11 STEREOTYPICAL FILM CHARACTERS THAT HAVE BECOME BORING
It's Thursday and that means another Top 11 list written by Theodoros II for TCMag
THE CORRUPT COP
If we take into account all the movies Hollywood has made portraying dirty cops then one should think that at least a good 50 percent of cops around the globe are corrupt bastards who sell drugs, murder people, occasionally rape and abuse defenseless women, and commit numerous other crimes instead of doing their duty. Some of the most famous corrupt movie cops would without a doubt be Terence McDonagh (Nicolas Cage) in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington) in Training Day, Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman) in Léon: The Professional and, of course, scumbag Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) in The Departed.
THE WHITE RACIST MALE
All right, the Nazis were white and so were the members of the KKK, but damn guys, this is 2014 and as most crime reports show in pretty much every country with a diverse and multicultural population, white folks nowadays might be the least racist peeps (in terms of committing hate crimes, at least), so please let’s get over this old stereotype and quit blaming white folks for what happened 100 and 200 years ago when there are so many other awesome topics (for a brighter and more peaceful future) to make movies about.
As for some of the most-famous racist movie characters? Too many to name but no one comes close to Derek Vinyard (Edward Norton) from American History X.
THE BAD RUSSIAN
The thought of a new Cold War between the US and Russia and a possible revival of this ridiculously stereotypical character in films makes me sick to my stomach, literally.
Seriously, no more crooked Russian officials (A Good Day to Die Hard), merciless Russian gangsters (Eastern Promises), inhumane ex-KGB agents (The Avengers) and, of course, cold-hearted robotic boxers (Ivan Drago in Rocky IV), which in reality were nothing but the result of the blatant political propaganda of the West. Once communism collapsed and all those former Soviets finally became professional boxers, they soon started dominating the heavyweight division with ease, but at the same time they have shown incredible class, sportsmanship, and intelligence while doing so, when the specific sport was previously (in their absence) dominated by “civilized” Western boxers who were biting ears and used every racial and homophobic slur there is in the dictionary.
THE MUSLIM TERRORIST
From all the entries on this list we can definitely understand or even justify this one if we take into account the tragic September 11 attacks and the incredibly high number of Islamic terrorist attacks around the world (England, Spain, Israel again and again, and Kunming, China, most recently). We can’t really say if this is just a propagandistic film stereotype like most of the other entries on this list or reality at this point, but we must all admit that it’s kind of boring and totally predictable by now. Last but not least, some of the most popular films that have portrayed this specific character include True Lies with Arnie, Syriana, and Babel among others. True or not.
This must be the silliest and most stupid stereotype of them all and for more than just one reason. On one hand, we can’t predict how aliens would feel about us (even if they exist) since we never met one, but that of course doesn’t prevent the wild imaginations of most directors from portraying them as evil, destructive, hostile, and vicious little green men who want to conquer and kill. They are probably just judging from their experience with fellow human beings when they think of alien “invaders.”
On the other hand, and according to what human science teaches, if those little green men had the kind of technology that allowed them to approach our planet, don’t you think they’d be interested or curious to talk with us, learn from us what they might not know, or maybe introduce us to things we don’t know? Instead, as Hollywood portrays them, they always seem to have to attack and try to destroy without warning. Why can’t we try to think like aliens instead of humans for once?
Alex (Malcolm McDowell) in A Clockwork Orange, Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) in No Country for Old Men, John Ryder (Rutger Hauer) in The Hitcher, Max Cady (Robert De Niro) in Cape Fear, The Joker (Heath Ledger) in The Dark Knight, Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) in The Shining, and Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in The Silence of the Lambs all have two things in common: they are all sick in the head and murder people for the fun of it.
Without exaggerating, we could mention at least twenty more famous movie psychopaths but you get the point—according to Hollywood, people with mental illness can commit the worst crimes and that might be true in some cases in real life (no doubt) but according to global statistics and the American Psychiatric Association, the overwhelming majority of people who commit violent crimes do not suffer from mental illnesses whatsoever.
THE GHETTO BROTHA
Untalented and pro-black directors such as Spike Lee, Ernest R. Dickerson, and John Singleton became famous and made mad money without having any directing skills or artistic vision thanks to this character. They were the “holy triangle” that pioneered and made fortunes through this stock film character with movies such as Boyz n the Hood, Juice, and Do the Right Thing. The plots of these movies? Pretty much all the same really. Uneducated black dudes with supposedly good souls and great intentions whom the “evil” white man holds down and so they end up selling drugs, mistreating women, being blatantly sexist, anti-gay, murdering, and using the N word more times than the Grand Wizard of the KKK, but of course, the white man is to blame for everything. Once white directors realized that there’s money to be made in this role they started making such films as well—Hustle & Flow being one of the prime examples. Yawn!!!!!!
To get an idea how popular (and boring) this film character has become throughout the years just keep in mind (if you don’t know it by now) that there’s even a film with this name, Femme Fatale (2002), with the super-sexy Rebecca Romijn starring as the fatal woman and Antonio Banderas, who seems to love being a sucker in such films, since he was the victim of another femme fatale, played by Angelina Jolie, in Original Sin (2001).
If you are as bored as we are with this role and you want to blame someone, blame the most famous femme fatale of our generation, Sharon Stone as Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct (1992), a role which literally redefined the term femme fatale for the movie industry.
When J. Searle Dawley was directing a 16-minute film back in 1910, which also happened to be the first motion picture adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, she probably could have never imagined the mess that followed. All right, all right, I understand there are many peeps out there who love “mad scientist films” and a clear proof of this is that the specific role has been “recycled” so many times: Tolian Soran in Star Trek Generations, pretty much every villain in Spider-Man 1 & 2, Henry Wu in Jurassic Park, Dr. Josef Heiter in The Human Centipede, just to name a few. Nothing wrong with this character and plot to be honest, but we just need more creativity and new ideas in the film industry, let alone the fact that most “mad scientists” in the real world have been sane really, if you know what we are trying to say here.
Let me make this clear before I say any more because last thing I want to do is offend all the good nerds and geeks (which I am too) of this world: WE FREAKING LOVE NERDS!!!!!!! The fact is, however, that the whole nerd character has become outrageously stereotypical in the last few years, not to say boring, and the clear proof of this is that there’s even a whole TV show dedicated to nerdom and geekiness: The Big Bang Theory. If Chuck Lorre or Bill Prady are reading this now, please guys stop it, it’s not even funny anymore.
Yes, you read that right, Superman is an entry himself and how couldn’t he be? Think about it: The world’s most famous superhero ever combines so many stereotypical characters in one person. Clark Kent, aka Superman, is a mix of all the following stock characters: a nerd, the shy nice guy who, by taking off his glasses and brushing his hair differently, turns into every woman’s wet dream, your typical superhero who saves the world, an average human being with a secret identity a la Batman and Iron Man, and last but not least an alien. Could someone come up with a more perfectly defined amalgamation of stereotypical characters in film history than Superman? If not, please help us send him back home to Krypton.