At times I have gone way out into left field with this column, but today I’m going over the bleachers and into the parking lot.
First, a little background on the Crime Diary. Before my tenure at Yorkton This Week, this space was known as Crimes and Fires. It was basically briefs about, well, crimes and fires. I quickly found out, however, there were some weeks during which there was simply nothing to report.
That’s a good thing. On the crime side, it shows that despite a relatively high crime rate, most of petty stuff that is not very newsworthy. On the fire side, it is a testament to how far we have come in preventing fires rather than fighting them.
Since covering court is a time consuming process, however, I wanted to have something to show for the time investment when there was little to report. Hence Crime Diary.
Lately, the pickings have been slim, I have struggled to come up with topics. This week is an exercise in stretching the concept to the limit: movie villains.
On Friday, Netflix released the much anticipated second season of House of Cards. In the first season, the protagonist, Congressman Francis “Frank” Underwood and his equally corrupt wife Claire looked like they were going to fit nicely into the trope of sympathetic villains.
I’ve always admired filmmakers who can make us cheer for people who are, quite simply, evil.
Some of my favourite film and TV characters fall into this category.
Michael Corleone, the war hero turned reluctant mob boss from The Godfather.
Dexter Morgan, the serial killer with a conscience and a code from the Showtime series Dexter.
Walter White, the dorky science teacher with a special needs teenage son turned mastermind drug dealer from Breaking Bad.
These characters work because they have a noble ends and their amoral actions are a means to the end. And, despite the fact they are willing to do nasty things, they maintain some kind of moral compass. Plus, they are almost always surrounded by so many worse villains, they seem somehow tame by comparison.
Some of this is certainly true of the Underwoods, but I am now about halfway through Season 2 and the producers of this otherwise riveting series are losing me. There is no greater good in what the Underwoods are doing. Their unquenchable lust for power does not justify their crimes.