|Writing Prompt #797|
referencing Russians: Still the Go-to Bad Guys, by Steven Kurutz
What makes people interesting is their ability to choose and make decisions. This also goes for fictional characters: does the good kid pick up a rock and throw it when exposed to peer pressure? Does the strict teacher give students a break from homework when they've earned it? Does the bad guy with the heart of gold go back to rescue the hero? The power to decide be something different from what readers were expecting is what makes a character worth paying attention to.
It’s not okay to assign villainy to any group of people; if everyone living in a certain country was evil, how boring would they be? They’d be predictable, incapable of change, and uninteresting. No one wants to read about a character like that.
The situation of the world during and after the Cold War is a great setting for hundreds of wonderful characters. The world was changing, and the people in it were changing too. For those of us who grew up watching movies that were peopled with Russian bad guys found them interesting and exciting. Part of that is probably the complex history of the characters, but another large part is totally the accent.
Accents are cool! They make already compelling characters fascinating. And it doesn’t just have to be a Russian accent, either. A British accent works as well: “I will be king! Stick with me, and you’ll never go hungry again!” Or a German accent: “No, Mr. Bond; I expect you to die.” Or even French: “Fetchez la vache!”
A Russian accent gives a bad guy more awesome bad-guy-ness. Not because all Russians are bad, but because we’ve all seen enough movies with awesome Russian characters to expect that anyone with a Russian accent is going to be awesomely scary and a really cool villain. Making Russians into bad guys on the big screen doesn’t have anything to do with politics or hate. That accent is awesome, and it gives your villain an extra flair.