A Paean to Agent Franks

Q: What is one of the great pleasures of the reading world?

A: An interesting villain.

One of the examples that comes to mind is Hannibal Lecter. Here is a man who indulges in murder, torture and cannibalism and yet is inarguably the most interesting character in the several books he appears in. Granted, he’s not really a sympathetic character, but he is the center of attention. I think part of what distinguishes the interesting villain from the garden variety is consistency. So the interesting villain doesn’t follow society’s rules but he does follow his own rules. Discovering and acknowledging the constancy of the villain to these rules is part of the enjoyment of the character. You see the payoff coming or some plot twist prevents it. Each occasion reinforces the pattern and adds to the fun.

Closely allied to this type is the anti-hero. He rescues you from a serial killer but then kicks you in the balls for making him miss his coffee break. He saves a bus full of nuns from falling off a cliff but then relieves himself on the bus tire in full view of the thankful occupants. Here the enjoyment comes from the juxtaposition of thrilling exploits and amazing skill along side of boorish behavior and callous disregard. Perhaps a more descriptive title is the Heroic Jerk.

For anyone familiar with Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series of books I think the character I would immediately associate with the anti-hero is Agent Franks. He carries out all assignments issued to him by the Monster Control Bureau (MCB) no matter how brutal and regardless of the impact on innocent bystanders. His almost complete indifference to human considerations of any kind is sort of his hallmark. Along with this is his almost complete lack of interpersonal skills. The closest he ever comes to tact is silence. Usually his version of conversation is an order prefaced by an insult and followed up almost immediately with a threat or an assault. Good times, good times.

The flipside to this is his willingness to fight evil no matter the odds and no matter the risk to himself. His underlying motivation is to fulfill his oath to destroy humanity’s supernatural foes (regardless of how many innocent bystanders must be coincidentally slaughtered to achieve that noble goal).

Starting out as a small recurring part in the first couple of Monster Hunter books Franks gains much greater importance in one of the later books and becomes pivotal to the underlying story line. But I find his curmudgeonly heroism endlessly entertaining. So much so, that I have decided to make it my life’s work to convince a major motion picture studio to bring the Monster Hunter world to the big screen, and most importantly, to cast Adam Baldwin as Agent Franks. I base this casting decision on Mr. Baldwin’s very similar character of Col. John Casey of the NSA (in the tv series Chuck). This was also a man of few words who would sacrifice himself (and anyone around him) in order to fulfill his mission. The aptness of this casting is I believe self-evident.

So all hail to the Anti-Hero. All hail the Heroic Jerk.

What Price Would You Pay for Safety? The European/American Dichotomy

Recently I was involved in a rather heated on-line discussion over gun rights. The most strident gun control advocate was an Australian who insisted that the US must come to its senses and follow Australia’s lead by confiscating all guns. A chorus of European posters agreed and chastised the Americans for refusing to agree with the wisdom of dispensing with the Second Amendment.

On that particular message board which is associated with an artistic topic, very few members are pro-gun (or very few are willing to admit it). But enough of us were represented to draw up a pretty clear contrast between the two sides.

Basically, the anti-gun thesis is:
1) The more guns there are, the more gun deaths there will be.
2) The only ones who should have guns are the police.

The pro-gun points are:
1) A disarmed citizenry is basically an invitation to tyranny.
2) If you outlaw guns then only outlaws will have guns.
3) The additional risk associated with common gun ownership is warranted by the advantages associated with points 1 and 2.

The two sides metaphorically shouted at each other until both sides were blue in the face. No convincing occurred. This is typical. But since this is my blog, I thought I’d summarize my impressions.

I think the basic difference is based on what part of life is most essential. For Europeans and many countries colonized by them the greatest good is security. This translates into the desire for an orderly existence where society controls as many aspects of life as possible and everybody agrees what everybody should be doing.

Americans think that if you aren’t allowed to make your own decisions then you are basically a slave.

The European model has the advantage of minimizing risk. Everyone has healthcare, employment guarantees, pension guarantees, public transportation, etc.

Americans don’t have those things (except poor Americans and illegal aliens). But we prefer it that way. We’d rather be able to live the way we want rather than be told how we have to live (at least up till now).

But the disturbing aspect of all this is the similarity between the European point of view and the Occupy Wall Street mind set. It appears you can turn Americans into serfs. All it takes is getting to them when they’re young and away from their families.