There’s an uncanny charm about negativity. For example, the villain in a story is supposed to be (and eventually is) accepted and supported more than the protagonist. We are attracted to their style and are curios about their backstories. And I truly believe that designing the antagonist is a far more difficult and interesting task.
On the contrary, the hero is designed as a simple (often underdog) character. Now this is generally done to promote the idea of ’winning against all odds’, but one must still take note of this favouritism to negative characters.
The Joker from The Dark Knight was one of the best received antagonists, and so was Jim Moriarty from Sherlock Holmes. Both characters were psychopaths (and sociopaths), portrayed as both smart and strong, getting the best out of their nemeses. Even though they lost, it wasn’t before winning over a major following to their ideologies. And, this happened despite the anti-human nature of their ideas. Isn’t this, morally, wrong?
It is perhaps the drive of self-satisfaction that justifies their theories to their followers. We overlook the ’bad part’ of their actions because they are just looking for pleasure.
At an individual level, we search for things that will benefit us. And we choose to ignore its effects on someone else. For instance, we find thrill in cheating on a test, knowing that it will help us get a better score, while affecting other applicants (in say, a recruitment test).
And, in personal interactions, we find an arrogant/aggressive somebody more attractive that someone who is actually interested.
In personal development, we use anger as a solution to avoid unfavourable conditions. Also, most people find and obtain comfort through tragic stories and songs. Now I don’t mean to criticise one’s taste in music, but the pattern is quite visible. We are more attracted to negative things.
Another justification for this behaviour is that sympathy/empathy is a dominant trait in human beings. And hence, a person who is down will get slightly more attention from others. The idea that sad people are ignored isn’t entirely true, especially when it comes to their personal circles. It might earn them a bad reputation, but they will be supported in times of need. And that is the basic need.
Of course, that doesn’t mean this behaviour is right. This preference is certainly harmful as it damages one’s development and can cause major health problems. Plus, there will be times when your supporters will leave you, or worse, turn on you. Maybe that’s what happened with The Joker.
Doing good and being happy might not be a bad thing after all.