Why The Walking Dead needs a real psycho, and that is not Negan.

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Negan, The Walking Dead season 8 recap, Tv Recaps, The walking Dead, AMC, The walking Dead Season 8

I was watching the Talking Dead premiere at The Greek Theatre in LA, and boy do they treat Jeffrey Dean Morgan/Negan as the cherry on top. He is the last one to join the cast on stage, the Will Butler to a band much larger than Arcade Fire. Standing ovation and all. Sorry people but doesn't Andrew Lincoln deserve that spot? Norman Reedus? Melissa McBride? Is this part of JDM/Negan psychological warfare he is supposed to be waging?  Making them all sit and smile while he steals their limelight?
Can you guess? I am not a big Negan fan.
Before Negan even got here, his rep preceded him. This man is mean, hilarious, he is the Wild One, a natural disaster who will undo our heroes and changed them forever. Just a side note, the aura of the leather jacket/bandana kind of went out of the window once we got Wally Brando, don't you think? Can't take it seriously no more.
But back to Negan, you would think that the people who executed some meticulous choreographed stunts build through careful editing, knew that telling before showing is tricky. Hyping a villain, doesn't work so well. There is a reason why you don't talk about Fight Club, or Kevin Spacey convinced the world he didn't exist, or why it is never proven Catherine Tramell used that icepick to kill her lovers, or Amy put all the blame on her husband. A villain works in the shadows. Now cartoon villains, they like to go all out. But still before the Joker robs the bank, we only saw a picture of Heath Ledger in his chalky white face.
Of course when Negan appeared in the comics, he took people by surprise. Surprise is something we never got with the tv version. Negan appeared as an asteroid smashing into earth, we knew it would hit, we didn't know where, and unfortunately it took out two of the most beloved dudes that walked the zombie infested world. The lights went out, and with them the fun and heart, and left us with season 7 and a whole lot of frustration. I didn't mind the season. It gave Negan an opportunity to show us he could become this  charismatic ultra villain he is supposed to be. He succeeded in making us scared for what he could do, burning and gutting people left and right.
But with all his sadistic tendencies, why is it, that the man himself doesn't seem so scary?

Negan is suffering from an identity crisis. Not that he would admit it. But the building blocks that make up this persona don't fit, or don't result in something convincing.
Our entertainment villains often are described as psychopaths, it is that word that immediately separate fish from sharks, drives the point home that we have something to fear. It is a construct that doesn't bear much resemblance to real life, but it works.
When we watch a villain prey on his victims, even if we are supposed to be scared, the viewer has to able to put himself in two positions, one is that he believe that he never would be the victim, two he puts himself in line with the villain. It protects the viewer, hides his vulnerability. That is why these psychopath villains are often made out to be hyper capable or another option, a lot less used, is to  make the victim really stupid. These villains are portrayed as having high IQ's great taste, total control over their surroundings, they are witty, and prepared. This type of person became synonymous with the term psychopath, or sometimes sociopath, in fiction. Not only the clear cut examples of Lector or the Joker, Catherine Tramell, Tom Ripley, and of course the Wall Street predators like Gordon Gekko, or the Wolves. Sometimes people go too far and the label is used on characters as Don Draper, Gregory House or Jessa Johansson.
Not only do these villains serve the purpose of scaring us, they also titillate, they lecture, and free us from moral hangups, give us permission, the freedom to do what we want, as long as we are along with the ride.
Does Negan fit this list, is he one of them? No, not really. He is orderly for sure, commands a large army, but is he highly intelligent? He seems smart, but too juvenile for a high IQ, he is the fifteen year old boy's equivalent of villain.
Does he challenge our morality? Does he offer us a gateway into a free life? Maybe to Eugene, the 15 year old boy in the cast... Does he challenge the rigidity and frustration of the hero? Not really, Negan has lots of wives, and is glad to hand them over, but he doesn't really inspire or confuse our heroes about their own sexual choices. And he doesn't push Rick to become more violent, Rick went all out long before Negan.
Is he charming? He sure thinks so, and Jeffrey Morgan has lots of drooling fans, but honestly he never makes me smile, or convince me to believe anything he says.
Does he have a cutting insight in our hero, like Lector or Tramell did? Well Rick sure reacts to him, but that seems more frustration at having to live under thumb. I never heard Negan say anything particularly astute.
So at least is he a cold blooded killer devoid of empathy?
I think the Walking Dead uses a big cop out with this one. Negan is clearly sadistic, using a bat or an iron instead of a gun, but he doesn't kill just 'cause he feels like it, he is presented as somebody who does posses a reason for it. Maybe it is just a justification. Some go so far to say that what he does is even merciful. There is always a reason for him letting loose the bat. Some sort of strategy. They killed his people, or he gets betrayed, or he has to keep fear in the heart of his people, or someone just asks for it.
I think Negan as a real wandering Wild One, who lets his bat loose on whoever crosses his path, just cause he likes it, without all the responsibility that comes in having his huge army would be a scarier . But then we wouldn't have ALL OUT WAR. It seems Negan is a plot device, to give Rick a season Arc, and transform Maggy from wife to leader.
It was this whole both sides argument (wait where did we hear that before?) We had to believe that Negan and Rick were two sides of the same coin. To make Rick fall from his high horse. They said: 'If we would have met Negan before Rick, we would have been on his side.'
So lets see, if Robin Hood was the tale of Robin and his men killing the sheriff of Nottingham's men when they imposed their rule and taxes the sheriff would be more likable. Mmmm...Robin would be less likable, but the sheriff would be still an ass.
If it justified what Negan does, and we would be on his side, than he is no villain at all, and what is he doing there? Are there suddenly grey areas in fictional evil? Sure, but the thing about rules in narrative is that it works. Because we have seen it a thousand time, we know how to respond. Whenever you bend a rule you have make your case, otherwise your story loose it impact. You want us to think? Great, what should we think about with Negan, is there something there? Are we maybe getting a back story to chew on. Now it is just too flimsy.

Negan likes order, he a general, a military man, on top of his army. Again he fails to be consistent. I would fear him and hate him a whole lot more if he would be like Pike in The 100. When Pike killed Lincoln execution style I felt genuine hate. When Negan kills Abraham and Glenn, I felt horror, and disgust for the gore, but no hate. There was not much to hate there, I hated the deed, but where is the ideology to lash out against? There are countless samples of warlords, Fuhrers, who stood in front of armies and ruled with sadism and fear. But they all start with ideas of superiority. But that is not what Negan is doing either. He doesn't think his people are superior, he admires everyone who has some guts.
What does  the dude want, other than survive? And why does he lack the desperation of the power hungry?
So season eight starts, and a lot has been said about Rick or anybody else not shooting Negan when he just wanders outside. But you can also say, why would you wander outside with all those guns pointing at you? Would a highly intelligent psychopath do that? Swagger around, again with the small hands, a hum, small dick jokes, trying to do his stand up routine. And what is he blabbering about, acting like he knows more than Rick, making an ass of himself, when ten minutes later the compound is lost to a zombie herd? Aha, maybe Negan is more like a real life psychopath?
As described by experts psychopaths are not fearful, they lack impulse control they have problems with planning and foresight. They live in their own fantasy world, if they are narcissists they have a sense of grandiosity. But in the end it always blows up.
Put a real life psycho at the top of an organization and watch he destruction happen. Psychopaths are self-serving opportunists. When they are placed at the head of an organization it typically results in increased bullying, stress, staff turnover. They are abusive to people below their level and can cause damage to corporate structure. Harvey Wenistein ruled Miramax with bullying and terror, he had a real psychopath way of doing business, so it is no surprise at all that he is also a sexual predator on top, these things go hand in hand. You don't want to live in a psychopath world,  nothing works there, it is just one big demo day, every day.
But Negan wants to be one of those epic villains, bigger than life. You can't be both. You can't be skilled and a mess, reign with iron fist and wage destruction on your own, he is a hybrid, and the half psycho, the other half plain nonsense. There just something unbalanced about him. He cannot stand with the Hannibals of this world, he is too cartoonish to get a realistic point across.
He is a bully who got free reign, and sure you don't want to get in to the bully's eyesight for fear what he might do, but they never will be more than ridiculous. And if that is where they were going with Negan, kudos, you'd done it, can he go now?



To end this rant on a positive note let me hand out my awards for my favorite villains of the year so far... In no particular order:
1.   Cameron Britton as Edmund Kemper. 
Mindhunter is fascinating show, it looks as sprouted from a reptile brain, grey and cold and also precise and relentless, making the scenes where Holden Ford and Bill Tench from the Behaviour Science Unit of the FBI meet the incarcerated serial killers unnerving, without giving the viewer any chance to escape. Holden and Bill don't comment much on their encounters, they don't lighten the mood with jokes, but also don't condemned what they just have heard, leaving the viewer in this very unnerving world created by its sick minds.  Edmund Britton portrayal of real life serial killer, very close of the real thing, shows how fear-inducing these creatures are and why. Instinct rises up, the viewer is watching something abhorrent, unnatural, there is something very off.  Cameron Britton does an outstanding job without ever raising his voice of being scary as shit. Truly believing all the strange stuff he says, making jokes about horrible things without ever laughing, pretending to be erudite, without coming over as stupid. He is just somewhere else, never ever making real contact with his interrogators, what is so well done is that he never seems to understand that they are not on the same plane of existence, that is just the world as he sees is, and he expects others to join him in his logic, and that makes it so baffling, insightful and hair-raising.

2 Eamon Ferran as Richard Horne in Twin Peaks the Return.
David Lynch never went the fiction hyper villain way, he gave us sickos who psychologists would recognize as real psychopaths, with enough weirdness thrown in to make them memorable and fictional, like Dennis Hopper as Frank Booth and William Dafoe as Bobby Peru. Another great example is his Richard Horne, holy hell what a despicable human being, groping and almost choking a girl he just met, running over kid and assaulting this grandmother in the course of a few days, all the while only thinking of himself, equally whiny, perverted, and delusional. I hated him the most of all the villains this year. Fictional villains I mean.

3. Kyle MacLachlan as Mr C in Twin Peaks The Return. 
Nobody was so cold and literally alien as Mr C. I was skeptical when I saw the first scene with Kyle in that awful hairdo and weird skin color. The same I felt when I saw him in the Doors or, yikes, Showgirls, because Kyle is and will always be the actor that who played the most likable character in the history of television, the Jimmy Stewart of TV.
By the second episode he blew me away. Even if Mr C came from from the Black Lodge he is also not part of the grandiose unrealistic ultra baddies. He is sadistic, a rapist, destructive, manipulative, ice-cold, he toys with people, kills his own kid, but in the end, his plan is no plan at all, and he is deservedly pushed aside insignificantly as somebody so useless and parasitic should be. David Lynch knows his psychopaths. And Mr C is my favorite villain of the year, may he burn in hell.










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