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Why We Love Villains

The days of the gallant, pure-of-heart superhero are numbered. That’s how cultural critic Chuck Klosterman sees it. He says we just can’t relate to them anymore. For many adults, it’s the villain who holds the most appeal. And though we don’t condone their malevolence, Klosterman says the flawed and complex nature of villains makes them more like us. Klosterman joins guest host Matt LaPlante Wednesday to investigate the nature of villainy and to ask why we’re so drawn to black-hatted bad guys.


  • Chuck Klosterman is a cultural critic and the author of numerous books, including Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, Killing Yourself Live, and Eating the Dinosaur. His latest book is called I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined) [Amazon|Indiebound].
  • Michael Uslan has produced every modern Batman film since 1989. He is the executive producer of The Lego Movie; and The Dark Knight Trilogy: Batman Begins; The Dark Knight & The Dark Knight Rises, and forthcoming film Batman Vs Superman: Dawn Of Justice. He is also the executive producer of a wide range of TV movies, animated TV Series, and documentaries. He won an Emmy Award for “Best Animated Series,” with his production of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? He’s author the book The Boy Who Loved Batman [Amazon|Indiebound], and he taught the first accredited college course on comic books in 1971 at Indiana University. He is an instructor of the free massive online course “The Rise of Superheroes and Their Impact on Pop Culture,” which is hosted by SmithsonianX and begins on August 15.
Matthew LaPlante is journalist, blogger and assistant professor of journalism at Utah State University. As national security reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune from 2005 to 2011, he covered military operations in Iraq, Kuwait, Germany and throughout the United States. Before arriving in Utah in 2004, LaPlante worked for The McMinnville News-Register in Oregon’s wine country, where he covered the local court system and sports. A native of California, LaPlante lives in Salt Lake City with his wife Heidi, a public school teacher, and their daughter, to whom he writes regular letters of love, advice and anxiety at DearSpike.com.