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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Likeable Characters

I love movies. I watch them all the time. Mr. Nina and I generally rent 2-3 movies on the weekend. This means we pretty much see everything.

This past weekend he picked up Bad Teacher. This is not a story I would have watched...ever. For one, it's not my kind of humor. But the other big factor is that I don't like movies where people are bullied. I watched it out of the corner of my eye while I was working on some marketing.

Even only half paying attention, it made me really uncomfortable. I thought it was for the reasons I mentioned above, but then I realized...the female protagonist got her happy-ever-after despite the fact that she was rude, conniving and out-of-control. I mean I have no problem with characters in my romance movies or novels being jerks when the story begins. It's what I expect when I start a novel. Because what fun would it be if they were wonderfully perfect people and wanted the one thing that would make them happiest? There would be no conflict. No tension to overcome and make me turn the page. It would be booo-or-ring!

Look at the Beast in the Beauty and the Beast. He's grumpy and angry when Belle comes to the castle. He holds her captive and puts demands on her. Of course she fights back. Everyone is unhappy. But then he slowly opens up, begins growing and changing and Belle sees him as something more than the wild animal she believes him to be. By the time they fall in love both of them have opened their hearts to forever.

But here's the thing...they work for that happy ending.

In Bad Teacher the main character actually sleeps with (sorta) someone else's guy just to be mean. She steals a test and cheats and gets rewarded with a bonus, which she never gave back. She smokes pot in front of a student then plants drugs in another teacher's desk and ends up sending that woman away. She treats her students terribly and still, STILL gets the guy. There was nothing redeemable about her. She didn't try to change. She didn't DESERVE to ride off into the sunset.

And that's the part that bugged me the most. I can't say I've ever read a book like this nor watched any other movie that ended this way. What about you? Ever come across this before and how did you feel about it? I also wonder how bad is too bad for a character before you walk away from the story?

20 comments:

Amber Skyze said...

Yes, that would definitely annoy me too. I feel the characters have to grow in order to appreciate each other. Apparently she didn't grow up. :)

Marie Rose Dufour said...

Uhh...It sounds terrible. A story like that would really bother me. I think it really bothers you because you really work hard on your characters and story and then this "stuff" is taken as the norm in a movie.

Tina Donahue said...

I dislike stories where the guy is a cheating dog, then some kind of bad luck befalls him (yay!) and he needs his girlfriend's/wife's help and she forgives him and gives it. To me that is so lame. If a guy treated me badly, I wouldn't care if a truck ran him down (I'd kind of hope for it). I surely wouldn't forgive him because he was in trouble. Even if he made amends, I don't know if I'd ever trust him again. So that kind of character just really turns me off.

Nina Pierce said...

Amber - And she didn't have to pay for her mistakes. Drove me insane all the weay around!

Nina Pierce said...

Marie - There it is. It's becoming all right for people to behave badly and still get their rewards. I know it's a movie. I know it's entertainment. But if people see it enough they are going to believe that it's okay to be a jerk and still be happy at other people's expense.

Nina Pierce said...

Tina - Oh the cheater/liar within a relationship with total forgiveness? Yeah, that wouldn't work for me either. I can't say I've come across that kind of story. I suspect I wouldn't finish it if I did.

Sandy said...

I don't believe that movie did well at the box office. It's unfortunate that so many movies are like that these days. We're making mean kids who will grow up into mean adults. What a shame.

Nina Pierce said...

Sandy - And there you have it. The influence of these stories on young people. I'm an adult who sees how wrong her actions were. But that's not the case for all young people watching the movie. Besides, is it really entertainment if people are hurt?

Liz said...

definitely not one of Ms Diaz's finest moments. On another note: have you guys seen Love and Other Drugs? RENT IT. uber romantic, hot sex between attractive people. fabulous

Nina Pierce said...

Liz - I did see that one. Perfect example of a guy who doesn't have his priorities straight and redeems himself as he falls in love. GREAT movie!

Paris said...

Unfortunately the culture of bullying that is reinforced with programming that make stars of women who are totally despicable human beings who scream, taunt and demoralize everyone around them in order to achieve some kind of "top bitch" award is alive and well and trying to worm its way into movies.

I like Diaz but I don't think I'd like this character at all.

Harlie Reader said...

Morning Nina and this is way I won't watch that movie. The characters in a book or movie need to have some kind of redemption/awakening/kick in the pants. If not, I'll walk out, close the Nook and never think about it again.

Great post.

Harlie Reader said...

Plus, I have no tolerance for a bully. Male or female.

Katalina Leon said...

Bad Teacher=Bad movie=Bad message.
Nina, the irony that you would have to watch Bad Teacher...
The ad alone made me squirm. I thought the whole premise was awful and hinged on the tramp-trope that everyone has put up with this bully because she's just so damn attractive. What a rotten message to send.
I would gladly smack a basketball against this movie's head.
XXOO Kat

jean hart stewart said...

Don't want to see that one. How can you a HEA with a despicable heroine...?? Jean

Nina Pierce said...

Paris - I usually like Diaz and was really suprised she took this role. I never thought of all those reality shows that have the bullying in them, but yeah, that certainly can't be helping how kids perceive the world.

Nina Pierce said...

Harlie - I've also gotten to the point where I don't always finish a book. If the characters don't grab me and by the first couple of chapters and at least have some redeeming qualities, I'm out of there.

Nina Pierce said...

Kat - LOL! I obviously was not with Mr. Nina when he picked this one out. But just the fact that Hollywood would spend time, resources and quality actors to put this together, just completely pisses me off.

Nina Pierce said...

Jean - She got the job and the guy. HEA for sure, but she definitely didn't deserve it ... AT ALL!

Adele Dubois said...

Yours was a really good post, Nina. Sorry I missed it the day it appeared.

I deliberately avoided watching this movie, because the storyline looked terrible. Do we really need to glorify BAD teachers? With all the fabulous novels and screenplays available to Hollywood, it's a real head-scratcher why so many awful movies get made.

Best--Adele

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