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Why do we tend to root for bandits, pirates, and other outlaws? Options · View
Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 2:43:59 PM

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I was listening to the radio this morning and they were talking about this guy they call the "Barefoot Bandit". He's 19, and has stolen several planes, a boat, some cars, and has broken into at least a hundred houses, stealing food and money so he can stay on the run. Recently, he stole a plane, crashed it in the Bahamas, and remains on the loose, despite hundreds of officers and agents staying after him.

Turns out, he's an internet sensation, posting pics and vids of himself and uploading them, thumbing his nose at the law, with people basically rooting for him to stay at large, continuing his crime spree. This happens a lot, I think. We like to hear about outlaws, and at least some part of us roots for them to not get caught by the 'good guys'. I can think of pirate tales, Bonnie and Clyde, even straight-up Gangsters in the mob and other groups. In movies too, with Thelma and Louise.

I admit to all of those things- and I find this guy's story kind of funny too, even though he's basically on a crime spree stealing and destroying things as he goes. Sure, there's some robin hood in me, and even when they aren't giving back to the poor or anything, I don't mind a cabron getting over on others, using his wiles to stay ahead of the law, but when I think about it, it makes no sense. They are the bad guys.....right?

Why do we root for outlaws? Is it an American thing, or do other cultures do the same thing?
Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 3:19:32 PM

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Maybe we root for the bad guys because they have the courage to do things we wouldn't dare.

Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 3:25:09 PM

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Location: The Midwest
It's a Western thing which is most prevalent in America. The British have Peter Pan, and there's infinite German fairytales about rogueish types saving the day and winning the girl. More than any people, I think Americans fear authority and support the individual, probably because America's original settlers were adventurous, pioneering types (not counting American Indians- who were mostly killed by these adventurous, pioneering types).

Anyhoo, in Western culture we see individuals and small groups (packs, families) as inherently good and society at large as inherently evil. This is reversed in Eastern culture, where individuals are viewed as only able to achieve their full potential when working towards a higher goal for everyone. (These are blanket statements, I mean them only IN GENERAL).

Also, lone outlaws just make better TV.

"Don't forget your penis cream."
-Eugene Levy
Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 3:25:27 PM

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Joined: 10/16/2008
Posts: 1,107
I think in non-violent crime sprees like this, it's easier for the public to be fascinated with, and maybe a little envious of the Barefoot Bandit. For those of us living boring, normal, lives, we can only dream of having an adventure like that. But when the spree is a violent one, then far less people see him as a hero, and instead see him as a menace to society who needs to be stopped.

It's been mentioned in other threads that the government (US, although others often feel the same way too) doesn't seem to care about the average person. So when we see an "average" person refusing to play by the rules, and actually being able to flaunt the rules, and taunt the big bad government, it gives us a little hope, makes us think that maybe we can make the government hear us too.

Or it could just be that it appeals to the child in us. I'm sure all of us have played pirates, robin hood, or even cops and robbers as a kid. This guy is doing it for real, and doing it well.

And considering Robin Hood is an English character, and I'm a Canadian who occasionally roots for the outlaws, I think I can safely say that it's not just an American thing.
Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 10:23:50 PM

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If it were MY friggin' plane he crashed, I sure as hell wouldn't be rooting for him! (LOL)
Posted: Saturday, July 10, 2010 8:15:08 AM

Rank: Alpha Blonde

Joined: 2/17/2010
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I think we tend to get inspired by cases where the average man successfully overcomes an extreme situation to go against the cultural establishment... particularly if the guy starts to market himself as a 'criminal celebrity' of sorts, like this one is doing.

Running from the law is always has an exciting "hollywood-esque" kind of thrill to it. When it happens in real life, it definitely gets our attention. We start to identify with the criminal and forget whoever was victimized.

I still remember reading about that Bambi Bembenek case where the ex-playboy waitress escaped prison on a murder conviction and went on the run. The media was generally cheering her on with the whole "Run Bambi Run" slogans.

I think we just love a case where Hollywood translates to real life, and we can root for the underdog.

Posted: Saturday, July 10, 2010 8:53:23 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 926,652

Society functions because we all obey the rules. Sometimes we question why the hell we obey the rules but 99.9% of us agree that a society that is respected will be respectful... And most people have a certain moral compass that makes us realise that actions which cause pain to others are unacceptable... I'm not a Christian, but the "Do Unto Others..." concept has an undeniable logic.... (If only everyone played the game!)

However, the more imaginative amongst us, (and that would be everybody here!!!) will occasionally think about what it would be like to live without societical moral restrictions and that's why we're drawn to romantic portrayals of Gangsters, Pirates and Ne'er Do Wells!!! We'd LOVE to be Robin Hood and rob-from-the-rich-and-give-to-the-poor! But REAL gangsters don't work like that! Only the one's in our imagination... Shame!

Nobody ever imagines what they'd do if they were the CEO of Monsanto..... And there's A REAL CRIMINAL!!!!

But as most of us here know.... It's fun to fantasise....icon_smile
Posted: Saturday, July 10, 2010 2:45:36 PM

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Why do "you" root for the outlaws? Probably because on the silver screen, they are played by handsome, humorous, quip-quoting rogues who bare no resemblence to their actualy historical counterparts. A real 17th century pirate or medieval bandit would rape you, keep you as a a sex slave, and then slit your thoat.

But...Hollywood tend to impart humanistic qualities on their protagonists, whether they are seen as "bad guys" or "good guys." And let's face it...girls like the bad boys. They especially like the bad boys that are actually "good guys" at heart, which is what most mass media tends to impart on most romanticised characterizations of protagonistic villains.

Its all in the perception of how the person is represented, whether it be in a movie, book or the evening news.

Posted: Sunday, July 11, 2010 12:14:59 PM

Rank: Constant Gardener

Joined: 9/30/2009
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Location: Cakeland
He's going to need to have sunlight pumped to him for the next several years.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Colton-Harris-Moore-The-Barefoot-Bandit/334761154065 - over 9000 followers!


Obscenity is the last refuge of an inarticulate motherfucker.
Posted: Sunday, July 11, 2010 7:34:36 PM

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Our society, in general, tends to view "Authority" as a necessary evil at best. We romanticize those figures who make their own way in a world where "Authority's" necessary evil is not necessary for these few, at least.

Making Do

This Old House
Posted: Sunday, July 18, 2010 2:05:48 AM

Rank: Lurker

Joined: 12/1/2006
Posts: 926,652
I dont root for the outlaws, Im all for woody from toy storygeek
Posted: Monday, July 19, 2010 3:17:28 AM

Rank: Active Ink Slinger

Joined: 5/29/2010
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Location: Queensland
Aussies certainly root for the outlaws. One of our heroes/icons is Ned Kelly! A Bushranger.
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