Fantasy’s Reality Check: Carnival Villains

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Old school rules

The carnival is all about thrilling the senses. Tastes, sounds, and sights wash over you as you walk down the lanes. Right now you’re probably remembering what that soggy fried Snickers tasted like, what that carny called to make you drop $10 on a stuffed animal, and how gaudy but intriguing and exciting everything looked.

All those thrills are a facade, albeit one we happily accept. Hey, it’s fun! We can rationalize spending big on “cheap” thrills and eating garbage. It’s the fair. It’s the carnival. It only comes once a year. It’s all fluff, but we know it, so we’re willing to go along for the ride.

But behind the veneer of fun? Well, we’ve all seen the backs of fun houses and Elephant Ear stands. It’s all business. Our escapism is someone else’s livelihood, one they work hard for. That surly carny is a reality check in our fantasy, the glitch in our Matrix dream. We see the carny as an antagonist or villain of sorts because of this. We view them as beings who exist only to take our money, make us wait in line, run rigged games, and foul up the air with their cigarette smoke. They’re not the smiling employees of Disney. They don’t fake happiness.

(We forget that they’re surly because they have to deal with drunk customers and brat kids.)

I appreciate the carnies and their attitude. Why?

They teach a lesson: So many things in life are attractive in a superficial sense, making you lose touch with reality and its consequences at times. The carny represents an anchor that grounds is in the real world.

The governments, companies, and societies of the world try to tell us everything is rosy, try to convince us to go on living our lives without questioning anything. Behind that gloss, though, are the gears, rust, and garbage of a world that’s serious business. The Powers That Be benefit from a populace that’s compliant.

It’s fine to have fun in life, but never curse the breaches in the fantasy. What we see as antagonists play a vital role in keeping us focused on what matters. Villains wake us up. They break the trance of consumerism and narcissism that we fall into so easily and that serves our “masters.”

V may be for Vendetta, but it’s also for Villain.

So after you get done with that corn dog, take a stroll in the back lot of the carnival. Consider it a privilege to see behind the scenes. Realize what’s real, what matters, and value it. Face reality without fear, because there is nothing to fear, only to understand. Face the truth even when it’s inconvenient, because the Truth shall set you free.

Sometimes there’s only a vague sense that there’s something amiss.

Carnival by AhmadTurk on DeviantArt

Other times the sensation is more insistent.

Carnival by eWKn on DeviantArt

Sometimes the dark side looks fun.

Halloween Carnival by AkubakaArts on DeviantArt

Anything different is intriguing.

Carnival by najtkriss on DeviantArt

But if we look closer, all too often reality is stranger and far more dangerous than fiction.

Carnival by Niking on DeviantArt

Don’t let the facade make you disconnect with the real world.

Floating Carnival by adit on DeviantArt

Keep an open mind, but not too open.

Carnival by vaporization on DeviantArt

Remember, you’re not alone, and not in a good sense.

Carnival by octobre-rouge on DeviantArt

Check the foundation of your world.

Twisted Metal – Carnival Of Carnage by REDVAMPIRE120652 on DeviantArt

Choose your carousel mount wisely, or you might end up on a whole different ride.

Carnival Hellsteed MTG by chasestone on DeviantArt

Your adversaries aren’t tireless, even if they seem like it.

Where the Clowns Sleep by stayinwonderland on DeviantArt

Even so, never let your guard down, because you never know when Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by SharksDen on DeviantArt


Further reading:

Villainous tactics: torture vs toys?

Villainous opportunism: How to take advantage of every opportunity, Albert Wesker-style

Villainous Resilience: 15 Ways to bounce back like the Joker

Dystopian freedom: Learn to love the bomb

Humbug! Normal isn’t normal in the X Files

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

Perform your own villain assessments with the Villain Matrix. Use the Villain Matrix spreadsheet that comes free when you join the Research Team, where you’ll also get our newsletter with its exclusive updates and content.


Lead researcher at Villainous Life Natures Research. Writer, reader, snarker. Lover of all things Geek and Dark. INTJ.
Read my reports at and learn how understanding villains can help you succeed in life.
Find my action-adventure post-apocalypse zombie thriller Wolves of the Apocalypse series at
I write fiction because the characters in my head have too much attitude to stay in my skull, I want to see the world through different eyes, and I want to live life through different souls.

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