From my research and schooling, I’ve always been taught that they are ratios and relations within art and aesthetics that our brains are preprogrammed to respond to as “beautiful”. Golden ratio, Fibonacci series and all that. What’s fascinating is how we can learn to love and find something beautiful that doesn’t align with that. And on the converse, how easily we can be duped by surfaces and make decisions based on that. I do agree that keeping with those tropes and mechanisms to indicate evil is easier. Basically lazy IF there’s nothing to back it up. Darth Vader and the Witch King of Angmar are the whole package. They hit the cues for sinister and they deal out the pain.
But yeah…I think using those evil cues have been overused. Maybe too because we have a literate society who doesn’t need a solo pictorial representation to say, “Oh yeah, bad guy.”
Also, in my experience, evil usually hides deftly behind the beautiful. In fact, I think that’s a preferred method. The stories that turn those normal tropes inside out always feel more realistic. Not as cut and dried.
It’s also painful to hear that was the reaction to the leading lady not being a bombshell. Not good writing for a gal to not be the most beautiful woman in the world? They should read Bleakhouse! Pardon. Feel very strongly about that.
Maybe it’s the use of those aesthetic cues should be judicious and sparing?
You do not have a soul. You have a body.
You are a soul. - C.S. Lewis