Revenge: A powerful motivator and a huge driving force in literature, music, film, art and television for centuries. (Hey there, “Hamlet.”) The time-honored theme is still going strong today – yet these days, depending on the facet of pop culture, vengeance can play out very differently. Just as the appropriately-titled ABC’s “Revenge” wraps up its third season on Sunday night, here’s a closer look at three modern examples, ranking various categories on a scale of 1 to 10.
Revenge on TV: The long game
Given that television shows stretch out over seasons, you can’t have a quest for vengeance wrapping up too quickly. It needs to be a long, slow burn.
Example: “Revenge” (Gist: Woman moves to the Hamptons to ruin the lives of those who framed her father as a terrorist.)
Other examples: “Veronica Mars”; “The Mentalist”; “Scandal”
Revenge in music: Violence
Since you’re only hearing lyrics for three minutes and have to visualize a scene in your own mind, is it any wonder that revenge songs tend to be very violent? (This especially seems to be true in the country music.)
Example: “Looking Back Now” by Maggie Rose (Gist: Woman finds husband is cheating. She shoots him, goes to jail, shoots the warden who’s hitting on her. Gets the death penalty.)
Other examples: “Goodbye Earl,” Dixie Chicks; “Before He Cheats,” Carrie Underwood; “Gunpowder & Lead,” Miranda Lambert
Revenge in movies: Public humiliation/downfall
With only about 90 minutes to wrap up a story, it’s go big or go home – this often leads to violence, but it also frequently results in wild and completely unrealistic scenes of public humiliation or downfall.
Example: “The Other Woman” (Gist: Three women realize they’re all dating the same man; they team up to make his life miserable, slipping him estrogen tablets and laxatives at inopportune times.)
Other examples: “Mean Girls”; “John Carter Must Die”