Who is the Moriarty to your Holmes?
April 19, 2011 6:54 PM   Subscribe

What sort of questions would you ask someone about on the theme of enemies and nemeses?

I am a co-organizer for a storytelling event and every month we have a different theme around which people base their stories. This month, our theme is "Nemesis." As a way of gathering information about our storytellers by which we can introduce them, we have them fill out a questionnaire with thematically related questions. Usually, I have no problem coming up with one of these questionnaires, but I am tired and sick and coming up blank when I try to think about questions about nemeses that I could ask. There are standard, boring questions like "Who was your first nemesis?" or "Would someone consider you a nemesis?" but frankly those won't give me much to go on.

And thus I turn to you, the denizens of Metafilter. Please give me all absurd, ridiculous, and bizarre questions on the topic of enemies/nemeses that you can think of. The best questions will encourage our storytellers to give us a small glimpse into who they are beyond their age, gender, and occupation, and hopefully lead to funny (intentionally or otherwise) answers. Questions that can be answered with a yes or no are OK, but questions which require a few more words to answer are great.
posted by Felicity Rilke to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Many actors say that the roles of the nemesis, enemy, or villain are the most enjoyable roles to play. If you could have played the part of any film antagonist, which one would it be and why? Does the character you've chosen connect with anything you've done in your life? Anything you've wanted to do?

It's one thing to have a nemesis; its another thing altogether to be the nemesis. After all, nearly everyone considers themselves to be the hero of their own narrative. Have you ever had the experience in which you've come to the realization that maybe it's you who's the bad guy? How did you come to understand this, and what did you do after this occurred to you?
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:04 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I don't have any ideas right now, but my very favorite tales about social enemies are E.F. Benton's amazing "Mapp & Lucia" stories - the BBC miniseries is awesome, too, and they are so wonderful I talk about them at every opportunity. Love, Lucia

Ooooh wait, here's one, "Whom would you be happiest to see at your school reunion, fat and miserable?"

Traci W, I'm looking at YOU.
posted by cyndigo at 7:05 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

There is an idea that we villify people who represent/manifest what we fear about ourselves. How does this apply to your more prominent nemesis?
posted by unknowncommand at 7:13 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

1) Which fictional character would be your nemesis and why?

2) It's been said: "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." Can you tell us any incidents that show whether this is wise or stupid?
posted by philipy at 7:16 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hmm. Could easily devolve into too personal an area...

Hang on. Nemesis was the goddess of just retribution, rightful punishment. Not originally a synonym for antagonist, though of course that's the more common usage nowadays.

Huh. There's a line of questioning right there. How do you define "nemesis"? Do you think the concept of just retribution is something that is easily used these days of postmodernism - can we really determine who deserves vengeance? "Nemesis" used to mean antagonist usually implies a final reckoning - if someone is your nemesis, he/she destroys you. Can you think of any examples of nemesis in public affairs, i.e. polititians or celebrities? Or is it more likely than we are each our own nemesis?
posted by likeso at 7:18 PM on April 19, 2011

Well, you could more deeply define the word "Nemesis", which is not quite as simple as the word "enemy".

I could quote WikiP:

In Greek mythology, Nemesis (Greek, Νέμεσις), also called Rhamnousia/Rhamnusia ("the goddess of Rhamnous") at her sanctuary at Rhamnous, north of Marathon, was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods). The Greeks personified vengeful fate as a remorseless goddess; the goddess of revenge. The name Nemesis is related to the Greek word νέμειν [némein], meaning "to give what is due", as in the word "economy".
posted by ovvl at 7:19 PM on April 19, 2011

Oh, I like philipy's questions. :)
posted by likeso at 7:20 PM on April 19, 2011

What did your nemesis do to piss you off? What did you do to your nemesis to piss them off?
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:23 PM on April 19, 2011

- If you could select one person from the movies or well-know TV series as your nemesis, who would that be and why?

- What would your nemesis need to know about you to overcome you?

- Would your nemesis be an evil person? [This is a sly trick to see if they consider themselves "righteous" :) ]

- You meet your nemesis at an isolated place with no chance of anyone or anything interfering. What would be your first (or perhaps last) words be?
posted by theobserver at 7:24 PM on April 19, 2011

What would be the scariest quality in a nemesis?
What would be the best thing about having a nemesis?
How would a nemesis describe you?
posted by katemonster at 7:25 PM on April 19, 2011

How about something like "Which makes you most uncomfortable: (1) having a sworn enemy (2) not having any enemies at all, or (3) not knowing whether or not you even have an enemy?"
posted by .kobayashi. at 7:29 PM on April 19, 2011

Which is a more satisfying end for an enemy/nemesis: Death, defeat, or comeuppance? Explain your answer.
posted by amyms at 7:52 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Thanks everyone! I've marked as best answers the questions I used on/adapted for the questionnaire.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 8:36 PM on April 19, 2011

Can a nemesis start out as a friend? Can a nemesis end up as a friend? Would they still be your nemesis? Are they always your nemesis?
posted by dobie at 9:34 PM on April 19, 2011

If you could be anybody's nemesis, whose nemesis would you be?
Who do you think defines you better - your choice in friends, or your nemesis?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:52 PM on April 19, 2011

Is it good to have a nemesis?
Followed up with:
Can you think of any compelling fictional characters that do not have nemeses?

(Eliciting a no to both questions would be kinda neat... it would imply that the sort of life one should live is not the sort of life that makes for a compelling character.)

Can people be wrong about who their nemeses are?
Let's say that Bob considered Carl Sagan his nemesis, but Carl Sagan lived his whole life without ever meeting Bob or knowing who he was. Was Carl Sagan actually Bob's nemesis?

Can an inanimate object be a nemesis?
posted by painquale at 11:15 PM on April 19, 2011

In which over the top way would you destroy your nemesis?
(e.g. freezing their nemesis with liquid nitrogen and dramatically shattering him to pieces, drilling a hole to the centre of the earth and dropping their nemesis in,...)
posted by lioness at 3:53 AM on April 20, 2011

Would you prefer one archnemesis or a constellation of nemeses?
posted by brainwane at 11:27 AM on April 20, 2011

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