Have you ever noticed that in some movies the “bad guy” is really into classical music (particularly from the 18th-19th centuries)? Siegfried in Get Smart, Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows…etc. But why? As someone who personally enjoys classical music, what is it about the genre that attracts the psychos in film?
Maybe it has something to do with the complexity of the music. (Although it doesn’t have to be too complex to understand. See How to Actually Enjoy Classical Music (For Book Lovers) if you’re interested.) Maybe dark minds who carefully structure their crimes are assumed to appreciate the careful structure of the music. Maybe… But do you think any evil character would like classical music? What about Scar in The Lion King or The Joker in Batman? Can you picture them sitting down with some nice Beethoven or Mahler? (By the way, the types of classical music that these characters often listen to are not the only types of classical music. It’s actually a really diverse genre spanning many centuries and continues to be composed today.)
Of course, there is also the occasional character like Sherlock Holmes himself who enjoys playing classical violin. Yet his character is portrayed as a bit on the dark (even psychologically disturbed) side in some ways, too.
I’m not proposing any definitive answers here, but it’s an interesting thing to think about. Why classical music? Why not jazz? Pop? Hip-hop??
I’m interested in what other “evil”characters you’ve noticed in films (or even books) who like classical music or whether you know of any exceptions to the rule. And why do you think this association exists?
If you liked this post, you might want to check out Classical Music Stories where music is imagined as a sort of movie score for literature like Romeo and Juliet, Harry Potter, Pride and Prejudice, The Great Gatsby, and more. (Breaking the “evil” stereotype one book and one piece at a time…haha.)