I have recently discovered that there is a formula for evil. A way to create a villain that some would consider cool even though they are a killer and all it takes is this one thing to make them completely evil and irredeemable. Look at a show like Dexter. Man, remember when that show was good? It was about a serial killer that worked with police. He killed bad people while he himself was a bad person. He caught and tortured people before killing them. Yeah, he had "The Code" but he was still a bad guy. This will contain slight spoilers for the shows House of Cards and Fargo.
This kinda thing goes across the board. Shows like Luther where the main character has rage issues and does dirty things to get the job done. Sherlock who is a master manipulator. Game Of Thrones where everyone is just a bad day about from mass murder. But no matter what these characters do we can still pick out a favorite one.
"My favorite is that guy with the huge sword."
"The one that burned that village full of orphans last episode?"
"Yeah. But still..."
I have realized that there is one thing that someone can do that will automatically make them someone that nobody can cheer for. It doesn't involve rape, torture, or stealing. All they have to do is kill a dog. Yeah. That's right. Kill a dog and you're instantly one of the worse people created. Hell, if you hurt a dog people will ask for you to be sentenced to death. Well, unless you play in the NFL. Then you go to jail, get out, and become even more successful.
On the first episode of House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey as Francis Underwood hears an accident involving a dog being hit by a car. The dog can most likely be taken to the vet and brought back to health. Instead, while speaking to the camera he is doing something to kill the dog while no one is watching. "There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain, the kind that's only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. Moments like this require someone who will act, do the unpleasant thing, the necessary thing." This is during the first minute of the show. Afterward he and his wife go to a party. Instantly you know what kind of guy he is.
Beau Willimon, the writer for the show, was confused by the reaction the scene got. "The double standards are laughable. People had no problem seeing on House of Cards some of the ways people behaved emotionally or physically violent to one another. But we killed a dog in the first 30 seconds and people freaked out." That's because people do and always have had a strong reaction to violence against animals. Kill a kid? Maybe they can be rehabilitated or sent to jail. Kill a dog? Instant death is decreed. Or rape. People, usually women, love talking about how they want a bad guy raped in jail.
On Fargo Billy Bob Thornton plays a hitman. By the third episode it is established that this guy is ruthless as hell but somehow likeable. He's honest. I can say that about him. In attempting to get a ransom from someone he fills his water tank with pig blood. No one cares because its a pig and they're delicious. He puts speed in his heart medicine bottle. Then he kills the guys dog and leaves its body on the front porch. Whoa. Okay, now we're into some serious ass territory.
I think that people who kill or hurt animals mess with folks heads because we've been told that people who hurt animals as children grow up to be people killers. If you are over someone's house and their hyper ass kid is yanking on the cats tail and laughing you try to find that other person in the room that is thinking the same thing you are: "This kid is gonna shoot up a school some day."