For those of us who experience reality primarily through the lens of movies and television, it’s often helpful (and usually unavoidable) to frame real-life events within a pop-cultural context. Ever since Rob Ford emerged on the Toronto political scene, and later as a result of his crack scandal on the international scene, a particular segment of the population has been trying to pin-down that nagging question: just which pop-culture villain is he most similar to?
Of course, I’m taking it for granted that we all assume his pop-cultural counterpart will be a villain. If you don’t agree with that, then you’re probably not going to enjoy the rest of this article.
The first character many people associated with Ford may be the most apt: The Penguin. Both are hefty, both sought the position of Mayor, and both were raised in the sewers by carnies… Okay, that last one may have just been The Penguin.
Both character’s reputations were ruined by a secret recording: Rob Ford’s infamous crack tape, and The Penguin’s rant about how stupid the people of Gotham are, covertly taped by Batman in Batman Returns. Of course, The Penguin’s main objective was to kidnap all the first born sons of Gotham, and Rob Ford’s master plan just seems to be getting hammered. Of course, he will occasionally tell children to fuck off.
Also in the evil mayor camp is The Mayor from Buffy the Vampire slayer. Of course, I’m pretty sure Rob Ford isn’t planning on transforming into a giant snake demon. Pretty sure. Plus The Mayor from Buffy seemed like a competent Mayor, never knocking over grandmothers during city council meetings for example. Even satanists have limits.
Recently, allegations that Ford ordered prison beatings prompted some to compare him to Walter White. His penchant for crack use and abuses of power might also conjur images of Nicolas Cage’s character in Werner Herzog’s pseudo-remake of Bad Lieutenant. And if he were to shave his head and start wearing white suits, Ford would be a dead-ringer for Daredevil’s nemesis The Kingpin.
But perhaps we’re looking at this the wrong way– Rob Ford doesn’t have to measure up to one particular pop-culture villain, in many ways Ford has eclipsed them. Ford should be the yardstick by which we measure villains, not the other way around. His video rant which may or may not be about a murder he orchestrated, is right up there with any great movie villain’s speech… if said villain had several drinks and a few hits off a crack pipe. He even has his own super-villain trademark outfit: red tie on a black suit.
It’s as if he’s trying to dress like someone who’s plotting against Dick Tracy… So let us hope that Hollywood is up to the task of giving us a fictional villain as uniquely dangerous, flawed, and grotesque as this real-lfe example.