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4 Rom-Com Heroes Who Would Be Arrested in Real Life

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

As I’ve said before, pop culture has traditionally been a particularly terrible place for people to go for advice about sex and romance. Things are slowly getting better, but the rom-coms and teen movies my generation grew up with portrayed romantic gestures as things that would warrant felony charges.

Let’s take a look at some of the worst movie role models for love, and be thankful we didn’t follow their leads.

1. Jake Ryan and Ted, 'Sixteen Candles' (1984)

People always defend this film by saying it’s 30 years old—well, so am I, and yet I manage to have a working understanding of consent.

It’s a shame, because the movie does a few things very well. Molly Ringwald’s Sam Baker is an awesome early example of a developed female character with her own point of view at a time when that was a rarity in teen movies. It’s also pretty great that Sam and Jake’s love story is primarily driven by Sam. And yes, “the Geek” (one of the earliest pop-culture uses of that term) is a pretty effective takedown of aggressive stalkery “seduction” techniques that are to be avoided by all.

But let’s be real about this. Jake straight-up hands his falling-down-drunk, barely-conscious girlfriend Caroline to Ted (after musing that he could “violate her ten different ways” but feels no desire to because he’s fallen for Sam). It’s strongly implied that Ted and Caroline have sex, i.e. without her consent. Caroline wakes up the next morning with no memory of what happened but “thinks” that she liked it. She and Ted are now an item, and this is played for laughs against the contrast of Jake and Sam’s sweet first kiss over her birthday cake.

Look. I am an awkward, self-conscious Asian guy. I remember all of Geddy Watanabe’s scenes as Long Duk Dong very clearly. I still think the thing with Ted and Caroline is by far the worst and most unforgivable thing in this movie.

2. Knox Overstreet, 'Dead Poets Society' (1989)

Dead Poets Society is another film that hasn’t aged that well. While the advice Robin Williams’ Professor Keating doles out is, in retrospect, pretty bad, the worst thing about the film is its side plot with Josh Charles’ Knox Overstreet and his crush on Alexandra Powers’ Chris Noel.

Whatever your personal interpretation of “carpe diem” might be, “declare to all your friends that you will commit suicide if you can’t get a girl you just learned the name of” is not a particularly great one. If you must pursue this as a goal, following her into her classroom and reciting a self-penned poem about her in public is not a great strategy, particularly if you are given to turns of phrase like “hair and skin of gold” that make her sound like an Oscar statuette.

And, of course, if you don’t know a girl very well, caressing and kissing her while she is asleep is not just a bad idea but, in fact, a criminal act. Her boyfriend reacting with physical violence to this might not be very nice, but it would, in fact, be both predictable and justified.

3. Lester Burnham, 'American Beauty' (1999)

As much as this movie wants Lester Burnham to be a likable, sympathetic protagonist, he does a lot of things that are fundamentally terrible.

Winning an argument at the dinner table through physical intimidation, by impulsively flinging a plate against the wall? Not cool.

Randomly quitting your job and buying a Pontiac Firebird when you’re responsible for a daughter who’s going to college soon, then snapping at your wife and daughter for questioning this decision? Not cool.

Passive-aggressively masturbating in bed next to your wife and then angrily demanding she have sex with you when she objects to this? Not cool.

In addition to all this, the fact that he has been creepily lusting after his teenage daughter’s underage friend is presented almost as an afterthought. It’s his “redemption” when he stops seeing her as sexually available because she reveals her virginity, implying that whether or not it’s okay for him to have sex with someone who’s legally a child is based mostly on whether she's done so before or whether she’s “pure.” (Which is, you know, all sorts of messed up.)

Oh, and I know I’m the 50,000th person to say it, but it’s just a plastic bag.

4. Edward Cullen, 'Twilight' (2008)

While I understand that what we like in fantasy does not necessarily reflect our values in reality and so on and so forth, I just can’t help being creeped out by Twilight.

Despite the progress movies have made in rejecting the stalker romantic hero, this movie celebrates and elevates this behavior to literally supernatural levels. You know, to the level of breaking into her house, standing in her room watching her sleep without her knowledge, and steeling himself against touching her because it’s all he can do not to violently kill and consume her. (Later on in the series we get gems like Edward sabotaging Bella’s truck to keep her from going to a party where she’ll see Jacob, his rival, and this is treated as romantic rather than a criminal act.)

We don’t need a generation of young boys watching earnest YouTube videos about “How to Be A Boyfriend Like Edward Cullen” and actually taking the lessons to heart. Even Robert Pattinson, whose breakout starring role was playing Edward and who had a strongly vested financial interest in promoting the films, was unable to stop himself from publicly admitting that he found his character to be a “dangerous weirdo.”

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Pop Chart Lab
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Comics
The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
Pop Chart Lab

Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

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Disney Enterprises, Inc.
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entertainment
Your $10 Donation Can Help an Underprivileged Child See A Wrinkle in Time for Free
Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Theater chain AMC is teaming with the Give a Child the Universe initiative to help underprivileged kids see A Wrinkle in Time for free through ticket donations. The initiative was started by Color of Change, a nonprofit advocacy group that designs “campaigns powerful enough to end practices that unfairly hold Black people back, and champion solutions that move us all forward.”

"Color of Change believes in the power of images and supports those working to change the rules in Hollywood so that inclusive, empathetic and human portrayals of black people and people of color are prominent on the screen,” the initiative’s executive director, Rashad Robinson, said in a statement:

Director Ava DuVernay’s A Wrinkle in Time is the perfect subject for the group because, as Robinson puts it, “By casting a black teenage actress, Storm Reid, as the heroine at the center of this story, the filmmakers and the studio send a powerful message to millions of young people who will see someone like them embracing their individuality and strength to save the world.”

The movie touts a diverse cast that includes Mindy Kaling, Oprah Winfrey, Reese Witherspoon, Zach Galifianakis, and Chris Pine. The most important member of the cast, though, is 14-year-old Storm Reid, who plays the main character Meg Murry, a young girl who tries to save her father (Pine) who is trapped in another dimension. The movie is based on the acclaimed 1962 fantasy novel by author Madeleine L'Engle.

If you’d like to donate a ticket (or more), you can just head over to the Give a Child the Universe website and pledge an amount. AMC will provide one ticket to children and teens nationwide for every $10 given to the cause.

And if you’re interested in seeing the movie yourself, A Wrinkle in Time opens on March 9, 2018.

[h/t E! Online]

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