Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Baldy & Villainy

The blog, Film Experience, just posted a piece on the evolution of the bald figure in cinema. I think it is interesting that so many iconic characters who are depicted as evil are also bald. The article also brings up the notion of Joss Whedon-and although the writer does not use this phrase-as a “textual poacher” taking ideas, images and influences from a wide variety of sources, an idea that I have played with extensively over the last year, the subject of my Senior Thesis.

Film Experience on "Ways...To Craft Your Timeless Villain".

It might also be fruitful to trace some of the world’s most recognizable actors and figure out in what circumstances they played characters that were without their hair. Serial killers (see: Natural Born Killers), Neo-Nazis (see: American History X, The Believer), Psychopaths and monsters like Freddy Krueger from A Nightmare on Elm Street, who, like many of the examples presented in the Film Experience article, wears the signature mobster hat we see in The Untouchables, on Judge Doom, and on Slugworth, have all been represented as bald at one time or another and frequently at that. Then again, Ghandi was bald too. Oh, and speaking of Freddy Krueger, has anyone noticed how much Der Kindestod-the villain only visible by children in the Buffy season two episode, "Killed By Death"-looks like Freddy Krueger? And, by the way, the Kindestod, is mostly bald.

I can see how one’s perception of a bald person might take on a negative quality. Being bald is one step closer to looking like a death-head—a skull has no hair. That association is further aided by the idea that bald heads can be covered in some fashion and when that cover is lifted, having not been exposed to the sun, it can be pale like one in death. Still, baldness often accompanies a representation of man at his most basic state. Many infants are born without hair, suggesting a sense of malleability, purity, a canvas on which any character can be painted. A blank slate upon which any identity can be inscribed-like in the case of the workers in George Lucas’ 1971 student film-that he later went on to make a special edition of-THX 1138. They are numbered bodies for all intents and purposes, no true meaning outside of their duties. Perhaps we fear the anonymity baldness allows for. We fear the unknown of the tabula rasa of sorts that is thereby emblazoned across these characters’ collective crania.


Kelli said...

Balding is also a fear of many, many men.

Ian said...

Kelli, you are oh-so-wise.