Irene Adler’s infamous quote from BBC’s Sherlock keeps ringing in my mind. Okay, so I’m as Sherlocked as she is, but there’s a fact that keeps nagging me: try as I might, I’m having a tough time thinking of “Good Guys” being genius. In fact, the phrase “evil genius” is so ingrained in our vocabulary it’s a well-worn cliché, but one which we never grow tired of seeing, reading, watching and adoring. Admit it: we love the guy in black.
From infamous intellects like Moriarty, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and Ozymandius to young protégés like Cadel Piggot and Artemis Fowl (and, depending on your iteration, Lex Luthor), those who possess astounding intellect tend to go over the edge to the Dark Side with very little encouragement, and they have a TON of fans waiting for them there. Maybe it’s the old truism that absolute power corrupts absolutely, ergo to think beyond the scope of the average person tends to make you think of those same persons as “lesser” and then it’s a short hop, skip & a jump to true evil-doing. Or maybe that’s just the flipside of heroism: that “super powers” are counterbalanced with having smarts. (How different is Bruce Wayne or Eric Draven from Elijah Price, really?) Just ask Vordak if you don’t believe me.
I cannot adequately express how much I love these evil geniuses.
Of course, there are the bad guys we grow to love like MegaMind or Dr. Horrible, the anti-anti-heroes who we root for in the face of their arrogant goody-two-shoes nemeses, but it would be a stretch to claim that either one of them wanted to be the “good guy”. (And who can blame them? The status is *not* quo!) So we can understand the women who love them — we empathize and fantasize and can see the allure, but I have to say, these gals are often more than a little off their rocker themselves. Let’s be honest, neither Irene Adler, Mirage, Dr. Anabel Leek or Harley Quinn could exactly be poster girls for sanity. Yet sometimes it’s the ladies who are the ones with the Big Brains. A certain Yolanda/Saffron/Bridget comes to mind…along with, perhaps, Darla and Janet Colgate.
But I’ll throw this one to the Internet Hive Mind: can you think of any *good* super-geniuses? Or is it the fate of all the great minds to don black capes and outlandish makeup? And why are they still so irresistible? (Even “good-ish” geniuses like Tony Stark and Dr. Gregory House are in the gray zone of bad-boy-inclinations-with-serious-issues in my mind and we might as well add Sherlock Holmes to that pile, too.)
Maybe it’s not just that smart is the new sexy, it’s because geniuses are hot.