You’ve probably watched movies before. And you were probably struck by something on screen as being vaguely familiar even though you’d never seen that movie. But unless you are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and were in the movie, you probably were just pimp-slapped by a cliché. Clichés are the result of lazy writers who recycle the same themes and characters to the point that parts of a story become predictable by virtue of seeing these same types over and over again. Kind of like me giving a lay definition of a word you probably already knew the meaning of. To dig myself in even deeper, clichés tend to not be based on anything realistic or identifiable except what they are derived from.
Yes, I’m looking at you. And by you, I mean me, because I’m one of–keep reading, you’ll see
The actor playing a crazed version of himself-
This seems to be a relatively new one, but it’s definitely a cliché by now. All Pacino in Jack and Jill, Matt Damon in House of Lies, or Neil Patrick Harris in any of the fifteen Harold and Kumar movies this one rocketed into cliché-hood. They’re not just ordinary people like you and me, they’re depraved, waiting for the proper arrangement of complete strangers to come along for them to hang the crazy on their sleeves.
Why It’s Time to Stop
What’s after celebrities pretending to be crazy regular people? Regular people pretending to be crazy celebrities?
Oh, never mind.
I must break this bottle/clear this desk!
Whether it’s the hero, villain, or any of the citizens of Collateral-damageville action movies are particularly susceptible to having characters who have a tendency to take their anger out on anything resting on a horizontal surface. Or after the much lamenting of a lost friend/partner/significant other they throw the bottle into a wall (always with a little left in it).
One good yodel might do the trick
Why this needs to stop
Ever get mad and throw something on the floor? What’s that, you say? Not since you were eight? Like most of us who can spell the word ‘tantrum’, you know that when you break something you have to clean it up (or pick up whatever you throw on the floor) because robot servants haven’t been invented yet to clean up after you.
I’m a girl and I’m a cop too
Especially prominent in action movies in the 80s and 90s, the tough-as-nails female cop who barges into the men’s room to confront the fellow cop who not only is stymying the investigation, but is doing it because she has a vagina, is as obnoxious as it is illegal. Maybe a little more obnoxious.
(I just wanted to write the word ‘stymy’- I just did it again!)
Notice how you never see male cops barging into the women’s room? We call those people creeps and they are promptly arrested.
Arrested for one misdemeanor charge of not putting the lid down
Why this needs to stop
Hello, didn’t you read it above? It’s illegal. And obnoxious.
The suicidal hero
This particular cliché is easier to miss and maybe that makes it only a cliché to me. But as I watch Stargate while thinking about when I’d like to see The Grey again I realize good guys who have as big a boner for killing bad guys as they do for smoking themselves (I’m talking to you, old guy from Night of the Creeps just don’t strike me as being very realistic. Even for action movies.
Why this needs to stop (if it ever actually started)
This one’s easy. The dead guy never gets the girl.
Unless he was a teenage zombie
The Mystical Negro
What do you do when you have something unexplainable that you need to have an explanation for? Why, you inject a black person who can break it down for the audience. Hollywood has been in love with trotting out folks of color who know things beyond knowing for decades. Whether it’s a zombie outbreak, a monster that’s picky about what human parts it eats, helping Patrick Swayze get it on with his girlfriend in the afterlife, or a golf caddy, black people have always been there to answer the call.
Quit that shit, ya dig?
Why It Needs to Stop
Other than being blatantly racist, it tends to attract the eye when there’s a lone person of color, like he or she is expected to know something no one possibly should be able to know. Plus, I’m going to put a hex on the next director to make a movie with such a character.