There have always been stereotypes used in the storytelling in movies. After all, movies have a limited amount of time to tell the story, and the use of stereotypes is a great time saver, particularly in movies that focus on the action rather than characterization. I’ve noticed two new stereotypes that seem to be popping up a lot in American movies and television shows.
The Brit is the Bad Guy
I find a British accent sexy (my husband has a faint British accent from being schooled in British schools in Hong King). Apparently, this is not the case in America, who seem to think every villain should be British. I blame Alan Rickman, who plays a villain with real relish, such as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and Severus Snape (actually a stealth hero) in the Harry Potter film series.You just can’t top Alan Rickman’s snark. So, it seems to be that if you want an actor to play a memorable villain or bad guy, pick a Brit.
This morning, my husband re-watched San Andreas, and Ioan Gruffudd played the bad guy, more of a coward and a slimebag rather than a truly evil villain. Jeremy Irons was cast as Simon in Die Hard with a Vengeance, playing Hans Gruber’s brother, and does no one else wonder why Scar from The Lion King had a British accent when no one else in his pride did? (Or am I the only one?) Tom Hiddleston plays Loki in the Marvel films. Seriously, I could go on and on and on.
The New Boyfriend is Expendable
I find the concept of a Disposable Boyfriend popping up more and more in movies and television. I blame the Titanic. The Expendable New Boyfriend is a subtrope of that trope. This seems to be a real disaster movie trope, though they did nearly kill off the boyfriend in Mrs Doubtfire. In the disaster flick, 2012, the blameless new boyfriend is killed off to allow the ex-husband reunite with his wife and family. As previously mentioned, San Andreas has the new boyfriend turning chicken, while the Ex saves the day and wins back his lady fair. Even back in 1996, Independence Day, had ex-spouses reuniting once the world had been saved. One can’t help wonder why these loving couples broke up in the first place, when they can’t wait to fall back into each other’s arms (except in Mrs Doubtfire).
Seriously, there is nothing that could happen that would ever get me to reunite with my ex-husband. We broke up for very good reasons. As well, I love my second husband with all my heart, and I would be devastated if he were killed in some disaster. Either the writers of these films think American women have very fickle hearts, or American marriages break up way to easily. I don’t believe either of these are true. In fact, I think it says some very interesting things about the writers of these story lines; they don’t have any real experience of real relationships or real American women, or they are lazy storytellers. (I’m guessing it may be a little of both.)
Do you have any current tropes you would like to add?