Labyrinth II: The Beauty of Evil

I was looking at the comments on some music videos taken from the movie Labyrinth. Several times I had a little double-take because of the commenters, probably women although with the character of Jareth the Goblin King you never know, talking about how foolish the heroine was to grab her little brother and escape from Jareth’s kingdom. Jareth was sooooo dreamy! So cool! They’d have stayed with him if they were here. I read those and thought, “Kid, you really missed the point of the film.” Or has pop culture changed so much that these folks do not recognize evil when it is beautiful?

2:15 and on is probably what the Goblin King fan-club was thinking about. He finds her among the crowd, takes her into his arms, standing between her and chaos . . . And the hair on my neck rises more than a little during this scene. He’s suave. He’s cool. He makes me want to reach for a crucifix, a hunting knife, and a shotgun, not necessarily in that order. That appraising look, as if he’s weighing her, looking through her at her weaknesses, using her confusion to draw her to himself . . . I have this urge to grab my skirts with one hand, draw a weapon with the other and get as far away as fast as possible.

The women(?) in love with the Goblin King do not recognize a predator. Even if you have not seen the rest of the movie, this video, even the first two and a half minutes, should make you twitchy. The Goblin King is stalking his prey, and the ladies head-over-heels infatuated with Jareth do not realize that. Or they want to be his prey, to be stalked by the king of the labyrinth. Either way, they are in a bad position. As another commenter on the song wrote, if you watch the movie closely, you can see hints about other little girls and babies the Goblin King has captured. The last bit of “Dance Magic Dance,” Jareth tosses the baby and looks away, not caring if his goblins catch the child or not. Gals, that is not the behavior of a guy you want to spend the rest of time with. If you do, eh, G-d speed and have mercy on you should you get what you think you want.

I think part of the problem is that we, as a society, don’t connect evil with beauty. Granted, I’m outside the pop-culture loop to an extent, especially on TV, but evil tends to be ugly, or obvious. The good-looking guy kicks the dog, revealing his black heart. The charismatic preacher or businessman will be the villain. Loki, from Thor and The Avengers lets you know that he’s a baddie, usually, mostly. OK, we still have the femme fatale, but even she has a reason, and is probably a victim (or will be by the end-of-season cliff-hanger). But predators do not have to be hideous. And Jareth screams “predator.” He’s not a dreamy forever-teenaged vampire, he’s not sexy although he is sensual in many scenes. David Bowie did a great job with the character. He gives me the creeps. I don’t know how men react to him, but the character hits my alert buttons.

I would not want to stay in the Goblin King’s realm. I do want the gal’s dress, preferably in a dark blue or green, even a rich brown, with slightly less puffy sleeves. And a good rapier* hanging at my waist, to fend off the attentions of Jareth, the predator, the Goblin King.


*Why not firearm? Hey, its a fantasy movie, gotta stick to fantasy trope weapons.

9 thoughts on “Labyrinth II: The Beauty of Evil

  1. I suspect that the people think the Goblin King is dreamy would also love the Romantic Vampire.

    It would be interesting to read a story where the reader sees the Romantic Vampire as the Predator he is while the female characters don’t only to learn too late what he really is.

    Oh Chris Nuttall has a “side note” in many of his stories about people trapped by Vampires because of the Vampires play the “Romantic Vampire” in order to catch them.

    • Please don’t poke the muse. I seem to be drifting into an urban-fantasy mindset and I may not be responsible for the stories that result.

      • OK, I won’t talk about Barbara Hambly’s Ysidro and how he “played” a Romantic Vampire. [Evil Grin]

  2. I think they recognize the pursuit, they just can’t draw a line between predator and suitor. The thrill of being chased after but not caught (Churchill’s “being shot at to no effect” comes to mind) isn’t educated enough to tell the difference between deadly danger and “is this person suited to be my other half.” Possibly in part because they haven’t been taught how that works and are kind of desperate…not sure.

    It’s good for women to be attracted to dangerous guys. The problem is that nobody’s teaching how to identify who is dangerous like a gun, and who is dangerous like juggling nitro in a dynamite factory while playing flaming bagpipes. My husband is quite dangerous– just not to me!

    From an artistic point of view, I thought they laid it on a bit thick with the Goblin King being demonic. He paraphrased Satan talking to Christ, for heaven’s sake.

    • At least he wasn’t quoting Milton! (At least, not that I remember). Agreed, “subtle” was not in the writer’s to-do list.

      Perhaps my reaction to Jareth is so strong because I’m used to being around dangerous people (mostly men but not all) and I learned to differentiate “predator-generic” from “predator-anthropophage.” And having been on the losing end of a bout with a charming, attractive, SOB.

  3. It could also be folks just not taking the story seriously.

    I love the character of Garak, but if he was around in real life I’d be very high on the list of folks who’d shoot him ASAP.

  4. David Bowie nailed the bored and jaded predator intrigued by the fresh meat. I suspect he got to see it in practice, in plenty, in the East London clubs – especially in the clubs where people were so busy being accepting of all the other freaks they failed to discriminate against or protect others from the true predators, sociopaths, and psychopaths.

    I suspect most people want to be wanted. I suspect most women want to be pursued, to be courted, to be held as beautiful, interesting, charming, and able to capture a man’s attentions, affections, and actions. Unfortunately, if they accept relationships that start at “Wanna come over, watch netflix, and chill?”, they’re extremely unlikely to get much pursuit or courtship. From frustrated desires do our fantasies spring – and their fantasies are escalated to such a level as to be, in real life, the intense concentration that only hunting predators and sociopaths can maintain.

    There’s also a path of thought, there, on the fantasies going to one extreme as the culture goes to the other – that only in an era when skirts are vanishingly rare as everyday wear would we get the Disney princess line, and only when the hookup culture has gone mainstream would we get Twilight as a phenomena. Indeed, total lack of familiarity with formal occasions may explain the Bridezilla – the complete emotional breakdown of a woman trying to make a long-held elaborate fantasy into reality without translation or accommodation. Have to think more on that, though – because twenty years ago, women were having the same reaction over the charming predator of tom cruise in interview with the vampire. Then again, twenty years ago, we were already seeing plenty of the same messages and cultural issues with the results of feminism as today.

  5. I haven’t seen the movie, but this is something I am seeing more and more of in fiction lately. I think this is a (mostly unconscious) reaction to the overt feminism/feminazism in today’s culture.

    Also there is the usually unfounded belief/wish that they are speshul, and the predator will change for them. Go back thirty years and you will find a prevalence of young virgin/older womanizer matchups in fiction, where the womanizer changes and suddenly becomes infatuated with the young virgin (usually after he has cured that particular condition) and wishes to marry her and be faithful for the rest of his life. Because she is speshul and not like the last hundred women he has seduced. /bangs head on desk/

    Both somedays leave me with the wish that it was still acceptable to slap some sense into people, other days I just figure the idiots get what they deserve.

    • If they ever start selling clue-by-fours, I’ll be one of the first on the waiting list or Kickstarter page. When everyone in the dorm refers to your wuvy-duvy as ‘Sleezball’ and that includes the Dorm Mom as well as the RA . . . The clue-by-four would have saved a lot of grief.

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