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In his books, author and pop culture critic Chuck Klosterman has taken on topics as diverse as reality television, rock and roll, porn, the Unabomber and Tom Cruise.
His newest book, "I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined)," hones in on the question: Why are we drawn to--or repelled by--the bad guys?
We asked Klosterman how he can tell if someone's liable to be a villain, and his answer was simple: Start with their first name.
Sometimes you can recognize a villain by his actions and deeds. That's easy. What's harder is when you don't know the person at all. Maybe you've just met someone at a cocktail party--how can you tell if they intend to destroy your life?
My advice is to subjectively judge them by their first name. For example, my name is Chuck. I couldn't be villainous if I tried; at best, I might be Richie Cunningham's forgotten older brother. But other names are less affable....
This might seem like an obvious selection, but it's actually underrated. Even the second and third-most villainous candidates--say, Eichmann and Rupp--are significantly beyond troubling.
I realize "The Simpsons" tried to shift this moniker from the category of "villain" into the category of "scamp," but this is still the go-to name for cowboys who kill people indiscriminately.
The movie did not create this perception--it merely galvanized what we really knew: Young women named Heather are traditionally attractive and inevitably destructive. Everyone accepts this.
If a red-haired woman is named Naomi, hide in the basement. She is the postmodern "Jezebel."