Keeping up with Kincaid: is it time for my villain arc?

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Laken Kincaid

Managing Editor, Laken Kincaid, discusses the idea of failure and the pressure it holds.

Laken Kincaid, Managing Editor

As I write my first column as managing editor for The Carroll News, I examine my new role at the paper and how I may approach it. Rather than looking for content geared towards our tiny university as I did as campus editor, I now have to broaden my scope and look beyond the gates of Belvoir and Dolan. I will have to edit more pieces than my weekly average and cater my content to a broader audience. To be honest, it is a little stressful working my way up the organizational hierarchy. 

Usually, when someone is faced with new pressure in a role, they reach one of two outcomes: they rise to the challenge or collapse under the weight. This is especially true when the standards someone has set are ones they set for themselves. However, serial perfectionists like myself tend not to accept failure even if it is common practice.

Those of us who set out to change the world can become heroes who make the mark they always dream of, leaving a golden legacy. Those who fall a little short find themselves in denial and try to fix things that did not need fixing. The true difference between a hero and a villain is how they approach these insurmountable tasks in the face of scrutiny and hardship. Those who crumble under pressure find that they strive so hard for any innovation and sometimes hurt the progress they have already made.

Let me be clear, I am not suggesting that I am entering my villain era as managing editor However, I am using myself as a segway to discuss my favorite antagonistic trope in the media. From Disney animated features to mockumentaries, the best evil fiends are those that succumb to the pressure of the inability to make a difference; the characters that let their own innovative and intelligent spirits be their downfall. 

The prime example of this lies within the “Spider-Man” cinematic saga. The first villain in the series, Norman Osbourn, is a brilliant scientist who hopes to revolutionize his field. However, he focuses so much on his invention helping others that he uses himself as a test subject ultimately leading to his downfall and evolution into The Green Goblin. The same happens with Dr. Otto Octavius, Max Dillon and Dr. Curtis Connors; they let their longing for productivity overtake their better judgment and they become the infamous Doc Ock, Electro and Lizard respectively.

The main theme of “Spider-Man 2,” the film that showcases Dr. Otto Octavius’ story line is best summarized by a quote that Otto says to Peter at the beginning of the film: “intelligence is not a privilege, it is a gift and you use it for the good of mankind.” For all of these villains, they want to use their brilliance, as Otto suggests, for the betterment of humanity. Yet, they are so selfless that they sacrifice their sanity in the process. 

I am choosing to interpret this as a metaphor for life outside of cinema. No matter how smart you are and how high of hopes you have for the world around you, if you put the needs of others before yourself too often, you will be your own downfall. 

While I like the idea of antiheros emerging from their own intelligence , the main plot point that encapsulates these stories is how the characters never think of their own wellbeing foremost but rather that of others. 

It is common knowledge that people (especially those involved with service activities and the like) are not supposed to be “selfish.” But, recently, we have seen a new movement prioritizing self care and self love. Instagram is littered with graphics that carefully articulate “don’t forget to love yourself today :)!” I will be honest, I hate the commercialization of confidence. Yet, I agree, not enough people put themselves first in their lives at any point throughout the day. This can lead to burnout that is extremely damaging to the psyche albeit, hopefully not the burnout we see in films where you turn into a giant lizard and subsequently try to turn the entirety of New York City’s population into reptiles. 

So, as I enter my position as managing editor and my junior year of college, I am using this final piece to remember that I need to put myself first on occasion. I hate typing this because it feels like an affidavit that my friends and colleagues can use against me in the future when I am not holding up to this promise. Yet, that accountability may be helpful to avoid my spiral into the villain stereotype I revere inside the movies but ultimately fear in reality.