Movie "heroes" who are actually low-life scum. Why do we watch them?

Discussion in 'Entertainment and Movie Talk' started by Laspector, Jan 17, 2017.

  1. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    Since we were talking about Breaking Bad over in the Netflix thread, it got me to thinking. Why do we watch these movies and tv shows where the protagonist(s) is actually horrible low-life scumbags with really no redeemable characteristics at all? Stuff like the Sopranos, Godfather, Scarface, these are ALL absolutely deplorable people. How many can you name and why are they so terrible?

    Breaking Bad: Almost everyone in the show is either a murderer, drug dealer or addict, embezzler, kleptomaniac, etc.

    Thelma and Louise: Both horrible people

    Escape From New York: Snake is a bank robber, cares about nothing or no one, kills without a second thought.

    Just a few off the top of my head. How many others?
     
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  2. JiminSTLouis

    JiminSTLouis Sr Member

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    Hancock: Drunk, lazy, mean. However he redeems himself by the end of the movie.
     
  3. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    The same reason folks like these people in real life: there is something about an outlaw. Look at how popular Bonnie and Clyde were back when they were working, or Pretty Boy Floyd. People love anyone who stands up to the establishment. I think it lets folks live out fantasies of being carefree and doing what they want when they want.
     
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  4. Toadmeister

    Toadmeister Sr Member

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    Escapism. I watch TV and film to be entertained, not earn life lessons.

    Sent from my SM-G900V using Tapatalk
     
  5. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    So why do we want to be entertained by watching horrible people do horrible things? Don't get me wrong, I like watching it too, but even as a kid I remember thinking "Why are we playing army, or cops and robbers, or cowboys and Indians? All we are doing is playing 'let's kill each other'."

    It must really say something about the human condition.
     
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  6. Snikt

    Snikt Sr Member

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    I think its exactly what Wes R said. People like to enjoy not having to conform to society because for the most part its boring. I think thats part of why I find Archer so * funny. He says stuff that we want to say, but cant because of societal norms that in order to be a good little drone we must essentially sit down and shut up. And sticking it to the man is rad. I know that we are supposed to think Walter White is awful, but man, I could relate to him on a few levels. And Bryan Cranston is such a good actor too, and so likeable! I never saw the sapronos though. Maybe I should check that out.
     
  7. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    Okay, how about this?

    Your kid says "Mommy, we are going to go outside and play Army." (I'm just using old school examples, I have no idea what kids play today). Mom says "Okay, you kids have fun!"

    or

    "Mommy, we are going outside and pretend to kill people!"....What does Mommy say to that?
     
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  8. firesprite

    firesprite Master Member

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    Sons of Anarchy is another. However, I liked Jax and his crew a hell of a lot better than I liked Walt and...well, just about anyone except Walt Jr on Breaking Bad.

    I like my heroes dirty sometimes, but there has to be SOMETHING redeeming to them. I think there's a big difference between a well-written hero who's no angel vs just unrelentingly unpleasant people.

    I enjoyed the first season or two of BB, but by the time it ended, I was literally hate watching it. By the time we started on season 3, I was actively rooting for Jesse and wishing a horrible death on Walt.

    Jax, on the other hand, was a bastard, but he was also a loving husband and father who legitimately wanted to do better for his sons than his parents did for him. That made him more sympathetic to me, and made the experience of watching SoA more pleasant (although when every episode started being 90 minutes, it just felt overly indulgent and overblown).
     
  9. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    It's already been said. Anti-hero sorts tend to be folks that we can relate to - who make the mistakes we make and have our flaws - in some cases they indulge in these weaknesses which a part of us enjoy vicariously. Sure, it was wrong of Thelma and Louise to hijack that guy's rig at gunpoint just for making obscene gestures but there's a part of us that would love to see something like this happen. Since it's in a movie we don't need to worry about consequence.

    That being said my personal favorite anti-hero is Tuco Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Ramirez (The Good The Bad and The Ugly). He's the most human character in that movie and has the most crushingly poignant scene in the film when he meets with his brother.
     
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  10. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    Just for the record, I want to say I am NOT one of those people wanting to take guns away from people or think that video games and rock music or Bugs Bunny cartons contribute to kids turning to violence. NOT AT ALL! That's political stuff and let's don't even get into that lest we get banned.

    I'm just playing a little devil's advocate here to further ideas about the subject matter of the thread.
     
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  11. Malphas

    Malphas Well-Known Member

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    Because it's more fun than playing stock broker or an accountant.
     
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  12. Wes R

    Wes R Legendary Member

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    Sadly playing cops and robbers will probably get your kids taken away from you these days. I think deep down people miss the days when we had more freedom, the era of the wild west where you could make your own destiny without being overly constrained. Modern society, even as it's changed over the last 20 years, is more of a choke collar on personal freedoms and life itself. The era of being PC has created a new genre of anti-hero who don't have to do anything but say "offensive" things that were okay 25 years ago. It's a form of romanticized nostalgia I think.
     
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  13. Nth

    Nth Well-Known Member

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    I don't consider Snake Plissken deplorable. He has every right to be bitter considering he was F'd over by the military and his government. Never once during Breaking Bad did I consider Walt the bad guy either. Outside circumstances made them what they are, and they simply adapted.
     
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  14. StevenBills

    StevenBills Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    The Anti-Hero protagonist is very common today. Maybe it helps people "live" out their weird/disgusting/twisted fantasies without actually getting into trouble/and or messy?

    SB
     
  15. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    But remember, Walt's friend offered to pay for all of Walt's treatments for free with no payback. Walt refused because of some * foolistic male pride crap. Then he turned to cooking meth to pay the bills and provide. To me, that does indeed in fact make him a bad guy. He actually had no reason to turn to crime. Granted, the medical bills being paid wouldn't take care of his family once he was gone, but still not really a reason to absolutely destroy God knows how many lives. Not just the people actually seen on the show who died because of it, but the thousands of people whose lives would have been ruined by the drugs he made. Crystal meth is some really REALLY REALLY bad stuff!!
     
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  16. Edraven99

    Edraven99 Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Same reason why the top movie in 1990 and one of the top grossing rom-coms of all time was about a hooker and her John ;)
     
  17. modelcitizen

    modelcitizen Sr Member

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    Walt's "friend" was the guy who screwed walt out of all them big bucks in the past. Walt was tired of being screwed being the nice guy, hen pecked by his wife wearing those pink sweaters. it's in the title of the show. a nice guy breaking bad. throughout the show we were to straddle the line of whether we thought he was a good guy or not. at the end ultimately he crossed the line many times into being absolutely not a good guy. there were consequences to his actions. in the end however, he acknowledged his human behavior and said "i liked it. i was good at it".
    moral of the story? don't be walt i reckon.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2017
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  18. NormanF

    NormanF Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Several years ago I was watching "Day of the Jackal" and about half way through I realized I was rooting for the bad guy.

    Sent from my Motorola StarTAC
     
  19. PoopaPapaPalps

    PoopaPapaPalps Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    A few guys have already hit on the head here as far as I'm concerned and I'll repeat all they said in one word: catharsis. A catharsis that satiates both our desires from an evolutionary and societal/anthropological level, depending on the work. For me, I don't think it gets any better, or more cathartic, as Falling Down. It indulges in some really dark material but, at the same time, does it in a very tongue-in-cheek, almost camp, manner.

    On the topic of the anti-hero, that isn't something new. That character type has always been around and has been a staple as long as people told stories. And like many character types, they can adapt and change as much as the times do.

    One anti-hero that often gets over-looked, and misunderstood, in recent memory is that of Ethan from The Searchers. I know there's hoopla today that touts the movie as racist but 1) The film is from the lofty, Protestant view of whites settling the West, and 2) The main character is a bigot. More than that, his character isn't someone many would typically root for if his background is laid out. He willingly fought for the Confederacy and as the Civil War ended and the South lost, he ran from the army and joined bandits in the Texas territory for a number of years. Early in the film, the ranger questions him about it when he comes home and Ethan gives a very nebulous answer about it in return. The film even ends symbolically of him being dated and of the past and only possible of existing in this one time and setting.

    I think people over-look that he is an anti-hero because of just the way the film is. It's that very romanticised image of the West and the characters were molded to fit into that vision. The similar thing happened to Wayne again when he played Rooster Cogburn in the first film version of the True Grit.
     
  20. JLeezy23

    JLeezy23 Sr Member

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    Its fun to watch something out of the ordinary, see the other side of the story. This brought Lawless to mind, they go against the law, but other than that the Bondurant brothers are pretty normal, imo. Rooting for the "bad guy" seems relatable, the story sympathizes their morals and situations. Each bad guy is also a human (mostly in films) and they usuallly have good reasons they are the way they are. Magneto was a holocaust victim, he wanted to rid the world of man, because man only causes war and destruction. I can feel his reasoning, and want to root for the mutants as a whole, but its still wrong to kill ALL of mankind because of what happened. Deadpool kills like 100 guys in his movie, but its entertaining.

    Why do we have violent sports where people are paid to injure each other? Human nature is a messy thing, we're messed up. I for one have always loved Darth Vader. I was Vader for halloween as a kid so many times I lost count! I knew he was the big baddie, I knew he choked guys who did one thing wrong, I knew he ruled the galaxy and struck fear into EVERYONE. But hey, bad guys are free to do bad, they are truly free from boundaries and are living exactly the way they want to. The Joker does bad, look how happy he is!
     
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  21. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Then there's Han Solo. 'Cause he shot first.
     
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  22. Axlotl

    Axlotl Master Member

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    I consider that self-defense. Greedo was going to kill him.
     
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  23. Snikt

    Snikt Sr Member

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    I disagree with that. If I remember correctly, his friend got rich off of his contributions to the company. I didnt see him as a bad guy, yes he did bad things, the worst threatening to poison the kid, but he was always remorseful. None of the nerds here have ever wanted to switch the roles and be the one that is powerful, in charge, respected, and feared? Cmon. Not only that, but he made something that nobody else had done. Yes, of course, dealing drugs, especially meth, is bad. Killing people is bad. But thats why its entertainment. I was rooting for WW the entire time, I knew how it was going to end, but I was still bummed when it did. Nobody cheered in the early episodes when he made that guys car explode after he was a jerk at the car wash? When he had his ace up his sleeve and threw that bomb at Tucos office? When he blew up Gus Fring? Glorious. While meth is bad, if the people wanted it, they would have got it regardless of if it was Walters or not. I have no sympathy for drug users at all. Nobody has a gun to your head making you do it. Its a choice, and a bad one. Notice how Walt never sampled any of his product? Did Jesse?

    And oh my god I hated Walt Jr, every time they put him on screen I groaned. I think he was second to skylar on the annoying scale. :lol

    I was sad when King Kong and Jaws died in their respective movies when I was a kid.
     
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  24. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    :angry




    Well he's also a smuggler whose professional ethics have been drawn into question on several occasions. Not to mention the fact that, in ESB, he's overtly hitting on Leia which, at the time, was still the girl Luke had a crush on.

    So there.
     
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  25. teragon

    teragon Sr Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Well, aslo, in the case of breaking bad, it helped that it was tremendously acted and well written, and perfectly executed. It was high quality entertainment !
    I mean, just look at this scene, it was just phenomenal :

    And I've not seen the Sopranos, but my understanding is that is is a very well made series as well. So IMO, it's not only a question a liking bad guys, it's also how it's presented to us.
    And maybe because one in a while, it's refreshing to follow a bad guy, and not another "hero"... Must be a reason why most main characters today have usually a darker edge somewhere, flaws...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
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  26. Laspector

    Laspector Sr Member

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    After the end of that episode, what happened? The beginning of the next one they are all hiding out at Hank's house, but I never really caught why. Somehow Walt made out that there were threats on Hank or something? Seems like it skipped a little, I didn't really catch what happened.
     
  27. Mr Mold Maker

    Mr Mold Maker Sr Member

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    IMG_5566.JPG
     
  28. The Terminator

    The Terminator Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    I say it's escape-ism. We all live "boring" lives, watching these low-life scum do their thing is a way to escape all this for a moment. Whether it be playing cowboys and aliens :p watching a movie/tv show or play a video game.

    Like @JLeezy23 said, we are messed up.

    "It is in your nature to destroy yourselves"



    Correction, Han was the only one who shot ;)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 8, 2018
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  29. cayman shen

    cayman shen Master Member

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    Because watching a movie about perfectly virtuous, upstanding, unflawed protagonists would be about as interesting as playing dominoes with your grandmother's Bible study group?
     
  30. dascoyne

    dascoyne Master Member

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    Nobody's mentioned one of my favorite scum-heroes:


    [​IMG]
     
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  31. NormanF

    NormanF Master Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    How about John Wick? He was the protagonist of the movie, but he was a retired assassin who gets revenge for his dog.

    Sent from my Motorola StarTAC
     
  32. Rupert_Angier

    Rupert_Angier Sr Member

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    I can honestly say that if someone did that to my Boston, I'd go on a rampage of equal proportion to John Wick's.
     
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  33. simiouno

    simiouno Jr Member

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    I like Doc Savage and The Phantom..they crush scrum bags , and that's what you do with such specimens ! !
     
  34. Strikerkc

    Strikerkc Well-Known Member RPF PREMIUM MEMBER

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    Conflict = quality entertainment (at least the possibility of quality)

    if the main character is scum, there's never any lack of conflict
     
  35. robn1

    robn1 Master Member

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    I like it when Elliott Ness is the protagonist and the gangsters are the bad guys. When the gangsters are the main characters and presented as sympathetic I have no interest.
     
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  36. simiouno

    simiouno Jr Member

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    Yes, exactly..like Rooster Cogburn said ( in the Original Wayne movie) "Ya' can't serve papers on a Rat sister, ya' gotta' kill him, or let him be " ! !
     

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