The decade’s best in film villainy

There is nothing like a truly great villain.  Heroes are simple. You get the kitten out of the tree because it’s the right thing to do.  But what kind of diabolical mind would even think to put the kitten there in the first place? Great villains peel back the layers and reveal our darkest nature. They make us think.

And so, with my “kitten in the tree” argument in place, I submit that the past decade has offered us five truly phenomenal movie villains.  Here they are, in order of haircut originality:

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When the laughter stopped

Chappelle’s Show is a strange hybrid. The cinematic clips uproot it from the live experience, but the recorded audience pulls it back down again. The big laughs are all things that a 2004 audience found funny or shocking. And some of them just aren’t that funny or shocking any more.

On top of this, so many of Chappelle’s sketches have become comedy classics that it’s hard to genuinely find them surprising anymore. “I’m Rick James, bitch!” was hilarious. Then your mom’s skeezy brother said it ten times at one holiday party a year after the show aired, and it didn’t feel so funny anymore.

Chappelle’s Show also gets bound up with what we know about Dave Chappelle’s history afterward. Dave famously quit the show because he felt that he was creatively tapped and was increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that jokes he’d intended as racial satire were getting laughed at for their silly, minstrelsy qualities. He even felt that his co-creators were complicit in this—he no longer felt comfortable working with them, so after recording several sketches for a much-anticipated third season, he briefly disappeared. There were rumors about his mental health and the possibility of drug abuse. Nobody could seem to grasp that somebody so successful didn’t like what he was doing anymore.

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