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Regarding VILLAINS and HEROES...

I COULD be a villain, and I certainly think some folks have insinuated that I am to be villainized for one reason or another (maybe to justify their own biases regarding what they THINK I am based on their own experiences rather than any objective truth).

I worry about being a villain. I don't want to be a bad person, but often the deeper feelings of alienation and years of feeling misunderstood, left out, unwanted, out of place... what have you... that can certainly lead to some pretty severe feelings of resentment and guardedness around others, sometimes a disdain for humanity - I've certainly felt that way at times...

It can be hard to see the silver lining when so much feels *against* you, and/or you feel like you're not ever really being heard to be understood so much as people are waiting to pounce on something you say so as to justify the assumption they've already drawn about you (like a "straw man" - if they've already made up their minds about where you stand they'll be looking out for evidence to back that assumption up whether consciously or not).

I often watch films and sympathize with the villain when their origin story reigns true to what I've felt about my own past experiences. To feel chronic alienation and "boxed-out" without sufficient outlets to feel seen and truly accepted can lead to great internal suffering - so I've found myself often watching a film and empathizing deeply with both the hero and villain and finding myself utterly torn and unsettled by that - the fact that I am able to see and understand BOTH SIDES because I may be able to draw relevant experiences of my own that relate to both sides.

Does this signify great empathy or confusion? Am I a villain if I'm self-aware enough to recognize my own faults and deliberately try to do the right things, while also realizing the paradox in that there may not ever be an objective "right thing to do" given how vastly varied all of our individual experiences may be?

Is it weird that I'm able to step into the experience and reality of ANOTHER to truly understand the justification behind their actions?

I think that's probably a lot of why I'm a filmmaker and artist creating these strange worlds and characters, because I inherently find myself trying to understand others so much so that I may actually feel their feelings and truly see their truth...a curiosity that extends towards even fictional characters, wanting to understand the film's narrative from the perspective of the film's villain.

So often I've felt like others gage the validity of my self-expression and responses based solely on THEIR relationship to reality, and it can often feel like they're not truly grasping what MY reality feels like enough to know how relatively reasonable my reactions actually are. If you don't know what my reality looks and feels like, how can you insist upon the validity of my reactions or responses to life? Can you really empathize with someone if you can't understand their motives?

There's this need to show people my world, almost to say "this is what it's like to be me and have my experiences... this is what it feels like" and then do my best to articulate that in a way I feel accurately conveys the richness of whatever I've dealt with.

I wish to translate the subjective in an objective manner so that maybe those who witness what I create may have even a semblance of an understanding of my world and experiences. I feel like this is what makes certain films work for me VS. not, as some films delve deeper into a character's humanity and reality whereas others portray 2-dimensional stereotypes and take a decidedly more objective stance, where there's an assumed "audience perspective" and the film paints the characters in whichever way serves the narrative.

For example, I feel too many films portray a "hero" who typically displays societally agreed-upon "honorable" character traits and a "villain" who displays qualities typically associated as being "bad", with little nuance either way. The film then portrays events in a way that coincides with this assumed "objective perspective" - i.e. we must cheer for the "good guys" and wish for the "bad guys" to lose...

And the striking thing is that the same film could be made in such a way as to portray the villain as the hero and vice-versa, if we the viewer are seeing the story told in a way that justifies the villain's perspective.

I think there's no better way to explore the topic of "subjective VS. objective", and film can be a great medium to challenge perspectives on the matter. There's great potential there for greater social awareness or empathy, but also a great potential for that "shifting of perspective" to have unexpectedly negative outcomes as well. We've seen the ways in which fiction can inspire heinous REAL-LIFE actions from people, so it's definitely a fine line...

That's why I think that as creators, there's a bit of a responsibility there to be careful of the biases portrayed in your works so as to not definitely insinuate objectivity in whatever you are portraying (at least that's my opinion). I feel like every work is indicative of something the artist may have felt or may have wanted to explore through the fictional arch of a character, rather than a statement of absolute objectivity.

I want to make films that explore different facets of the human condition without insisting upon a specific objective "truth", because inevitably everyone is going to perceive through their personal lens....

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