One has been called “torture porn,” and the other, a Christmas classic. But what if I told you that one film’s antagonist is actually a model citizen? And what if the other’s protagonist is actually a suburban psycho?...
...For the unfamiliar, Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) is the terminally ill mastermind behind the torture traps in the infamous Saw franchise. Kevin Mcallister (Macaulay Culkin) is a child who defends his home from burglars in Home Alone. Two characters from two polar opposite genres couldn’t possibly have anything in common. C…could they? Through painstaking research, I have deduced that these two exhibit similar traits, but one is far more sinister than the other.
Let’s answer this question once and for all: Is Jigsaw or Kevin McCallister the bigger psychopath?
Let’s start with their similarities.
(NOTE: THE FOLLOWING IS IN GOOD FUN AND NOT MEANT TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY)
Both Jigsaw and Kevin are driven by a sense of injustice. Jigsaw’s purpose is to teach the worst members of society a lesson through torture. Kevin feels as if his entire family and the world are against him. Both feel that they are being slighted and instead of talking to a therapist, they decide to fight back. Both craft devilish traps that torture and maim their adversaries. They weaponize their intellect to punish those who have wronged them, but the reason for this punishment is ultimately what sets them apart.
Jigsaw’s traps are undoubtedly more fatal. Razor-wire mazes and bear trap headgear being about as deadly as you could imagine a trap to be. Yet for their inherent aggressiveness, Jigsaw’s traps can be escaped. His victims always have an opportunity to free themselves from the trap, no matter how painful and debilitating it may be.
This is not something that Kevin can say about his house of horrors.
Kevin never allows the Wet Bandits who break into his home an opportunity to repent for their crimes. He never attempts to teach them a life lesson or steer their morality in a new direction. Instead, his one and only priority is to brutalize these flawed men. At no point was Kevin forced to resort to booby traps. Rather than calling the police or fire department or telling someone in town (we know from his trip to the pharmacy that his town isn’t empty), he chooses to handle the criminals himself. He chooses to physically brutalize them, rather than allowing the justice system to handle them. He is a vigilante.
There is also the problematic reality that Kevin is a child. I’m 28, and would absolutely shit myself if two men broke into my house while I was home alone. Not proud of it, but I am nothing if not a realist. Does Kevin? Nope. The kid is stone cold cool, mostly calm, and collected. He’s more afraid of the roaring boiler in his basement than two potential killers. He decides to rig his house with booby-traps; repurposed toys and appliances to burn, break, and penetrate the intruders.
For as sadistic as Jigsaw’s traps are, at least they would kill their victim once the allotted time for them to solve it ran out. None of Kevin’s traps are fatal. In fact, they are designed to ensure the Wet Bandits will survive each and every blow. Kevin is about inflicting a variety of non-fatal pain on his victims, ranging from icy steps to a blow torch to tar and feathering them. The type of pain associated with these injuries compound and form lifelong health complications that unemployable criminals would never be able to afford healthcare for.
It’s similar to when Batman says he is above killing, but then has no problem shattering countless kneecaps and vertebras. While not killing is admirable, kneecaps and vertebras are kind of an important part of life.
The finality of Jigsaw’s traps ultimately shows he is far more merciful than Kevin, who gleefully submits his prey to lifelong health complications.
In this regard, Jigsaw is a humanitarian, really.
There is also the unavoidable truth that outside of their penchant for traps and bloodshed, one is a criminal and one is not. As far as we know, outside of his traps and abductions, Jigsaw is a model citizen without a criminal record. As far as we know, outside of Kevin defending his home, he is a thief. Deciding to steal a toothbrush from a small business, rather than a big pharma chain, shows Kevin sides with major corporations, and thus is a capitalist bootlicking predator.
Whether or not the Wet Bandits ever decided to burglarize his home, Kevin would have still stolen the toothbrush. His excuse is because what, he was scared? Please. Meanwhile, had Jigsaw not developed a terminal illness, he wouldn’t have become a serial killer. He would have continued his life as just another hardworking citizen.
Given this evidence, I hereby find that Kevin McCallister is the bigger psychopath of the two. His path to psycho status was accelerated when the Wet Bandits picked his house to rob, but there are enough indications that it was in his nature to become what he is. While both Kevin and Jigsaw believe in vigilantism, one looks to reform those they target, while the other basks in the brutality he inflicts. I feel for the McCallister family, as they did all the things good parents are supposed to do. Provide a roof, food, and education to their child in the hopes that they would grow to do the same for their kids.
But in Kevin’s case, there is simply no fixing pure unadulterated evil.
By Jay Krieger
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