The villains of yesteryear had a more finely tuned sense of true roguishness than the business-savvy, technologically trained supervillains of today. It helped to come from a time when celebrity was something the average citizen could scarcely imagine coming into contact with, rather than the massive overexposure that is the rule in this age. This explains in part the current popularity of steampunk fashion and particularly the resurgence of the genteel menaces characteristic of that bygone era. A certain air of mystery, mixed with a dashing sense of menace, is the spice that elevates the image of a common fiend to one who can fascinate ordinary spectators, with every deed calculated to maximize the long-lasting pizzazz that stimulates admiring word of mouth. This is a faculty which can be taught, fortunately, so that even villains of mean origins, with indifferent attention to fine manners, can aspire without irony to the ranks of those the media fawn over obsessively.
- The importance of attitude. Roguishness goes along with an extreme tendency toward extraversion not always common among villains as they spend hours cooped up in their lairs poring over the minutiae of their evil schemes rather than out and interacting with the common folk. It can take a conscious effort for one to stride into the thick of a situation and know that they will be the one everyone's eyes will be riveted upon. The way one looks and the way one acts are powerful messages which go out even before one opens one's mouth, so pay attention to these details whenever you get a chance.
- Packaging. Although the bad boy ideal takes many manifestations, there are only a few practical variations. A villain may be cold and aloof, sinister and secretive, explosively short-tempered, or willfully oblivious to the mechanisms of magic. Impeccably attired and comfortable in striking a pose, the evildoer draws all eyes to his or her every action upon the field of conflict, every ear to the barbed utterances falling from their lips.
- Hyperpimping. The finer points of subtlety sometimes get lost either in the vast settings one must operate or alongside the literally monstrous forms one has chosen for allies. Thus it is always much easier to aim for an effect a couple notches over the top than for one which has a calculated enigmatic quality. When one is making a bid to dominate civilization as we know it, commensuration demands that one’s bearing come off as large and bombastic as just such a global undertaking.
- Public relations. The investment in a full-time publicist will pay off the first couple of times that some victim or evil peer mentions your malevolent specter in an admiring fashion to someone who will take the comment to print. The adage that all publicity is good publicity holds especially true for supervillains who consume this commodity like oxygen. Their press releases and video clips help sustain public interest even between the commission of actual acts of infamy.
Strokes of genius
- The importance of contrast. If you are an albino unwilling to be touched by the sun's direct rays, you gain extra points by juxtaposing yourself against minions drawn from sub-Saharan slave races. The interplay between you will make the encounter just that much more piquant to captivate the viewer.
- Sexiness and cruelty. The sex drive is a primitive social signaling mechanism that works well with the threat of extreme violence. This can paradoxically be an intensely positive signal to some, rather than the well-marked warning sign you might expect it to be.
- Roguishness in later years. Senior villains need not take a back seat to the younger madmen on the block, but can draw upon the sum of their life experiences in crafting their image. They may play to their natural _gravitas_ to good effect, and emphasize the coarsening of the voice as well.
- Playing to a younger audience. As fashions change, so does the popular image of the charismatic scamp. In some eras a fusty well-turned phrase may be _de rigeur_, while in another, a stony silent glare is more highly prized. A talented rogue may pick up on the finer points of a particular audience’s expectations within a matter of moments so highly trained is the intuition.
- The distaff. It is not only possible for females to aspire to roguishness, but in many ways culture actually grants them certain advantages in this area. While males have to make a conscious decision to put on a flamboyant exterior, to work out ways to manipulate others socially, and to conceal inconvenient personal shortcomings, while these have always been encouraged as a first impulse among young girls. One need only take on the traits of indomitable self-confidence and casual cruelty to complete the set.
Traps for mere fools
- Hipsters emulating rogues.
- Tacky costume jewelry. Stick to the real stuff whenever you can, especially the kind bearing venerable curses.
- Branding with anything other than yourself. This includes corporate logos and trademarks, rival totems, and the crests of any present-day dynasties.
- Prefab steampunk. Particularly if it's made by low-rent slave labor. Not because of the exploitation, but because the poor quality shows.
- Distinctive facial hair. For the men, mainly.
Precious and needful
- Formal wear. Include all the accessories in order to solidify the impression of thoroughness.
- Unique means of conveyance. This can range from a titanium war chariot with turbines to a one-eyed zombie stallion.
- Pancake makeup. A licensed cosmetologist on staff is something that more and more world-class masterminds rely upon to ward off the unwanted glare off of a furrowed brow, for instance.
- Vintage armament.
- Sparkly lighting.
- Matching tanks and field artillery.
- How to become invulnerable to bullets
- How to cast giant holograms of yourself
- How to haunt an evil forest
- How to rock an evil wardrobe
- How to sport fangs
- How to possess eternal youth
- How to reign over love slaves
- How to look frighteningly deranged
- How to walk away from an explosion
- How to be enrobed in flames
- How to quote from Shakespeare
- How to compel someone to love you
- How to rob a stagecoach
- Image credit Portrait of a dapper Rogue by Alaskan Dude
- Image credit Monkey madness IV by Pandiyan
- Image credit Aphrodite, Pan and Eros by Bradley N. Weber
Created by: . Last Modification: Monday 31 of October, 2011 10:47:04 EDT by .