February 15th, 2014
The Two Faces Of Evil
Overt and Covert Villainy
If you've ever watched the Harry Potter movie series then you've seen great examples of overt and covert villainy in the forms of Tom Riddle (A.K.A. Voldemort) and Delores Umbridge (the lady from The Ministry of Magic who takes over Hogwarts School in The Order Of The Pheonix).
Voldemorts' style of villainy is obvious - he makes it very clear to everyone that his intention is to inflict maximum physical harm on anyone who won't willingly surrender their free will to him. In this way, he is an overt villain. In social psychology terms, voldemorts' behavior is aggressive-aggressive - he abuses in ways that are more easily noticed by the general public. In other words, overt villains will hit, kick, punch, strangle - leave bruises, broken bones and damaged property.
Delores Umbridge, on the other hand, is a covert villain - she abuses people in ways that are less likely to reveal her evil intentions. For example, she uses her authority at The Ministry of Magic to weild power over Hogwarts and the students who live and learn there. You may recall from the movie that she threatens and intimidates the students and attacks their ability to make free choices but she does it all in a way that is 'in accord' with the policies of The Ministry of Magic. Covert villains make it a point to stay within the bounds of the law when they abuse someone. Sadly, the law hasn't caught up with covert villains because it can be difficult to prove you've been the target of one of them.
In social psychology terms covert villains like Delores Umbridge are passive-aggressive because they appear on the surface to be gentle as a lamb. Covert villains use social, emotional, and psychological abuse as their weapons of choice. Typically, when they want to coerce someones' will - usually a hero -the covert villain will use harrassment and peer pressure to try to force them into submission. Then, if that doesn't work they'll discredit the hero, or slander them socially, in order to push them out of range, away from the social group, so that the hero won't be able to have a positive influence on the rest of the group and will be more isolated from positive peer support.
In the videos below you'll notice how Delores abuses Harry without even touching him and everything is very neat and tidy while Voldemorts' overt style, on the other hand, is plain to see as he has destroyed everything around him in the process and is not sneaky about his intentions.
Finally, it is important to remember that overt villainy, though commonly observed in males, is also something that females can engage in and covert villainy, though commonly observed in females is a life management style that a man can develop as well.