Why do we make certain people from history villains?

  • Registration is closed without referral. This is a website about Internet drama.

    We need a 3PL

JambledUpWords

Stairs are my worst enemy
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Aug 16, 2018
Like any story, there is typically a hero and a villain. This is a common technique in creating a way in which we are able to conceptualize the underlying meanings and beliefs the people in the story hold. Just as we know who a protagonist is supposed to be based on their actions, we do the same thing for villains. We can do the same things when discussing historical people.

Are these historical figures truly the villains?

Are these people we view as bad not entirely bad?

Oftentimes, it’s easier to imagine people in simple categories of good and bad. For instance, in current day discourse, Christopher Columbus is a very polarizing figure. Many people will say he’s a horrible person because he was a murderer and a rapist. By all means, he is bad, but was everything he did bad? For instance, his “discovery” made it possible for Europe to have contact with the Americas in a way that was unprecedented. Without him, many of the people who live in the United States would not be here otherwise. This is where things get uncomfortable for people, because we have to acknowledge that even in bad people, good things can come from them.

Another example I could use is Henry II of England. He is mostly known for having a fit and Thomas Becket getting murdered as a result. This same man was also responsible for creating an Exchequer, which is a person that prevents the sheriffs (12th century version) from stealing money. He created eyre courts as well, which were royal courts that travelled around the country. These courts allowed for more impartial judges and created a fairer judicial system. This just goes to show that even a designated bad person in history can do good things.

I am in no way defending the bad some people have done, but merely offering another perspective. When we are forced to look for the good and the bad, we get a clearer picture of who the person actually was. The trend in modern academia leads us to believe that we can simply categorize people as good or bad, sometimes based on an ahistorical viewpoint. It’s easier to dismiss someone by just saying “they murdered”, “they were a racist” or “they were a sexist”. In doing this, we are creating new villains but failing to look at things more closely. Whether it’s the case of Columbus where good things come from bad actions, or the good being overlooked in favor of the bad in the case of Henry II, we can all agree that to simply write someone off as the villain in a historical perspective is ahistorical. I want to close by saying that the modern trend of creating villains in historical figures actually leads to less historic literacy. The same can be said for creating heros. Everyone is made up of good and bad, and as such, real people in different time periods need to be looked at the same way, since they were and are just as human as we are today.
 
Last edited:

lil bitch

Ray-Traced Faggotry
kiwifarms.net
Joined
May 27, 2018
i think it's a "bad outweighs the good" type deal with historians, leading to misinformation lasting generations, making some historical figures "villains" in the eyes of a lot of people in the current day due to the spread of "so and so is a bad person because of this!" without focus on the good they've done. it's like a snowball effect. i dunno, that's how i see it.
 

BoingBoingBoi

bad weird
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Apr 24, 2017
The trend in modern academia leads us to believe that we can simply categorize people as good or bad, sometimes based on an ahistorical viewpoint.

i dont know what "modern academia" you're looking at but muddying commonsense interpretations of past historical figures, writing contrarian articles, and historical revisionism generally is a surefire way to succeed as a historian and get tenure.
 

JambledUpWords

Stairs are my worst enemy
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Aug 16, 2018
i dont know what "modern academia" you're looking at but muddying commonsense interpretations of past historical figures, writing contrarian articles, and historical revisionism generally is a surefire way to succeed as a historian and get tenure.
What I mean by modern academia is beyond just history teachers. This includes teachers in other fields as well as students talking about historical figures and events. For instance, in a sociology class, say the professor is wording things or insinuating certain ideas about groups of people in a historical context. A way to think about this would be to take the settling of the Pilgrims in Plymouth and compare them to the Indian tribes in that same area. A common interpretation of this event is to make the settlers bad and the Indians good. In making these stark contrasts, you can force a narrative to a modern audience of how things happened from a modern day lense. If we ignore the nuances, the bigger picture is missing. I’m sorry if “modern academia” was too broad, I should have clarified better. This problem reaches beyond just history classes, and includes the people that give history lessons on events and people where it is less expected.
 

JambledUpWords

Stairs are my worst enemy
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Aug 16, 2018
Because we like a good story with clear good guys and bad guys. Narratives are powerful things, and by spinning a good story, you can bend evemts to alter or outright rewrite history.
You’re right about that, but my argument is about the way we teach and learn about history. Just because people spin these narratives to have clear good and bad guys, is it really the right way to teach it? What if the bad guys aren’t always bad, but presented that way due to the bias of the records kept? Looking at things in such a good/bad dichotomy makes it harder to humanize and makes the people more caricatures rather than real people with real struggles, livelihoods, and relationships.
 

JambledUpWords

Stairs are my worst enemy
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Aug 16, 2018
I apologize.Truly unbiased primary sources are extremely rare, bordering on non-existent. The best you can do is try to preserve as many sources as possible, preferably those with as little bias as possible. The best example I can think of would be this podcast on the history of Rome.
I know that. My main point is that with all sources, we should question the author, the intent, and I’m not proposing in looking for unbiased sources, rather looking at sources we read from a different perspective than just the person that wrote it. We should be preserving as many sources as possible. It doesn’t matter how biased they are, but the perspective we use when looking at them does. The more primary sources, the better.
 
Last edited:

Deus Ex Macarena

Lift Off For Love
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Oct 18, 2018
History is always written by both the survivors and the victors when it comes to battles and wars. However if you think about how many wars have been fought in Europe alone, we can only really think of a handful of people who lost a war and are vilified. Stalin, Hitler etc.

Most leaders in conflicts are normally forgotten, the only ones we remember are those that were so stupid we find their antics hilarious or so barbaric we vilify as a monster.

Anyone off the top of their head know who were the leaders during the 100 year wars? What about the Crimea Wars?
 

Red Hood

Vote for me
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Jan 15, 2018
Because we want to convince ourselves that there is a right side of history (is there? History, like science, ought to be ethical yet amoral IMO). When we win, we want to convince ourselves that we were in the right. Of course, when the old view becomes unpopular, which side is the right side will change and heroes will become villains.

Best example off the top of my head is General Custer. Regarded as a hero for having a Thermopylae-styled last stand against a massive horde at Little Big Horn, then became the figurehead for everything wrong with the USA's Indian policies during the 1960's. Neither image of Custer is factual, but people tend to believe one way or the other.
 

Providence

Professor of Gender Studies, Miskatonic '92
True & Honest Fan
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Jun 20, 2018
Because we love simplicity and we love teams. And nobody is ever 'the baddies' in their own mind. So it must be that other guy.

Nazis.jpg
 

Queen Elizabeth II

Majesty/Your Majesty/Her Majesty
kiwifarms.net
Joined
Jan 14, 2019
Because if you control history you control the past, and if you control the past you control (or at very least can influence) the present.

If you're taught from day one that Christopher Columbus was a cunt, you're likely going to view anything that came from his work as being evil and bad too.

Most people don't really care that Columbus was a rapist, so were hundreds of thousands of other men then and today. What he's useful for today is demonizing whi piepo as bad guys who need to be crushed.
 

Sawmill

kiwifarms.net
Joined
Jan 17, 2019

Why do we make certain people from history villains?


Control over the definition of what is and isn't moral is a powerful tool of influencing the masses. If you convince people Hitler was literally hitler, you can denounce a whole host of things and make violence against anyone associated with it (whether accurate or not) justifiable morally, even if it isn't legal.

If you conversely convince people Hitler did nothing wrong, you can denounce a whole host of other things and you either go towards "holocaust was a good thing" or "holocaust never happened", with some adding the next line "but it should have". And this would then make holocaust revisionism morally justifiable, even if it isn't legal.

What should and shouldn't be legal is a question of attempting to codify morality into rules and morality changes over time, so laws change with it, sometimes slower than others.

Those who manage to persuade what is moral, through stories of who are the villains, manage to create the future's laws.

 

Emperor Julian

kiwifarms.net
Joined
Dec 20, 2015
People are obssesed with History as a story so the narrative require well defined individuals. Actual Historians try to make a point of ensuring fleshed out figures but the general public are obssesed with the concept the person represents and their role in the story

images

(translated from French)
"As a feudal lord concearned with dynastic power I will now preceed to conduct myself in terms of modern scottish nationalist fears sentiments. "

braveheart-mel-gibson-20th-century-fox-112415-1276x850.jpg


Translated from either Cumbric or northumbrian english....maybe latin depending on who he's talking to.
" as a feudal lord who got dicked by the dynastic power struggles, I will represent concearns such as national self-determinism and personal liberty....in a fuedal/tribal system."