Oh, gosh, is it time for my article now? OK. Um ... are we all here? I'm sorry, I'm so bad at introductions.
All heroes need flaws, because a hero without a flaw is just Superman, and literally no one in the world likes Superman. (Seriously, there is not a single Superman fan in the world. Don't read the comments for this article, please.) But Hollywood seems to think that it's not just enough to give its hero a flaw, it needs to turn that flaw into an advantage. Because Hollywood has no idea how people work. I mean, OK, I'm not saying I think I'm smarter than an entire industry, just that ...
... shit. This is getting off to such a bad start. Fuck. I don't really think I'm smarter than all of Hollywood. And that Superman thing I said probably isn't even true: I bet a lot of people like him. I just ... can we -- can we just start the article now? Is that OK? I don't want to-
#4. Never Getting Over Anything
-go too fast ... right. Sorry. Here we go. Deep breath.
Heroes have this weird habit of being mopey bastards. Batman is the obvious example, what with his "my parents are dead but I'm super rich and that kinda makes it better" schtick, but this is the primary motivation for an absolutely insane number of "badass" pop-culture heroes: Spider-Man never gets over the guilt of his uncle's death (also not his fault), one of the Green Lantern's girlfriends gets stuffed in a refrigerator. Fox Mulder never really gets over his sister, unless he did in a later episode and I forgot about it. Martin Riggs in Lethal Weapon never gets over his wife's death. Inigo Montoya is, if I remember The Princess Bride correctly, pissed off about about the death of his mother. "My name is Inigo Montoya," I believe he says, "prepare to die for killing my mother."
20th Century Fox
Pictured: Inigo Montoya, with his signature weapon.
Kids are pretty much interchangeable at that age, right?
The weird thing is that the suffering, the stubborn inability to get over fucking anything, is what powers their badassery. The only reason John "Nicolas Cage" Travolta hunts down Nicolas "John Travolta" Cage in Face/Off is because his son is dead. Inigo Montoya got good at sword-fighting only because of his dead parent. Spider-Man, Green Lantern, Batman are only superheroes because they've been made crazy by loss. If Batman saw literally one therapist, he would be a far happier, more boring, rich playboy.
And, spoilers alert, that's not how demons work in real life. I don't mean to sound like a deranged fortune teller at the beginning of a horror movie, but terrible things are going to happen to you in your life. If you're lucky. I mean, I guess you could die first? This is the darkest comedy article I've ever written. God, I am just so sorry.
Let me tell you a story. Once, I had a party in my studio apartment, and by "party" I mean I had about five people over and we drank and played poker. At around 11:30 pm I walked my friends out, and they piled into a designated driver's car and everyone went home. The next morning, I got a call from my landlord saying that someone had puked in the upstairs lobby, and it must've been my friends, and she demanded I clean it up. Now you and I both know that it couldn't have been my friends, right? Because I already told you that I watched them get in their car and drive away, and besides, we didn't even have a reason to go up to the upstairs lobby. Are you calling me a liar? Fuck you! The point is, I got over this incident, because that's what healthy people do. I'm totally over it, 100 percent.
Matt Johnston/The Image Bank/Getty Images
It got all over my shoes! OK, OK, fine, I'm letting it go.
The fantasy seems to be that hanging on to our suffering, mistakes, and loss will somehow make us stronger -- and isn't that weird? I think that's weird. Do you agree? This article is meaningless if you don't agree.
Everyone suffers loss in their lives, but it's really important to get over it. Dwelling on shitty things that happen won't make you a badass gunfighter or help you build a cool costume, it'll just turn you into an emotionally stunted weirdo. So maybe figure out another reason for a hero to do the things he (or ... she? Ha ha, just kidding, that'd be outrageous) wants to do.
#3. Being a Loudmouth Even Though You Don't Know What the Fuck Is Going On
Do you love acronyms? Please say you love acronyms, because I'm about to use one: PPPPPPD, motherfuckers (sorry for calling you a motherfucker). Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance, Dude. This is vitally important in every situation except movies, where the only thing preparation is good for is getting you killed. Because the best man for the job is, paradoxically, always the worst man for the job.
Think about it: Quint the shark hunter is crushed by Jaws' jaws in Jaws. Lion-hunter Michael Douglas is eaten by lions in The Ghost and the Darkness. In Predators, Laurence Fishburne spends years becoming an expert Predator killer, and then as soon as his life enters the movie, bam: he's predated. Muldoon, the velociraptor hunter in Jurassic Park, gets clever-girled by a velociraptor. Looks like the acronym is actually PPWGYFK: Proper Planning Will Get You Fucking Killed.
Maybe you should've finished setting up your gun before you were five feet away from the murder-lizard, you fucking hack.
I'm not stupid. I get why this happens. We want the underdog to win, and it raises the stakes -- but it's crazy how far out we're willing to go to make sure our movie heroes do this. In The Hunt for Red October, there's a scene where a bunch of government officials are speculating about Sean Connery's plans. And when Alec Baldwin (who was specifically brought to this meeting because of his expertise) speaks up, one of his superiors says, "Oh, come on, you're just an analyst!" The guy is literally doing his job, well, on camera for us, but we need a character to act like he's out of his element so that we'll support him.
Obviously this isn't a problem in movies, because rooting for an underdog is fun -- until it bleeds over into real life. Check this out:
That's an opinion piece about, according to the dust jacket, gun control, family life, business, taxes, religion, and government. Which means it covers everything in the world -- and it's written by a dude who sells duck whistles for a living. Oh, and it's a New York Times Bestseller. Apparently, the valuable duck-whistle insight is something a whole shitload of Americans just couldn't live without.
And I'm not saying that just because I think the guy is a huge doof. Comedian Louis CK, whom I tend to agree with politically, socially, whatever, still utterly misrepresents himself on stage by dressing and acting and talking about himself like he's a total schlub (despite the fact that he's a millionaire who writes and edits his own award-winning TV show) because he knows that'll get us to like him more. I'm not saying either of these guys is wrong -- I'm saying that they -- and many movies -- are exploiting a part of your brain that makes you want to agree with opinions that are coming from the guy least qualified to have them. And that's pretty weird. Right? Isn't that weird? At least a bit?
No? Not ... not impressed at all? OK! That's OK! No one's panicking! I have two more. Please don't leave me.