ColumnWhere celebrity becomes conscious.
Like the hair standing up on the back on your neck just before a thunderstorm, you can feel it coming.
You’re sitting in a movie theater, temporarily blinded by the pyrotechnics on-screen. The Earth is being saved by some strapping Everyman. Evil has been defeated.
Everyman stretches out his toned arm to grab the hand of the grateful female companion, who falls into his arms weeping. They kiss as she clings to his arm, fulfilling her role as an accessory to the hero. Meet the Pointless Female Character, that female lead who exists for pep talks, inspiration, and long-drawn out cinematic kisses. Only after being saved by the male lead, naturally.
True, Pointless Female Character (PFC), also known as “insert hot chick for obligatory shallow romance scenes,” tends to show up in male-dominated audiences looking for more mass explosions than mass marketing. And we realize it is our choice to watch these movies, if by choice you mean it’s the only movie playing on an island and you’re just looking for something to do with your in-laws that doesn’t involve talking about when you’re going to finally have a baby. But that doesn’t mean we can’t reclaim our flighty sister from movie screens.
And so, here are eight Pointless Female Characters most in need of a decent character arc. Or crossbow. Even a pair of roller skates to escape?
Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) of Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Perhaps Queen of the PFCs, the gorgeous Ms. Banes is best known for her excellent posing skills over a hot rod and her ability to clutch her boyfriend’s hand while running in heels. (Try it, it’s impossible.) Co-star Shia LaBeouf peddled the rumor that director Michael Bay found Fox “too feminist” for the franchise. Consequently, Bay replaced her in the third Tranformers film with supermodel Rosie Huntington-Whitley. An actual lingerie model. Point taken, Michael Bay.
Jessica Simpson: Collected Works
We refer you to Simpson as Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazard reboot and Amy in Employee of the Month. But Ms. Simpson, who had peddled her name into a billion dollar fashion brand, is likely the last one laughing.
Mary Corleone (Sofia Coppola) of The Godfather, Part III
When one character can almost single-handedly sink a masterpiece franchise, you wonder if she was really necessary. When Francis Ford Coppola cast his daughter Sofia in the role of Mary Corleone in his final Godfather movie, he redefined the destructive power of nepotism on film. (SPOILER: Think I exaggerated? Did you want to cheer at the end when Mary fell victim to her father’s legacy of crime? I thought so.) We will never know for sure if it was Coppola’s portrayal of Miss Corleone that led to her PFC status or simply her character arc. But finding out the truth is an offer we can refuse.
Jenny Everdeane (Cameron Diaz) of Gangs of New York
Miss Everdeane of the Martin Scorsese classic knew how to flip a bedraggled flounce like the sassy Irish-bred lass she set out to be. Sure, she created some cinematic tension for hero Amsterdam Vallon (Leonardo DiCaprio). But we wanted to see more of Jenny and her Dickensian ways.
Mia Toretto (Jordana Brewster) of The Fast and the Furious
When we first met Mia, she was the verging-on-jailbait younger sister in the Toretto car-racing crime family, whose felonies were masked by many hearts-of-gold. But really, she just served as a prop to fall into the arms of G-man turned wild card Brian O’Connor (Paul Walker).
Grace Stamper (Liv Tyler) of Armageddon
Stamper supported her father (Bruce Willis) and boyfriend (Ben Affleck) as they flew off into space to literally save the planet. We get it, Grace, you’re noble and self-sacrificing. So why didn’t you get to save the Earth with the rest of your rag-tag compatriots? Because posing heroically in vintage dresses against swells of patriotic soundtracks just looks better.
Sam (Natalie Portman) of Garden State
She’s quirky! She’s lovable! She’s gorgeous! She’s also a completely unrealistic fantasy of morose guys everywhere who think that pouting their way through North Jersey is endearing. Yes, adorable Sam is everything a hipster would like to find visiting his forgotten homeland. But she seems to have a perfectly lovely life before she meets Andrew Largeman (Zach Braff). Any girl worth her Shin’s subscription would know to keep clear of him. And yet…does she?
Lily (Mila Kunis) of Black Swan
I know, I know, technically Lily wasn’t completely pointless. Her sex scene with Nina (Natalie Portman) gave men an excuse to see a ballet movie. (Lest you doubt me, see Portman’s statement to Entertainment Weekly: “I remember them being like, ‘How do you get guys to a ballet movie? How do you get girls to a thriller?’ And the answer is a lesbian scene. Everyone wants to see that.”) Okay, sure, Lily was also the dark side of Nina which may or may not have eventually consumed the tragic ballerina, depending on how many cocktails you had before you saw the movie. So really, wasn’t Lily just a PFC in a tutu? Or did she just use a stunt PFC? We will never know for sure.
This is the latest installment in Katherine Butler’s column, Shade Grown Hollywood, where celebrity becomes conscious. “Shade grown” refers literally to shade grown coffee, a farming method that “incorporates principles of natural ecology to promote natural ecological relationships.” Shade Grown is our sustainable twist on Hollywood.