Top Five: Characters I’d like to punch in the face.
Good morning afternoon (don’t judge), Booksluttians. Today, I’m still in The Great Reading Drought of 2012, although I just started a very promising book that I received as an advance copy from New Directions (it’s called Varamo, and it’s totally funny); however, that means I still don’t have anything new to review for you right now. Also, I am feeling very . . . aggressive, today. I had an unfortunate run-in with some people on the internet. Mostly this run-in was due to some key miscommunications, I think, but it still makes me want to bash my head against the wall until I lose all memory of the incident and probably consciousness.
I’ve recently decided to stop using Twitter as my go-to outlet for releasing aggression upon the universe. Partially because it feeds my anger, and you should never feed your anger on the internet (much like not feeding Mogwai after midnight), but mostly because I’m so annoying when I complain that I even annoy myself. Eventually. After everyone else is already way past their annoyance limit. Even when I’m curmudgeonly, I generally like people, so I don’t want to frustrate them with my highly aggressive tweets. That leaves me with few options; of those options, I chose to bring my aggression here. You’re welcome.
But I’m not going to rehash a stupid internet fight; nay, nay. I’m going to be creative. I’m going to bring you a top-five list of characters that, if I could, I would like to punch in the fucking face, and totally would if they walked into my house today, and weren’t imaginary. (This is a lie. I’ve never thrown a punch in my life. But if I admit that, I’ll look like a total wuss–crap, I just admitted it, didn’t I?)
1. Mr. ______ from The Color Purple
If you’ve never seen or read The Color Purple–well, for one thing, it’s just an excellent book and film, you really should experience it. But for those who might need an explanation of why I would deck Mr. ______, the story centers around a young girl, Celie, and her supposedly more attractive sister, Nettie. Mr. ______, being from that era when creepy old dudes look for wives who have barely hit puberty, wants to take Nettie for a wife, but “settles” for Celie. He treats Celie like crap, sends Nettie away and hides her letters so Celie thinks she’s dead or something, and constantly cheats on Celie (but it’s not cheating if a man does it, amirite Mr. ______?) openly with a singer named Shug Avery. Not only that, but he beats Celie and emotionally abuses her while she takes care of his children and his house. He won’t even let her learn to read; she has to do it on the sly. He’s a world-class jerk. As a woman from a bygone (good riddance) era, Celie has no recourse for a long time but to shut up and take it.
If you haven’t read it, I won’t ruin what happens in the end. Suffice to say that I would have no compunction decking Mr. ______ if I ran into him on the street. And maybe giving him a swift kick in the balls.
2. Claudius from Hamlet
It’s bad enough that Claudius murdered his brother so he could shack up with his brother’s wife. It’s even worse that he did this because he wanted to become the king of Denmark. But murdering one person is one thing–Claudius, though, he just keeps on murdering when his initial murder causes him some problems. And that murdery instinct just causes all kinds of people to keep on being murdered. Everyone gets murdered because Claudius is a dick who murders people.
He can’t even man up and murder Hamlet directly when Hamlet becomes an insurmountable obstacle. Claudius has to trick Laertes into being involved in his murderplans, which makes him a murderer, too. And he makes Hamlet so crazy that Hamlet accidentally murders some people. It’s like Claudius has a murder virus and he goes around coughing all over people on purpose. Which, again, might not be so tragic (although certainly very tragic), except that we’re dealing with the royal family of Denmark. Do you know how upsetting it is to people when just one of their rulers gets murdered? But the King, the new King, the Queen, and the Prince of Denmark all get murdered, plus some other really important Danes. It probably costs a lot of money to bury royalty, too. You can’t just put them in pine boxes; there has to be a procession, and people have to buy new clothes, and this was back when people couldn’t just go to The Gap for something reasonably-priced in funeral black. It must have been very stressful for the people of Denmark. Claudius deserves a good fist to the mouth for causing undue murderstress on his whole country and getting his entire family killed.
But not if he’s being played by Patrick Stewart.
3. Adam Gellin from I Am Charlotte Simmons
It’s been awhile since I read this book, and even though a good deal of the characters were A-list asshats in the book, the one I was the most angry at was Adam Gellin. “But he’s supposed to be the nice guy! Who helps Charlotte! Who doesn’t take advantage of her!” I call BS on this theory.
In the book, Charlotte is a girl who is far more innocent than she really has any business being in this day and age (because, hello, internet? Even if you’re a virgin, the world is saturated with sex–wait, that doesn’t sound right). She’s a terribly smart girl who goes off to college completely dumb about the world of men and sex. She gets taken advantage of by a popular jerkwad, who tricks her out of her virginity. Adam, who is supposed to be her friend, helps her through her hard times by letting her sleep in his bed when she’s cripplingly depressed (totally innocently, supposedly).
But wait! Adam has the major hots for Charlotte. So, his taking care of her is not exactly altruistic. And even though she is not interested in Adam, he tries to manipulate her later by having his own “breakdown” and whining that he needs to be taken care of. He took care of her, after all! But Adam is not cripplingly depressed. He’s being a whiny asshole and taking advantage of her kindness so that she’ll pay attention to him.
Adam is also far too obsessed with having sex with Charlotte. Which is the same problem that she’s having with the other douchebags in her life, who are really only different because they’re more aggressive than Adam. If Adam had the balls that those other guys had, he’d probably have tricked her into having sex with him, too. Or rather, succeeded in manipulating her into having sex with him.
I hate him the most because he’s supposed to be the nice guy. But he’s a douchebag in nice guy clothing, which is the hardest douchebag to spot before it’s too late.
4. Humbert Humbert from Lolita
Don’t get me wrong, at all. I am not one of those people who completely misses the point and thinks Lolita is a crime against nature because it deals with a disturbing topic. I just can’t stand HH, and if I met someone like him, I would punch him in the face. I don’t think I have to explain why.
5. Lin from Waiting
(Note: I tried really hard to find a female character that I felt was deserving of this list. But all the ones that came to mind were either poorly and unrealistically written, or they got totally beat down in the book, and I don’t like to punch a person while they’re down.)
Lin from Waiting is married to a very good woman. Unfortunately, he married for all the wrong reasons, and he thinks his wife is ugly. Like, really ugly. She didn’t just get beaten with an ugly stick, she got run over by an ugly semi. Lin takes a post that takes him away from home (and away from uglywife), serving as an army doctor; he falls in love with a colleague, and decides to divorce his ugly wife. His ugly wife who has taken care of his children and his dying parents. The only problem is, she won’t agree to the divorce. She cries every time Lin takes her in front of the judge to get a divorce so he can be with his new girlfriend.
He does this once a year for eighteen years.
After eighteen years, the law decrees that he can be divorced if he has been separated from his wife the whole time. So why, after, oh, three or four or ten years of forcing his wife to be shamed annually in front of the court and the whole village, does he persist? And why does he string along his girlfriend when he knows he won’t be able to divorce for years? Oh, because he’s upset that his life didn’t go how it wanted, so he’s going to make two people suffer for him. Screw you, Lin.
(pants heavily) Whew. I think I have all of that out of my system. Now it’s your turn to sound off, my lovely friends–what characters make you want to feed them a knuckle sandwich? Tell me in the comments!