Carmen with CD

Is Carmen Sandiego a True Villianess?


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Laurie:

Know what? I would say she is in season 1. Here's why: I know she saved Zack and Ivy's lives then, but she was a bit on the shadowy side. From Season 2 on, you see more of her. Also, she had what I dub a ''God complex.'' In a couple of episodes, she had a sort of, ''I can do anything because I'm Carmen Sandiego'' line in there. She also didn't seem to be as having as much fun at what she was doing- she was a little, but later seasons had her seeming like she was enjoying herself more. Now, Season 2 rolled around and Carmen seemed to more or less be having fun with her ''work'' (as she even dubbed it). And, you saw her more, which was good. The storywriters dropped the ''God complex'' thing, which I'm glad they did. The writers even wrote that it was possible for Carmen to have guilt! Now what villain ever felt guilty for what he or she did? None that I can think of. Whatever they do, it was their ''duty'' or if their adversaries were hanging on for their lives, think they'd offer to help them up? No. So, I think Carmen is only a villainess in the sense that she commits a type of wrong doing that the heroes try to punish her for. About it, huh? Ok, I think I've talked long enough. Anyone else?

Kara:

Well, I don't think that she's a villaness. To me she's just a paradox of sorts. I mean, she breaks the law, but she has so many redeeming qualities that you don't really notice or care that she is a criminal. I guess she kinda was the villan in season 1, but that's only because she was written that way. I don't think the writers expected her to be the show's most popular character. So, that's why I think they wrote it so Carmen was the focus from season 2 onward. I'd just say that Carmen was mostly a 2-dimensional character in season 1, but the rest of them kind of were, too. That's kind of just natural for any TV show the first season though. "God Complex's"! Oy! You think SHE had a God complex? Hers was really a minor one compared to some of the directors I've worked with. :) I'll admit it seemed as thought she thought she was perfection in season 1, but that changed pretty fast. :) And it did seem like at first that she was like in it for the money or something, I dunno. But, then it became her "work". :) It's like she elevated thievery to an art form. When you put it that way, she really sounds like an artist. :) The fact that she had guilt was really a clincher in her personality. Sometimes it seemed like Carmen got put on a pedestal, like she was above it all. And most of the time she was. :) But, having guilt not only proved that she wasn't a villaness, but also that she was human. I think "Just Like Old Times" kind of did that too. I really think that showed that she still cares about the Chief, even though she left him. To me this is Carmen's "Follow My Footprints". I agree with what you said. She's a villianess a la Zack and Ivy but a hero via the rest of us. Paradox! Enigma!

Laurie:

What I meant by Carmen's ''God Complex'' was she had that sort of attitude that seemed to say she could (and would) do anything. I even know people who have more of a such attitude, but I just pointed out she had a slight one. But yes, also the fact that she still cares for the Chief also points out more of her human nature. I forgot to mention that, and that's such a big factor as well! Thanks for bringing it up. I'm so glad the writers took the direction they did from Season 2 on, and I think we all seem like it as well. :)

Kara:

All right season one Carmen's motto was "I can do anything" Season 2+ motto was "I can do anything if I set my mind to it." Correct me if I'm wrong. I wonder if you can go to a therapist for a "God Complex"?:)

Belle Book:

Here's my take on this. My head says yes, she's a villainess. She steals, after all. But my heart says, she's less a villain than other villains on the show, including one Carmen fans love to hate -- Lee Jordan. So I'd say she started out a villainess, and ended up as a kind of hero, which when I first saw the show, I would never have believed possible.

Scott:

To define Carmen as a villainess, we may need to extend the definition for the role. For instance, Lee Jordan by all admissions was the real villain of ''Boyhood's End''. By a literary definition Carmen could be the antagonist to Zack and Ivy. However, she does have many qualities that make Carmen deviate from the norm such as her high regard for life. She also has a moral imperative only to steal those items that are not really needed, aside from artistic value. Carmen is guided by a conscience: this is expressed greatly in the episode ''Shaman Spirits'' where she experienced guilt for her actions. About her personality, Carmen strives for perfection and although this manifiested itself in a "god complex" she still maintains her quest for the ideal self. Carmen originally wanted to prove that she is the best current thief, then that she is the best of all-time. No offense to Carmen (her own skills are amazing just watch ''Good Old Bad Old Days''), but having night-vision, automatic lock openers, retina-scan falsifiers, etc. do make her stealings more high-tech and less due to her talents. In closing, Carmen may be a villain but she is the most moral one I have ever seen. Normally, morality is a drawback to a villain's character but to Carmen it is a source of continuing the challenge which is at the heart of everything she does.

Robert:

If I remember my Shakespeare terminology correctly, an "antagonist" is the person who works against the "protagonist". A "villain" is an antagonist written such that the audience will despise that character; i.e. an antagonist with many immoral qualities. Likewise, the "hero" is a protagonist written such that the audience will like the character, lots of redeeming moral qualities and such. I can't define Carmen any better than you did, Scott. All I will quibble on is the definition. Carmen is an antagonist, but not a villain. Zack and Ivy are the protagonists, but not (really) heroes. They are all very likeable characters.

Kara:

It seems your definition of Carmen as the "antagonist" seems to be the best. When you speak of this I am reminded of the novel "Les Miserables", particularly the situation between Valjean and Javert. Mind you, Carmen does not remind me of either of these characters. It's just that Javert is not really the villain, but he is the antagonist to Valjean. Likewise you don't necessarily hate him because he too is governed by morals, in that case he is blinded by them. Enough Les Miz Don't put us perfectionists down there! I know I'm one! :) Carmen is simply the type of individual who a. gives nothing but her best and b. believes her best can always be better And as for depending mostly on her high tech gadgets and les on her own raw talents, yes it's true. But, Zack and Ivy are the exact same way. They use just as much technology as she does. I mean it's common sense. You wouldn't break into The Pentagon using a crowbar and a wire hairpin. You simply couldn't! I mean you could try, but you wouldn't get past the front gate. Society and its security systems have become more advanced and so must the thief if she expects to keep up.

Belle Book:

Reminding us that Ivy and Zack use high-tech stuff just as much as Carmen does and that society (and security systems) have become high-tech, forcing a criminal to go high-tech as well in order to keep up, are good points. In fact, in one episode (I think it was "Hot Ice,") Carmen reminds Ivy and Zack that she didn't have high-tech stuff when she was in ACME. She had to rely on her own talents then. As for the fact that Carmen gives her best and always thinks her best could be better, that is an admirable trait -- if one doesn't allow that trait to get out of control. That way leads to frustration, and possibly various mental disorders such as anorexia. Luckily, Carmen seems to be mature enough to keep this trait within bounds, allowing such challenges as those documented in "The Good Old Bad Old Days" and the three-part "Labyrinth" to spur her on to better deeds. The only thing I feel sad about is that she uses this admirable trait in a less admirable way -- theft -- but it doesn't make the trait less admirable.

Laurie:

You know, I wish they had a story that showed Carmen as an Acme agent- a whole episode I mean so we could actually see her talents in action. That would just really show off her talents I think.

Belle Book:

So do I. Unfortunately, the series takes place about 10 years after she left Acme, so the only way to have a story that showed Carmen as an Acme agent would be to have a two-parter with a very long flashback to Carmen's days as an Acme agent -- that or else create a time-travelling episode which would bring Ivy and Zack back to Acme in the days when Carmen was the best Acme detective. Those would be excellent stories, provided the writer was able to create an excellent script.

Stranger:

I wouldn't rate Carmen as a villian. She doesn't really hurt anybody seriously. She's a thief, but she doesn't steal for wealth or power. And it's not like she'll ruin anybody financially from her thefts. At the very least, she provides Acme agents with a job. Carmen knows what limits she won't cross, and she probably doesn't view her actions as evil. She's an artist, and it's just too hard to judge an artist's motives.

Laurie:

Well howdy Stranger. (sorry, couldn't resist) You do have good points there. After all, in ''Boyhood's End,'' after Carmen says she wants Lee to steal a special copy of Dante's ''Divine Comedy'' that's about 500 years old, Lee says something like, ''Yeah, but wouldn't 500 year old coins be worth more?'' Carmen gives him this look and replies, ''The worth is in the craftsmenship. Work with me and you'll see the same applies to the perfect heist.'' That basically sums up Carmen's view of thievery. It doesn't matter the worth of the object, it matters how well the plan of the theft itself. Besides, objects that can be bought, she does buy. Like in ''Moondreams'', she pays for the toy, she doesn't steal it.

Kara:

Seeing as Laurie already said "Howdy!" I won't. :) I certainly agree with your opinions on Carmen as an artist. Because, like an artist, no one truly knows the motivation behind each masterpiece. I think that because for her thievery are somewhat unclear, it adds to the allure of her character. Although, in "Deja Vu" Suhara made it pretty clear that she steals for the challenge of it, but no one knows if that is the sole reason.

Brian:

I know . I think Carmen should be made one of the most diabolical robbers known to TV and video game history.

Laurie:

One question: why? I mean, that is the total opposite of her character. So, why do you think Carmen should be that? Another question: what are you agreeing with?

Scott:

If you made Carmen into a diabolical robber, you destroy everything that makes her what she is. A diabolical robber steals for the money or the downfall of their opponent, but Carmen steals for the challenge of the crime. She could just steal something, lock it anyway in her vault in Switzerland, and leave it there (or sell it to the highest bidder). But that's not Carmen. Carmen leaves clues that are tricky and difficult for her opponents. She wants them to follow her and thus improve themselves and, inevitably, her. She could pull off the perfect crime, but then she learns nothing from it. She wants Ivy and Zack to use their finest intellect and all their resources to follow her. It makes her all the much better for it. So, you would turn the finest and most refined thief in television history into nothing more than a generic ''The Boss'' type of character found in shows such as Superman and Rocky and Bullwinkle. ''Boris, why are we bossed around by lady in red hat?'' Next, you'll want Carmen to tie Zack to a train track so that he gets hit by the 2:40 train out of San Francisco.

Belle Book:

Why do you say "one of the most diabolical robbers?" Maybe she's that in the computer games and in the two PBS series, but not in this series. A diabolical robber does not leave clues for detectives to figure out, and certainly does not try to save them. I wonder if you made a mistake, Brian, and meant to say something else.

Robert:

Interesting point you brought up, Belle Book. On the two PBS television shows, you only saw her when she was telling one of her henchpersons on what loot to steal and/or where to take it. She was more like a typical cartoon villain - probably an excellent thief bu brought down by the relative "stupidity" of her flunkies. She was tough to catch red-handed, much more in the first series (geography) than in the current series (history). As for the software, well, she has the inklings of a personality in the software documentation that comes along with the game, plus the ability to steal things unimaginable (the ENTIRE Mississippi River??????). Within the game, though, she is just another criminal to catch. It definitely took the TV series to flesh out her character. BTW, the story I'm working on in the "Dark ACME" phase has a villainess - but not Carmen - stealing the Colorado River. Yes, the entire river. Seems the Colorado River has some interesting traits near it origin. It also supplies the water for a number of Midwestern and Western towns in reality, so such a theft has potentailly dire consequences... But that's off the subject. B)


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