Thursday, January 19, 2006

Most Wanted...

Just how wanted are our modern day totems of evil? Why are they so wanted and what are the unspoken rules of this twisted popularity contest?

It comes as no surprise that Osama bin Laden is on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list (although not for 9/11??). What is shocking is how relatively unremarkable the other nine wantees are. Clearly, if the accusations are correct, these are not upstanding citizens, but top ten material? Where are the Hannibal Lecters, the Ernst Stavros Blofelds, the John Wayne Gacy Jr.s, the Clyde Barrows and Bonnie Parkers? Yes, burning and torturing your family is an unfathomably repulsive crime, molesting children is absolutely wrong, and escaping from prison is sort of threatening to the public (but also strangely commendable and appropriate in the year of Johnny Cash). But don't these crimes lack the scale and the scope of evil and cunning one would expect the FBI to have on their hands when dealing with the so-called worst of the worst? Perhaps the only other really "classically trained" bad guy in the top 10 is Diego Leon Montoya Sanchez, a principal leader of the Colombian North Valley drug cartel. And he could use some work.

No doubt, we are completely jaded by outsized and oversimplified characterizations of "evil" in movies and other fictions. Lord knows our Commander in Chief hasn't exactly been an agent of refinement in this area (or has he?). One would expect our collective hunger for well-drawn villains to yield a glut of highly publicized real-life miscreants. The way, say, Donald Trump plays into our infantile projections of power and money. No doubt, there are people or deeds not on this list the FBI doesn't want the general public to know about. For example, I am surprised to see that weapons dealing makes no appearance, but maybe that's someone else's domain? (CIA? WTF?) (or as Syriana and Lord of War suggest, maybe these people are so in cahoots with the powers-that-be they remain safely outside the public myth of justice.)

Given that publicity and marketing are omnipresent and non-discriminatory, I'm shocked that there aren't more recognizable global outlaw figures (outside of established governments) who overtly aspire to world domination or other epically nefarious doings. Could this be a sign that there is simply less "evil" in the world than we originally imagined? In the black and white sense, yes. True evil is always gray.


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