These days, it seems like the entertainment industry is increasingly profiting from film and television where the main characters are bad people. Why is that the case? Is it possible society has a secret dark side that enjoys seeing bad people? I think it’s not that simple and here’s why.
Despite what anyone might say, drama has a tendency to be fun. Have you ever gotten caught up in celebrity scandals or even listen in on family gossip? Well, people in the entertainment industry caught wind that people enjoy seeing others be not so great. Italian gangster films like The Godfather and Goodfellas became wildly popular when audiences got to see the side of crime that isn’t shown very often. The romanization of organized crime glorified becoming rich by profiting off others, gaining respect from friends and strangers alike, and having power to do whatever you wanted. Watching the titans fall felt bitter sweet, since we as an audience fell in love with the feeling being on top as the main character did.
Seeing the villain in a new light, can make us sympathize/empathize with the protagonist. Seeing the bad protagonist being conditioned to be bad can humanize them in our eyes. In the show Breaking Bad, we see Walter White in debt, work two jobs, and discover he has cancer before he turns into the drug kingpin that we all know. We are with him on his journey to be able to provide for him and his family, which makes you feel conflicted when he gets consumed into his criminal lifestyle. We fall into this mindset of “well they’re a good person, they’re just going down a wrong path.” and it makes us want to keep seeing how their ending will play out.
Things aren’t as clear-cut as many people seem to think and it looks as the entertainment media is starting to reflect on that idea. We live in a society that causes individuals to act according to their environment. You can see it in films like The Wolf Of Wall Street, where Jordan Belfort started as a nice man who just got his first job on Wall Street. He later becomes seduced by his fellow stockbrokers to scam his clients to earn more money. We are who we are based on who we keep around us, and that is a harsh reality in life.
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