With In The Loop , Armando Iannucci’s ultrasmart exposé of dumbass politicians and their puppeteers out this Friday, we've been mulling over the dark art of spin.
Anyone can make a convincing case for the odd war-mongering dictator, but what about the truly Herculean feats of double-speak it’d take to cast classic movie villains in a positive, baby-kissing light?
Alastair Campbell, prepare to eat yer blackened little heart out...
The Villain: Darth Vader - Star Wars series (1977-2005)
The Problem: Arguably the most morally bereft being conceivable, given that his sole preoccupation is snuffing out the non-evil half of the energy field generated by ALL LIVING THINGS.
The Spin: "Lord Vader is one of the galaxy’s foremost climate-change gurus. In these times of heightened environmental responsibility, any step we can take to promote lower fuel consumption in our day-to-day lifestyles must be encouraged.
"We’re actually working on a wind-powered lightsaber as we speak, but until that’s perfected, Lord Vader will continue to tirelessly promote the permanent extinguishing of all light, literal or figurative." [page-break]
The Villain: Hannibal Lecter, Manhunter (1986), The Silence Of The Lambs (1991), Hannibal (2001), Hannibal Rising (2007)
The Problem: Enjoys slaughtering people like squealing, faceless hogs and then chowing down on their slippery bits.
The Spin: “Frustrated by unsuccessful efforts to elicit a solid animal-rights commitment from local councillors and business owners, Dr Lecter merely attempted to show that alternative sources of protein are indeed available for those who share his concerns but worry about the nutritional effect of vegetarianism.
"His campaign to popularise fava beans was well-received, although he’d be the first to admit that his pamphlet on liver recipes failed to capture the public imagination. He is currently researching a book on tofu.”
The Villain: The Joker - Batman (1989), The Dark Knight (2008)
The Problem: Serial wrongdoer who, not content with merely making Joe Public’s life a misery, actively torments our crusading superheroes. Compounds it all by tapping into primal childhood fear of bad clowns.
The Spin: “Portraying our client as some twisted one-man freakshow shifts Gotham City red-tops, and they know it.
"In fact, his controversial performance art savagely parodies our unjust society. His lurid get-up lampoons a magazine culture that pressures women into airbrushing out reality, while his ambitious projects don’t discriminate: close observers will note that he ‘hates’ everyone equally, regardless of gender or status. It’s actually a rather daring and provocative statement.”[page-break]
The Villain: Cruella de Vil - 101 Dalmatians series (1961-2000)
The Problem: Insatiable puppy-murdering fashion heiress with a horrifying appetite for lush Dalmatian furs.
The Spin: “Ms de Vil’s apparent bloodlust actually stems from a deep-seated guilt over humanity’s tendency to segregate itself.
"Since a traumatic childhood incident in which a firedog bit her during a peaceful race rally, nowhere is this more acutely portrayed for her than on the spotted hide of a Dalmatian, which she is single-handedly attempting to skin out of existence in favour of a more integrated grey-furred breed.
"We are currently in talks with PETA to review her somewhat inelegant methods.”
The Villain: Frank Booth, Blue Velvet (1986)
The Problem: Continual huffing on non-specific solvents, followed by torture, rape, emotional abuse and a proclivity for some highly dubious roleplay sex.
The Spin: “Mr Booth merely experienced an adverse reaction to his prescription, um, gas. This caused him to regress to an infantile mental state in which he became convinced he was either ‘play-fighting’ or attempting to re-enter the womb, and occasionally both at once.
"Tragically, his acute embarrassment at these behavioural patterns are what led to his spiralling dependence on the unnamed solvent and the frequent emotional collapses.
"We are currently sueing his doctor for negligence, since the link wasn’t made for over 20 years.”[page-break]
The Villain: The shark - Jaws (1975)
The Problem: Developed an unfortunate reputation for stalking and eating the paddling population of once-idyllic Amity Island.
The Spin: “Natural ecosystems revolve around territorial or survival instincts that we humans might often think of as brutal and savage.
"But, of course, the worst and most brutal offender is man himself.
"WE put those annoying yellow inflatable sausage things into the wild and untameable sea. WE oiled ourselves up, lay in the sun until we smelled like bacon and then went paddling in our gaudy, lure-like trunks.
"The concerned shark was merely trying to warn us, in the only way it knew how, before we tempted something bigger and fiercer.”
The Villain: HAL 9000 - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
The Problem: A sentient virtual being who, lacking confidence in his human operators to complete a set mission, takes matters into his own non-existent hands and starts zapping anyone who reaches for the ‘off’ button.
The Spin: “Windows glitch. They’re releasing a downloadable patch soon.”
Feature by Mark Powell
Liked This? Then see:
- 7 Porn Stars Who Went Mainstream
- The 49 Films That Will Define 2009
- The 16 Endings They Didn’t Want You To See
Sign up for our free weekly newsletter for the latest news, features and reviews delivered straight to your inbox.