I want to talk today about a trope that lately has been driving me crazy. I call it the Perception of Beauty Trope, but perhaps it would be more like ‘the attractive guy gets the girl’ trope.
This has caused so many problems throughout the literary and movie world. Let me give you a few examples:
Pretty much the one thing that kept this movie from being perfect is the infuriating love triangle, especially for those of us who read the book and saw the original. Bev seems to go back and forth between Bill and Bev… and for some reason… Ben just kind of turns the other cheek the entire time.
I’m just going to come right out and say it, even in this latest installment, BEN AND BEV HAVE FAR MORE ROMANCE THAN HER AND BILL! However who get’s to spend the last few moments of the film with her and gets the meaningful kiss? Is it the kid she first connected with, the one who wrote her poetry… the one she ends up with in other mediums? NOPE! It’s the stuttering leader. Why? Because he’s the good looking guy. There is virtually no other reason for it. (And yes, I am FULLY aware of she does in the book, but that is irrelevant here.)
The Hunchback of Notre Dame –
Yes, I know what happens in the book, but both the ’39 and ’96 versions are such a departure from the novel that I barely consider them the same story. Again, considerable chemistry between Esmeralda and Quasimodo, but does she end up with the Hunchback? Heh, please… in the animated one she ends up with blonde knight captain while in the ’39 version, she ends up with a starving Poet who pretty much stood by while she was about to be executed. Again, pretty much just because they were the good looking guys.
Moulin Rouge –
For full context here, you need to watch both the original and supremely inferior Jukebox music version that came out a few years ago.
In the original, the star is a rather ugly (as Hollywood goes) man with a cane. In the remake, he’s replaced with Obi Wan Kenobi… and the movie goes downhill from there.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against Ewin Mcgreggor. He’s a good actor who did the best he could with bad directing in Star Wars… but here… he doesn’t fit. This becomes blatantly obvious in the original version of the best song in the movie… ironically the only song actually made for the movie:
Fast forward to 4 minutes into the song. Ewin McGreggor is replaced with Jim Broadbent (Harold Zidler) for the final cut. When I asked my wife why, she said it was because he was the superior vocalist… well why didn’t they cast someone with said superior vocalist. You put that one together.
I see this in literature too and to be honest, I don’t get why. If it’s not appearance, it’s some other superficial feature. I can’t remember the name, but I read a story a while back with a character named ‘Keelig’. There was a love triangle between him, a girl, and another guy named ‘Chris.’ Right off the bat, I knew who was ending up with the girl.
Honestly, this is part of the reason why so many of my characters have very distinct names; Piero, Corbin, Giovanni, Tobias, and Raiya. I’ve found that characters with distinct names, personalities, and features are the ones that are most memorable. As such, I can’t figure out why the bland ones get the most attention.
So my advice for my readers is simple, pick a character. Do you care about that character? Do they have the most chemistry with the others? Then let that one get the happily ever after in the end. Ignore the topical issues.
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Catch you on the flip side!