Every person has a pet peeve, something that strikes a nerve so aggravatingly deep that it internally sounds like nails scratching a chalkboard.
Some of mine include hearing the sound of an alarm clock if I’m already awake and having a stranger sit close to me in the movie theater when the whole place is open.
Pet peeves can also stretch into the pop culture realm. The other day, as I was watching “Couples Retreat,” I couldn’t get over the fact that Jason Bateman’s character was named Jason.
It was a good thing the movie was only tolerably enjoyable, as any love I would have had for it would have flown out the window, along with Vince Vaughn’s once promising career, all because of that character’s name.
It’s much like the old chicken or the egg debacle. Which came first – the character name or the actor?
For the most part, I can put my peeve aside and still watch a film or TV show where the actor and character share a name, though internally I’m cringing, even with a movie I love, like “Knocked Up.”
Sometimes, though, it makes me boycott a show altogether. For example, I’ve never sat through an entire episode of “Two and a Half Men” because Charlie Sheen’s character is named Charlie. The character seems so slimy and sleazy, much like the real Sheen, that it’s as if the producers created a like character solely out of necessity for Sheen’s poor acting.
There are two instances where this is acceptable – when the script is from a book and changing the name would be blasphemous, like in “The Devil Wears Prada,” with Emily Blunt’s character, or if the actor is guest-starring as themselves.
Otherwise, change the name. Or, like in the case of Sheen, hire another actor.
Why does this bother me so much? Half of it stems from an unreasonable hatred, the other half is derived from what seems to be pure laziness. If Gwyneth Paltrow can name her children Apple and Moses, there have to be more creative options.
I’m not the only one out there with a pop culture pet peeve. A friend of mine won’t watch any movie with a talking animal, even if it’s animated. She’s long accepted the fact that this means she’s missing some great movies but doesn’t care, as it creeps her out.
Professionals have problems, too. Entertainment Weekly writers blog about them whenever they show up, and they take issue with things more tedious than my name game, like fake baldies and empty coffee cups that should actually be full.
In a world of irrational fears, it’s comforting to know I’m not the only one. Screenwriters and casting directors, take note.
Erin Henneberger is a junior journalism major from Livonia, Mich. She is the Scout assistant Voice editor.
Direct questions, comments and other responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.