As many of you know, I have an eight-year-old son. If you have sons, then you can relate to the title question. At this age, many little boys are fascinated by tales of danger, bravery, fantasy, heroism, war, and weapons. This fascination for danger also tends to create a curiosity with the “bad guy.” Don’t get me wrong, heroes are great. My son thinks the world of Indiana Jones and Spiderman. But the flipside- the other side to the story is that the menacing villains of these stories are also very popular.

Think about it…Nazis, storm troopers, evil aliens…my son talks about these bad guys more than he does the good guys when he is acting out his favorite battle scenes with action figures. Why? Because bad guys seem so scary, powerful, and strong. Isn’t that what every little boy wants? He wants to grow up to be strong, brave, courageous, and powerful. The only thing that saves these bad guys from being too revered is their evilness. The good guys must triumph, even if the bad guys are really cool. It’s an unwritten law in every eight-year-old’s universe. The bad guys must lose.

I understand this “hero worship versus bad guy curiosity” thing, so I am never too worried when Benjamin comes home breathing and strutting around like Darth Vader. I know how his brain works and why he chooses to put on that “evil guy” persona. He is choosing to role-play villainous creatures in order to understand them, and to overcome his fears of evil. No problem, I get it. However, a glance at Ben’s math homework gave me a few misgivings today! Take a look:

Ben and each of his fellow students were instructed to write three word problems using addition or subtraction. His contribution to the lesson was as follows:

“Ben had 8 friends. Five of them moved. How many friends does he have now?”

  • Okay, interesting subject– I thought- seems a little lonely. His teacher probably wonders if he has many friends. I moved on to the next word problem he had written.

“Ben had ten Star Wars toys. He gave nine of them to Luke. How many Star Wars toys does he have now?”

  • Oh, that’s definitely something Ben would write, I thought, and chuckled to myself. I half-expected collectible Legos to be mentioned in the next problem. I moved to the last of his unique word problems, and I could not contain my laughter:

“Ben had 14 henchmen. Four of them ran away. How many henchmen does he have now?”

  • I laughed until my muscles ached! I could see it all now- Ben the Great Menace surrounded by his Horde of Horrible Henchmen. I must admit that I was even a little proud. How many 3rd graders know what henchmen are? And how many could spell it? I cannot even imagine what his teacher’s thoughts were, but if she has sons, she understands. If she does not, I am quite certain that at the very least, I have her sympathy…

5 responses to “Why Are the Bad Guys so Cool?”

  1. Mom Avatar

    I understand perfectly. Ben straightened me out on the subject awhile back. He was watching 101 Dalmations and when Cruella Deville was going to make a coat out of puppies, I said, “She’s mean!” Ben looked up and said, “Grammy, she’s not mean, she’s evil!”

    Kind of reminds me of his mother who used to call her sister a General…probably because henchman didn’t come to mind at the time.


  2. Mom Avatar

    Sorry, it was Admiral wasn’t it?

  3. Bernard Collard Avatar
    Bernard Collard

    This message came in as Spam on my system, so I am going to have to do something about that and find some way that will pacify the Spam Dragon. I do hope that there are other English people who get these messages as if so you should be getting a number of messages on this subject.
    Please note then that the word Hoard means a collection – usually implies that the collection is guarded or safely stored somewhere and I have therefore never known it to be applied to anything other than inanimate objects. I think you mean “Horde” which is a word for a group of individuals, usually a threatening group of some kind – which would be just right for henchmen. Group names are always a problem. It is really difficult to get them right all the time. Sheep belong in a flock, lions in a herd, whales in a pod, finches in a charm etc. If you Google “Collective nouns” you can find whole lists of them and some are very unusual, but the first list I looked at got goldfinches wrong. They were listed as “a troubling of goldfinches” which may be correct in American but is not correct in English. Anyway, in your case, I think you may well fear a Horde of Henchmen. Incidentally, I found another mistake in Wikepedia’s list, which gives “A set of badgers” which should read “A sett of badgers”, “sett” being the word which is used for their den (or lair?) !! There is a good game here somewhere! All the best

  4. Dianne Avatar

    Cute story Julie. Kind of reminds me of my just turned 7 grandson. He wanted to be a werewolf for Halloween but settled on going in camoflague instead because he said the other scared him (although he loves to watch them on TV)!

    Keep up the good writing!

  5. The William Blaine Avatar

    This was great – yet another young jedi growing more powerful by the trial!

    We have some of those running around here…….

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