Monday, June 20, 2016

The Batman Fallacy

Today’s post is about a fallacy in reasoning.  This is not a fallacy you will find in a textbook on the subject, but Faith and I consider it a legitimate fallacy  The Batman Fallacy is simply when your reason for doing something is that you have the right simply because of who you are.  This can also be applied to stating things.  Here are some examples:

Robin: Holy insanity, Batman! You can’t blow up the asylum!  
Batman: Yes I can.
Robin: But why?
Batman: Because I’m Batman.  

Student: But how can we trust that what you’re saying is true?
Teacher: Because I’m your professor.

Defendant: Where is your proof?  How can you know that my client would stoop to so low a crime?
Witness: Because he’s Moriarty.

Now this fallacy doesn’t have to be used in an argument.  It could also be a motive, and not necessarily a bad one.  If a villain has unlimited (or mostly unlimited) power, it is perfectly reasonable for him to do something simply because he can.  Honestly, there are a lot of things that people do for that very reason, whether or not they should.  Riding a tightrope across the Grand Canyon, for example.  

Back to the villainy.  Most bad guys have some form of strategy, with an end goal in mind.  However, as my last post pointed out in many more words, there is no one kind of villain, and each one has a different way of going about his business.  Usually in order to successfully use the Batman Fallacy in your writing, the person carrying it out must have some measure of insanity, or at least a more prospective personality (there are very few cases where this INFJ could ever do something just because I can.  If you’re not familiar with personality types, I’ll put a link at the end of this post).  My point is, before you give your villain a motive like this make sure you know his or her personality, and see whether or not they are more prone to impulsiveness.  

Some villains who might use the Batman Fallacy:
The Joker (Batman)
Smaug (The Hobbit)
The White Witch (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
Charles Augustus Magnussen (Sherlock Holmes)

Some villains who might not use the Batman Fallacy:
Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes)
Thanos (Marvel Universe)
Sauron (The Lord of the Rings)

That was by no means a complete list, but it was an example of the types of villains that you encounter.  Now how do you tell if your own bad guy uses this fallacy?  Here are some questions that you could ask him, if you can get him for a second.  I’m assuming he’s rather busy, but if you get the chance...

#1 -- Does your villain always have a detailed plan of attack or a particular strategy?  
If the answer is yes (unless that strategy is total unpredictability), don’t count on your bad guy using the Batman fallacy very often, if at all.  This is not a hard and fast rule, but you can generally assume that someone who makes a plan and sticks to it is not a very spontaneous person.

#2 -- Does your villain make decisions as the story progresses?
If you have a bad guy who tends to leave planning on the shelf until he knows all the recent events, well then you might have a Batman on your hands.  He might do some planning ahead of time, but if he leaves a good amount of planning until the last minute, he could end up doing something simply because he can, or he wants to.

#3 -- Does your villain have a clear end goal in mind?
Every villain wants to get away with what they’ve done, and/or catch the hero.  That’s a given.  What isn’t the same all around is what exactly they intend to do to close the story.  If your evil mastermind knows exactly how he wants everything to end, he’s probably not going to act rashly or without at least checking to make sure it’s not going to affect his grand finale.  This means that he might do something purely out of power, but only under certain circumstances.  

#4 -- Is your villain willing to do anything to win?
If yes, then you can use the Batman fallacy as many times as you want.  The villain can throw a bomb in the hero’s car, simply because he’s the bad guy, or he can swoop from the sky and steal an ice cream truck, just because he has the ability to do so.  

#5 -- Is your villain insane?
If yes, then you have hit the unpredictability jackpot.  Go ahead and have fun.  Writing.  Obviously you won’t actually be the villain.  You’re writing the villain.  Just thought I’d make that clear.  

Now you have a few ways to analyze your character and find their strategy.  This was a very long post, but I can do that, because I’m a writer.  


~ Grace Weiser

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