the men we love to hate

Over the past year or so, I’ve had a wide variety of avatars. I’d like to focus on a few in particular:

What do all these men have in common? They’re all men you love to hate (or hate to love). I pick them for my avatars because I love them. I don’t actually hate them, but they are depicted as the scummy, sleaze-ball types of men that one would ordinarily hate in real life, and the characters in the movies certainly don’t like them.

These are men of questionable character, little ethics, and virtually no honor. You wouldn’t want to trust them with anything personal or valuable, and you wouldn’t want to rely on them in a situation that demanded a bit of altruism. But then why do we love them?

Maybe it’s just their good looks. James Franco and Jonny Depp are certainly hansom gentlemen… but Rick? He’s a gassy old man who drools! ← So I don’t think it’s that.

Another reason might be that they get away with almost everything. They’re all quite intelligent men who know how to get themselves out of a bind, and they do it by deception and trickery. Maybe a lot of us wish we could be like that. But this is true of the villain in most action movies–they get away with a lot until the end when they meet their own demise. And it could be argued that it’s because we know they’ll meet an untimely demise that we don’t empathize with them, but then why does it make us happy when the good guy wins in the end (or feel disappointed in those rare flicks in which the bad guy wins)? One would think that if we wish we could get away with what the villains get away with, then we wouldn’t like to see them lose in the end.

If that were all there is to it–a slick intelligence that allows them to get away with anything and dashing good looks–I personally wouldn’t pick them for my avatars. No, I think the real reason I like them is because of the rare occasions when we see glimpses of a good heart beneath all the selfishness and insensitivity. Sometimes it only peeks through between the cracks, other times it shines with a blinding radiance.

Take Oz for instance…

The man who has no qualms robbing people of their money in exchange for lies and deceit can’t bring himself to lie and deceive a poor little girl confined to a wheel chair.

And here’s Jack Sparrow going down with his ship while the rest of the crew row to safety in Dead Man’s Chest:


True, he was tricked into remaining on the ship–Elizabeth chained him to the mast while kissing him–but if you pay attention to the lead up to the kiss–the whole reason (or excuse) for Elizabeth to kiss him–we hear this: “You came back. I always knew you were a good man”.

And finally (Spoiler Alert!!!), here’s Rick Sanchez giving himself up to the Galactic Government to save his family at the end of Season 2:


It’s almost as if these rare demonstrations of good cause us to like the characters more than ordinarily folk who act good all the time. It’s as if we become habituated to the characters who are always good, and so their good behavior ceases to impress us, whereas the men who are usually self-interested scum bags end up winning our hearts when they perform these rare, and sometimes overwhelming, good acts, almost as if we are overcome with a rush of joy to see they’re human after all.

Is this why we love the men we hate? Do the rare occasions when they betray a conscience, or a human side, reel us in with more force than all the good acts performed by those who are, by nature, good all the time? It’s almost as if it fills us with an overwhelming sense of relief to see that small glimmer of good, or maybe a compelling urge to show gratitude and love if only to reinforce the good that we see, like making a huge hurrah when a child who is struggling in school suddenly aces a test, more of a hurrah than that child’s sibling who gets straight A’s all the time.

In any case, it is perhaps their greatest trick: to find that perfect balance between a few good deeds and getting away with all sorts of nasty bad ones, such as to keep themselves in our hearts indefinitely.

For a minute I thought you were alluding to trump, whereas seeking an excuse such as it’s the atmosphere we all are obliged to breath, a sorry yet unavoidable political reality we are all subsumed into; making a sort of apology for Trumpism.

We love to hate, but I disagree, not inversely, because we simply cannot hate it, because we have been too long weened on the power of positive thinking, which goes: do not hate anyone, since you will only hate yourself, irrespective of the commandment: love your brother.

The promotion of the good and fun of deceit, thieving, spying, lying, corrupting, conning, and assassinating has been going full strength since the 1960’s. Most children in the West and even most parents have been raised watching the “good” of these things. The justification is always the same - something good came from it, therefore, the bad is irrelevant and we love the person who realized it (unlike those older, stupid, superstitious, traditional people who try to be good all the time - the “over thirty crowd to never trust”).

Hypnosis gone wild and sinister for generations.

Bojack Horseman is an amazing example of this phenemenon. You can’t read too much into it sometimes though; there seems to be a psychological trait where we identify with/feel affection for a character in a movie for no reason other than them being the one the camera follows around the most.


Incorrigibility charms our pants off with our silly hope that the depth of a soul exists. If only we could be so brazenly selfish in beguiling ways, yet redeemable when all of life’s checks and balances are tabulated. And I’m rambling already, oh well. :confused:

That’s true … and used.

Ha! Trump might fit right in here. He’s a man you love to hate / hate to love. He’s a real pig, an asshole of a president if there ever was one. But then there’s this on youtube:


^ Tugs at the ol’ heart strings, dun’it?

The whole problem with assessing politics is that you never know if these are true vistas into a person’s real character or just facades they put up in order to look good on camera. At least with fiction, you can trust that what the writers and directors make you think and feel is most likely supposed to be true in the story. There are exceptions to this, of course–for example, when a character dies at the end of a movie but then comes back in the sequel because he didn’t really die–but usually what we see on the screen is meant to be taken as what really happens in the story.

Yes, but when you love someone for being dispicable, not despite, you can certainly end up feeling some cognitive disonance.

While I agree that there is a certain allure to the cool bad-ass rebel, I don’t think that’s all that’s going on here. There’s a reason I picked the three clips above. Those scenes in particular tug at the ol’ heart strings because they reveal a kind heart, a functioning conscience, underneath the tough, indifferent exterior.

While I agree that this is probably true, it still stands that, as I mentioned to James, it’s the particular scenes in which the questionable character goes out of his way to do something good or selfless that move us the most (or me at least). And while the scenes I chose above are taken from the ends of Dead Man’s Chest and the Season 2 finally of Rick and Morty, the scene from Oz is right at the begin, before we’ve even had a chance to follow the character around.

What do you mean, rambling? That may well be it–the desire to get away with anything while at the same time preserving people’s love for us.

Rambling aka. spouting off in any and all directions, then smiling tiredly.

Gibowlishiss, never gonna happen. O:)

I haven’t seen many crooks suddenly turn into truly ‘good guys’ in real life. They may engage in charity work and such, but that’s only for PR, and does that justify all the cheating they’ve done before? I don’t know. History shows that, if done right (that is, the bad is swept under the carpet, or kept hidden from view) people will remember the good deeds done by that person, but only because they’ve also benefited from it. This is rather a grey area. They say money does not stink, but I would tend to disagree, money has many different smells. Is it possible for someone to repent and try to pay back for his wrongdoings? Yes, but I’d say this is very rare and determining authenticity of such intent is not so easy.

So would you say our liking for these characters is more psychological than real? ← I guess that question makes more sense for real life individuals than fictional characters–in the sense that there can be a distinction between how a person seems to us and how they really are, but even in fiction, our liking for the character may be inconsistent or distorted when everything is taken into account. For example, if you watch the entire Rick and Morty series, you see that Rick does some pretty awful, abusive things–not just in general but to his own family–and when he hands himself into the authorities in the end, we say: oh, look, he’s really an outstandingly good person after all… when really, maybe we should say: that’s just what he deserves (whether at his own hands or not).

:laughing: Oh, gib.

Not your cup of tea, Pandora?

What about Ignacio Serricchio’s character Don West from Lost in Space:

I think this guy belongs in the category of men you love to hate (or hate to love)… in this case I think it’s more the latter than the former. I can see women loving this guy but not wanting to admit it. He’s one of these guys who tries to act all tough and doesn’t give a shit about anyone–a real bad ass [princess]–and would not hesitate to drop a damsel in distress off a cliff if it meant losing a bit of excess weight on his a journey–but in reality he can’t do it. Every time he has the opportunity to do something ruthless, he caves. Every time he’s pressured to help out in some kind of humanitarian effort, or to take one for the team, his guilt complex comes through, eclipsing his island paradise. It’s easy, in other words, to break through the bad ass veneer and betray the big heart he hides inside.

Don West contrasts nicely with Parker Posey’s character Dr. Smith:

Who is kind and loving on the surface but is completely psychopathic underneath.


And in the same post, I’m going to add Gaz Digzy:

I would have added Gaz to my Alpha Chicks and Beta Chicks but I don’t like her as either a beta chick or as an alpha chick (she’s obvious alpha BTW), but as a fallen hero? A diomand in the rough? A (wo)man you love to hate? Sure! She definitely belongs in this thread. It would be sexist not to include her in a thread titled The Men We Love to Hate.

Some females can have male mindsets, but that doesn’t make them any less female… as its only their thoughts that count. :wink:

I have no idea who the character is though, so will look her up now.

Oh, Magsy, of course! I was just kidding about the male/female sexism thing.

I wrote a small post about Ballmastrz 9009. Here’s the trailer:


…and I was simply saying in a cerebral way, and not in an emotional one.