As a writer and consumer of entertainment, I really hate clichés and stereotypes. They’re only useful for misdirection, making readers believe the story is going a certain way so you can fool them. But Hollywood keeps trotting out the following lame tropes over and over again. It’s about time they were called on the carpet for this stupidity. These stereotypes are not only offensive; they’re overused to the point where they must be retired for good. If you really care about not offending people, Hollywood, stop offending me and the legions of people who are sick of this drivel.
1. The Crazed Vet/Soldier: According to Hollywood, if you’re a veteran who fought in a war or a soldier returning from one, you are insane, dangerous and probably a murderous sociopath. Either that or you’re a pathetic loser with mental problems. An emotional basket case. And of course, only poor people join the military, only uneducated stooges easily fooled by government propaganda. No one joins the military because they believe in something. If they do they will find out how foolish they were and become disgusted with America.
Note to Hollywood: Obviously, reality and research are a problem for you. Here’s a newsflash: People from all walks of life join the military and most who serve during wartime never experience serious combat, or any combat at all. During the Iraq war, it was actually statistically more dangerous to work on a farm or drive a taxi cab than to be a soldier in Iraq. And most vets are stable people. They’re trained to be responsible and orderly. They’re trained to deal with stressful situations rationally. Those who can deal with live fire are more likely to be able to handle stress back home, not the other way around. You’ve created ugly myths that betray the very people who make it possible for you to lead your silly lives. They defend the free speech that you use to defame their good name. They work for little money, often in horrible conditions, away from the people they love, for years in some cases. They risk their lives so other people can be free. People like you. And this is the thanks they get? You should be ashamed of yourselves! This is an insane form of prejudice. Bigotry against people who protect you.
2. The Professional Bitch: For some reason, professional women have to hate men in Hollywood films and TV. They have to be cold, and smarter than men in every way. Their aloofness and snobbery is supposedly a way of showing they are above the lowly male. But of course, the right guy may melt their heart toward the end of the story. But he will almost always be dumb in some way and act more like a puppy than a man.
Note to Hollywood: The 70s are over. Man hating Feminism is so passe it might as well be wearing bell bottoms. I get it; you’re trying to create some friction between the characters so the romance will be hotter, except you make these women unlikable. Who cares if they get the guy? Unpleasant people are tedious. And few of you know how to make entertaining bitches. They’re always the same, tired kind. Smart people know how to be appealing to others. They know the importance of being charming. If your professional woman is really smart, then having some kind of witty verbal play would show that. But it seems many of you can’t write witty banter anymore. Maybe the problem is you don’t know how to write appealing characters because you’re writing about yourself?
3. The Evil Christian: Hollywood seems to say that anyone who believes in Christianity is a sexual deviant, crook or a murderer. Christians are always shown to be hypocrites and phonies. They’re never good people. They’re exposed as pious frauds when their “true colors” are revealed.
Note to Hollywood: Do any of you realize that Judeo-Christian values are the foundations of modern liberalism? That liberalism was a movement that came from Christianity? The very things you claim to believe were derived from that. Every group of people has their bad apples. To constantly paint Christians in this way because of a few is pathetic. You want to be seen as tolerant and yet to resort to these abysmally vicious clichés? By your logic everyone in Hollywood is a scumbag. Christians do a lot of good work all over the world. More charity work than all the liberals in Hollywood combined. Christians do more public service, feed more of the poor, work in more developing countries and provide rehab and other outreach services than Hollywood ever will. So why do you hate them? Don’t like the competition? Maybe you pick on them because they don’t fight back. Maybe you hate them because they set a better example than you. Show some respect for their good works. If you don’t agree with their religion, find a better target. One that deserves it.
4. The Stupid Dad/Male: In Hollywood movies men are either stupid or gay. If they are straight, they’re almost always either buffoons, geeks or dumb jocks. Women are always smarter. Men can’t do anything without a woman telling them what to do. And fathers can’t take care of the kids. They can’t cook dinner or even be good parents. They’re always too busy to spend time with their kids, or they do idiotic things that get the family into constant trouble.
Note to Hollywood: The only thing more idiotic than this cliché is the fact that you keep using it after it was worn out 20 years ago. Maybe you write dumb characters because you write from experience. Or maybe it’s because ripping off Homer Simpson is easier than thinking. Perhaps your way of telling people you’re a sexist creep. Misandry is not better than misogyny. Bad is bad. What you’re doing is morally, ethically and intellectually bankrupt. In other words, it’s stupid.
5. The Magical Minority (aka “Magic Negro”): I’m sure you’ve seen a movie or three where some wise old Black/Asian/Native-American man/woman, who’s usually a janitor/maid/babysitter/garbage man, is a fountain of wisdom and always seems to know things. And they dispense good luck with some sparkly effects and a wink. They seem to either have supernatural powers, or they enter the clueless white person’s life and change it for the better by getting them to loosen up and put on some James Brown records. Dancing to black music or putting on some other ethic affectation always makes the dumb white character cool somehow. Because, let’s face it, white people are lame. Their culture is stupid and they are clueless. Right?
Note to Hollywood: Guess what? Aside from being racist to whites, it’s patronizing and a soft form of bigotry. Viewing “people of color” as being “special” because of their race is the point of view of a white person who doesn’t get to know others too well. Probably because they’re self centered. Race doesn’t put any one group on some exalted level, you know. There is a term for doing that. It starts with an R and I already used it for those of you who are slow. People are people. They don’t get magic powers with their skin color. Black people can’t automatically sing well (see American Idol). Native American people don’t commune with the spirit world and animals just because they took some money from you the last time you visited a Sedona gift shop. And yeah, old Asian men don’t all know kung fu and feng shui. Sorry. This kind of stuff annoys a lot of minorities. Though some find it useful when they want to trick dumb lefties.
6. The Pedophile Priest: Similar to the Evil Christian except this is a huge fictional cliché . According to Hollywood, unless there’s a demon that needs exorcising, priests are all sanctimonious, corrupt child molesters. And often alcoholic ones at that.
Note to Hollywood: The Catholic Church made a huge mistake sweeping the pedophile priest problem under the rug for so long. They didn’t want to give the Church a bad name, so they moved the priests around rather than kicking them out. The problem grew until it became a serious a national scandal but not every priest did this. Once again, you show you have no imagination by whipping out this drivel every time you have a priest in a story (unless it involves demons or Vatican corruption). Sweeping generalizations against a group of people is something you like to accuse conservatives of doing. Hypocrisy alert! Why don’t you take a break from this one? It’s played out and tired. Try something current for a change. Like the UN child sex scandals.
7. The Traditionalist Hypocrite: Anyone who stands for traditional values, or works in a traditionally male role, like a cop, fireman, cowboy is revealed to be a drunk, wife beater, or criminal. Because we all know that tradition is wrong. At least, that’s what Hollywood seems to think. (Similar to the Crazed Vet/Soldier).
Note to Hollywood: Just because you live in a messed-up social circle where being a drugged-out, back-stabbing phony is common, doesn’t mean that everyone else is like that. And just because you can’t be imaginative enough to make complex characters rather than clichés, doesn’t excuse you from your lameness. We know what you’re trying to do. You want to tear down the male in our culture. The creeps passing as lit professors at your college called it “deconstruction.” Remember that old joke that those who can’t do, teach? Our culture isn’t your urinal. We’re not interested in your daddy issues or your loyalty oath to the brainwashed counterculture. Like I said, the 70s are over. So is the 20th century. Get over it and start writing real people or find something else to do.
8. Evil Republicans: What a surprise. All Republicans in movies or TV are evil. They’re all trying to cheat the public, start unnecessary wars, take away civil rights and turn the country into a fascist dictatorship. And, of course, it’s saintly Democrats who save the day.
Note to Hollywood: Do you even bother to educate yourself about the corruption going on out there? A lot of Democrats in the news lately aren’t exactly saintly themselves. And those who aren’t under investigation are busy trying to pass laws taking away more freedoms in the name of “saving us”. Gee, isn’t that what you claimed Bush was doing? If you think your party is the good guys and the Republicans the bad guys, no wonder so many of you are crazy. You’re bound for some massive disappointments in the next 4 years. While this will amuse those of us not blinded by your hubris, the fact is politicians of any party are our servants. Some of them forget that and they deserve our scorn. But your blind acceptance of one party, your blind hatred of the other, makes you one-dimensional hacks. We seek truth in our fiction, not propaganda. If you can’t deliver, McDonalds is always looking for burger flippers.
9: Wise Trashy People: According to Hollywood: hookers, homeless and bizarre lifestyle people are the normal ones. They know what’s “really going on, man.” They’re just being honest. Everyone else is a freak. People who act normal are all depraved and sick. The suburbs are a place of spiritual death. The only truth lies in Bohemia.
Note to Hollywood: So, people who lead self destructive lives (as many of those listed above do, but not all) are wiser than those who try to lead responsible lives? Really? Based on what evidence? Have you ever flipped through the mugshots on sites like the Smoking Gun? Not a lot of “ordinary people” there. And not too many people I would accuse of being wise. Nope. Are you perhaps trying to tell us something about yourselves? Are you trying to rationalize your own freaky code? Or is it just another attempt to dump on traditional society and normalcy. We know that you seem to hate it. You certainly seem to have contempt for Middle America. Well, you’re asking for the same from us. Watch it.
10. Flyover Losers: Hollywood says: Everyone in the middle or South of America are worthless, toothless, dumb-as-dirt, inbred hicks who may or may not be incestuous psycho killers who keep their deformed children chained in the basement and let them out to feed on any foolish coast dwellers who run out of gas near their house. Either that or they’re insane Bible-thumping Jesus Freaks who want to scream about the Lord and torture you in bizarre reenactments of Passion of the Christ.
Note to Hollywood: If you’ve read this far and haven’t learned anything you really are as stupid as the tropes described above. And probably as inbred and as crazy, so I don’t know what good it is lecturing you. Maybe I’ll just join the public and stop supporting anything with these abysmally lame, sub-literate, morally bankrupt caricatures. You’re starting to look like a bad stereotype yourselves. And smell twice as rank. Clean up your act!
(Originally Published on BigHollywood.com)