Since Tania over at No Snow in Hollywood wised me to the “manic pixie dream girl” phenomenon, I’ve started to examine character types that piss me off to no end. For me, these aren’t so much the main characters, but the peripheral support that arrive to nudge the story in the right direction. So I decided to make a list of types I hope to never have to see in film again. Starting with…
Skepti-douche is usually friends with the protagonist, wears glasses, and asserts himself with the words “I don’t believe in X, I believe in science.” And their sole purpose in the story is to help the hero and then die at the hands of whatever it is they should’ve believed in, thus proving that there are things in this world we simply can’t explain. Skepti-douche usually guides our hero through a large portion of the second act, whether providing leads or answering important questions, but they remain unwaveringly stubborn in their disbelief of whatever it is the hero is dealing with. Until of course the unnatural phenomenon of ghosts, aliens, or monsters appears and they ‘re forced to quiver in pant-pissing fear. Nyah, see… where’s your logic and rational methodology now, see?
That Bitch of an Ex-Wife and her New Husband
Writers live a hollow, alcohol-fueled existence which focuses on bitterness and cynicism. Since most are divorced and going through some sort of prolonged, miserable custody battle, they tend to write characters who suffer the torments of that bitch of an ex-wife. Hey, write what you know.
That bitch of an ex-wife is trying to take the kids, asking for more in alimony, already got the house, and just married some wing-ding named Bob whose investment firm ensures steady income and provides a good example for the children who’ve already started calling him “dad”. And so our hero must prove to himself (and her) that he can be every bit as responsible as Bob. It’s a collision course with wackiness!
3rd Tier Villain (aka the Curtain Jerker)
If our hero’s journey ends with him fighting the man who killed his father, our hero’s dame is usually paired up to fight our villain’s conveniently female something-or-other, whose beef with the dame began in the second act when the two shared a minute on-screen (which is just long enough for two women to know they hate each other). But what about our plucky sidekick? Surely there’s some obstacle he can overcome? And thus we need a 3rd Tier Villain, some thing to not only occupy our sidekick’s time, but to show how high the stakes are for everybody involved. My personal favorite was in “Pirates of the Caribbean”, wherein Keira Knightley’s father the Governor battled a wacky severed arm. What did this add to our experience when there were so many pirates clanging swords up on the bow? Who the fuck knows. I guess somebody in the audience cared.
Innocuous Male Friend
Possibly the most dangerous character on this list, the innocuous male friend is to romantic comedies what magic pixie dream girls are to indie flicks. He is the dopey male friend always there to provide unconditional positive regard to the female lead. Their relationship involves coffee and mutual understanding with no strings attached, just good people caring and sharing and helping each other out as human beings. (not to be confused with “the gay friend”)
Ladies, let me tell you something about innocuous male friends. Whether it’s in cinema or in real life, this guy wants to fuck you more than any other man you know. He was falling out of a bad relationship when you came along, his priories got mixed up, and now he’s locked in a purgatory where he will bide his time until you’re single, vulnerable, and less picky. This man jacks off to pictures of your feet and keeps a lock of your hair somewhere in a little journal where he’s writing a dissertation on what you eat and how often you use the bathroom. One day he’ll go berserk and one of you will have to die.
Focus Group Inspired Smart-Alecky Child Addition
Bill Hicks once described marketing people as “satan’s little helpers, filling the world with bile and garbage.” So it would seem. There are a number of films with adult casts which have been wildly succesful with children, yet research indicates that in order to penetrate certain demographics we believe that an addition of a “sassy” child character to the franchise may allow some crossover in OH WILL YOU PEOPLE FUCKING DIE ALREADY?!
That Crazy Christian Lady
Most Christians I know are moral, upstanding, and don’t make too much of a fuss about their faith. They go to church on Sunday and that’s the long and the short of it. But when the going gets tough I expect them to resort to pointless acts of ritualistic violence, kidnapping my wife for some sort of blood atonement ceremony while rebuking me with holy water and screaming something about believing in God and being a God warrior. I know this because if Hollywood has taught us anything, it is that Christians are crazy people waiting for an excuse to act out. Often lonely, isolated types, the crazy Christian lady is the most dangerous of all. Her years of having zero contact with society have not impacted her natural ability to manipulate others in creating a makeshift revival where even a “suicide-inducing wind” can be construed as God’s punishment for homosexual wickedness. Carrie’s mother, that lady in Edward Scissorhands, the woman in The Fog, the entire town in Silent Hill… these are just a few of the evil good Christians waiting to nail you to a cross while bathing your loved ones in oil so they can be burned alive in human sacrifice.
Aw, Shucks Kids
“Deej” on Full House may have spent her entire summer looking forward to a weekend camping trip with her friends, but she used one swear word and so as punishment this thing which was her one flicker of optimism has now been taken away by her father. “Aw, shucks” she says. As a child, these kids caused me great confusion. “Fuck him,” I’d say, “You tell that old cock-sucker to know his fucking role or you’ll whip his ass with a dog chain.”
Perhaps somewhere in Middle America exists a family who is so understanding of each other, so loving, that they can react calmly and reasonably during confrontation. This was never my house. Nor my friend’s houses. In fact, if I knew any child who was such a pussy to his parents the lot of us would have spent our days goading that kid into taking some kind of a stand or at the very least concocting anonymous payback. “Steal his wallet, put dog shit in his shoes.” And if he didn’t, we would have.
Natives Who Will Go No Further
In any given stretch of jungle there is a place that was once made of gold, surrounded by crumbling statues, and spells certain death to those who set foot inside its arbitrary boundaries. Usually marked by a symbol splattered in chicken’s blood or something made of human bones, the boundaries of this special place are well known to the local natives, whose perplexing decision to remain living so close to such a horrible place doesn’t prevent them from bilking our heroes out of some goods to guide them to the outskirts of the place but does prevent them from fulfilling their contractual duties by going further to finish the job. Fucking natives.