Movie Trope Pet Peeves

Recently, novelist and screenwriter Andrew Klavan got himself into some trouble. He was reviewing Netflix’s The Witcher, and he commented that he dislikes movies that show a woman who is able to go toe to toe with men in a medieval sword brawl, without the help of magic. It’s unrealistic, he says. Might as well have made that character a man.

Well. Many people did not like this. Some challenged Klavan to a sword fight (he’s almost 70 years old). He even got at least one actual death threat.

Let’s see if I can also get myself cancelled. Here is a list of some of my movie pet peeves. And because there are exceptions to everything, I will also list exceptions.

  • Two women in an extended, knock-down, drag-out fight. This just feels icky and porn-y. Exceptions: the brief catfight scene in Sense and Sensibility, and Mrs. Weasley taking out Bellatrix LeStrange. Note that neither of these exceptions is actually a brawl.
  • A woman in an extended brawl with a man. I don’t care which one of them is the villain. This can only go one of two ways: either the woman unrealistically wins, or we get to watch a man beat up a woman (yay!). Exception: Antonio Banderas and Katherine Zeta-Jones’s sword duel in the stables in Zorro. Again, not really a brawl.
  • When the chase scene or fight scene completely smashes a room or building full of breakable, priceless artifacts. I realize it would be unrealistic to have a chase scene in such a setting and have nothing get broken, but it often seems as if directors delight in destruction. They’re smashing our culture with their philosophy, and in scenes like this they’re symbolically smashing our culture, represented by art or cakes or whatever, just because they can. Exception: Jackie Chan makes amazing use of props in his chase and fight scenes.
  • When someone is trying to maintain some kind of deception for the duration of the entire movie. I’m not talking about spy movies where you don’t know who’s who and that’s the point. I mean usually comedies where the high jinks flow from the MC trying to hide something from his wife, or from his daughter, or from her parents, or from an entire town. This just stresses me out. Exception: Breaking Bad, where the point of the series is to show a good man’s moral disintegration.
  • Now, a pet peeve of everyone around me: the fact that I can’t watch a movie without having to analyze the damn thing!
This is how a woman fights evil

What are your movie pet peeves? Do you hate any of the same things I hate? Share in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “Movie Trope Pet Peeves

  1. Beth Carpenter

    And some of the exaggeration in those fight scenes. A 120 pound woman suddenly elbowing the 250 pound goon sneaking up behind her will not send him flying into the air, no matter how well-trained she is. “In this house we obey the laws of physics!”–Homer Simpson

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Benjamin Ledford

    Those are exactly my pet peeves as well. I mean 4 for 4. I would comment on each one, but I would just be echoing your post.

    I will say, about numbers 1 and 2, that people (Hollywood writers/directors) are just oblivious to the fact that there is glory in *not* being violent. Men and women have different glory, and the woman’s glory of life-giving beauty is demeaned by being subjected to (or participating in) violence and brutality. As you say, there are exceptions, but the point is that they are exceptions and the rule is that violence degrades women. It degrades men too, but in a different way and to a different degree.

    A great example is Princess Buttercup’s defiant speech to Prince Humperdinck. She is strong, but her strength is not expressed by trying to fight him, but by showing him that she carries something that is beyond the reach of his superior physical strength (“…and you cannot break it, not with a thousand swords”). He becomes angry because she has revealed that for all his strength he is powerless to make her do what he wants. Her glory is beyond the reach of his violence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So that’s why that scene is so stirring!

      Of course, it does result in Wesley getting killed.

      On the other hand, that’s what was supposed to happen.

      In honor of this comment, I have added a Youtube clip of the scene in question to this post.


  3. I have a too unrealistic pet peeve. The good guys are literally out gunned, they have hand guns while the villains have artillery. Yet, they’re unscathed but the others get killed with single shots. I like seeing the good guys win but come on!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, I forgot that one, but good one!

      I do kind of like the trope where the side with the worse tech wins the day. I love the Ewoks using Stone Age technology in Return of the Jedi, even though everyone else seems to hate all that stuff on the moon of Endor for some reason. But I don’t like the fact that the Storm Troopers can’t hit the broad side of a barn, even though they are clones specifically designed as soldiers.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting.


  4. Wow, I didn’t know that Klavan got such a horrible backlash. (I didn’t totally agree with him, just cos it’s fantasy, but, I don’t have a problem with him saying it and I have a similar pet peeve to him- which is when a show *only* has women wielding swords- in this case, I thought the Witcher did a good job of showing lots of different kinds of women).

    Anyway- I agree with your pet peeves (with exceptions of course- including the zorro one- because yes, they’re definitely flirting πŸ˜‰ ) I especially hate the women fighting thing- especially cos they’re usually shot in such a bad way. I can get over a woman beating a man in a fight *if* it’s fantasy and *if* there’s a good reason for this exception to reality (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer- another piece of media that doesn’t just make a woman into a man/has lots of different types of women). I couldn’t finish watching breaking bad- it stressed me out too much and made me too miserable. And I hate watching precious artefacts getting smashed- but even more- I hate watching beautiful buildings get destroyed! (there was a scene in one of the Thor movies where they destroy the beautiful Wren buildings at Greenwich and I was freaking out about it when I watched it- because, apparently in my mind, you can destroy the world in a movie, but not wren’s masterpieces! πŸ˜‰

    And in case you can’t tell from that last rant- I’m also really hard to watch movies/shows with- cos I tend to overanalyse everything!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You didn’t completely agree with Klavan, yet you didn’t send him a death threat? Wow, that’s really old school! πŸ˜€

      I did not watch The Witcher but he did mention there were various roles for women in it, including a lady who trades her chance at having a family for her special powers.

      I like Buffy. She is an athlete before she finds out she’s the chosen one, and anyway, if I’m not mistaken the physics are a little different when we are fighting vampires.

      Yeah, I understand about Breaking Bad. I finally got around to it and watched several seasons. I was interested because I am at a similar stage in life to Walt and his wife Skylar, and facing similar pressures. So it felt very immediate. I also liked watching a show set in the Southwest, which is a current interest of mine. But I completely understand not being able to watch it. I actually didn’t finish it because I just didn’t want to see the tragic end.

      It doesn’t surprise me that you are OK with the destruction of the world but not of Wren buildings. Isn’t it often the loss of a specific, cherished object or place that brings an overly big loss home to us?

      Now I will have to Google the buildings to find out what they look like.

      I guess book blogging is your calling. A job where you are actually supposed to rant!


      1. Hahaha yeah I know- I just thought “ok agree to disagree” and went about my business- clearly I’m doing it wrong πŸ˜‚

        Yeah that’s what I found. It worked for me personally (and I honestly don’t care if he doesn’t like any warrior women types- for me the only problem is if that’s the *only* type of woman)

        Yes!! Exactly!

        Ah I can understand that. I think it’s a really well done show, but it’s not for me. That’s basically why I stopped watching


        Hehehe exactly!!

        Liked by 1 person

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