I learned something about human psychology while watching Casablanca last night on TCM. Who is the most likeable character in that film? It's not clear to me whether it's Bogart's Rick or Claude Rain's Captain Renault. Bogart is, of course, the reluctant hero, but Renault is the charming knave. The idealistic resistance leader, Victor Laszlo, isn't even in the running. There is no preachy hypocrite in the story, but if there were, he would certainly be the villain.
So let's get this straight: We love a man who has no principles and flaunts the fact. We love a man who is cynical about ideals, but who affirms them in the end. At an emotional level, we are indifferent towards a man who has high ideals and lives by them without fail (a person who, by the way, is not found in real life). And we hate anyone who sings the praises of high principles, but who is inconsistent in following them.
I'm sorry, but humans are messed up. Have we always been this way?