The Myth: People only do only the most cursory inspection before revealing their ongoing intentions to backstab a person—a person who is in the same area at that very moment
The Perpetrators: Loser, 13 Going on 30, Dinner with Schmucks, Whatever It Takes, She’s All That
It’s hard work totally screwing somebody over. For instance, when setting up a colleague to take a major fall so that you might rise up the corporate ladder in their stead, you shouldn’t just take a quick look down the hallway before pulling a cohort aside to discuss the fact that you’re a complete sack of shit who backstabs coworkers. No, you probably would go down the street to a Starbucks, buy some coffee, and then go somewhere else EVEN FURTHER AWAY so that there is absolutely no chance you’ll be overheard. In movies, though, this conversation, whose sole purpose is to confirm that a plan is indeed underway, takes place at the scene of the crime where the hero and her friends work, as if to eliminate any chance at all of getting away with it.
Picture what this must be like. You’ve consciously decided to dick somebody over and you’ve come to grips with that. There was probably a long mulling-over session in a bathtub to the strains of a Beethoven concerto. You evaluated the risk v. the reward, and the latter won out. Then, after going through all the tortuous moral justification and actually putting a plan in motion, you decide to either talk about the logistics out in the open or— even worse—brag about it? If you’re going to go through all that trouble, you might as well stick the landing! You don’t snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by cluing others in to your misdeeds before they’re even done.
“Now that I’ve somehow fooled Laney Boggs into coming to the prom with me by pretending to be a nice person, I cannot wait to date-rape her at the hotel when this is all over,” announces the D-bag in She’s All That, to a random person in the bathroom for no reason. Sure, Laney Boggs was just nominated for prom queen, but probably nobody else at the prom would have a problem with this plan. It just makes sense!
The vanity-brag is nothing new. It’s why James Bond villains all wanted JB to know the full extent of their plan before killing him—a plot device brilliantly mocked in The Incredibles, wherein Jason Lee’s villain chides himself for “monologuing.” But here’s a thought: what about maybe waiting until after things have already gone according to plan and you’ve totally gotten away with it, and only then bragging? That’s why OJ Simpson put out his tauntingly titled confessional, If IDid It, 12 years after he killed his wife, instead of while the trial was still underway. If you’re going to be a total piece of garbage in life, you’ve got to commit to it, then admit to it—as Johnny Cochran might say.
I just thought everybody should know that for this weekend and this weekend only, I’m going to use Long Duk Dong’s catchphrase, “Oh Sexy Giiiirl-friend” as often as possible. And then I’m going to use it once or twice more after that. It will probably get annoying.
The Myth: Zoning ordinances exists only for snobs to try (unsuccessfully) to remove slobs from some area
The Perpetrators: The House Bunny, PCU, Sydney White, Caddyshack 2, Revenge of the Nerds, Old School
Hollywood obviously doesn’t think very highly of the real estate business. Negotiating purchase of a compound in Pasadena is apparently such a hellish process that movie producers end up taking out their frustrations the only way they know how—onscreen. Who are these realtors in the movies who knowingly place a group of doofuses (doofi?) in a house with a glaring loophole in favor of the Masters of the Universe types nearby? Eviction-forcing technicalities seem like the kind of thing a realtor would have to disclose. If I were building my anything-goes, sloppy-parties frat house somewhere on campus—and FYI, if I were, it would be a disgusting palace of Bacchanalian delights—I’d be rather keen on finding out whether it were being built on my rival fraternity’s uptight, date-rapey property.
The realtor’s incompetence can only be assumed because every time a snobs vs. slobs scenario takes place in a movie, the snobs usually end up finding a zoning ordinance proving that the fun-loving bunch (the one causing all that racket) are in violation of some draconian code. The details are murky at best, but the point is made: God hates slobs. While it is true that the odds in a legal setting would be stacked against those with fewer connections, it is kind of silly that, with a little digging, it always turns out that the snobs are naturally in the right. This plot point is completely backwards, though. In real life, whether the snobs were justified would be a moot point because their legal firepower would surely win the day. In the movies, however, as if by divine provenance, the law is on their side, but then it turns out that it takes more than legal and political backing to beat a group armed with so much pluck.
If that were the case, though, and the scrappy underdogs turned out to be trespassing, why the hell are we rooting for them? If the snobs do actually have the law on their side, they kind of deserve the land, fair and square—even if they are a serious collection of assholes. Were it only the kind of world where we could decide which shitty technicalities should be observed and which should be ignored! If the slobs put half the effort into looking around for a new property to lease as they did in wrecking shenanigans on the snobs, then they would find a fiscally sound rental unit in no time. Fortunately for them, though, the snobs are prone to letting everything come down to a single bet on some stupid contest or whatever, so the slobs needn’t bother checking any listings.
Ever notice how the hero in action movies is always able to convince the hapless female lead that he has been sent to save her life because she has somehow become entangled in a web of treachery and is now in danger?
I Am a Government Agent—Come With Me
Keep walking, face forward, and do not look at me. Seriously, keep looking forward! They are watching us right now. They have people everywhere. You had no idea any of this was happening, did you? Right now, you just think I’m some crazy person, a raving loony, an emissary on special assignment from planet A-hole—and you’re more than a little frightened. I envy you that: your ignorance at this moment. Beneath that very tight sweater beats the pure heart of someone blissfully unaware of the insanity all around her. And I’m all that can keep you from marching right into its ugly, gaping maw to be swallowed whole like a fun-size candy bar. I am a government agent—come with me.