Originally posted by siriuswriter
it's called the anti-hero. or, at least it would be if the pirates that we encounter through the movies were the pillage, plunder, steal, molest type.
but even among the pirates, there were bad ones. we have captain jack sparrow and his crew of odd misfits, and they're 'good' pirates. which basically means that they pretend to be all snarly and tough, but really only steal the things that no one will notice as missing. jack explains it in potc cobp - what a ship really is, is freedom.
in the time period of the films, we're either just coming off or about to go in to the victorian era. historically this means that if you were to be influential in life and were male, you were a gentleman. queen victoria and her consort prince albert were determined put an end to all the scandal that had piled up under the tudor name. it was like they said "no pork belly bills!" and it soon became the fashion that everyone was genteel, everyone was modest, everyone was... blah blah blah. there's not much place in that kind of society for a man who really doesn't feel like wearing a powdered wig and following a religion of politesse. so men like jack sparrow, having considered the options, probably chose piracy because it gave him the best chance of a life where he wouldn't have to tighten himself up all the time. no manners, no rules, thinking for oneself.
and then of course we have norrington, who is the epitome of 'the victorian gentleman.' in movie one, an audience of this day and age think it's slightly ridiculous. 'i hope i'm not being too forward...' would never be said today in a time of cheesy pickup lines and wolf whistles. it was a time of chivalry, recalling the arthurian camelot. maidens were rescued by good knights and bad knights did the kidnapping of the maidens.
ANYWAY. beckett is british and still under the victorian era umbrella, but it's his attitude that makes him ungentlemanly. he's willing to buy his way through the ranks and arrest whomsoever he wants and then deal out overharsh punishments. he can be compared to barbossa and his crew. no thought of others beside those thoughts that lead him forward. no thought of consequences or other people's situations...
so you can see that who is 'bad' and who is 'good' is determined in the films just like in real life - not by affiliation, but by behavior. traditionally, pirates are 'bad.' traditionally, people who are trying to bring 'bad' people to justice are 'good.' but turn your prespective around. pretend you're dependent on a pirate for your well-being, and perhaps a child or two's lives as well. who are you going to think is worse - the pirate who may be breaking the law, or the civil servant who may not be breaking the law, but is going to execute your only source of income. because in that situation, i'm gonna guess that you'll be hating the civil servant.
anyway. long long historical post from me.
and to top it off, here's a link from tvtropes: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AntiHero