Do we have a villain in this story?
How do we frame the villains? Do we even have villains? If we have villains, who are they?
My science fiction story is set in a universe of my own design.
This universe is a vision of a planetary future where global society is in harmony with the Earth. It most certainly has elements of science fiction; at its core, however, the story is more generally social fiction, a vision of a healthy direction our global human society can take.
This universe contains characters from all over the world, because this story is placed in the context of how our world actually operates. The story is an allegory for Planet Earth as we know it.
The team of characters represents all of humanity. The story facing these characters is a metaphor for humanity’s development around the world.
Today, the question before me is this: How do I frame the villains? Do I even have villains? If I use villains, who are they?
Humanity has serious challenges in the form of a broken economic system, overpopulation, and the mismanagement of our impact here on this planet. How to personify those challenges.
Investigating other story models like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Men In Black, Total Recall, and even James Bond reveals that, although true villains and even arch-villains certainly exist in today’s world, they are a symptom rather a cause of what ails us.
The deeper problem is humanity’s failure to act as a team in cooperation with the Earth. At this stage in its development, the story model already addresses that point by bringing together a team of characters.
Bill Gates was on 60 Minutes yesterday evening. His heart is in the right place, but hard as he is working, it appears he may be just another part of the problem rather than being part of the solution. Humanity doesn’t need more construction, more man-made objects and materials and devices and technology: humanity needs less impact in the world. Humanity needs to dial the human activity down, not dial it up. It’s human activity that is ruining nature and the natural world, like the weather.
Really, if you get right down to it, the villains in the world are us. We are our own worst enemy. We need to correct our behavior. We need an economic system that discourages destruction of nature rather than encouraging it. We need happiness, because a happy person is not constantly striving to fill an empty hole with material goods and status symbols.
We need an end to greed. We need an end to hunger. We need an end to emptiness inside.
Prosperity, as a building block of happiness, begins at home. It begins inside. If you are feeling rich and full, you are at peace with yourself. A person at peace with herself, a person at peace with himself, has no need to control others or accumulate grand holdings to fill a gaping hole.
Happiness, and therefore prosperity, is an essentially internal condition that any single person can achieve on their own. If you have filled the emptiness within and quelled your own personal hungers, you have found peace. As our sisters and brothers say, “Salaam e aleikum, aleikum e salaam.” “Shalom aleichem, aleichem shalom.”
Peace be with you. May you find peace. May you experience peace and satisfaction, contentment and fulfillment, in your inner world, in yourself. May your life be free of complications, worries, hazards, and dangers.
The word Jerusalem contains -salem, which is the same word as salaam, peace. If you say out loud “as-al-aam” notice the resemblance to “-salem” in Jerusalem.
As-Al-aam means The Ame or The Love or The Heart. May you find your Soul, may you find Love and the Feeling of Love, may you find your Heart. Ame is the root of Amiga and Amigo, amistad, amnesty, amen. In French, L’Ame is the soul.
May you find Salaam-Shalom-Salem. May you find peace, harmony, wholeness, completeness, prosperity.
E is the et in French and in Latin. It means and.
Still working on this one. Al Khem is the name for ancient Egypt, a Golden Age of Civilization from a bygone era.
Salaam e aleikum = Peace and ???
Peace within means all is well. That is probably the definition of happiness.
The enemy is us. More precisely, the enemy is inside of us.
The villain of this story, the story of a civilization gone crazy, a civilization out of control, is the empty heart, the empty soul, the missing spirit. The villain of the story is unhappiness, dissatisfaction, feeling incomplete, feeling like something is missing, feeling empty.
Every villain is unhappy. Every villain just wants to be happy.
So who to pick as a villain of the story, if there be a villain?
Star Wars uses a strange fictional concept, the Evil Empire, with Emperor and Darth Vader, the Dictator and the Enforcer. Putin and Trump, Dictator Boss and Enforcer.
Indiana Jones uses Belloq and Nazis. Nazis are, of course, my specialty.
Pluto Nash and Total Recall uses a criminal boss and criminal syndicate.
We have an Evil Character in Galaxy Quest. A similar enemy appears in Star Trek 2009: a vengeful Romulan with overpowering firepower.
James Bond fights arch-villains, usually some political or corporate megalomaniac.
The Last Starfighter employs an enemy fighting force like in Star Wars, a space force with their leader: Zur and the Konan Armada.
The villains in Avatar are a malicious partnership of corporation and for-hire ex-military bad guys.
Is there any benefit to using Nazis? Arch-villains? Global domination? I don’t know.
The “vengeful Romulan” or arch-villain would only qualify for this story if he or she were a personification of humanity’s reckless disregard for the Earth. That device might be too much of a stretch. The link between the villainous character and humanity’s behavior would have to be obvious.
Alternatively, we could still go the route of Back To The Future and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, which employ no villains at all. Apparent villains, personal challenges, technical challenges, but no real evil to speak of. Biff even turns into an obsequious clown, the family car detailer, by the end of one Marty McFly and Doc Brown sequel. The terrifying space probe in Star Trek IV turns out to be harmless once the people in authority finally figure out how to communicate with it.
I like the idea of a villain who can be both evil and a clown (Biff Tannen), or a powerful force that turns out to be essentially good or neutral (the oblong Alien Probe from the distant Whale Civilization, cue the sound it makes).
The hunt is on.
I welcome commentary and suggestions.