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7 November 2011


This was the first thing I saw when I typed "Worst Movie Clichés" in Google.
After watching “Luna Eclipsed” I had a conversation with my best friend about one of the most important moments of that entire episode. It’s the moment where Luna scares everypony in town and they run away because of her overreaction. We discussed for a while trying to figure out if this was a misunderstanding scene or not. We reached the conclusion that it wasn’t (I still don’t know what kind of scene it was, to be honest with you), but it got me thinking on the clichés that I really hate. I spent the last two weeks using every moment my mind wasn’t thinking on work or drawing to think on what clichés I hate the most. The result is this list.

Now, before I go forward, I don’t hate most of these clichés. You will tell by the tone of my writing that most of these I don’t really care much for, so this is sort of a pet-peeve/cliché compilation. Probably the top 5 are the ones I hate the most, while the others just don’t really bother me that much, or at least I can understand why filmmakers use them.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

10. - The Black Guy dies first.

Ving Rhames will kick this cliché in the daddy bites.
 This is a cliché that hasn’t been around for quite a while already, or maybe it’s because I do my best to try and avoid it. This has been parodied countless of times, and it reached a point when, anytime it’s used for real, like something serious, we take it as a joke. An example of this is that moment in “A Sound of Thunder”, when the black guy is left to die and he starts hallucinating over his kid. That was so hammy and the CGI they used was so godawful that it felt like a parody. A good parody (and later aversion) of this is in “Deep Blue Sea”, when Samuel L. Jackson gets chomped by the shark and then when LL Cool J gets bitten by it but he escapes. That was good. That was really funny and intentionally so. Other movies that avert this like the remake of “Dawn of the Dead”, or the original “Night of the Living Dead”, those are brilliant examples. So anytime this shows up I just shake my head and go “Luna, forgive them. They don’t know what they are doing”.

9. - The Making out in the morning scene.

More gross than "The Human Centipede"
I think it was “Dream catcher” that brought this one up for me, actually. This is the scene that appears in every single solitary romance movie ever made. There are no exceptions. This is the scene where, after a night of sex, or just sleeping together, the girl and the boy look at each other, and the start kissing, and rolling in bed, and basically making out to have sex in the morning. I have one question for that. Why would you do that? Have you ever tasted your mouth in the morning? It tastes like Mikey Rourke’s armpit! It’s terrible! Nobody makes out and has smoochings and sexings in bed in the morning, it’s the most unrealistic thing ever! One movie that parodied this really well was “Bridesmaids”, where the protagonist wakes up early in the morning to brush her teeth, fix her hair, and then goes back to bed and pretends she just woke up. Then the guy she was sleeping with kicks her out of his house. Awesome. More of that, less of…the other thing.

8. - Screaming when waking up from a nightmare.

It was horrible! I dreamt my husband was ony 5'5'' tall!
This is one thing that’s used in horror movies a lot. For the love of God, “The Others” starts with Nicole Kidman screaming her lungs out. It’s the cheapest, easiest way to make people jump in their seats. “Aliens” is guilty of this too. I can’t stand it because, anytime I had a nightmare or a bad dream, I woke up and I gasped. Or at the very least, I moaned and then gasped, but never fully scream. This happens in “Twilight New Moon” so much in such an over the top way that it becomes a parody of itself. It’s probably due to personal experience that I can’t get this cliché. As I said, I don’t fully hate it but when it happens I just shake my head and say “No, no that’s not how you do it, no”. Movies that averted this, “Terminator 2: Judgment day”, when Linda Hamilton wakes up from the nuclear nightmare and she is startled and confused, but she doesn’t scream, uhm…I can’t think of any other right now ^_^ That’s because we need this cliché broken more often!

7. - The Gloomy sunk-eyed ghost.

I keep seeing this in Japanese horror movies and in horror movies remade in the USA. This is the prototypical ghost with black around the eyes, the look dead and distant, lost in the void, and it usually has long hair falling before its eyes. It’s the kind of ghost that’s either a kid or a young woman and it always lurks behind people’s beds, looking at them straight in the eye. What’s the point? If I ever see a ghost looking at me like that I will just yawn and go “You got something in your eye”. They are so boring! They are amazingly boring, they bore me to death! Maybe this is because I come from a childhood populated with interesting looking ghosts. I like when ghosts look like humans, normal humans like in that episode of “Amazing Stories”, or the ghosts from “The Sixth Sense”! Those where awesome! They looked like humans but they had their heads blown off or their wrists cut off, it was fantastic. That’s what makes a ghost scary, the fact that you will never realize it’s a ghost. If you see a ghost that looks like a ghost…that’s not scary, that’s like looking at a rock. It’s a rock. It does nothing but being a rock. Moving on.

6. - The bottomless gun.

Again, maybe this is because I come from a different background but I like when action movies don’t use this cliché. This is the typical gun that has the infinite ammo cheat enabled. It’s the gun that doesn’t need reloading, that doesn’t jam and that you don’t need to know how to use to kill lots of people. This is used a lot in action movies from the 80’s like “Commando”, “Death Wish” or even “Die Hard 2. It’s okay if you are doing a brainless action movie, but when you are doing something that’s meant to be taken seriously, it just gets silly and laughable. Movies that averted this, oh boy, so many it’s glorious. “Hardboiled” averted this hard, having the character reload their guns and running out of ammo in almost every scene. John Carpenter movies do this a lot. Hell, the very first standard action movie “Assault on Precinct 13 has the protagonists pinned down in a police station with 8 bullets left on their guns. Even “The Matrix” averted this, with Keannu Reeves switching from gun to gun until they ran out of ammo. Of course in the sequel the guns become bottomless, but it still counts! And speaking of “The Matrix”…

5. - The One.

Fallout and MLP fanbase at the same time: "YOU ARE DOING IT RIGHT!!!!"
I hate this one when it’s handled poorly. I think we all know what this is. This is the character that has the power to change everything, to save the World, and he or she is the one. There’s nothing else to this character but that he or she is the One. And that’s all there is. No motivation, no character, no dimension. Just, the One. I hate it when movies use this character because it always is a plot device. The character becomes a MacGuffin and the only reason why it’s around it’s because they need him or her to survive. This is what happens with John Connor in The Terminator movies. The character of Connor is just there. When you think about it, the motivation of this character throughout three movies is just to survive. Neo in “The Matrix”, oh my God, there is nothing about that character that I can remember except that he is cool when he’s doing stuff in slow motion. I think this was the point where I realized I wasn’t happy with how movies handled this device. It’s tiring, and it’s awful. Even fanfics do better than this! Hell, Fallout Equestria averts this really hard and then inverts it! When a fanfic can do better than Hollywood…It means the times have definitely changed.

4. - The ex-cop friend that betrays his best friend.

Oh floor, I know you won't betray me.
I should have also added “And happens to be the brains of the operation”. I hate when movies do this. This is such a tired cliché that I can’t work up my energy to write about it. Goddamnit, how many times have we seen this? Do I really need to explain it? It’s such an old formula that my brain just skips over it and filters it out, like a bad hamburger that I shat out later. I remember a very interesting case of this in “Taken” where at first it seems like they are playing the cliché straight, and in the end Liam Neeson catches up and he is like “I know you are totally betraying me man, now talk before I kill your fucking wife”. That was awesome. The best way to describe this is to paraphrase Clive Owen in “Shoot ‘em up”: You know what I hate? Those cheesy action movies where the hero’s best friend shows up to betray him in the third act. Mister Owen, you win. Next please.

3. - The Jack Bauer / John McClain Syndrome.

Oh wow, perfect photo, don't you think guys?
Oh my God…I fucking hate this one. I fucking hate this so much I turn into Rapidash anytime I see this happening. Seriously guys, what the fuck is wrong with you!? You have this hero, this national hero, the guy with countless medals and diplomas, the guy who has saved the free World time over time, the guy who is trusted by the President of the United States and who saves puppies from trees…but when a new movie starts, he is a loose cannon, he is getting off the line, he is off the case, you don’t trust him, you can’t trust him, and instead of going with his reasonable, good and sensible ways, you trust the fucking villain with a fucking goatee, and a fucking eye patch and the fucking fucked up evil laughter and evil Romanian accent (I apologize to all the people in Romania but that’s how Hollywood portrays you so be angry at them). This is the cliché that starts driving me fucking nuts. What the hell? Just, what the hell? This happens in all Die Hard movies, in all of the seasons of 24, even in CSI this is seen. Writers use this to create false drama, to create fake conflict, and all it does is piss us off. Stop using this, stop treating these endearing characters like ragdolls. I can’t recall any case of sequel where the hero was treated like what he or she is. We have this even in “Aliens”, it’s so fucking extended. It makes me sad, it makes me angry, next one please.

2. - The FBI is a bunch of assholes.

Even I think this is going a bit too far.
I’m not American, maybe because of that I don’t get this, but this is something I’m so tired of seeing I really want to see something different for a change. I don’t know why but every time we need a law enforcement to be the antagonist, the prime suspect will always be the FBI. Die hard does this, CSI does this, in every of those movies there is an FBI agent who shows up, with a stick up his ass, and treats everybody like they are inferior. You can see this also in movies where the newcomer cop is trying to leave a mark and do his job but the EEEEEVIL AND BAAAAAAAD FBI agent is there to stomp on his ground and take the glory. This is why, when I started writing, I chose an FBI agent as the main character, and I portrayed him as a benevolent guy who wants to work with the other law enforcement people and get the job done, without any assholish ways. I am so tired of seeing this I think we need a movie dedicated just to how hard the FBI works. When every movie in Hollywood has portrayed your organization like a bunch of douchebags, you should have the right to defend yourself with a good, sensible movie.

1. - The Dickish Authority Figure.

Rock beats knife, douchebag.
Oh. My. God. Where do I start with this? Good morning, Vietnam, all “Die Hard” movies (AGAIN!), First Blood, Rambo, Karate Kid, Back to the Future, Batman Begins, X-Men, Patch Adams, The Hurt Locker, Outland, Fucking 24 (AGAIN!), Final Fantasy: Spirits Within, The Fourth Kind, Ghostbusters, every single 20th Century FOX production ever made, District 9, Slumdog Millionaire, and the list goes on for far than I can care. These are the Generals, Majors, Teachers, Instructors, Police Chiefs, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Presidents, Vice-Presidents, CEO’s, etc. any kind of authority figure that has one, and one motivation only: Fuck the protagonist’s actions. The only reason why these characters exist is to have a way for the main protagonist to have it hard in life and create conflict. They have no character, they have no personality, and they only know one thing, they can only do one fucking thing: Rage. That’s the only thing they know how to do. Rage and be angry and growl and scream and look rabid and over the top silly and cartoony. I hate it when an authority figure has no other reason to be in a movie but to be a stone in the pavement for the hero. James Cameron is also quite guilty of this, but he writes such over the top bosses that I am willing to forgive him. Like Colonel Quaritch in “AVATAR”. That guy was so entertaining and so fun to see that I couldn’t hate him; or Captain Rhodes in “Day of the Dead”. That guy was such a badass you don’t care he was a massive jerk.

Thank God there are movies that help avert that. “Starship Troopers” does this beautifully! We have Clancy Brown, Mister Krabs from SpongeBob, being this drill sergeant, who looks and sounds like an asshole at first but then when shit hits the fans he strips off his rank and goes there to fight with his boys, showing his support to them. AWESOME! Or Alan Arkin in “So I married an Axe Murderer”, possibly the best and nicest police Chief in the World. He is so nice and he is so supportive he is willing to lampoon those asshole Police chiefs in movies just to make Anthony LaPaglia happy. BRILLIANT! Or TV shows like “Castle”, where the Police Chief is always so giving on supporting Detective Becket or “Monk”, where motherfucking Richard Levine, one of my favorite actors, plays this saint-like Police Chief who has to put up with Monk’s OCD. What I’m trying to get across here is that it’s not hard to write a good authority figure. It’s very easy when you stop and think of other ways to have your hero encounter and obstacle. It’s as easy as making a good villain, or a good plot, or has a good set of motivations. That’s one of the signals of bad writing. If you see a movie and the authority figure is rabid and angry all the time, that’s a signal of poor writing, be sure of it.

1 comment:

  1. The worse cliché for me is when the villain is the hard-working scientist that was betrayed by all and the hero is the guy that was lucky to be in the right place at the right time.