The narrative reasoning is pretty simple: We want our heroes to have authority, but not be authority. They're important enough to know when to say "To hell with it!" and do what's right -- which is good, in a way. You should be able to criticize authority and know when to do the right thing instead of just what you're told to do. But it's also important to remember that the only reason society functions is because "what we've all agreed we should do" and "the right thing to do" are, very often, the same thing.
Casual Sex (Particularly for Women)
In Real Life:
All around the world, right now, people are having sex with people they aren't in love with. Wanna hear something fucked up? That's not the least bit fucked up. Both parties have agreed that their sexin' is something that is fun but not necessarily linked to romance. Most of them aren't even soulless husks of human beings, pumping away in a desperate attempt to distract themselves from how meaningless their lives are, secretly dreaming of the day when they can finally settle down with George Clooney and just spend all day stroking his lovely salt-and-pepper everything.
Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images
I mean, some are, but at no greater a percentage than in the normal population, anyway.
They're just normal people who thought, "Know what? I could really go for an orgasm about now. I wonder if that person over there would let me borrow their genitals."
How It Works in Movies:
If you're not in a committed, monogamous relationship, there is something seriously wrong with you. Even Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached, movies built entirely around the idea of casual sex, needed to end with the characters deciding to enter into committed relationships with each other. Even worse is that this ending was immediately obvious to everyone before they even watched the movie. If porn ever figured out this formula of relationship = trophy, we'd never watch anything else.
"Wait, they enjoy sex together and one other thing? It'd be irresponsible not to get married!"
Aside from the decades-old observation that women in slasher films are punished for having sex, women enjoying sex at all is generally seen as being pretty terrible. Look at Jennifer's Body, Angelina Jolie as Grendel's mother in Beowulf, and Basic Instinct. Those are all movies where women are shown to be sexually aggressive, promiscuous, unashamed, and even downright proud of all the wacky shit they get up to with their vaginae -- even though it's obviously making them evil. Think it's a coincidence that Carrie becomes a monster on the same day she gets her period?
Oh, and it's definitely a double standard. While James Bond gets to use his secret agent to pile-drive through each movie's entire female cast without any semblance of punishment, the women get, well, shafted: They either die during the course of the story for no goddamn reason or just "mysteriously disappear" between the end and the next movie. (Yes, I'm suggesting that James Bond murders his love interests. It makes way more sense than anything else -- it's either that or his penis is cursed.)
I understand that movies are an escape from reality, but it feels like they've forgotten what reality is actually like. It's such a weird message to send out -- it's like the scripts are being written by Mega Amish, Lord of Outdated Morals. As the technology for making films evolves, the actual messages have gone in the complete opposite direction. I won't be surprised if, by 2030, all feature films are documentaries on making butter and raising barns.
JF Sargent is a Workshop moderator for Cracked. Follow him on Twitter or do whatever it is you do to people to him on Facebook.