power-of-cheekbones/371914/

http://ponderingsofacinephile.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/elphaba-vs-theodora-the-wicked-witches-of-the-west/

http://friarinphiladelphia.wordpress.com/