Hollywood is notorious for its stereotyping, often cliched plotlines and one-dimensional characters. However, what we’ve been ignoring is the absolute slander of some of the most well-developed characters in film and television - Hollywood’s portrayal of the good and bad.The dichotomy between heroes and villains has gone too far - creating fandom wars, internet battles and staunch character defences. The increasingly heated threads on Twitter have established that it’s long overdue to acknowledge the often ill-conceived notions existing about popular characters, and also indicate the need for a good old rant about the same. In an attempt to do both I present to you my - in no way exhaustive - analysis of four characters that I believe have been done dirty, and four who are the absolute worst.
- High School Musical
All is not as it seems with your favourite Disney Channel Original.
Done Dirty: Sharpay Evans
Branded as a whiny, spoilt, rich girl, Sharpay has long been regarded as the primary antagonist of the High School Musical movies. However, perceiving her as the villain has often led to ignorance of the fact that she is driven, talented, and works hard to achieve her goals.Throughout the films, Sharpay is frequently denied opportunities that she rightfully deserves by virtue of her talent, has her dreams crushed by Troy and Gabriella (read: two lackadaisical,untalented newbies), and is shamed for having ambitious plans for her future. Sharpay Evans is a fashionable, talented queen who deserves the rightful attention she has been so often denied.
The Absolute Worst: Gabriella Montez
Cute, dorky, girl-next-door Gabriella is one of the protagonists of the films and a fan favourite. Unfortunately, her character is one that has often been over-romanticized; Gabriella has absolutely no experience in musical theatre, lacks any sort of dedication or ambition, and possesses a blatant disregard for school property (which she nearly blows up in an attempt to attend an audition which she was late for in the first place). Despite being regarded as a picture-perfect love interest, she discourages her boyfriend Troy from pursuing his dreams and often holds him back from making any progress on his future aspirations. Fans must look behind Gabriella’s shiny veneer to understand that she isn’t the sweet, wholesome girl of their dreams.
- The Office
The characters in the ever-beloved mockumentary aren’t as simple as they appear.
Done Dirty: Dwight Schrute
Dwight is the quirky clown who everyone just loves to hate. However, the truth is that he’s simply a socially awkward and dedicated office worker who wants nothing more than to support and garner the approval of his boss and coworkers. Although I can’t justify his usage of weapons in an office space, and his tendency to resort to arson to promote teamwork, it’s clear that these activities are performed with good intentions, albeit with poor execution. Additionally, Dwight is often the target of cruel pranks - many of which could result in him being potentially fired - which he silently braves. Dwight K. Schrute is a pure, well-meaning individual, who in my opinion should be given a raise right away for all the hijinks he tolerates.
The Absolute Worst: Pam Beesly
Including Pam on this list is a bit controversial, and I’ll admit that as a character she doesn’t seem so bad at all. However sweet and innocent she may appear, there’s no doubt that she really isn’t that great a person at heart. She not only cheats on Roy, her fiance but also leads on Jim at the same time while knowing that he liked her. On top of this, she appears to be unnecessarily possessive over Jim, who just wants to try to move on from her. However, her faults don’t stop at this - she, along with Jim, is also responsible for playing several pranks on Dwight, some with dangerous consequences as well. What makes this particularly heartless is the fact that Dwight is one of the few people who try to help and comfort her when she’s all torn up over Roy and Jim (which in my opinion, is unnecessary considering that she often brings it upon herself). Honestly, what kind of person would you have to be to play painful pranks on literally the only person who wants to help you? Well apparently, Pam Beesly is this person.
- The Devil Wears Prada
It’s time to take another look at every zillennial’s favourite comedy-drama.
Done Dirty: Miranda Priestly
Alright while Miranda wasn’t technically done dirty in the film, it’s clear that she was being portrayed as its antagonist, which to me seems completely unwarranted. The main reason why Miranda gets so much hate is because of her cold, stony, and somewhat controlling nature - which according to some fans also makes her evil (Like just how? Could someone please explain this to me?) This is where I’d like to remind everyone that she is literally at the helm of one of the world’s largest fashion magazines, making her an actual legend and certified boss. Just because she actually cares to maintain a healthy degree of professionalism and create a strong reputation for herself, doesn’t make her a villain! In fact, it makes her an inspiration, and this is why I once again implore fans to join me in making #JusticeForMirandaPriestly an actual thing.
The Absolute Worst: Andy’s Boyfriend
Please note how I refer to him as Andy’s boyfriend, and not his actual name, since being her boyfriend happens to be his biggest character trait - right after being an absolute disgrace. At first glance, Nate - which actually happens to be his name - looks like a typically cute and goofy rom-com love interest. In reality, he’s toxic as heck. First, he made fun of Andy for her appearance before she started working at the magazine (which in itself is not okay); then he goes on to make fun of her appearance even after she a makeover (honestly, what does this man even want?); next, he mocks her for wanting to focus on her job and then goes on to break up with her when she wants to continue working in fashion (and continues to not only insult her but also the entire fashion industry). Nate is just a walking red flag, and no self-respecting woman like Andy should have to be saddled with someone as nasty as him.
- Harry Potter
We finally round off this list with the much-loved childhood classic.
Done Dirty: Draco Malfoy
Now hear me out - my defence for Draco does not arise from the recently popular #DracoTok - a trend which for the record has been propagated by preteens because they find him attractive. While I’m all for Draco finally getting the recognition he deserves (albeit from thirsty twelve-year-olds on TikTok), I staunchly believe his character extends far beyond a pretty face. Draco is a rather divisive character, for he is not a villain in a traditional sense, but rather a disturbed boy in need of redemption. Draco was only a teenager trying to survive a war - a war in which he was unfortunately stuck on the wrong side. He was brought up as a prejudiced bigot, and while this doesn’t excuse the vile opinions he has expressed throughout the series, one must remember that this was all he ever knew. Moreover, he seems to show genuine guilt and remorse for his actions - making his character one of the best-developed ones in the entire series. Who doesn’t love to see some good character development? It is here that I strongly urge everyone to hop on to the bandwagon right away and get Draco Malfoy the redemption arc he deserves.
The Absolute Worst: Albus Dumbledore
Albus Dumbledore is the lovable mentor, as well as a wholesome and all-around good guy. So one may ask - what is it that makes him so terrible? Well, the main case in point - his ignorance of the abuse faced by Harry. While one may argue that his intentions were good and that he only wanted to keep Harry safe - you really can’t defend the fact that he left a young boy to suffer emotional and verbal abuse from his only family for over ten years. Are you telling me that Dumbledore, the most powerful wizard alive, couldn’t find a safer alternative to help Harry? Besides this, he also makes several ethically and morally questionable decisions, frequently subjecting children to the danger of potential death and literally setting up Harry to be a sacrificial lamb for what he considers the greater good. I understand that Dumbledore is canonically the only queer character in the entire series (shame on you, JK Rowling), because of which a lot of fans support him for the representation he provides. However, I beseech fans to look beyond the nice, nurturing grandpa he seems to be and acknowledge the fact that his character is not without its flaws. In conclusion, Dumbledore is a manipulative and positively Machiavellian old man who deserves to be cancelled.