It takes years, sometimes decades, for a movie trope to get planted in Hollywood’s head.
We didn’t call Jamie Lee Curtis a “final girl” while watching 1979’s “Halloween” for the first time. It took dozens of subsequent horror films featuring lone heroines to make the trope stick.
It’s a minor miracle, then, that we’re watching new movie tropes appear almost overnight… thanks to Hollywood’s woke makeover. And yes, they’ve already worn out their welcome.
The following predictable tropes blossomed in recent years, and they typically make their stories worse, not better.
Unstoppable Female Heroes
It’s one thing for Captain Marvel or Black Widow to take down the bad guys, no matter their size or strength. They’re superheroes, not to mention Avengers. It comes with the territory. Plus, these are comic book stories at their core.
But it’s exhausting to see petite actresses take down hulking men on screen without breaking so much as a sweat. It happens time and again, and no matter how skilled stars like Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron may be, it beggars belief to see their superpower-free forms take down thugs twice their weight, with ease.
Woke TV shows are notorious for embracing this soul-crushing trope. One minute you’re watching a police procedural on broadcast TV, the next you’re hearing a lecture about Black Lives Matter, immigration or another hot-button issue from a progressive point of view.
The ‘80s-set comedy “The Exchange” offers a perfect example. The story follows a French exchange student from Paris who happens to be of Arab descent. Not only does the screenplay hyper-focus on the white locals’ reaction to his ethnicity, but several characters give speeches about how wrong it is to treat the teen in a bigoted fashion.
On The CW’s’ “Batwoman” series, co-star Luke Fox (Camrus Johnson) spits out this monologue which sounds suspiciously like … a lecture … after surviving a shooting. Only he didn’t want to wake up.
“When I was under, I saw my dad, and, I mean, he was right there. Why the hell would I want to live in a world where we get shot for no reason, where the gunmen get out of jail free so it’s not a matter of if there’s another bullet coming, it’s when? Why would I go through it when I can be with my dad again?”
Heroic Chinese Characters
This trend exists for pragmatic, not progressive reasons. Hollywood covets Chinese theatrical cash, so screenwriters now insert Chinese characters into their films to make them more appealing to that nation’s movie goers.
Said characters can’t be villains, though, nor display any tendencies that would make audiences question a Chinese person’s values. Thus, they’re dull and one-dimensional, all the better not to rub Chinese censors the wrong way.
So why include this trope here? These characters, and the absence of plots critical of China, remind us that the woke mob lacks a true moral backbone. If it did, it would spend endless energy savaging China’s authoritarian tactics and its Uyghur Muslim concentration camps.
Instead, said mob cares more about using the very best pronouns and making Mary Sue characters lead the charge than tackle China’s human rights crises head on.
White Racists at Work
Disney+’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” features a clunky sequence where a banker is praising the black Avenger right to his face. I’m a huge fan! The next moment? The banker is denying him a loan on grounds that feel a tad racist.
It’s a small scene in the show’s first episode, but it’s emblematic of moments attempting to show black Americans face that kind of racism all the time. True? False? What’s clear is how clunky, and inorganic, these moments are in the scheme of the stories in play.
A similar incident happens during “In the Heights.” A Latina character recalls being accused of theft at her college, presumably because she’s a person of color. The memory adds little to the story, and it should be the kind of moment a smart, and driven woman can bully past, not allow to crush her scholastic dreams.
Racism exists, but when it’s depicted in ways tied to a larger, woke narrative the story suffers as a result.
Red State Sucker Punches
The indie thriller “The Boy Behind the Door” delivers more chills than many modern shockers. The story follows two pre-teens trying to escape from a kidnapper’s home. A quick sequence following one of the movie’s villains, though, takes pains to show the bumper sticker on his car. It has a “MAGA” slogan on it.
These out of the blue sucker punches are increasingly common. It’s the filmmaker’s way of sharing what side he or she is on, but they really only serve to take us out of the experience.
Take the lifeless comedy “The Dead Don’t Die,” which featured a local yokel wearing a Trump-style hat to let you know he’s one of the bad guys.
The Oscar-winning “BlacKkKlansman” ended with an out of context clip of President Donald Trump allegedly praising neo Nazis in Charlottesville following the 2017 melee which left a woman dead.
“The Crown” decided to weaponize its fourth season against Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, jabs that likely had little purpose beyond pure ideology.
Meet Mary Sue
The term refers to female characters who are so flawless they leave little room for audiences to connect with them. Emily Blunt’s character in “Jungle Cruise” qualifies. Her only flaw? She can’t swim, a problem fixed through narrative necessity later in the film. Katniss Everdeen could easily fall into this category, proving heroic beyond all measure in the “Hunger Games” franchise.
The biggest recent Mary Sue remains Rey, Daisy Ridley’s character in the latest “Star Wars” trilogy. She’s darn near perfect, with powers that rise up whenever necessary. What a bore.
Old Properties, New Faces
It’s one thing to reboot or reimagine an older story with fresh themes. The “Bates Motel” TV series did that to critical acclaim, as did NBC’s “Hannibal.”
Too often an existing property is reborn, but with a gender or ethnic switch. So “Overboard” 2.0 swaps the genders in the main story, while, the upcoming “Saint” reboot casts a black performer, Rege-Jean Page of “Bridgerton” fame, to play the previously white hero.
The most infamous example? The 2016 “Ghostbusters” debacle which cast four actresses in a franchise known for male ghost busters.
These decisions could have creatively smart consequences, opening up fresh story angles to invigorate the properties. More often than not, they’re duds-in-the-making, witness uninspiring flicks like “The Hustle,” “What Men Want” and “Life of the Party.”
It’s hard not to cringe as Dwayne Johnson utters the hokey phrase, “wait for it …” during “Jungle Cruise,” a story set in 1916. That’s a minor blip compared to other characters in the film behaving as if they just stepped out of Doc Brown’s time machine from 2021.
Johnson’s character, a crusty skipper, proves very accepting when a key character in the film reveals himself as gay. The real Johnson would likely act the same, which is great. Would a 1916-era bloke offer a similarly open reaction?
Showtime’s “Black Monday” series, set in the 1980s, recently had two white characters spouting off as if they time traveled to 2020 America at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests:
Tiffany (Casey Wilson): They want you to give the eulogy? I mean, that is even more insane than how many cops are white supremacists.
Republican Congressman Blair Pfaff (Andrew Rannells): Not really, when you consider the American policing system was initially designed to protect white property owners.
It’s one thing to reimagine the past in ways to increase diversity, as Lin Manuel-Miranda brilliantly did with Broadway’s “Hamilton.” The same can be said of Netflix’s wildly popular “Bridgerton” series. It’s entirely different to create period stories but populate them with characters, and attitudes, ripped from the 21st century.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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