Last night I had the stinky displeasure of watching Catherine Hardwicke's Red Riding Hood, a movie that has been hailed as the vanguard of a wave of Hollywood movies to appropriate European folktales.
The movie pits the lovely Amanda Seyfried (nubility personified/human Keane painting/tube of lip gloss made flesh) against an angry, magic, sexually charged man-wolf. After the wolf kills her sister and makes it clear he's coming for her next (wolf telepathy is involved – don't ask questions), Seyfried's reaction is to… stand there. Wait to be rescued. Weep. Stand there some more. Quiver under the male gaze. Reapply lip gloss. Repeat. Oh, and sometimes she strides from one place to another place wearing a billowy cloak. She's so useless, in fact, that the film doesn't even let her use her feminine wiles or her sexuality as a weapon! It's just boring, old-timey, textbook damsel-in-distress.
It got me thinking about all the other most-standy-there female movie characters that have been bugging the shit out of me since the beginning of time. So here is a list*:
1. Amanda Seyfried in Red Riding Hood
(See above.) Cry. Billow. Reapply lip gloss. Repeat.
2. That Blonde Lady in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Oh, cool, a gold digger who never stops screeching? It's really empowering to know I can be anything I want to be, as long as it's either this chick or a virgin who never stops pouting.
3. The Childlike Empress in The Neverending Story
This weird bald lady literally just sits in a crystal egg and cries, waiting for some kid from another dimension to save her homeland with the power of his imagination. Worst empress ever! I'm totally voting for the Nothing in Fantasia.
4. Bella in the Twilight Series
Catherine Hardwicke strikes again! Limp bag of tears waits for marriage to have sex with her undead boyfriend; is paralysed by grief every time he goes in the other room. Bella barely even exists. You guys know it's 2011, right, Hollywood? Women can do stuff now – it's the law!
5. Buttercup in The Princess Bride
Yes, I get that she has attitude or whatever ("You mock my pain!"), but could Buttercup maybe DO something once in a while besides brush her hair and contemplate suicide because she and her boyfriend broke up? The woman is a blue silk sausage casing stuffed with whines. The most irritating movie scene on Earth (just go with me on the superlatives here) has to be in the Fire Swamp when – in the span of 10 minutes – Buttercup manages to catch fire, fall in a hole and get bit on the foot by the world's most-outrunnable and asthmatic mega-rodent. And when Westley steps in to rescue her and gets ROUS fangs embedded in his shoulder (Hantavirus of Unusual Size!), she just stands there and looks concerned. The best she can muster is to pick up a stick and sort of gently prod the rat thingy's haunch. A monster is eating your true love, Buttercup! And you prod its haunch? Poke, poke? That's it? Are you sure!? Hit it in the brains, for God's sake! God, I hate Buttercup. I even hate buttercups the flowers now. I hate butter, I hate cups, I hate cups full of butter. See what you've done to me, Hollywood? I give up.
* I would like to preemptively acknowledge two things: 1) In battle, I – Lindy West, confirmed woman – could definitely not defeat a large supernatural wolf, a dishwasher-sized swamp rat, or even a very weak human man. A certain amount of whining would be inevitable. I get that. 2) If I were dating a pirate or shirtless warrior of some kind, I would absolutely let him do the heavy lifting in the protection-from-bodily-harm department. However, that said, I would at least try.
So, come on, who are your candidates for the most pathetic female character