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Priorities are always difficult to manage. This theme is especially apparent in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. In this movie, the main character, Billy Buddy wants to save the world from itself, to enact social change, but Penny, the love of his life, is constantly a distraction. He struggles to balance his two desires, thus creating the movie’s plotline. Billy’s desires for love and social change create a conflict in order to prove that neither can survive when they exist in the same place.
Dr. Horrible wants to change the world. He wants to treat the problems that plague society. Dr. Horrible understands that change is necessary, and he wants to be the one to enact it. He is sickened by the “filth and lies” apparent in the world, and specifically in the façade Captain Hammer puts on. Because Hammerman takes Penny for himself only to anger Dr. Horrible, Billy realizes that the superhero, who is supposed to be the city’s symbol of goodness, is just a prideful, arrogant, and unintelligent jerk. These facts lead to Dr. Horrible’s desire to change the system that take precedence in the beginning, since they have the greatest effect on the world and Billy’s own reputational power.
This precedence is shifted to love once Dr. Horrible and Penny start to get to know each other. Because this happens at the same time that Penny and Captain Hammer meet, Billy’s jealousy and love grow stronger simultaneously. Billy’s personal life pushes his desire for social change aside once he decides that Captain Hammer must die. This shift of priorities is demonstrated in the song “Brand New Day,” in which Dr. Horrible throws away his morals and his attention to creativity to plot Captain Hammer’s death. This is purely a way to act on his jealousy and does not necessarily benefit humanity. Though Captain Hammer is not an ideal citizen, Billy did not want him to die before Penny became involved, which means that Billy did not originally think Captain Hammer was the source of humanity’s misery and is now serving his own motives. In “So They Say,” Dr. Horrible is busy building his death ray, while Penny is left alone at the Laundromat. Since Billy is ignoring Penny to confront Captain Hammer, he is avoiding both love and social change, which leads Dr. Horrible to something truly evil: jealousy. In that kind of environment, nothing beneficial can live.
In this environment of jealousy, Dr. Horrible becomes less merciful, though he still cannot justify murder. He prepares to kill Captain Hammer, but hesitates. He does not want to have blood on his hands, proving that he still cares about his morals. But, when Penny dies instead, he loses his love and feels that the good in the world is lost. In the final song, Dr. Horrible says sarcastically “you think justice has a voice.” In this statement, Billy assumes that there is no hope for justice, so he gives up on his hope for social change and takes on the traditional role of a super villain. Thus, neither love nor social change can survive when they are pitted against each other.
Throughout the movie, Dr. Horrible struggles with the things he wants, and in the end, he does not get either of them. Though he does get into the Evil League of Evil, he is not enacting the social change he wanted, and Penny is dead. With this outcome, it is apparent that love and desires for social change cannot work in conjunction with one another, especially if you are a super villain.
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