It’s easy to tell who's the villain in an old western: The good guy wears a white hat, the bad guy wears black. Real life villains don’t follow that code. Nor are they likely to conspicuously twirl their moustaches like Snidely Whiplash awaiting the oncoming train. Sure Hitler was evil…but what is the nature of villainy? Bill Clinton? Joe Frazier? And the Sharon Stone character in Basic Instinct attract haters…but does that make them wicked? What is the nature of villainy? Why does Taylor Swift inspire cultish adoration, while Wilt Chamberlin is loathed? And why is our culture so absorbed with anti-heroes, anyway.
Chuck Klosterman writes about sports and popular culture and is The New York Times ethicist. He explores the nature of badness --- in the bad way -- in a new collection of essays called I Wear The Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined).