Victim and villain is a concept that is largely dependent on a societal view and understanding that is sourced from a common social practice. The image created by the society members is what is taken to represent the true villain and victim of a situation or occurrence, in this case a crime. The ideas and knowledge built up and shaped by the society’s tales, beliefs, and perception is what is used in the judging of a person and understanding their criminal deeds. There are many issues and aspects that fall into play while victim/villain concepts are being explained and decided by upon by the community. Social media and other professionals play a fundamental role in the identification of a victim/villain as well as an understanding of crime. Since the society judge the victim/villain situation on what they hear, see, and then relate it to their knowledge accumulated earlier happening and stories. From the identification of the victim/binary then comes the understanding of crime. How a society or community understands crime is mainly dependent on their interpretation and perception of the villain/victim binary. As such, the binary of villain/victim is the basis for the understanding of crime by people in a society.
According Fullerton, people judgment of the victim is mainly shaped by how the story is told and represented by the media (1996). Here the importance of the media in the identification of a “villain” or “victim” is brought out. The fairy tales narrated over time in a society also shapes it. According to Innes (2003), the media and police work together and dependently to expose and report on a crime. The media even after a case is long decided will always delve into it to unearth some key aspects of the case that were not combed in full or just to make reference to such a case while dealing with another instance. With the information provided by the media and the police the villain and the victim is identified by the society on the basis of the reports given to the public. With the identification of the villain/victim than the society formulates its concept of crime, the villain actions are taken as the criminal deeds and from this the notion of crime is developed.
The society is founded and run by a system or beliefs of good morals, good morals out rightly depict a good person in the community. The good behavior is used as a basis for judging a person, the “villain” or the “victim” is identified based on the moral behaviors portrayed by each of them. Failure to adhere to these beliefs and code of conduct leads to the commitment of a crime. The binary of villain/victim is important in illustrating what the idea of crime entails in the society.
Another benchmark for the identification of the villain or the victim of a case is the police and the media information. Even if the society believes that a particular person is a victim, the information provided by the police will change the entire belief, and the victim turned villain. This is brought out in the case of Homolka where she is first seen as a beautiful princess who is victimized by her lover and he gradually the view changes to an evil lady. The binary of villain/victim in this case is founded on information provided by the media and the police, and this is what the people use to understand the concept of crime. By identifying the villain/victim from the information given, the understanding of crime and what it entails is developed.
This system of identification of the villain or victim, although it does not involve complex and comprehensive investigations even the law enforcers base their arguments and research on it. If a person is morally wrong then, the higher chance is that he or she is also legally wrong. As seen from the case of Homolka and Bernardo, even the justice system has predetermined the victim and villain according to how they have been identified by the society. It can be seen that the use of the social beliefs and acquired knowledge plays an important role in helping the justice and law enforcement systems in making the judgments and decision. For example, even before the court had given its verdict the society had already indicated an undisputable fact that Bernardo was the villain in the cases against him. The media reporting on some crime issues helps to publicize and make the crime a society issue from being an individual affair; this is helpful in the advocacy for the rights of the victims in the case. From this view, it can be argued that the identification of the victim/villain is necessary for understanding what crime refers to. Once Bernardo is identified as the villain, the action leading this identification are then associated with crime.
However, there should be some boundaries set in regard to the extent to which this idea is believed to help in understanding and developing the notion of crime. For instance in the case of Homolka, she was from the start viewed as victim Bernardo’s charming looks. Despite all the crimes that were attributed to her husband, she was saved from being associated with them as she was claimed a victim. Also, the descriptions and images provided by the media showed her as a victim, she was brought out to darkened eyes and the journalist highlighted on her plight. In the understanding of crime, any accomplice is viewed as part of the crime, but with the binary of villain/victim in this case the understanding of crime and its aspects in the society is blurred.
Furthermore, the fact that it depends on the society’s descriptions and not actual evidence to identify victim/villain calls for clear-cut distinction in the role that the binary plays in understanding crime. It may fail to recognize the legal issues that pertain to the matter when choosing on its victim/villain, and thus create a misleading notion about crime.
The cultural way of using fairy tales to identify the victim or the villain can be highly misleading since it does not involve any hard evidence gathered from the investigation. Homolka, through the use of accumulated evidence, is known not to be a victim as earlier supposed to be and is attributed to crime. The journalist judging and presentation of the case was misleading to the public and as such, they created a wrong notion about crime. As such the use of the binary of villain/victim is seen to be troubled or weak in its contribution to understanding crime.
The binary casualty/villain situation is characterized by many assumptions and beliefs that are based on no real evidence; the reasoning is purely based on fairy tales and articles made by the journalist that are subject to change. The biblical tales that are familiar with the Christians influence on the identification of good and evil, tales from the past are also used to identify the villain/victim and the knowledge used to explain and understand crime. It can be, therefore, be argued that the victim/villain identification is not necessary to understanding crime since it draws it knowledge and support from historical events and faith rather than actual evidence illustrating a crime being gathered. Nonetheless, the determination of the villain/victim can be regulated in its contribution to understanding crime so that other factors that cover up on the gaps left by the binary agreement can fall into place.
According to Cohen (1996), there are some cultural beliefs that view evil as being caused by an inhuman monster. In the culture, it is assumed that the monster appears harm and then disappears. The concept of evil in this society is said to be brought about by the monster that comes and disappears. The idea of a monster is a social construct; it is known that there exist no superhuman creatures on earth up to date. The same can be extended to explain on how a society views evil; it is seen as being brought by the monster and not the individual. The binary of villain/victim in this case is not necessary for the understanding of crime. Crime is understood as being caused by monstrous creatures that at times appear in human form.
The use of villain/victim nevertheless is not to be disregarded in the understanding of crime. The Nazis and the Christian faithful have been shown to associate the Jews with evil and monster control, the Jews were not identified as the victims of the monster, but the villain whereas the Christians and the Nazis claimed victims. The Jews were murdered, imprisoned, and mistreated, yet the people did not view this as a crime since they had assumed the victim position. The binary of villain/victim is here seen to contribute greatly to the understanding of what crime entails in the society. Many social evils and natural calamities were associated with the Jews, and their torture and mistreatment was viewed as a righteous thing to be done.
The monster was associated with many evils. It was described only in negative terms such as too sexual, lawbreaker, and perverse. Therefore, in the identification of villain/victim what was regarded most are the personal traits that were exhibited by a particular person involved in the cases. The individual with negative traits was viewed as a villain and an outcast in the society. The understanding of crime among the people was based on the traits that were associated with a person, such negative traits contributed to the understanding and the development of the concept of crime (Cohen, 1996).
The binary of villain/victim is necessary for the understanding of crime, but its contribution should be distinct from other factors regarding the concept of crime. The factor that is used in the identification of villain/victim is the punishment and seclusion of an individual. Once a person is punished or taken away from the public, he/she is out rightly described as a villain. The society associates, punishment with a crime, once an individual is punished then he/she is associated with crime. For instance in the case Lycaon, the king is punished by being transformed into an animal, this is attributed to the crimes don by him from the past. In reality, the fact that one is held in police custody does not mean that there is a crime committed, therefore an understanding of crime from the villain view that is based on punishment is not sufficient.
The perception and knowledge of crime heavily rely on an individual’s understanding of the concept of villain/victim. This differs with the tales shared, images observed, and any information gathered regarding an individual crime and related ‘victim’ and ‘villain’ cases. Although the concept is faced with many limitations in its understanding of crime, it contribution is still necessary for developing this concept.
According to the aforementioned facts, it is possible to conclude that people judgment of the victim is mainly shaped by how the story is told and represented by the media. The society is founded and run by a system or beliefs of good morals, good morals out rightly depict a good person in the community. Another benchmark for the identification of the villain or the victim of a case is the police and the media information. This system of identification of the villain or victim, although it does not involve complex and comprehensive investigations even the law enforcers base their arguments and research on it. There should be some boundaries set in regard to the extent to which this idea is believed to help in understanding and developing the notion of crime. the fact that it depends on the society’s descriptions and not actual evidence to identify victim/villain calls for clear-cut distinction in the role that the binary plays in understanding crime. The cultural way of using fairy tales to identify the victim or the villain can be highly misleading since it does not involve any hard evidence gathered from the investigation. The binary casualty/villain situation is characterized by many assumptions and beliefs that are based on no real evidence; the reasoning is purely based on fairy tales and articles made by the journalist that are subject to change. The perception and knowledge of crime heavily rely on an individual’s understanding of the concept of villain/victim.
Cohen, J. J. (1996). Monster theory: Reading culture. Minneapolis, Minn: University of Minnesota Press.
Innes, M. (2003). Criminal visions: Media representations of crime and justice. Cullompton, Devon: Willan.
Fullerton, R. C. S., & University of Western Ontario. (January 01, 1996). Sexing the fairy tale: Borrowed monsters and postmodern fantasies.