The Dead Robots' Society

Writers on Writing


  1. I think Mr. Sawyer’s observation about one-dimensional characters such as Darth Vader being unrealistic is wrong. From a Western, egalitarian world-view this may seem to be true, but people like Uday Hussein, who’s power was not contingent on being liked, prosper when the terror they can inspire is unremitting. If you have read The Prince you know that Machiavelli considered it wise to have a fall-guy around that carries out the Prince’s less savory acts so that blame for those evil acts falls on him and praise for ending his reign of terror is lauded on the Prince.

  2. Scot —

    Your point is well taken. The only rejoinder I can offer is that even Uday and Stalin and Hitler needed to create environments in which they could rule effectively. Machiavelli’s words are a good reference–while there is a fall guy principle, there is also a great deal in there about using the fall guy to create an effective regime. I think Vader fails this test, at least as portrayed.

    That said, you’re right, such folks do exist, and they can be *fascinating* bad guys when drawn well. However, I still maintain that Vader mainly works because of the costume, and James Earl Jones’s voice 🙂

    Justin, thanks hugely for having me on. It was loads of fun!


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