Mainstream authors and other creators of fiction have certain, favorite villains. The ruthless businessman, the madman military general, the fanatical Christian, the corrupt politician, the power-hungry law enforcement official, the gang leader, drug dealers, and the white redneck are among the bad guys of choice for the arts and entertainment industry. Time to change things. We need a new list of people and professions for good guys to thwart. And journalists should be at the top of this list. After all, they are an endless supply of villainy in real life.
Journalists have, at times, been portrayed as rogues in stories. But they more often are portrayed as the heroes. They’re the scrappy reporters working to uncover the crime being committed by the powerful businessman. Or they’re hard at work standing up for the little guy. Or they’re braving the front lines of a war so the everyday person can learn what is happening from the comfort of his own home.
But these portrayals don’t have much basis in reality. Not any longer, at least.
Instead, the media are constantly involved in spreading disinformation, smearing people, creating division and strife (where there shouldn’t be division and strife), and even outright ruining people’s lives. Many times they are involved in all four (and more) at the same time. So why aren’t journalists portrayed as the villains in fiction more often?
Humans are creatures of habit. Therefore, it’s no wonder that we see the same type of villain in novels and movies. Furthermore, in some cases, fiction repeatedly using a certain kind of villain is justified. After all, gang members and drug dealers really are bad guys.
But in other cases, fictional portrayals of villains are worn-out or even unjustified. So it’s time to shake up the stable of antagonists. Indeed, it’s time to clean house and draw on different types of people and professions to portray as villains. And when you think about all the terrible things journalists do every day, it’s easy to see why they should be the heavy du jour on this new list.
This doesn’t mean that journalists should be the only villains in fiction. After all, being at the top of a list indicates that there are other choices. Community organizers who whip up mobs, teachers and professors who corrupt children’s minds, psychologists who abuse their power, scientists who push phony “facts,” environmentalists who engage in terrorism, communist infiltrators who tear down a nation, and activists who war against reality all deserve consideration as well.
Some might think emphasizing journalists as villains is unfair. After all, not all journalists are villains. But then again, most Christians and military vets (including me) aren’t villains. And yet you don’t find a shortage of villainous Christians and military vets in stories. So there’s nothing wrong about portraying journalists as the bad guys. In fact, doing so is simply a step in making things a bit more equitable.
The time for changing who the villains are in creative works is now. And while there are many people and professions in real life upon which to draw inspiration for this change, journalists should definitely be at the top of this list.