Stereotypical characters annoy the hell out of me, but stereotypical dialogues for stereotypical characters is worse. Let's try an experiment. I'll say a line, and you see if you can get an image in your head of the character and scene it's likely to appear in.
"Get me a beer."
Innocuous? Not if you read the scripts I do, for if you did you would know that a man asking a woman to get him an alcoholic beverage is perhaps one of the most unspeakably evil things he can ask her to do. If you see this line in a script, and it comes from a man to a woman who is not a bartender, then you can safely assume the writer wants you to know that this man is SCUM. Utter evil. He might as well have shot a dog, smothered a baby and killed someone for their ethnicity/sexual orientation.
"Get me a beer."
One of two things will happen. The woman will give in, which shows that she's a broken, submissive frail woman stuck in a loveless marriage she desperately needs to escape. OR she'll resist, at which point the man will backhand her and call her a misogynistic slur just so we get that he has no respect for her.
If the woman brings the man a beer, it's never because it's no big deal for her to do a favor for her husband, and if she turns him down, the man never takes it maturely. But let's face it, the mere fact that he asks is iron clad evidence he's a cad.
Note this - an abusive husband never asks for something non-alcoholic. The scene never plays out like this:
HUSBAND: Get me the apple cider.
WIFE: Sorry honey, I'm eating. Can't you get it yourself?
Husband backhands Wife, then shoves her into a wall.
Yet if you replace "apple cider" with "beer" I've read that scene a hundred times.
I can feel some of you retreating because of my use of the "c word." (No, not "cider" you morons!) I assure you it was only for education purposes.
The worst was a script I read where an entire scene hinged on if the woman was going to give in and get the beer. It starts with some social worker waiting for the woman to get back to her trailer. As that woman gets home, her husband sticks his head out of the trailer and shouts at her, "Where the hell have you been? Get yer ass in here and get me a beer!"
The social worker tells the woman that she doesn't have to live like this, remaining stuck in an abusive relationship, that she can help her. The man shouts to his wife, "Well? You comin'?" The wife's shoulders slump and she looks back and forth between the husband and the social worker, eventually turning towards the trailer with a sad look at the social worker and then telling her husband, "I'll get you your beer." And then we're all supposed to feel sad for this poor abused woman.
So think about that the next time you ask your wife to bring you a frosty beverage simply because she's in closer proximity to the fridge.
Representations and warranties
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