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Villains and Nationality

Typically the nationality of bad guys in film and television storylines is Russian, and more recently North Korean (or an un-named Asian nation such as in Tomorrow When the War Began). Is this selection merely a historical choice due to past conflict?

How does this play in to real world perceptions of these nations today?

  • Very interesting topic that I think could turn into an excellent article. It could chronologically follow the trends of how the antagonist other is represented in media throughout history and examine how they reflect the contemporary zeitgeist; Russia during the Cold War, terrorism post-9/11, North Korea more recently, etc. Going for a broader and more nuanced perspective, you could also compare this to non-Western examples. One film that comes to mind is Ip-Man 2, which has a pretty blatantly antagonistic depiction of British imperialism, reflecting Hong Kong's complicated (post-)colonial history and present. I'm sure there are other great examples as well if you dig into it. – blautoothdmand 4 years ago
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  • I am accepting this in the spirit of it rather than the letter and assuming the discussion is in relation to Western representations of villains. I think there is a strong connection to the perception of the villains in film/TV and those in the culture that produced them, which is normal. What would be interesting to look at is when particular nations are represented as villains at different times and what incited change. – SaraiMW 4 years ago
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  • There's definitely a culture of finding and portraying the villains where you want them to be- similarly to how gender-diverse people are often the villains in TV and movies, in an effort to subtly portray them as deviants and demonise them (literally, in the case of characters like Him from PPG)- for decades people have portrayed Nazis, Russians, and more recently people in the Middle East as a sort of uniform evil without much need (or desire) to dig deeper into it. If you refer to the beginning of Black Panther you also see an example of a slightly vague fictional Boko Haram or similar African Muslim extremist group taken down by T'Challa in a style reminiscent of shooter game missions with the objective of 'take down these villains, save the hostages, shoot first ask questions later'. In the rise of neo-nazism there is sometimes objection to these uniform representations of their predecessors as evil- and certainly there are muslims I know who were bothered by the way black muslims were represented as faceless villains. I feel this topic is most interesting in regards to how and why people fight against stereotypes and perceptions, rather than simply cultural shifts. – GRandall 4 years ago
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