Look, there are some people that, if cited as a favorite character or quoted/emulated, can have red flags the size of an interstate billboard. Even if the character is the protagonist of the movie, it doesn’t matter because while they might be the focus of the story, they’re not great people in their actions and deeds.
Don’t believe me? Find any family member or friend who thinks they’re top of the food chain and scroll their socials for a minute. If you see one of the below characters used in a meme, congratulate the poster on completely missing the metaphorical billboard of the characters writing.
None of these deserve to be idolized or adored, much less imitated by scores of people through adopting their persona or mannerisms. That said, it’s not a dig at the individual movies, which are all well-made and put together (even if I think some are a little overblown). So, here are some main characters that were actually just terrible people.
Scott Pilgrim (vs. The World)
I love Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, just want to say that upfront. The movie’s style is pure frenetic energy and arcade nostalgia by Edgar Wright and every performance nails it. Any line by Kieran Culkin is gold.
Unfortunately, there are far too many people that want to emulate the Scott Pilgrim quirky-nerdy-yet cool guy persona in how they go about their everyday lives, trying to get that adorkable Michael Cera-ness to them. Even more unfortunately, they didn’t realize that Scott Pilgrim is a complete and total dickhead.
The man’s got a pattern for Christ’s sake. Dates a girl, sees another girl he likes, dumps, and does the “it’s not you it’s me”. Totally not toxic, guys. Not even the biggest red flag because he’s a twenty-two-year-old man dating a seventeen-year-old girl. Literally, EVERY CHARACTER calls him out on it.
Red Flag Size- The band’s stage banner at a dive bar.
(I would unashamedly flirt with Wallace Wells)
Travis Bickle (Taxi Driver)
While yes, Travis Bickle did get his moment of vigilante heroism in the end, he also kind of wasn’t a very stable person either. Then again, neither are a lot of vigilantes.
Massive untreated PTSD from the Vietnam War wasn’t a joke, and it messed up a lot of lives for a lot of really dumb reasons. The depictions of Travis are meant to be of a detached and disturbed man in desperate need of help, not a badass to idolize.
Red Flag Size: Taxi sign.
Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
If you see someone who lists Tyler Durden among their favorite characters, quotes Tyler Durden, or has a poster of him on their wall, run. That person is an asshole, and very likely did not realize that Tyler was meant to be a critique on toxic masculinity.
This is hilarious because a lot of the people who idolize Tyler Durden usually hold homophobic tendencies not realizing he’s a critique on masculinity written by a gay man (author Chuck Palahniuk).
How do I know it’s a sign of a toxic person? Because it was me ten years ago. Growth and change, people. Still a good movie, but not a good person to look up to.
Red Flag Size- Multiple skyscrapers worth. It’s also on fire.
Tony Montana (Scarface)
Whoever put together the marketing rights for Scarface was a goddamn genius. Take a movie about a narcissistic coke dealer who mows people down with a machine gun, slap it all over shirts, bumper stickers, and games, then let it sell to everyone who dreams of being Tony Montana.
There’s a massive overlap with the people that hold Walter White as the hero of Breaking Bad. No, the drug dealer killing and causing death and chaos isn’t the good guy and I don’t know how to tell you that in any more plain terms.
Red Flag Size- One very large cocaine brick.
Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street)
It is baffling that people can see this, think “Huh, that seemed like a cool time.” then look up the real Jordan Belfort and still think he’s someone worth aspiring to. Keep in mind this guy defrauded thousands of people while serial cheating and abusing his wife. He was like a reverse Robin Hood.
Not only did they think the movie glorified this man, but they also took it as an invitation to be just as obnoxious as him without any of the charisma of Leo Dicaprio (they’ll probably maintain the same age limit though.
Red Flag Size- A yacht sunk off the coast of Italy.
Severus Snape (Harry Potter)
I woke up and chose violence today. Severus Snape is a terrible person and character, any way you look at it. “Oh, but he loved Lily so much and he told Harry he had her eyes” except Snape also went out of his way to verbally and emotionally abuse Harry at every possible second.
The man wasn’t a hero, he was a self-righteous dickhead who was so focused on not being picked by the girl he loved in high school that he treated her kid like shit. Then again, he was actually kind of a massive asshole to everyone so maybe it evens out a little.
Red flag size- enough to fill seven books, a Twitter feed, and loads of daddy issues for fanfic writers to espouse on.
Yeah, sit down, we need to talk. Rorschach is not a good guy, much less a hero. Sure he was against the idea to obliterate half the world but that’s about the only thing he’s got as far as redeeming. Coincidentally he gets vaporized about a minute later.
Despite all that, it doesn’t redeem the racism, homophobia, and penchant for jumping straight to violence. It’s what Batman would have been without the money and upbringing.
Red Flag Size- It’s literally a confederate flag.
Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
There are no words for this one. If you meet someone that idolizes or even comes off similar to Patrick Bateman please find the nearest public space and seek help. They either intentionally ignored the multiple murders and very obvious point of the movie (it’s in the goddamn title) or they’re all on board but it’s gonna be a disaster either way.
Seriously, the movie’s an abundantly clear satire of someone who is just evil and fake being able to pass with no problem among the corporate elite. It’s the same people that talk about how cool a real Purge Night would be.
Red Flag Size- Planetary billboard
Think it’s safe to say we can just establish a general rule of not being like any of these characters. Not good people by the standards of when they were made, and not good by the standards of today or going forward. Just follow the main rule and you’ll be fine- don’t be an asshole.