Movie Heroes and the Ever-Present Dickface Boyfriend

When you’ve seen as many movies as I have — and I’d strongly caution against doing so — you’ll start to notice the patterns. Through sheer repetition of stock characters and plot threads, Hollywood perpetuates a lot of myths about modern living that are not exactly true. Many of them are downright ridiculous. We Were Promised Hoverboards is a weekly series in which I investigate these myths for sociological and comedic purposes.

According to most movies, if the woman you want to be with is already taken, the man she is currently with will not only be a serious tool, he will likely reveal himself as such in private, as though actively taunting you into sabotaging their relationship. “So I’m going to be unrealistically honest right now,” he might as well say. “I don’t like you, and also I am a total sack of garbage. There are at least four ways that saying this could come back to haunt me, but still I’m saying it: I will always cheat on my girlfriend whom you clearly covet. By minding your own business, you are only helping me ruin her life. However, let’s please pretend that we never had this conversation, Guy I Just Met Recently.”

There always seems to be an unworthy dude standing in the way of the romantic lead and his intended. This happens quite frequently in real life too, but whereas the person attached to your love interest might end up being a relatively decent human being, in the movies he is always a total jackanapes who reacts meanly to the perceived threat of competition. This walking obstacle either threatens physical violence or actually brags about nailing everything that can’t run away. If logic means anything, the last person he’d want to reveal his true nature to, though, would be the dude who had designs on his girlfriend. Rivals aren’t supposed to telegraph their weaknesses from a mile away. If a bank teller somehow let a robber know that he was terrible at banking, John Dillinger would most certainly try to steal his girlfriend. Or something like that. You get the picture.

Things are never so cut and dry in real life. It’s possible to have the hots for someone who is in a relationship with either a normal person, a jerk, or anything in between. The dickface boyfriend always pops up as an obstacle in movies so that the audience won’t feel bad when the female lead changes allegiances in the third act. But if the freakshow boyfriend gets no audience sympathy, the love interest probably shouldn’t get any either. How come the hero’s opinion of her never changes once he finds out that she apparently prefers the company of a-holes? If that seems to be her type, why would anyone want to jostle around in line, waiting to be the next a-hole? Basically the hero, the boyfriend, and the hotly contested lady form a really sad love triangle and whoever ends up winning should look that gift horse right in the face.

Here are some movies that featured dickface boyfriends as obstacles: The Wedding Singer, Wedding Crashers, Old School, Harold and Kumar Go to Guantanamo Bay, Mallrats, Back to School, Blind Date, Major League, Encino Man, Tin Cup, Summer School, How to Lose Friends and Alienate People Did I forget any examples? If so, leave them in the Comments.

Joe Berkowitz edits books and writes stuff. He also has a Tumblr.

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