Fascinating essay by Ted Gioia in the American Scholar on why Hollywood identifies evil with classical music.
For Hollywood, classical music has become the trademark of villains. On screen, orchestral melodies accompany the meditations of mad geniuses and pouting serial killers. Norman Bates practices the Moonlight sonata in Psycho II. Sociopath Lou Ford relaxes to Richard Strauss throughout The Killer Inside Me. Alex Forrest, in Fatal Attraction, plots her revenge while listening to Madama Butterfly. And on the BBC’s Sherlock, Moriarty waltzes to Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie on his iPod as he steals the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London. Baroque music, in particular, seems to satisfy the cravings of a deranged mind. The very talented Tom Ripley plays Bach between shifts as a symphony-hall bathroom attendant. In Schindler’s List, a Nazi officer pauses to play a bit of Bach on a piano while his troops massacre the Kraków ghetto. Hannibal Lecter waves a bloodied cudgel like a conductor’s baton while brutalizing two security guards to the Goldberg Variations in The Silence of the Lambs, and in the sequel the same piece plays as Lecter cooks Paul Krendler’s brains table-side. In cinema psychographics, mid-murder is the ideal time for musical appreciation….
Read on here.