Rationalizing Super Villainy- The problem of Individual Pragmatism

Greetings fellow superheroes!

After fighting crime and standing in the moral good for some time, you may get to thinking that this superhero thing is great, but there are some real drawbacks.  You never have the money to buy nice things, you’re always tired, and just once you’d like to be able to buy your spouse or significant other a nice dress or a night out.

You took me to the moon last month.....

None of these motivations are evil in and of themselves.  Heck, most of them are considered downright noble.  So maybe, you think to yourself, maybe I’ll do just a little supervillainy.  You know, on the side.And here’s the thing, even if you don’t know how to be a supervillain, that’s ok.  There are plenty of companies out there that can provide you with the resources to operate a successful supervillain practice, but also allow you to look stylishly evil doing it (Note: most of these companies were pointed out by this link, though I added a few of my own).

First, you need henchmen.

Henchmen are the bread and butter of every organized supervillain operation.  You need people who will fix your machines, march menacingly around, and get mowed down like field mice under a lawnmower once the superhero attacks your hideout.  But you also need squads of people because a division of labor is simply more efficient.  As Adam Smith wrote in The Wealth of Nations, the organization based on specialization allows an organization to perform more efficiently.  You need henchmen to free you up to perform such tasks as cackling manically, plotting, and coming up with good monologues about how you and the hero are alike.

Fortunately, henchmen are probably the least difficult part of this puzzle.  Thanks to private military groups such as Blackwater and DynCorp, you can build your own private army for just under $950 per hired gun per day.  All you need to do is get them to wear bright colors and a helmet with a goofy insignia and you should be good to go!

Next, you’ll need some sort of a right-hand man, a bodyguard if you will.

This picture was the first non-Whitney Houston result in a google image search of "bodyguard." I have no idea why.

As a supervillain, you’ll hopefully have an army of lackies.  They will be good for intimidation and style, but most will likely be incompacitated after just one punch by a hero.  What you need is a bodyguard who can give the hero a run for their money with lots of cool special effects moves before the hero takes them down.  You know, the type of bad guy who will knock out 40 police officers before they know what hit them.

There should be a class in the academy about standing AWAY from guys who look like that.

But you’re a modern supervillain: you don’t want just any right hand man, you want a right hand woman.  Because what is better for intimidation than a femme fatale?

Enter the Athena Academy (turn on your volume before you click that link, the music is empower-iffic).  If you want, they will hire you a trained sexy female bodyguard for around $5,000 a week.  Alternately, if you have already found a lucky lady you’d like to turn into a ultra-kill machine, they can train her for a similar amount.

Finally, you’ll need a base of operations.  You know, a little place, preferably with a skull shape on the outside.  Just enough room for you, your femme fatale, and a cozy army of 1,000 or so.  Don’t worry, http://www.privateislands.com is here to help.  For as little as 30k, you can own your own perfect, isolated hideout.  And I know what you’re thinking: do they include volcanos?

"Naranjo Islands consist of six islands formed in a circle cluster with Medio Island at the center. The other islands are San Andres, Rasa, Darsena, Aguada and Escarpada. This group of islands lie within a volcanic belt that has been active for the last 5 1/2 million years and stretches from Southeastern Luzon to Southeastern Mindanao. This volcanic belt includes the active Mayon volcano in Albay."-from the website

So the total cost of hideout, thousand man army, and crazy righthand femme fatale for an operation that lasts about 60 days is as follows:

Island: 3 Million

Army: $ 57 Million

Femme Fatale: $2 million

White lab coat, goggles, gloves, and sing along blog: 1 million tops

"It's a brand new day And the sun is high All the birds are singing That you're gonna die"

Total: about 63 million dollars

That number seems….low, doesn’t it?  63 million dollars isn’t anything to spit at, but its also not completely out of reach.  To put things into perspective, a rogue trader lost the UBS bank $2 billion back in September.  Goldman Sachs cost taxpayers at least 10 times that much.  Heck, the state of Florida made that much selling its residents’ personal information.

Shown: a Florida Supervillain

Here’s my point: 63 million dollars is a lot of money, but not an unattainable amount of money.  In fact, if you work hard, find the right backers, and and are willing to do the right things, you could probably raise 63 million dollars.  If you made the right contacts, pitched your villainous ideas, and worked hard at it, you could earn the 63 million you need, less if you are willing to be a little cheap.

But in the end…you’d be a supervillain.

Go back to those reasons I gave at the beginning for becoming a supervillain: you want nice things for your family, you want to earn nice things for yourself, maybe you want some money to make sure you can pay for your family’s medical bills.  None of those are bad desires.  and all you have to do is work hard at a despicable job, and you can earn that money.

But no matter how good your motivations, what many people don’t realize is that working an evil job for all the right reasons changes you.  Rolling Stone’s Rob Sheffield wrote a great article about Breaking Bad in which he said:

The idea that you can be utterly destroyed, in both body and soul, by a mixture of hard work and intelligence — that’s the most disturbing part of [the villain’s] story.

And that’s the point I want to make today: its very vogue to believe that if you work hard for your family, for all the right reasons, you are not a bad person, or at minimal neutral.  Focusing on your family, their immediate needs, and lavishing love on the ones closest to you are all held to be virtues with no negative side effects, even if your job is a little, well, exploitative to others, or perhaps harmful for someone who uses your services, or even disadvantageous for someone else.

But that line applies to supervillains, too.  And this is a blog about being a superhero.

I am not saying your shouldn’t make money.  I am not saying that you shouldn’t work hard, and I am certainly not saying you can’t be a superhero and wealthy.

But what I am saying is don’t believe your job won’t affect you for the worse.  Don’t believe for a second that you can stand above the fray in an unethical job and not become hardened by the less than virtuous work you perform for those “good things” you do outside of work.  One defining trait of superheroes is that their entire life is oriented around being a hero.  That includes your work.  And time and time again, heroes have left jobs that made their families secure and comfortable in exchange for jobs that were right.  In fact, many heroes have lost loved ones in the course of being heroes.

My point is not that you should put your loved ones at risk.  However, we shouldn’t use the financial security of our families as an excuse to prevent us from being truly heroic, either.  Don’t make a virtue out of a convenience.  Ethics demands we look outside ourselves and our comfort to what people need.  It demands we do uncomfortable things and live somewhat uncomfortable lives.  But it demands it for all the right reasons.

In a nutshell- don’t use your job as an excuse to become a supervillain.

Next up, heroic careers!

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