This morning, I came across an article on Wired entitled Top 10 Bad Messages From Good Movies which cracked me up. It also got me to thinking about a bunch of movies/stories I’d seen that also fit the bill, so I thought it would be fun to add on to the list. So without further ado, The Girl’s Top 10 (+ 1!) Bad Movie Messages.
1. It’s better to go for the hunky jerk who heartlessly dumped you than your friend who has always loved you and stood by you (Pretty in Pink). I have discussed my hatred of this movie before, so I’m not going to get into it again. Suffice it to say, Blaine can bite me!
2. When you like a guy, it’s cool to completely change yourself to be the object of his desire but he totally doesn’t need to do anything himself (Grease, She’s All That, The Entire Genre of Makeover Movies). I’ve railed on about Grease before as well and it still annoys me. I still don’t think the idea of promoting radical personal change as a way to succeed at relationships is right, but it annoys me even more when one party is expected to do it over another*.
3. If you practice hard enough, you will succeed at anything you try (Any Sports/Dance Movie Ever). Pretty much anytime a movie character wants to do something, all it requires is a little heart and practice and before you know it, they’re the best person in their sport/field! I’m not saying that this is a horrible message because it really isn’t, but it’s unrealistic and sometimes, people have to realize their limitations. You like basketball but you’re 5 feet tall? Chances are, as much as you practice, you won’t make it into the NBA. You shouldn’t give up because you’ll probably end up being good and having a lot of fun playing, but hanging all your hopes on it as a career path could be really disappointing **.
4. You can be kind of a shmuck to your wife and children, but if you do enough random stuff for people, they will help bail you out of your problems (It’s A Wonderful Life). – Maybe it’s just me, but I really didn’t like George Bailey. He was mean to his wife and he screamed at his kids so I didn’t really get what people thought was so awesome about him. Just because you’re all “Aw gee whiz!” – y doesn’t mean you’re not still a bitch. Also, while we’re at it, what kind of town was Bedford Falls if the absence of one person changed it from a cute little community to a rundown ghetto filled with booze and whores? If you ask me, there had to be a seedy underbelly there just under the surface if changing it was so easy.
5. You can be a pedophile, thief and a general wank and still be seen as a hero, as long as your friends are worse than you are (Trainspotting). Ah Renton. You might have had us all rooting for you, but looking back that’s only really because your friends are a con-artist, a psychopath and a weenie.
6. You can be a total bitch to a dude who likes you and he will still go out of his way to save you from kidnappers and evil princes (The Princess Bride). As much as I like this movie, could someone please explain to me why Princess Buttercup was the apple of everyone’s eye? I know she was pretty and everything, but ordering Wesley around like that just seemed like a total power trip thing.
7. Insanity is just a form of quirky charm (Harvey, Rainman, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, etc.). It seems like there is an inordinant number of movies trying to convince us that insanity is just an illusion and the crazy people are really more sane than the rest of us normal folk. This is not true. Sometimes crazy is crazy.
8. Being a genius absolves you of emotional responsibility (Good Will Hunting, Rushmore). It’s totally okay to crap all over the people who love you and care about you if you’re smart. After all, if everyone else is to stupid to defend themselves against your abrasive intellegence, that’s their problem.
9. Sleeping with hundreds of women you don’t care about is a perfectly acceptable and romantic reaction to being rejected once by a girl (Love in the Time of Cholera). I really hate how a lot of movies like to romanticize the fact that the lead is a total manwhore by giving him the oh-so-sad backstory of being rejected by someone he loved. Your machismo is lame, dude. Grow a thicker skin, suck it up and move forward. You can still be happy without boning everything in your path (plus you’re a lot less likely to get chlamydia . . . which is good because that $h!t is everywhere.)
10. You can steal a car and lie to a bunch of people, but as long as you’re charismatic while you’re doing it, it’s totally cool (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). This is a major sign that I am getting older but Ferris Bueller is kind of annoying and a bit of a bully. Now when I watch, I can’t help but feel sorry for Cameron who spends the entire movie for getting hassled by Ferris and then ends up taking the blame for the busted car. That’s got to suck.
And the very special +1 . . .
11. Being deceitful, hateful, disrespectful and abandoning your children are desirable and sexy traits (Gone With The Wind). There aren’t many other characters that rankles me as much as Scarlett O’Hara. First, she tries to steal a woman’s husband away, then when that doesn’t work she tricks some other poor guy into marrying her to make him jealous. Then when her new husband dies, she gets upset, not because she misses him or is scared about raising a child alone, but because she can’t go to any parties! Later on, she ignores her child, tries to steal the same woman’s husband again, steals a man who is involved with her sister and marries him, kills a dude, and then, when she marries another dude (after husband #2 kicks it) who actually likes her in spite of all of her craziness, she’s mean to him too! This is a heroine?! Really?!
Feel free to add any of your bad movie messages in the comments.
* However sometimes the makeover concept does provide some good laughs as seen on Clone High. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Makeover!”
**For my money, the episode of Freaks and Geeks where Nick auditions to be in Dimension is probably the best example of loving something and failing at it.