Friday, June 19, 2009

The Greatest Villain Of All Time

My fellow writers have brought forth some mighty unsavory candidates for their favorite criminal mind, but with all due respect I think we're ignoring the elephant in the room. Only in this case the elephant just happens to be a coyote.

Not just any coyote, but Wile E. Coyote, inarguably the greatest villain of all time. Consider the facts:

He wants to eat you. Long before Hannibal Lecter got his first baby teeth, Wile E. Coyote was on a mission to eat his victims. Sure, lately he's become obsessed with only certain prey — but who knows what he's eaten in the past? Unlike some fictional cannibalistic creeps, coyote's taste for raw flesh is hardwired, not cultivated from half-remembered scraps of a horrific childhood, channeled self-loathing or pathological rage. Put him in therapy and you'll discover an unapogetic predator. No whining, just drooling. He's a carnivore, and you're made of meat. Delicious.

More relentless than a Terminator. Sure, you can slow the coyote down, even flatten him like a pancake by dropping an anvil on his head, but he'll just snap back into shape and keep coming. A Terminator — even the T3000 — can be melted into slag or, if you're really clever, reprogrammed to help you instead of kill you. What kind of villain is that? (I heard you could even reprogram a Terminator to run for public office, but I don't believe it — they're too sophisticated to mingle with politicians.) But Wile E. Coyote can survive dynamite, a fall from a ridiculously high cliff, and even withstand dripping sarcasm from a bird who can't talk. Now that's a resilient enemy.

He has unlimited resources. With the ACME corporation behind him, Wile E. Coyote is plugged into a global military industrial complex beyond the wildest dreams of any corrupt dictator. Unlimited access to cutting edge technology such as rocket-powered rollerskates, the giant slingshot, and even a disintegrating ray. State of the art weapons of mass destruction are just an order form away.

He holds a grudge. There are plenty of road runners out there, but our coyote wants the Road Runner. Not all rabbits are as clever as Bugs Bunny, and no doubt coyote has eaten several in the past, but because he lost face, Bugs and Road Runner are his targets. But what if he were after you because of some misunderstanding? Think you could just apologize and get on with your life, think again. For Wile E. Coyote it's always personal, and he will not stop. To belabor the Terminator analogy, he will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

He's more immortal than a vampire. Morning sun comes up while you're still eating, what happens if you're a vampire? Dead. Stake through the heart? Game over. Vampires, zombies, witches and ogres are all lightweights by comparison. Easy to kill once you know how. Coyote has fallen off that cliff at least a hundred times and he still looks better than a zombie on its best day.

Laugh while you can. Sure, the winner gets to write the history books, and we've all seen hundreds of cartoons (rabbit-written propaganda) about the devastating defeats suffered by Wile E. Coyote. He always gets outsmarted. He's too slow. But look in the mirror and ask yourself these questions. Are you really as smart as Bugs Bunny? Can you run faster than the Road Runner?

If the answer to either of those questions is no, I'd say you're already in big trouble.


Bobby Mangahas said...

Of course. How could we forget about Wile E. Coyote, SUPER Genius.

Bill Cameron said...

Wile E. Coyote is a tragic figure in the Greek sense. Not a villain at all, but a victim of Fate itself, destined to chase the true villains, the charming, insouciant Bugs and the grinning, cold-hearted Road runner, yet doomed to ever fail. Oedipus had it better

Shane Gericke said...

Beep-beep this, Monsieur Roadrunner! Great post, Tim. Who thought La Coyote could be as evil as Hannibal Lecter?

RJ, thanks for your comment yesterday on my essay. The storms here kept me from getting back online to say hello. ONCE WERE COPS was electrifying. Much of what Ken Bruen writes is, but this was his best yet, I believe. Talk about evil! (The characters; Ken is a charming man.)

Kelli Stanley said...

Ah, sweets, thanks for the memories of waking up early on Saturday morning to watch the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Show.

Of course, thanks to you, we now realize that was propaganda ...

Can't help but think of poor Sylvester the cat, too. You think Tweety and RR were members of the same syndicate? Or was Tweety just the squealer? ;)


Kelli Stanley said...

You're so right, Bill-Bill ... at least Oedipus had family! ;)


CJ Lyons said...

Tim, you need to post a warning sign--don't drink and read at the same time!

Brilliant!!! Even if I do have to clean milk-splatter off my laptop, lol!!!

And I've always secretly admired Wile E much, much more than Road Runner--something about that smug smirk makes me want to be there for the day when Wile E finally catches him!

Thanks for the laugh,

Bill Cameron said...

Exactly, Kelli. Plus, Oedipus at least got laid, even if it was ... well, urp, now I've grossed myself out.

Jen Forbus said...

Obsessive...yes, I think that qualifies as a characteristic for the criminal mind. But you'd have to wonder how, after missing his prey for so very long, Ole Wile didn't just wither away from starvation!

Beth Caudill said...

He is fun to watch...but really how great can he be when a bird who goes beep beep outruns him every time?

Now Maleficent is a great cartoon villian. I mean she changes into a dragon and is purple. What's not to love?

Cheryl said...

I've waited until the end of the week to add my comments. I was curious to see what everyone added.

The choice of Dexter did not surprise me. That was one of my original thoughts as well. A lot of authors put us in the head of the "Criminal mind", but very few treat him as a hero and expect us to empathize. I don't want bad things to happen to Dexter.

I also thought of John Rain in the Barry Eisler books. There has been a long discussion on Barry's forum about whether John and Dox are evil.

One that I did not see mentioned is Alex Kork from JA Konrath's Jack Daniels series. She gives me the creeps.

Shane, I appreciated your thoughts on creating a character like this and carrying him/her with you. Now I know why so many authors I know are slightly demented.

Finally. Tim. I am not surprised at your choice, but here we have a criminal mind that makes me laugh. I'm not sure that is the intended reaction to most Criminal minds.

Kelli Stanley said...

Bill-Bill .... ew. Can we move on to another classical reference, maybe Achilles or Hector? Or how about Zeus, who got it every which way but loose? ;)


Kelli Stanley said...

Jen: I've always have the desire to feed Wile E. a nice faux turkey (aka road runner) dinner, especially when he makes those "hunger" eyes ...

And even when he stars in the sheep cartoons, he's still starving! Poor guy. ;)

Beth: Great point, and so true about Maleficent!! :) Disney always does good villains ... Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, for example--a real narcissistic CM!

And don't forget Muttley from Wacky Races--a dastardly dog, to be sure. ;)

Cheryl: thanks for commenting, and also for mentioning CMs on Barry's forum!! :) Rain's such a great and complex character.

Unknown said...

LOVE the post, those gorgeous illustrations!!! Still, I always thought perky, happy Roadrunner was the antagonist in the Road Runner cartoons.

Nothing good can ever come from that kind of cheerfulness.

Thanks again for a wonderful post, and a Father's Day memory: Dad hanging back in the hall so he could watch without us seeing him...

Rebecca Cantrell said...

To paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, "I like your thinking, Maleeny."

The Road Runner is indeed a relentless killer with a massive arsenal. And yet, I long for the day when he kills and eats that terrible bird. Sadly, I'm not even conflicted about it.