There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’.Terence Fletcher, Whiplash
EVIL. EVERY VILLAIN IS LEMONS.
Villains in fiction. Need I go on?
Found in all shapes and sizes, following all kinds of goals and motivations and perspectives. A good villain really seals the deal on a story. Darth Vader, Sephiroth, Vicious, Hush, I could go on. When it comes to a villainous scene that really ropes me in, I am spoiled with choices. And honestly, it would have been easy for me to take a scene from Gurren Lagann, One Piece, Devil May Cry, or hell, even DOOM (pun intended).
But none of them would be as genuine as this. The terror of Terence Fletcher is one part intimidation, one part reality.
Listen up, Whiplash is somewhere in my top 5 favorite movies, the order of which is unknown to me. Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons are both great actors and my drumline background makes things in this film hit harder than they might for others. But regardless, the ferocity of Fletcher as a villain is POTENT.
For those who haven’t seen the film, I legitimately urge you to do so before reading this. Not even for avoiding spoilers, but just to really experience the weight of everything as a whole, not in pieces. But either way, lemme fill you in. Whiplash, at a very surface level, is arguably about playing jazz music. But really, it’s about the struggle of becoming something legendary, someone with the kind of talent that gets you put in the history books. And equally so, the struggle to be you while doing it.
Furthermore, Simmons’ character turns the “struggle” to get good into torture. The most heinous verbal beatdowns of all time stem from this one man. And as frightening as it is to be on the receiving end of his rants, you also have the salt in the wound that is the fact that what he’s saying is pretty funny.
Anyway, this man, this MENACE believes that no amount of being put-down will deter someone who truly has the desire and potential to be great. That it takes a double-whammy of both mental and physical strain to draw out the next big thing. It’s terrifying. It’s inhuman. It’s possible. Like yeah, sure, there might be someone out there who thinks like Thanos. But there’s no magical set of stones that can grant that person’s wish.
There could feasibly be a real life equivalent of Fletcher out there. And that is haunting.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say that a villain needs to be realistic for them to be good. Frieza is one of the most iconic villains of all time and he is a 5 foot tall alien mega-Hitler. DIO is a big gay yellow vampire who can stop time. Pegasus is an old dude with a bum eye who locks your soul away when you lose a children’s card game, like come on. And there’s nothing wrong with a villain being evil just for evil’s sake either, not every bad guy needs to be sympathetic. Like damn dude, Lex Luthor is just a stone cold son of a bitch and he’s awesome. Doctor Doom too. Oh and Darkseid. Dormammu. Man, villains rock.
But I digress. Even though I could pick almost any line from Fletcher to really convey how much of a bastard he is, there’s one moment in particular I’m honing in on.
So, Miles Teller’s character, Andrew, gets recruited into Fletcher’s band. It’s a big deal, he’s a big deal at this school, right? Well, Andrew doesn’t really know yet how much of a dick Fletcher is, and is told that he needs to be in his classroom at 6 a.m. (newsflash, that’s a lie. He told him to be there at 6 but class doesn’t start until way later). Andrew is feeling nervous once class starts, as one should, and before he gets his chance to play with the band for the first time, Fletcher pulls him aside. He gives him a little pep talk, gets to know him a little. He asks him about his life and family. He gets a lot more personal information than I think I ever gave to any of my teachers. He leads him into this weird little lull of safety, and he does it so damn smoothly. So easily. It’s wild. And then?
You can tell he does this to EVERY student, too. No one else in the room ever says a word at any point in the movie when Fletcher is berating the ever loving shit out of someone, no one stands up to him. They all either KNOW his tactics and this is normal to them, or they’re too scared of him and/or losing their spot in a high-end, prestigious band. Or both. He’s insane, and it’s mesmerizing. He’s unabashedly vulgar and merciless. He has no problem striking cuts as DEEP as possible. He will literally insult you with anything he can, on top of already publicly embarrassing you. Andrew, as a character, is already shown to be pretty socially stunted by this point, and this all only makes things worse. This Jeff Bezos-looking mf is the EPITOME of terror and you can’t help but eat up every single second of it.
Honestly, I’m even struggling to find ways to make this post go on longer than it already is. I legitimately feel like it only takes one clip from this film to show how vile this man is. His vocabulary is almost cartoonish and he is so unapologetic in his ways, so without remorse. He passively deals 6d8 psychic damage on a whim, you love to see it. Simmons is such a phenomenal actor and it shows with every character he plays, whether in live action or animation. The performances from these two actors is nothing short of fantastic and it never falters.
Anyway yeah. Fletcher