The Generic Villain on Favoring Facelessness

Some of us like our faces to be recognizable, to the point where we tie them to our identities and stick them on every banner, statue, brochure, button and coffee mug within a five-mile radius of our ominous and often compensatory lairs. Then there are those of us, who, as I do… (pause to adjust full-visor helmet) consider it a better tactic to present something that, well, isn’t a face to our minions and our foes. It’s a long-standing tradition, whether we use masks, oversize helmets, smooth skin where our faces should be, blatantly obvious illusions or other ways of just plain not presenting our standard skin to the crowds.

So what are the perks of going faceless?

One is being simultaneously anonymous and distinctive. Whatever the face-replacement (or lack thereof) you choose, people know it’s you, but on the other hand, they don’t really know who you are… or were. You could be pretty much anyone under there, and they wouldn’t realize a thing—and every now and then, that comes in handy for reasons other than simple vanity or trying to hide your having a specific identity. Pretty decent deal, don’t you think?

Another is creep factor. It’s not just the Uncanny Valley or the Body Horror effect, though darkness knows we’ve taken full advantage of both of those. It’s also the fact that so many people are genetically and culturally programmed to guide to the face and not much else. You have a face that doesn’t look like what a face should look like, or you just plain don’t have this thing far more convenient than name tags for both recognition and telegraphing emotions. It gives them the heebie jeebies.

Speaking of which, it’s loads harder for them to read you. For those who can’t maintain a good poker face, and I can think of at least a few people I know who might fit that category, this is a useful trick—how better to keep people from interpreting your face than just not to give them a face to interpret?

Besides, as several entities I can think of demonstrate by virtue of their sheer existence, it’s much easier to be taken seriously with no face than with too many. I’m not sure why this is, but I haven’t seen too many exceptions.

As an added bonus, if you’re a big enough Name and you go masked, that might very well save your life; heroes and Dramatic Necessity alike can be really weird about making sure they see their opponent’s face before they strike the final blow.

Those are some considerations I see that draw people to going faceless. How about you: face or no face?


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