The representation of evil on the movie screen in the 21st century – the relation between movie villains, the audience, and real-life phenomena

Bacsek, Bernát (2022) The representation of evil on the movie screen in the 21st century – the relation between movie villains, the audience, and real-life phenomena. BA/BSc thesis, BCE Kommunikáció és Szociológia Intézet, Kommunikáció- és Médiatudomány Tanszék.

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The objective of this thesis is to examine how the communication and representation of movie villains relate to the audience and how real-life phenomena and events might influence what kind of evil people see on the screen and how they percept it. This thesis reviews several papers that examine evil and fear, academic writings, and research that focus on the audience’s perception of villains, and their cinematic representation. There are theories mentioned closely related to the audience’s perception of reality, articles that correlate with primary sources, and pictures shown to visually represent academic findings. The most important authors whose work is touched upon by this thesis include Staub (1989), Baumeister (1996), Alsford (2006), Norden (2007), Hanich (2010), and Heit (2014). Further significant writings and studies include the Cultivation analysis: An overview by Gerbner (1998); The encyclopedia of phobias, fears, and anxieties by Doctor, Kahn, and Adamec (2008), Dermatologic features of classic movie villains: The face of evil by Croley, Reese, and Wagner (2017), and Can bad be good? The attraction of a darker self by Krause and Rucker (2020). After reviewing the literature on the topic, content analysis is provided to examine the most popular villains of the 21st century. To discover audiences’ opinions and perceptions of movie villains and evil in general, an online survey has been conducted. The thesis compares all three parts of research in order to drive conclusions. This thesis confirms the theory that society affects films and films affect society. This revelation is proved by phenomena in the 21st century and connected to the representation of evil on the movie screen. The main findings emphasize the tendency of the humanization of villains in the 21st century, as the audience prefers villains that have more human features. People are occupied by the visual representation and motivations of villainous characters and try to understand them. The findings suggest that villains in this century provide an opportunity for people to explore a darker side of themselves, as well as for facing their fears, as fears and phobias have an important role in the representation of villains. This thesis further confirms that heroes are indispensable companions of villains, and people are inspired by the fight that these two halves represent. The findings suggest that the communication of villains tends to be more complicated than before, and the audience seems to realize that the evil side has something good to offer as well. The findings suggest that emotions can influence people’s perception of evil and villains, both on the movie screen and in real life, therefore, further research is suggested to compare how specific real-life events and the same events on the movie screen make people feel. Another interesting field of inquiry would be to examine the therapeutic effects of films featuring evil because the results imply a connection there as well. This thesis does not provide an answer to how generational differences influence perceptions of evil, although it would be worth investigating.

Item Type:BA/BSc thesis
Subjects:Media and communication
ID Code:15282
Specialisation:Communication and Media Science
Deposited On:25 Jan 2023 12:49
Last Modified:25 Jan 2023 12:49

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