Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: MGM, Netflix, Everett Collection
Humans are exceptionally cooperative creatures – most of us, after all. Overall, we’re reluctant, but largely peaceful, packed into crowded subway cars and airplanes. We leave celebrities alone when they order a coffee. We went to therapy instead of killing our ex.
And then there are those of us who see social norms as an invitation – or imperative – to break them in big and small ways. It’s often the little things: not giving up your Q train seat to someone who looks pregnant, asking for a 7 a.m. selfie, locking your ex’s Netflix account. But sometimes, these transgressions add up to defrauding investors of millions of dollars, blatantly ignoring a six-figure hotel bill, or then heartbreaking murder.
Those seem to be our favorites.
There are at least a dozen novels, documentaries, and feature films about Elizabeth Holmes, Bernie Madoff, and Anna Delvey and the crimes for which they have been accused or convicted. There is a whole typical documentary about Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, messengers turned fraudsters. Tonya Harding is her own brand. More books, podcasts and E! special of the combination and the fact that there are loads of content about real-life villains.
The latest entry for this canon is Patrizia Gucci, played by Lady Gaga in Gucci house. “I don’t consider myself a particularly virtuous person,” she says in the film. “But I’m fair.” While the dominant story casts her as a sick lover who takes revenge by killing her ex, the story about money is the same as it is about love. Patrizia (whose surname is now Reggiani) and Maurizio Gucci are literal jet-setters chat with Jackie Onassis and buy Largest wooden yacht in the world. However, when Reggiani killed Gucci in 1995, she was not the only suspect.
Public Figure: The Politics of Fame and Blame
“Inherently faced with the challenge that Prosecutor Nocerino faced in his arduous hunt for the perpetrator was the fact that a staggering number of people accepted victims.” Judy Bachrach wrote in Vanity Fair narrative of Gucci’s murder, detailing the lavish life the Guccis lead and the fury both Patrizia and the Gucci family, who have never cared much for Reggiani, feel when Maurizio loses his job company. After the Guccis divorced, Maurizio ran the family-owned company downhill so much that in 1993 he sold it to a Bahrain-based company called Investcorp for $120 million. It seems that the death of Gucci is more of a failed rich man than a failed husband.
Still, Reggiani is such a perfect villain skip. Long before Bennifer and Brangelina, Guccis gave we Celebrity couple’s nickname “Mauizia” which they embody in the vanities of the luxury cars that take them from their Manhattan penthouse by private jet to their island mansion. She threw a lavish “color party” (her favorite is orange) and donned diamonds and necklaces that claim to represent her best famous quotes, “I’d rather cry on a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.” During her truly wild trial in 1998 in Italy, when she was sentenced to 29 years in prison for paying to kill Maurizio, Reggiani testified that she had been blackmailed as part of a murder plot and forced to pay 365,000 dollars, but then said it was “worth every penny. In 2002, she told the Italian crime show Storie Maledette, “I don’t think I’m innocent, I think I’m not guilty.” Today, she lives in Milan and is often seen around town with her pet parrot.
Watching these norm breakers blow up the system, and then get caught, is an important way of releasing pressure on our ugly emotions. They attract us because they allow us to discover what would happen if we stopped following the rules and even better, reinforce why they exist in the first place. They help us organize the world into neat categories – heroes and villains, good and evil. James Jasper, sociologist and author of Public Figure: The Politics of Fame and Blame, explained during the video call. “So they come to symbolize all kinds of moral values.”
We’re especially drawn to characters who add to the standard hero, villain, and victim relationships. “We are quite pleased when someone we have to admire turns out not to be as good a person as we thought – we love the story of the fall,” Jasper said, pointing to Elizabeth Holmes and Bernie Madoff. The villains that make victims of those we secretly – or openly – rejoice in seeing punished also provide the comforting element of story complexity.
There is evidence that our willingness to punish others tends to unite the rest of us (emphasis: sometimes) for the best. The authors of a 2012 study on third-party penalties among chimpanzees. The chimpanzees will punish each other directly – you take my food, I take yours – but they will not punish an observed third party for taking another’s food. Humans, on the other hand, will be. “Individual enforcement of violations is especially important for maintaining cooperation in large-scale human societies,” the study said, “in where individuals rarely come into direct contact with each other.” Set an example for rule breakers, whether in the village square, in a popular TV series or on Twitter, forcefully reiterating the rules by which we, arguably at least, have agreed to live. follow. Paying attention to whose downfall we’re experiencing can also tell us what’s most important to us.
In a concurrent culture hindered by economic inequality and consumed by wealth and status, we especially love it when someone associates it with rich people. Jasper points to Madoff as a prime example of a hero turned villain. “It was gratifying when he fell from grace and ended up in prison,” he said. “In a way, the total financial crash of 2008… he became emblematic of it in a way that allowed other villains, CEOs of large corporations, to escape influence because All responsibilities can be focused on Bernie.”
When we watch, for example, a Netflix miniseries about a villain like Anna Delvey, we get to explore the secret world of the very rich, confirming our suspicion that the rules are completely different when you have a seven-figure trust. Her scam affects our innate sense of justice – it’s not fair that we have to have a working credit card to cover an uncharacteristic $179-a-night room at Holiday Inn while the rich glide into suites with air kisses and the promise of bank transfers. Likewise, Holmes shows an absolute lack of caution in Silicon Valley, confirming our suspicion that the people on Sand Hill who write checks to their college roommates aren’t as smart as they claim to be. dad.
fair standards, perhaps inspired in part by moral feelings regarding fairness judgments,” wrote Richard H. Smith and Wilco W. van Dijk in a 2018 meta-analysis of concepts. Schadenfreuderejoicing at the misfortunes of others, and gluckschmerz, pain at the success of others and their effect on human behavior. “Schadenfreude to react to the deserved unhappiness of others and guckschmerz to react to the unwarranted fortunes of others means that we value ‘fair game’. Here, perhaps, schadenfreude and guckschmerz to be failure to empathize as well as responses consistent with feelings of fairness (Schadenfreude) or unjust (guckschmerz). ”
However, what we consider fair is not static. Tonya Harding’s power to exist in the American imagination has something to do with her the journey from the villain victim of anti-hero. She’s gone through some satisfying story twists that we’ve enjoyed, fueled by shifting notions of class and fairness. Harding’s big story has evolved as we look back at the severely sexist setting in the media that has competed with Nancy Kerrigan, always personified as a classy and sophisticated woman, anti-racist. against Harding, the destroyer of the working class: the misogynistic class war on ice. During the same era, the Italian press enjoyed casting Reggiani as a murderous ex-wife who was obsessed with revenge because she had been cast aside. Long a tabloid figure, she transformed from Lady Gucci to Black Widow overnight.
Sara Gay Forden, who wrote the book Gucci house, the source material for the film, has said that she believes Reggiani cares more about the couple’s two daughters – though largely because she doesn’t want them to become impoverished. “The judge summed it up really well when he delivered her sentence,” Forden said to Harper’s Bazaar. “He describes how Patrizia has invested in name and part of the Gucci empire; he said that Maurizio died not for who he was, but for what he was”.
In many ways, Harding is our favorite villain for Reggiani, who grew up rich but was considered vulgar and too outspoken by the Gucci family (i.e. not good enough). Of course Hollywood has accepted these stories, and of course we want to know every detail. Avenging villains with arc-shifting stories validates our suspicion that good and evil aren’t really that simple and that sometimes – often, even – the wrong people have all the power. . It also shows that justice is inevitable, even if it is ugly. The villain’s willingness to step outside social norms when wrong or in trouble speaks to the satisfaction of imagining removing the shell of cooperation that helps keep the world orderly, even if it’s just a matter of time. in a second.
Or, in Reggiani’s case, a lifetime. As Bachrach reported in Vanity Fair in 1995, “On learning of the tragedy, his ex-wife summed up her feelings in a concrete way that couldn’t be contained: “On a human level, I’m sorry. But from a personal point of view, I can’t really say the same thing. ”” What would it be like to practice honesty on a daily basis? Most of us can only imagine.
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