If you have spent time on the Internet, you're probably tired of hearing how we need more Strong Female Characters. For some reason, people don't seem to realize that sexism no longer exists today and both sexes are treated with complete equality, especially in the entertainment industry. If anything, men are the ones being discriminated against.
Seriously, think about all those roles that women selfishly hog up (e.g., passive victims requiring rescue, femmes fatales, joyless nags) that are off-limits to even the most talented male actors. It's time to stop this woman-centric hand-wringing on how to make female characters better and focus on helping the real victims of Hollywood sexism by asking: How can we make male characters worse?
I teamed up with fellow strong female writer C. Coville and we came up with what I think are some pretty good suggestions.
Here is a picture of a pretty lady. It's going to be a dry spell before there's another one, so get your fill.
#6. The Homme Fatale
"Why hello there. I didn't see you come in."
He wants power and is not afraid to use sex to get it. Sometimes he keeps his fly unzipped as a way to get easy access to police files and lawyers' offices. Other times he is hiding something behind him and attempts to distract the heroine by standing in front of it and lowering his pants suggestively while smiling and raising an eyebrow. If he is being interrogated, there's no need for him to invoke his Fifth Amendment rights or even lie; he just wears really short shorts without any underwear, and when the cops are in the middle of interrogating him, he leans back, opens his legs, and lets his testicles fall sexily out of one leg hole.
*streeeetch* "See anything you like, detective?"
If your show or movie has supernatural themes, you can use demonic possession or some other spell or curse to transform a formerly "good boy" character into an homme fatale. No matter what the character was like before, or how many similar transformations have come before it, you can always show demonic possession thusly: Make the possessed man pout seductively at the camera and then jump on the nearest character, male or female, and rub himself against her while talking about how happy he is that he is finally free to be a bad boy. If the possessed man has a chance to change his clothes after he turns evil, make sure his new clothes are far more revealing and show off the lines of his crotch.
"Do you like my new shirt? It's a chain. Bondage innuendo!"
If someone is forced to exorcise or otherwise harm your demon-possessed homme fatale, feel free to put in a few jokes about how he's always liked it rough, and make him moan and toss his head around sexily while he's in pain, occasionally pausing to gaze sultrily at the heroine, his chest heaving.
#5. The Wet Blanket
Source images from Getty Thinkstock
The girls in your movie know how to have fun, but at least one of their husbands is a crazy killjoy. This guy yells at her that she does not have responsibility, and she looks at her friends and rolls her eyes. Sometimes the girls are doing crime together, and the man is at home worrying that they will be caught for their crime. "What were you doing? Were you out doing crime?" he yells when she comes home late, while tears drip into his beard. He is upset and unfulfilled because he can't have as much fun and excitement as the character who is doing crime, but he's just too uptight to loosen up.
"And what are the neighbors going to think when they find out you're doing crime, huh? Did you think of that? Do you ever think about anyone except yourself?"
Maybe this character was once fun, back when he first met the main character. But now he's always caught up with things in the house, like mowing the lawn and chopping lumber and worrying if the joint compound he used on the drywall looks just right. Whenever the main character wants to go out and have fun with her friends, he is always pointing at that big pile of lumber he has chopped for her and complaining about how she is not using it. Even if his wife has a job or mission that is extremely important, like being a superhero or invading a country because she is president, the nagging husband will still bug her to spend time with him and help him fix the drywall, because nags have no sense of priorities.
"Bomb threat at your precinct? Screw that, we need to talk about how to stack this lumber."
If the movie is more serious, maybe the main character occasionally flashes back to when her husband was younger and more fun, and had longer hair and more clearly defined abs. The main character might even be tempted to cheat on him with a young waiter at her favorite breakfast bar, who has no personality other than being there to flirt with her when the plot demands it. One time the main character spills tomato juice all over the waiter's pants and starts to dab it dry without even thinking what she is doing. The waiter just blushes and giggles, and it sets up a major moral dilemma.
Whatever she ends up deciding, the waiter is fine with it, because who cares how it affects his life, he's just a test.
#4. The Contest Prize
Source images from Getty Thinkstock
Remember in high school how all the girls were always scheming about how to get the guy of their dreams to notice them, while all the guys stood around coyly, waiting to be won? Hollywood movies are unforgivably lacking in these trophy men.
This much-needed character is a hot chunk of meat that all the girls in school want to get with, but he is unattainable, either because he is dating the most important girl in school (who is of course a mean bully) or because he got a head injury while reading Grimm's Fairy Tales and is compelled to only date people who have completed arduous quests to win his hand. Our enterprising lady hero is neither the hottest girl in school nor the strongest, but this underdog has concocted a madcap scheme where, with the help of her friends, she is going to win the talent contest or volleyball championship or hog farming competition or some other minor contest the whole school/town is inexplicably focused on.
Source images from Getty Thinkstock
Or maybe she trains a pig to win the volleyball championship.
Once she wins (beating the mean, popular girl in the final round), the guy will automatically date her, because everyone knows hot guys automatically date contest winners regardless of their other qualities. "I never gave you a chance before because you kind of have a lazy eye, your laugh is annoying, and you keep saying racist things, but damn if you didn't raise one hell of a hog," he says as he takes her into his arms.
This works for grown-ups too. Say you have a lady action hero with a crappy marriage. Maybe she drinks too much, maybe she comes home late all the time, maybe she spends too much time shopping, maybe she is a scrapbooker -- you know, something that justifies why her husband divorced her. Luckily some terrorists take over a building or hack the Pentagon or something, and she saves the day (please credit me if you use one of my original movie ideas, thanks), and her estranged husband leaps back into her embrace even though she does not change a single thing that led him to leave her. Because men, like coffees, are for closers.