Friday, March 23, 2012

The best of a bad bunch, or yet more proof that I hate fun

Some years ago I was accused of hating fun because I didn't like Pirates of the Caribbean.
I have all sorts of reasons for hating Pirates of the Caribbean, which we can explore fully at a later date if you like, but during this particular argument I was complaining about the sword fighting and how, because of the all the jump cuts and swishy modern editing, you couldn't actually see the fight skills (I suspect this is because there weren't any, but that is because I hate fun). I found this annoying.
This morning, in my own home, I was accused of hating fun again, because I objected to one thing about this otherwise high-quality scene from the new Disney Pixar movie Brave:
The thing I don't like is that all of the guys who are competing for Brave's hand are undesirable. It doesn't require much of a wilful streak not to want to become betrothed to one of these losers. If any of them were even slightly attractive, then her actions would be more impressive. Are we supposed to side with her because she refuses to be shackled? Or are we just supposed to side with her because she refuses to be shackled to one of these eejits?
I know that you could argue that this is just how these guys look to Brave, and Mrmonkey argues that this is just an opportunity to introduce wacky little characters into the margins of the story to provide, you know, fun. But I'd have preferred it if even one of them was just bland, faceless, ordinary. Because otherwise, when she eventually does find love (which I'm not saying she necessarily does by the end of the film, but someday she will, because she's a character in a thing), he's going to be, what? The best of a bad lot? Not dreadful? That's hardly a recommendation, is it?
The scene reminded me of one of my least favourite staple comedy scenes, the interview/dating montage where every one of the people under consideration is a total loser who you wouldn't want around you or your children or your reproductive areas under any circumstances. You know the ones I mean. They're there in Coming to America, Friends (when they're interviewing nannies and end up with Freddie Prinze Jr.), and many more I can't think of off the top of my head, but they're there. There's usually a goth girl who eats her hair and mumbles (dating, job interview, or nanny interview), someone who's a bit of a Nazi (nanny interview, possibly dating),  a comedy homosexual (nanny interview or dating), etc. etc.
It is only acceptable to include this parade of human detritus if you are then going to introduce a character who turns out to be the least worst option, like an Uncle Buck or maybe a St. Bernard dog, and japes ensue. If you follow up the goth/hilarious gay/possible Nazi combo with the person who ends up being the object of your protagonist's affections, then you've done it wrong, because you're basically saying "here you are, you've seen the worst humanity has to offer, now fall in love with the first normal person who comes along". That is hardly the romantic ideal. Surely you should be setting this person up as the best of a good lot? Surely you want them to be the pinnacle of human achievement, rather than simply average?
Shallow Grave, of course, turns this neatly on its head. I personally would have been very happy to share a flat with Cameron. He seemed like fun.
Also, you know, goths are often excellent with children. They just don't really come across very well in an interview setting, is all.

1 comment:

mylescorcoran said...

I'm going to start vetting baby sitters by asking them to critique the Cure's discography from now on. Go goth or go home.