In stories, the bad guys almost always know that they are in fact the bad guys.
In real life, most people try to avoid falling into that role unless circumstance or lack of options demand it, and yet for those to whom those constraints are of the least concern, the role of bad guy is eagerly and ignorantly occupied.
The rich, the powerful, and the privileged. Those coasting through life with the gameplay set to Easy mode, furiously denying how easy their life is while actively working to keep the gap between them, the rich, and us, the poor, as wide as possible.
The country that I am from, the UK, has a rather socialist bent. We have free healthcare, a welfare system, a public broadcasting and news service, and a sharp history of class warfare and struggle. The further north you climb, the more to the left the compass swings - from a capital city enamoured with Conservative politicians, to Scotland which boasts more Panda bears than Tory MPs (2 and 1 respectively).
The Conservatives are ever the bad guys, from the ridiculous David Cameron of today, to the tyrannical Thatcher of the ’80s, and back through time to every politician that opposed improving the rights and lives of the working classes and the disenfranchised. Our art and culture is fuelled almost entirely at times by hatred for the oppressive upper class and the way in which they singlehandedly rule our country, depriving others of power or the ability to invoke change.
They are hated. And yet, for not being right wing enough, greater cesspools of so-called humanity gather popularity, spouting bile of less subtle racism, sexism and homophobia. We loathe those in power yet wish to be in their shoes, to be them, to be near them, to be noticed and given small privileges so that we may look down upon others ourselves.
They are the bad guys and always have been the bad guys. They always will be the bad guys. The greatest trick Capitalism ever pulled was making us believe there was no true alternative. That this way of living and producing and exploitation is not great, but that it’s better than the alternatives. That the rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer, and those who allegedly represent the latter will be from the same pool as the former, trampling over their constituents for a whiff of power, and we will strive to be in the middle classes to join that elite, leaving our brothers in the gutter. There is no equality.
Our government cares more about subsidising the rich and their enjoyment of murdering pheasants, than the benefits they take away that result in the murder of their peasants. They deny there is a poverty problem as people starve to death, insist that the ill are fit to work as they die days later, and that benefit fraud is the ultimate crime when millions more is lost in tax evasion.
At the turn of the century there was a feeling in the air of change, of a shift in culture, a movement within our perception of reality. The underculture had stretched and growled throughout the decades - punk, riot grrrls, the underground, the internet bringing all the freaks and geeks together and showing their true numbers for the first time.
The moment passed and terror came upon its heels, and then a greater terror still - the spectre of 1984 come to life and Orwell’s worst predictions come true. The freaks retreated, putting out their message still in art and culture but with a feeling of resignation - that only escapism could be found, not any real movement of change.
But there were thrashings of resistance still. An Occupy movement that the world press couldn’t understand. Anonymous fighters in a digital war that the world press couldn’t understand. Riots from the oppressed and furious around the world - misunderstood, labelled as villains by the rich and powerful. By the scared and privileged.
2013 came and went and there was still no end of the world. No doomsday. The Tories are back in power and the poor are being oppressed. Nothing ever changes.
But everything always changes. The freaks are still here. And we will not be hunted.
What would happen if everyone who wanted change, everyone who had had enough, everyone who is tired of the persecution and the defeats, EVERYONE, put down their keyboards and took action. What if we put aside the lethargy and apathy that those in power so rely on and made our stand.
Pick your weapon. Be it action, words, art, music, tweets or organising.
Don’t give up.
(Images from The Invisibles by Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell)