Written by: Gordon Pepper
If you’ve been following the site long enough, and based on my many nicknames on the site (which include, but are not limited to Haterade, The 1%, Captain Wrong and The Dark Cloud), you would think that I would be rooting for the villains in every single series to win, Usually, you would be correct in that statement, but it’s not because I want evil to win. I am traditionally a nice guy, I do help little old ladies down the street, and I don’t kick a stray dog that’s in my path. Usually. So why the obsession with villains? Simple.
The villains are the ones that play the game better.
Admit it. It’s true. They play the game better and have a grander flair about them than your bland heroes. Ken Jennings got noticed after around 20-30 episodes. It only took Arthur Chu 3 before Jeopardy plastered his name and face all over the town. As of me writing this, the current champion has been there for 4 weeks and won over $400,000. Her name is Julia Collins. But you don’t know anything about her because she has a personality of dryboard and she plays the same way. Is she fantastic? She sure is, but you wouldn’t know it if you’ve been seeing her wagering.
Why am I picking on a 4 week champion’s wagering? Because this is what the ‘Great’ game players do. Each Daily Double should be used as a weapon, and the great ones know it. Dan Pawson showed you just how devastating those are in his tournament of champions, while others like Bill McDonald (who has bet it all in the single round to make the Double Jeopardy rounds academic) and of course Ken Jennings (who was bold enough a number of times to throw up 5 digit Daily Double wagers). Look at David Madden and Arthur Chu’s $5 bets. They aren’t mocking the game; they are bringing the meta game to a new level that the majority of people can’t understand. So it’s not their fault for taking advantages of the rules – it’s your fault for not understanding the play-to-win mentality instead of lazy $2,000-$3,000 mamby pamby Julia Collins I just want to wager and not put the game away betting style. Deal with it.
This also goes to the social games. The ‘best’ players on Survivor and Big Brother are also the most ruthless. Richard Hatch, Brian Hedik, Yul Kwon, etc. Jun Song, Will Kirby and Ian Terry comes from the Big Brother mold. They balance the art of the social game just enough with the art of booting them off the island – but yet making them feel happy that they were booted.
Now what about the ‘Talent’ genre? It’s a little dangerous, because although the audience wants to see the ‘likable’ contestant win, more often than not, they are not the most talented. On America’s Next Top Model. likability is clearly a factor (the villainess or villain never comes close to winning) because they have to model products. Same thing with American Idol – everyone is made likable because their job is to hock out merchandise form 19 Entertainment and their $80 a ticket American Idol tour. America’s Got Talent does the same thing (note the back stories are longer than their actual performance) because they have seats to fill in Las Vegas. Even eventual RuPaul’s Drag Race winner Bianco Del Rio (who clearly stood out the entire season) was questioned by Santino Rice if she was good for their ‘Brand’.
And what happens when the Villain wins? Ultimate chaos, as Tom Collichio found out when Fan Favorite Nina Compton lost in the finals to emotional hot head, villain, and BETTER CHEF Nicholas Elmi. The fans got on Twitter to the point that Colicchio had to post up the judges final scorecards to show that Elmi won fair and square. he didn’t need to – Elmi was the better chef all season, but that was almost tainted because the fans didn’t like to see the villain win. If you have a competition show, it’s the best competitor, not the person that would make everyone the happiest, who should win.
So this past week, I was thrilled to see Scott Marshall win Ink Master. Marshall, the man who pissed everyone off in Season 4 of Ink Master, played the most well-rounded game. He used his power to eliminate people exactly when they needed to go and to help the weaker players get rid of the stronger players. Despite the fact that he was the clear villain, he won over clear fan favorite Walter ‘Sausage’ Frank. And Marshall should have won – be earned the victory by playing the best game.
So Villains > Heroes? Or maybe I’m more like the Whodunnit Killer: I prefer strategy over likability. And yes, I’ll be rooting for Arthur Chu to win the next Tournament of Champions. It’s not about whether you win or lose; it’s about whether you win. So just win, baby.
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