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12 Tropes of Villany featuring Mustachioed Mexo-Blacko Man

Updated on February 25, 2015
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Starlight is an evil genius whose neither evil nor dominating the world. But he's a good Dad who supports his family working from home.

Some villains are such embodiments of stereotypes they have to be satyrical

Swarthy, ambiguously ethnic, and impeccably dressed, a perfect macho 80's criminal stereotype (shown w/optional mustache) brought to you by Miami Vice.
Swarthy, ambiguously ethnic, and impeccably dressed, a perfect macho 80's criminal stereotype (shown w/optional mustache) brought to you by Miami Vice.
Now Is this what's next? I dunno. Seems ridiculous now, but looking back, well...
Now Is this what's next? I dunno. Seems ridiculous now, but looking back, well...

Talent vs. Hack Stereotype Copies

How many people start watching a show hoping to see stereotypical villains? Sure, you must brace yourself for obligatory scenes in which the antagonist displays various breeches of conscious and general bad-guy stuff. A typical movie villain invariably engages in some dubious behavior that you wouldn't expect to see at, say your local church's ice-cream social.

Hans Gruber played by Alan Rickman does justice to the foreign accented evil genius. His plastic smile below dead-looking eyes provides a window into a seemingly psychopathic mind. A glance such as that does enough to get the idea across. I've already written about the 10 most unforgettable and irreplaceable movie villains, but here we're looking at the other side of the spectrum. Hackneyed stereotypes.

Resorting to stereotypes does nothing to channel a visceral sense of predatory creepiness that makes your skin crawl, and root for the hero. Stereotypes derive from one-time displays of iconic evil that became a monument of entertainment. Lazy duplication of these icons become stereotypes you don't want to see. The cringe-inducing moments upon seeing the villain dodder about as a cliché, typical of a predictable Hollywood sub-standard knock-off.

The best villains are those that break the mold! So why does Hollywood return again and again to these twelve stereotypes?

12 Villainously Stereotypical Traits


1. Foreign accent
2. Mustache
3. Monocle
4. Facial deformity or green skin.
5. Prominent scar (may be called for if any genetic deformity is notably absent, remember ugly = bad)
6. Receding hairline (oily and slicked-back is a plus).
7. Quasi-ethnic appearance, because foreigners and strange, "swarthy" people apparently scare casting agents.
8. Mastermind planning ability, because being too smart is bad. You shouldn't be smarter than the teacher, it's against the rules.
9. Unbridled competitiveness. Win even if you make others hurt. This is bad... well, depends on who gets hurt exactly... it's complicated. Usually the hero explains it to the villain near the end.
10. Good luck at the outset... lucky people are instantly and universally hated. That is a fact
11. Incompetent henchmen with which he somehow makes-do until the very end. Good leadership and management skills can be a sign of being evil, because bosses are evil. Everyone knows that.
12. Adaptive genius, can make do with little in a tight situation.

Good, Bad, and Ugly

The villain can provide humor, as was the case when Gene Hackman nailed the Lex Luthor role.
The villain can provide humor, as was the case when Gene Hackman nailed the Lex Luthor role.
Humor can make up for missing every other stereotypical trait of a villain. That was kind of the point when it comes to the STAY PUFT marshmallow man.
Humor can make up for missing every other stereotypical trait of a villain. That was kind of the point when it comes to the STAY PUFT marshmallow man.
Screen time, dialogue, backstory are traits that are not essential in every case, JAWS had absolutely no dialogue. Though the sequel JAWS sharks roared like lions.
Screen time, dialogue, backstory are traits that are not essential in every case, JAWS had absolutely no dialogue. Though the sequel JAWS sharks roared like lions.
Creepiness gets the audience on the side of the Hero.
Creepiness gets the audience on the side of the Hero.
Here is a literally face-melting example of an unforgettable villain in a film.
Here is a literally face-melting example of an unforgettable villain in a film.
A little bling goes well with most villains.
A little bling goes well with most villains.
My heartfelt apologies to the East-Asian Indians for whom this portrayal may become problematic.
My heartfelt apologies to the East-Asian Indians for whom this portrayal may become problematic.

Traits - Speech

1. Foreign accent

The foreign accent is a go-to device used by Hollywood to distinguish the bad guy from the hero. I find it peculiar in real-life villains, given that foreigners I know are usually the best examples of their own society, and their behavior here is exemplary, lest they be deported.

Hollywood too-often chooses a foreign-sounding accent thinking this enhances the overall approval of the show. The flipside is the subsequent guilt-by-association of the newly villainous-sounding foreigners. A minority too small to stage a protest, these perfectly innocent foreigners must from then on put up with a visceral association with a fictional villain.

How many times has the following drama played out in the lunchrooms of the world...

Brat #1: "What's his name, you know, the dude who sounds like the bad guy from the movie we just watched?"

Brat #2: "Oh, I don't know his name but I know who you are talking about." Smiles knowingly.

Brat #1: "He sounds just like that guy, I wonder if he's from the same country"

Brat #2: "Probably belongs to that cartel, otherwise how could his parents have enough money to send him here as an exchange student?" Blank yet concerned stare into space, as his imagination mixes the movie with reality.

Brat #1: "I know what we can call him, the Cartel kid." Smiles with pride in his creativity, which impresses himself more with each passing moment.

Brat #2: "Yeah" as he thinks, it's easier to refer to him as Cartel kid than learn his real name.

Sadly, the natural xenophobia that comes with immaturity is enhanced by Hollywood Film and TV.

Mexo-Blacko Man of Miami Vice: A Study in Stereotypical Villains

Miami vice seemed to employ ethnicity to associate crime and race from the beginning. In fairness, it was common in the 80's, and a main character was black, but you just don't see guys like this very often as criminals these days. Also, they were often well-dressed.

Traits Explained - Appearance


2. Mustache, weird beard, hairy back, etc...
3. Monocle, weird glasses, thick glasses
4. Facial deformity or green skin.
5. Prominent scar (may be called for if any genetic deformity is notably absent, remember ugly = bad)
6. Receding hairline (oily and slicked-back is a plus).
7. Quasi-ethnic appearance, because foreigners and strange, "swarthy" people apparently scare casting agents.

Hair growing in all the wrong places. Defective eyes and the carelessness to not only avoid the hassle of contact lenses, but the audacity to choose eye-wear that is unusual and even unflattering.

Mutilated, scarred, or even more frightening, of a different skin color (to not be racist, it's a color that none in the audience have i.e. green, blue, etc.). The message here is that if someone is ugly or different, there must be some reason and this makes them bad if they weren't already bad. Somehow they deserve it, or they will deserve it, because it's dictated by Karma.

Back to hair, the only thing worse than brazen hair growth in places not socially acceptable, is the downright evil choice not to grow hair where it is considered desirable, such as on the top of one's head. The hero never fails to be sure, first of all, to grow hair on the top of his head. Sometimes the bad guy is a sneaky fake and wears a hair-piece, which usually gets exposed around the time he is outed as an evil villain. The two go hand-in-hand.

Just as with the speech, villains tend to be foreign in some way to be set apart and viewed with suspicion. Especially before 1990 the character actors who could pass themselves off as perhaps of African descent, Colombian origin, middle-eastern heritage, got tons of work playing the bad guy. I'll bet a word search of "swarthy fellow" in all film dialogue most often results from a "perp" description.

Lex's mind is more dangerous than Superman's abilities.
Lex's mind is more dangerous than Superman's abilities.

Traits - Brilliance


8. Mastermind planning ability, because being too smart is bad. You shouldn't be smarter than the teacher, it's against the rules.
9. Unbridled competitiveness. Win even if you make others hurt. This is bad... well, depends on who gets hurt exactly... it's complicated. Usually the hero explains it to the villain near the end.
10. Good luck at the outset... lucky people are instantly and universally hated. That is a fact
11. Incompetent henchmen with which he somehow makes-do until the very end. Good leadership and management skills can be a sign of being evil, because bosses are evil. Everyone knows that.
12. Adaptive. Tenacious. Genius. Dedication. Leadership.

They possess every motivational one-word poster quality and we hate them for it. Especially when they're lucky and refuse to quit.

Further drawing upon the fears and suspicion from the most base qualities of human jealousy, Hollywood taps the human sin of envious hatred against our neighbor if he's smarter than us. Remarkable intelligence put to use for profit is a hallmark baddie trait. They make plans to gain at our expense. Just when you think you've got them, these snakes slip away given any opportunity. You can't blame the hero for killing them because they are so smart and dangerous it's the only way to make sure they don't cause death and destruction.

Sauron, you've got to go before the Mordor vision-plan insurance rates go through the roof. Apparently nobody wanted finance the construction of another tower to hold the gigantic monocle.
Sauron, you've got to go before the Mordor vision-plan insurance rates go through the roof. Apparently nobody wanted finance the construction of another tower to hold the gigantic monocle.
Sauron unfortunately couldn't be heard as he said: "Ok human, I've proven I'm the Lord of the  Bling! No hard feelings, eh? Let me help you up, to show my trust, I'll pull you up with my hand that has- "yeeeeow! That was my BLING finger you Bi-otch!
Sauron unfortunately couldn't be heard as he said: "Ok human, I've proven I'm the Lord of the Bling! No hard feelings, eh? Let me help you up, to show my trust, I'll pull you up with my hand that has- "yeeeeow! That was my BLING finger you Bi-otch!

Best of the Worst - LOTR villainy for your enjoyment

Sauron, you big flaming eyeball, you are the stupidest evil genius villain I've ever seen. Dummy, you can't rely on those lousy Ring-wraiths. Never send a dozen ghost-kings to do a special ops job. They are very highly ranked even though they don't even talk a good game. No wonder they don't talk smack, just look at their scorecard. They simply don't perform. Big bunch of chokers, they literally make choking sounds as they choke just when victory is snatched from their hands.


Idiot, you should have protected the finger with the ring as much as your stupid head. Any brains behind that eyeball? Oh yeah, you selected the Ring-wraiths as your elite squad. That's almost as dumb as Saruman choosing newborn adults for his elite squad of (equally ineffective) special operations soldiers. His elite squad literally would answer "yes" to the following question: You are so dumb, were you born yesterday?


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