Friday, May 28, 2010
A few of LRG's favorite fictional characters
The latest double issue of Entertainment Weekly has their list of the 100 Greatest Characters(from movies,TV,books and even video games)from the past twenty years. That last part is crucial,as it limits the selection of fictional folks quite a bit here.
There are plenty of picks that many will agree are excellent(Buffy the Vampire Slayer,the Gilmore Girls,Harry Potter)and some that will result in serious fan debate(Lara Croft,Spongebob,the couple from The Notebook). While this is a topic subject to personal preferences,we here at LRG would like to offer for your amusement our addendum which adds ten more names to this roster and even tho several of them have resumes that go back further than twenty years,their influence upon today's pop culture citizens is still as current as Crazy Bands,but hopefully much more relevant:
10) Hit Girl
She's the new kid on the block,so last place is hers only due to a technicality. Despite the mixed reactions to the offbeat comic book based film Kick-Ass,the one thing that everyone who walked away from that movie remembers best is Hit Girl,aka Mindy Macready,the violently precocious pre-teen who takes to her lessons in bad guy smackdowns from her vigilante parent,Big Daddy,like a duck to water.
Hit Girl may not be the ideal little girl role model,but she's one gal who can more than take care of business when need be. Her impact on the cinematic scene has turned her into an instant girl power icon,with her potential future influence on females in comics making her star status go to number one with a bullet:
9) Homey the Clown
Out of the numerous skits that Damon Wayans headlined on the comedy sketch series In Living Color,one of his best known and beloved creations is Homey D Clown,that disgruntled ex-con who took to his post parole career as a children's entertainer on his own terms.
No matter what the setting or the circumstances,anyone who assumed that they were dealing with just another clown got a smack from Homey's sock ,followed by the less than gentle reminder,"Homey don't play that", that brought them back in line with the program. It's a good thing that ILC characters weren't made into substandard major motion pictures since the delights of a cranky clown like Homey are best enjoyed in snappy skit bites:
8) Mr. Blonde
Quentin Tarantino's breakthrough crime caper film,Reservoir Dogs,is a brilliant ensemble piece but when you think of that movie the one character that pops immediately into your mind is Mr. Blonde,the seemingly calm,cool and collected member of the gang that could turn his laid back smile into a sneer of menace on a dime.
His deadly dance of evil glee as he tortures the poor captive policeman is one of the most memorable moments in the film,made even stronger by his detached dealings with his fellow small time crooks earlier on. While hints of his back story crop up during side scenes, the dark depths of this sinister sociopath with a killer smile could never be fathomed at first glance,even by those who thought they knew him best. Michael Madsen has done other roles over the years(including another Tarantino stint in Kill Bill)but Mr. Blonde may just be the best part he's ever played:
7) Michael Scott
The American version of the U.K. comedy The Office has taken on a life of it's own,especially with the characters and mainly Dunder Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott.
He is both the worst person in the world to work for,with his inappropriate humor and endless need for attention,plus his blending of personal and work issues,and also a great guy to have in charge ,due to his sharp salesman skills,good yet seriously misguided intentions towards his staff and superiors,plus surprisingly moments of empathic clarity.
Whether you love to hate or hate to love him,it's hard to resist the sadly sweet charms of Michael Scott(that's what she said!):
6) Mr. Spock
Star Trek fans may battle over which captain was the best,yet all of them respect the authority of Spock,the constantly logical second in command of the U.S.S. Enterprise. Despite his reserved nature,Spock's struggles with his human and Vulcan heritage made him very identifiable to audiences sharing the same social dilemma in their own lives.
The recent big screen remake of the original ST series had well chosen newcomer Zachary Quinto and revered TV icon Leonard Nimoy playing different yet similar versions of Spock,quite the perfect combo of past and present depictions of the character there. Of course,many people still prefer the team play between Spock and Kirk,a classic buddy act that sometimes had to hurt in order to help each other out:
5) Charlie Brown
The enduring legacy of Charles M. Schulz's comic strip alter ego has been acknowledged from many corners and yet,good old Charlie Brown is vastly under appreciated. Without his steady straight man abilities,the more lively members of the Peanuts gang would quickly descend into chaos,clamoring over who would take center stage.
Charlie's sad sack yet cautiously hopeful persona has been the template for many a live action character such as Ross Geller on Friends,eager magazine intern Ugly Betty and most of the guys on The Big Bang Theory. His emotional misery and the fruitless attempts to boost his ego(thanks to trusting the likes of Lucy and other dubious problem solvers)have made our own set of insecurities something worth smiling about:
4) Tara Thornton
When Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire novels were turned into the HBO series True Blood,one of the pivotal changes to the basic source material was the expansion of supporting player Tara(who doesn't appear until the second book)as the bold talking best friend of Sookie Stackhouse,the mind reading waitress with a fondness for gentlemanly vamps.
Along with her flamboyant cousin Lafayette,Tara took on a life of her own on the show with her fierce loyalties and forthright nature. Tara's greatest weakness is her strength,which puts up emotional walls between those who want to love her and made her vulnerable to the magical manipulation of mad maenad Maryann last season. Regardless of where you meet her,Tara certainly leaves one hell of a first and last impression on people:
3) Jo March
I have a theory about any set of four female characters called the Little Women placement standard,where each one is based upon the personas of Louisa May Alcott's classic set of sisters. Jo March has many followers in her footsteps,from the wise cracking Dorothy on Golden Girls to SATC's Carrie Bradshaw.
Jo's determination to achieve her literary dreams while still being a loving and supportive sibling/friend/romantic partner is a balancing act that many of us strive to find the right balance for. With the recent revival of interest in Alcott's work,a new version of Jo may be waiting in the wings ready to set the world on fire with her passion for life:
2) Scarlett O'Hara
The heroine of Gone with the Wind may seem to be too old school and politically incorrect to be a prominent influence but let's face it,folks;Scarlett is the ultimate diva and frenemy extraordinaire.
From the big shouldered days of Dynasty to the current curdled cream of the crop socialites on Gossip Girl,this spoiled southern belle who used all of the feminine wiles in her arsenal to claw her way back to the top after her privileged world fell apart is particularly the patron saint of lovable bitches. Not even the cut her down to size antics of Rhett Butler could take Scarlett down,not for long anyway:
1) Elizabeth Bennet
No matter which one of Jane Austen's heroines you love the best,it always comes back to Lizzie,the darling of her father's sardonic eye and stubbornly sweet girl who catches the emotionally distant Darcy with her fine eyes.
Most female Austen fans want to be her,whether she's lost in time and space or battling the undead with her sisters giggling along side. Regardless of how the times may change,Elizabeth Bennet will maintain her place as one of the greatest characters the world has ever known:
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