November 21, 2010

Who Wore it Better?

Now it's time to cast your votes to determine who is the better designer as we take a closer look at some of the knock-off fashions featured in Harry Potter 7.


Jany Temime for Harry Potter 7, modeled by Clémence Poésy "Fleur Delacour"
Alexander McQueen Fall 2008, modeled by Georgina Stojilkovic?

Viktor & Rolf 2003, Fall RTW collection, Model: Simone
David Ryall, "Elphias Doge", Harry Potter 7

Viktor & Rolf, Vogue June 2010, Alice in Wonderland,  Model: Natalia Vodianova
Photograph by Annie Leibovitz

Cast your votes in the comments section~

November 17, 2010

A Guide to Creating Villains

First, avoid making the villain too evil. This is usually an issue when the protagonist is too perfect since  the antagonist is often portrayed as the polar opposite of the hero. It is important to remember when creating likeable characters (both hero and villain)  that perfect is boring and completely unbelievable. The hero does not have to be nice to everyone and the antagonist should have some redeeming qualities.

Each character should have strengths, weaknesses, and a solid motivation for their actions.   

I have not yet been to the theater to see "Megamind”, but the previews hint that it  touches on the theme of role-reversal amongst heros and villains.

A children’s book I enjoyed growing up is, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by  Jon Scieszka.  The story is the retelling of the “The Three Little Pigs”, but from the Wolf’s point of view. 

And for anyone who might appreciate a tragic comedy in the form of a musical,  “Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog” demonstrates that the roles of good and evil are not always as distinct as black and white.

From the archives of, the ten most common types of Hollywood villains:

1. The wild beast: He usually has only one eye or only one arm, long unwashed hair, and he’s creeping in smelly dark alleys. He carries a big gun to attack people at random, and sometimes drives a bike. He will visit a shady bar during the movie to have someone unsuspecting pick a fight with him.

2. The gentleman killer: He’s well-educated (he knows French words), has a sense of arrogant humor, a suit, and often sports a well-trimmed beard. He usually has muscular henchman to perform killings but also kills himself at least once to prove how cold his heart is (very, very cold).

3. The small-time crook: He’s small-time (bank robber and similar), but kills a lot and without second thoughts. His down-to-earth brutality serves to add realism (hence suspense) to the movie.

4. The super villain: A super hero needs a super villain to compete against in near-eternal rivalry. Super villains are always the opposite of the super-hero and mostly have special reasons to hate him. They will always fall in, inhale or drink some poisonous green substance in the beginning of the movie to make them “super” (mostly, super-schizophrenic). The super villain is highly intelligent, usually a scientist, and feels his acts are justified.

5. The pseudo-buddy: You won’t know he’s the bad guy because he seems to be the good guy’s best friend (or his cop colleague, or his mentor, or his satanic child). Well, at least you won’t know the first time you watch this kind of movie, so once you are around 10 years old you probably do know.

6. The nemesis: He’s a big corporation kind of guy, bullying our hero within the realms of the perfectly legal (albeit immoral). A more harmless version of the nemesis didn’t quite qualify as a villain; it’s the kind of annoying career-oriented news reporter who gets knocked unconscious by the hero in the end.

7. The psycho: He’s a maniac with a smile on his face and hunts people, especially the movie hero. What separates him from other types of evil-doers is that he doesn’t want money (he’s just crazy). Sometimes the psycho is also partially a gentleman killer (see type 2).

8. The gentleman burglar: He’s actually a good guy posing as bad guy. He’s into stealing jewelry but leaves notes for the good good guy to track him down in a sort of love-hate relationship. A somewhat more brutal variant of the gentleman burglar is the mafia hit man.

9. The nice guy: This man will pose as clown or family man, but always starts to kill. You will see him handing candy to kids on the street during sunset, while our hero (the only one with inside knowledge) runs towards him in slow-motion, uttering a hyperdramatic “Noo-o-o-o....”

10. The sports villain: OK, the sports villain – a boxer, Karate black-belt etc. – is not really evil, he’s just trained by Russians (or whatever is the evil du jour) to beat the brains out of our hero, repeatedly.

By the way: variants 1-4 will always die at the end. 5 and 6 may die, 7 never does, and 10 mostly only ends up in hospital. 8 and 9 escape to Morocco.

November 15, 2010

Rules for the Evil Overlord

 Today I'm sharing the humorous list, "Rules for the Evil Overlord" to complement my upcoming post: "A Guide to Creating Villains"

Feel free to contribute additional rules in the comments section!

Being an Evil Overlord seems to be a good career choice. It pays well, there are all sorts of perks and you can set your own hours. However every Evil Overlord I've read about in books or seen in movies invariably gets overthrown and destroyed in the end. I've noticed that no matter whether they are barbarian lords, deranged wizards, mad scientists or alien invaders, they always seem to make the same basic mistakes every single time. Therefore, if I ever happen to become an Evil Overlord:

1.      My legions of terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not face-concealing ones.
2.      My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through.
3.      My noble half-brother whose throne I usurped will be killed, not kept anonymously imprisoned in a forgotten cell of my dungeon.
4.      Shooting is not too good for my enemies.
5.      The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box.
6.      I will not gloat over my enemies' predicament before killing them.
7.      When the rebel leader challenges me to fight one-on-one and asks, "Or are you afraid without your armies to back you up?" My reply will be, "No, just sensible."
8.      When I've captured my adversary and he says, "Look, before you kill me, will you at least tell me what this is all about?" I'll say, "No." and shoot him.
9.      After I kidnap the beautiful princess, we will be married immediately in a quiet civil ceremony, not a lavish spectacle in three weeks' time during which the final phase of my plan will be carried out.
10.  I will not include a self-destruct mechanism unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, it will not be a large red button labeled "Danger: Do Not Push". The big red button marked "Do Not Push" will instead trigger a spray of bullets on anyone stupid enough to disregard it.
11.  I will not order my trusted lieutenant to kill the infant who is destined to overthrow me -- I'll do it myself.
12.  I will not interrogate my enemies in the inner sanctum -- a small hotel well outside my borders will work just as well.
13.  I will be secure in my superiority. Therefore, I will feel no need to prove it by leaving clues in the form of riddles or leaving my weaker enemies alive to show they pose no threat.
14.  I will not waste time making my enemy's death look like an accident -- I'm not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn't believe it.
15.  I will make it clear that I do know the meaning of the word "mercy"; I simply choose not show them any.
16.  One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation.
17.  All slain enemies will be cremated, or at least have several rounds of ammunition emptied into them, not left for dead at the bottom of the cliff. The announcement of their deaths, as well as any accompanying celebration, will be deferred until after the aforementioned disposal.
18.  My undercover agents will not have tattoos identifying them as members of my organization, nor will they be required to wear military boots or adhere to any other dress codes.
19.  The hero is not entitled to a last kiss, a last cigarette, or any other form of last request.
20.  I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation.
21.  I will design all doomsday machines myself. If I must hire a mad scientist to assist me, I will make sure that he is sufficiently twisted to never regret his evil ways and seek to undo the damage he's caused.
22.  I will never utter the sentence "But before I kill you, there's just one thing I want to know."
23.  When I employ people as advisors, I will occasionally listen to their advice.
24.  I will not have a son. Although his laughably under-planned attempt to usurp power would easily fail, it would provide a fatal distraction at a crucial point in time.
25.  I will not have a daughter. She would be as beautiful as she was evil, but one look at the hero's rugged countenance and she'd betray her own father.
26.  Despite its proven stress-relieving effect, I will not indulge in maniacal laughter. When so occupied, it's too easy to miss unexpected developments that a more attentive individual could adjust to accordingly.
27.  I will hire a talented fashion designer to create original uniforms for my legions of terror, as opposed to some cheap knock-offs that make them look like Nazi stormtroopers, Roman footsoldiers, or savage Mongol hordes. All were eventually defeated and I want my troops to have a more positive mind-set.
28.  No matter how tempted I am with the prospect of unlimited power, I will not consume any energy field bigger than my head.
29.  I will keep a special cache of low-tech weapons and train my troops in their use. That way -- even if the heroes manage to neutralize my power generator and/or render the standard-issue energy weapons useless -- my troops will not be overrun by a handful of savages armed with spears and rocks.
30.  I will maintain a realistic assessment of my strengths and weaknesses. Even though this takes some of the fun out of the job, at least I will never utter the line "No, this cannot be! I AM INVINCIBLE!!!" (After that, death is usually instantaneous.)
31.  No matter how well it would perform, I will never construct any sort of machinery which is completely indestructable except for one small and virtually inaccessible vulnerable spot.
32.  If I am engaged in a duel to the death with the hero and I am fortunate enough to knock the weapon out of his hand, I will graciously allow him to retrieve it. This is not from a sense of fair play; rather, he will be so startled and confused that I will easily be able to dispatch him.
33.  No matter how attractive certain members of the rebellion are, there is probably someone just as attractive who is not desperate to kill me. Therefore, I will think twice before ordering a prisoner sent to my bedchamber.
34.  I will never build only one of anything important. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.
35.  If my supreme command center comes under attack, I will immediately flee to safety in my prepared escape pod and direct the defenses from there. I will not wait until the troops break into my inner sanctum to attempt this.
36.  My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.
37.  Even though I don't really care because I plan on living forever, I will hire engineers who are able to build me a fortress sturdy enough that, if I am slain, it won't tumble to the ground for no good structural reason.
38.  I will dress in bright and cheery colors, and so throw my enemies into confusion.
39.  All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly thieves in the land will be pre-emptively put to death. My foes will surely give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.
40.  All naive, busty tavern wenches in my realm will be replaced with surly, world-weary waitresses who will provide no unexpected reinforcement and/or romantic subplot for the hero or his sidekick.
41.  Any and all magic and/or technology that can miraculously resurrect a secondary character who has given up his/her life through self sacrifice will be outlawed and destroyed.
42.  I will not fly into a rage and kill a messenger who brings me bad news just to illustrate how evil I really am. Good messengers are hard to come by.
43.  I will see to it that plucky young lads/lasses in strange clothes and with the accent of an outlander shall REGULARLY climb some monument in the main square of my capital and denounce me, claim to know the secret of my power, rally the masses to rebellion, etc. That way, the citizens will be jaded in case the real thing ever comes along.
44.  I won't require high-ranking female members of my organization to wear a stainless-steel bustier. Morale is better with a more casual dress-code. Similarly, outfits made entirely from black leather will be reserved for formal occasions.
45.  I will not employ devious schemes that involve the hero's party getting into my inner sanctum before the trap is sprung.
46.  I will not turn into a snake. It never helps.
47.  I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.

This list is Copyright © 1996 by Peter Anspach [].
If you enjoy it, feel free to pass it along or post it anywhere, provided that (1) it is not altered in any way, and (2) this copyright notice is attached.