ON THE SAME PAGE: VICIOUS and ANTIHEROES
Upon finishing VICIOUS, I came to the somehow surprising realization that I really, really enjoy antiheroes. Really, I don’t know why this was a surprising revelation for me since I’ve grown attached to quite a few antiheroes featured in literature, TV, and film, but for some reason main character Victor Vale really opened my eyes to this.
Why do I love the antihero so much? I think it’s in part because I love seeing justice being served in a way that doesn’t compromise the protagonist’s virtue in a traditional sense. A lot of antiheroes have already been hardened. They’re not you’re typical hero so they tend to have dark pasts with dark motives and may or may not have already committed a few unspeakable crimes before we even meet them. When it comes down to that final moment for the antihero to eliminate the villain, and let’s face it, usually with murder on the mind, it doesn’t feel like an innocence is being lost if they succeed. We all knew that it had to come down to Harry Potter killing Voldemort, for example, but he was just a kid! He didn’t want to kill anyone. He did have a dark past but he was truly a good person and no one wanted to see him have to kill someone, no matter how evil. When a true hero is put in the position to kill someone, it’s heart-breaking and bittersweet. When an antihero is put in a position to off the villain, I find myself rooting for them.
The antihero is also very appealing to me, I think, because the villain that they come up against has committed WAY more heinous crimes. If I find myself rooting for someone who’s not a traditional hero, chances are the person they’re battling has done something extremely terrible! There always has to be a guy who’s worse, right? Often times the villain has done things that are just TOO appalling that it takes a special kind of someone to take him down where others have failed — maybe the traditional hero’s conventional methods just aren’t enough. Enter: antihero.
I also enjoy being able dabble in the dark side while still rooting for the side of “good”. Sometimes the dark side is the more interesting side. It’s like passing a car crash that you just can’t help but stare at — it’s horrifying but incredibly interesting. The antihero sometimes has a much more interesting past, or a much more complicated present and often times their morals function with more of a gray area. The antihero allows us to look the other way on certain crimes in order to right the wrongs and establish justice once more.
Enter the soft side: One of my favorite things about antiheroes is seeing them soften towards other characters. Be it a child, a dog, a romance… It’s so much more touching to see the softer side of them because it’s not something you often see. Antiheroes are more likely to keep to themselves, keep their emotions under wraps (whether by choice or by initial nature), and so when they show a compassionate side, it just makes my insides melt! I think that really establishes an emotional connection with the antihero and it makes me want to root for them even more. There’s a bit of a good guy deep down there somewhere and when the audience sees that side, it just makes them feel so much more wronged and betrayed if something bad happens to those characters!
Victor Vale is a complicated character. He’s never quite been the traditional good guy and he makes a fantastic antihero in VICIOUS. I loved seeing his motives, his thought processes, and the way he formed relationships. If I didn’t know if before, I surely know it now: I really do enjoy a good antihero to save the day.