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Cinema's Ultimate Jerks

Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks #6: Larry Vaughn from ‘Jaws’

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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Also, since I’m not a jerk, this is your spoiler warning for the 1975 movie, Jaws.

Don’t worry, people. There’s no shark in the water. It was a boating accident. A boat with teeth.

JAWS! A bunch of people go into the sea in one piece and come out of it in several. An oceanographer says it looks like a shark is doing it, which you would think would be all of the encouragement one would need to stop people from going into the sea entirely, but authority worked much the same way in 1975 as it does today: fuck science, let’s make some money!

Amity Island. The perfect seaside resort. There’s a beach party going down. A couple of kids have knocked back enough of Grandpa’s old cough medicine to start feeling amorous, and slink off together for a bit of hanky panky. The girl runs, throwing her clothes off as shes goes and leaving a trail for the boy to follow, which always kind of annoyed me because, like, why would you even do that knowing how much of a total ball-ache it’s going to be looking for each item of your clothing individually in the dark, but hey, fortunately that’s not something that should cause her much concern in her incredibly short future. The boy can’t be arsed to chase her any more because I guess he figured that he’d be doing the deed without having to complete a marathon first, and he lays down and goes to sleep. The girl, now totally in the buff, goes in the sea for a little swim, but soon she’s screaming and gurgling and going under the water and not coming back up. Spoilers: it’s a shark.

Anyway, her body washes up on the beach and it’s not pretty. It’s all mangled and chomped and shit. It kinda looks like a shark has had a bash at it. So the coroner turns up and he pretty much confirms that a shark did it, and so police chief Brody thinks, “Hmm. There’s a shark in the sea. Better stop people going in the sea!” It’s at this point that the town mayor – and colossal jerk – Larry Vaughn shows up to offer a counter-argument to Brody’s outrageous suggestion that they stop people going in the water. Perhaps it was a boating accident. Sure, it looks like a shark did it, and sure, sharks do in fact live in water, and yeah, we asked an expert and he said that a shark probably did it, but let’s not stop people going in the sea because this is a seaside town and we want people to keep coming and spending money here. It’s a sound argument, I suppose, aside from the obvious downside that if people keep getting eaten by the fucking shark prowling the shallows like me at an all you can eat buffet, then perhaps people might stop going in the sea – like, permanently.

Look, I told you. That isn’t a shark. It’s just a big haddock. No need for concern.

So they call in oceanographer, Matt Hooper, an expert in sea-stuff, to give a second opinion on what exactly had a nibble on the girl at the start of the movie, and he says it’s definitely a shark – and not just any shark, but a shark so massive, and so dangerous, that they absolutely, positively must close the beaches. There’s a reward announced for anyone that kills the shark, and soon enough, a bunch of fisherman catch one. Hooper checks the mouth to see if it’s got the same size bite radius as the one that ate the poor girl at the start, and it doesn’t, so they cut it open and there’s no human remains inside it, and so the expert on all things sea concludes that this shark is definitely not the one that did the murder, and they need to close the beaches. So obviously Larry Vaughan decides not to close the beaches, and predictably, the shark rocks up and eats a kid right in front of his mother, and it’s fucking horrible, but hey, gotta make that dollar. At this point, I know what you’re thinking – he’s definitely got to close the beaches now, right? WRONG.

Since it’s the Fourth of July weekend, Larry Vaughan concludes that it would be silly to close the beaches just because a bunch of “experts” have some “facts” about “sharks”. It’s America God damn it, and in America on the Fourth of July, you crack open a beer, slap some hot dogs on the barbecue, go in the sea for a swim, get eaten by a shark, and have a gay old time. That makes money for Amity Island. If people can’t swim here, they’ll go elsewhere. And so the beaches stay open, people go in the sea, a shark turns up and everyone is terrified, but then it turns out it’s just a couple of kids with a fake shark fin on their back pulling a prank on everyone, and the whole town has a big laugh. Phew!

And then the real shark turns up and eats someone.

Maybe he died of natural causes?

Jerk-Off Quote: “Martin, It’s all psychological. You yell ‘Barracuda,’ everybody says ‘Huh? What?’ You yell ‘Shark,’ we’ve got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July.” – Larry Vaughn, debating the semantics of telling people that there’s a big ass shark in the water.

Comeuppance: By the time the completely unnecessary but mildly entertaining Jaws 2 arrived in cinemas, Larry Vaughn was a changed man, filled with deep regret over his part in allowing swimmers to be eaten, and when Police Chief Brody comes to him to announce that there’s another big ass shark in the water, he immediately closes the beaches, saving countless lives. Nah, just fucking with you – he still doesn’t want to close the beaches and thinks Brody is just overreacting and a bunch of people get eaten.

Jerk-Off Rating: He’s the democratically elected mayor of Jerk Island.

Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks.

John can generally be found wearing Cookie Monster pyjamas with a PlayStation controller in his hands, operating on a diet that consists largely of gin and pizza. His favourite things are Back to the Future, Persona 4 Golden, the soundtrack to Rocky IV, and imagining scenarios in which he's drinking space cocktails with Commander Shepard. You can follow John on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JohnDoesntDance

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Cinema's Ultimate Jerks

A Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks Christmas: Harry Ellis, Dwayne T. Robinson, & Dick Thornburg from ‘Die Hard’

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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. For this very special Christmas edition of Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks, let’s look at three of the biggest douchebags in cinematic history and see why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. It’s the final ever Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks, and for Christmas we’re inducting Die Hard’s Dick Thornburg, Deputy Dwayne T. Robinson, and Harry Ellis.

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Look at those pearly whites.

Die Hard is of course the world’s greatest ever Christmas movie, and so it seems only fitting that Die Hard would include not one, not two, but three of the biggest pricks ever to grace the silver screen. Die Hard‘s Unholy Trinity of cinematic buttheads is legendary and is actually one of the reasons that the late, great, totally-wrong-on-this-one Roger Ebert gave the movie a mediocre review. You can’t win ’em all, Rog. Anyway, Hans! Bubby! Let’s talk about Harry Ellis.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. If you’re a wholesome, well-to-do individual like myself then you’ll have sung those lyrics in your head, imagining little children building snowmen, chestnuts roasting on a roaring fire, and Christmas cheer and good will to all men (and women, before you start). But did you know that snow is also — in the parlance of our times — a slang name for the illicit street drug, cocaine? Also known as Charlie, Sniff, Blow, Bugle, Bernie’s Gold Dust, Auntie Nora, Bizzle, Colombian Marching Powder, and Great Uncle Charles’ All Natural Nose Tonic, cocaine is an illegal substance enjoyed by deviants and ne’er-do-wells looking to talk a lot of shite or balance out an incredible amount of alcohol consumption with an upper. Anyway, Harry Ellis, the dirty little bastard, can’t get enough of it.

John McClane — a New York, straight shootin’ cop who’s not afraid to play by his own rules — hates Ellis about 0.4 seconds into his first meeting with him, when after arriving at his wife’s Christmas party at Nakatomi Plaza, he gets an eyeball of Ellis sticking his beak into a big fat slug of Paradise White. Harry claims he was just making a phone call, but John — with eleven years of experience as a detective — instantly recognises all of the sniffing, fast talking, jittery behaviour, and the fact that Ellis still has some cocaine in his moustache, as signs that Ellis has just been having a cocaine. But John isn’t at the Christmas party to bust people for having a big one on pay weekend, and so he lets it slide. Just this once.

Ellis, overconfident thanks to his indulgence in too much Star Spangled Powder, tries to show his dominance as the office alpha male by insisting that John’s wife Holly show her husband the Christmas gift that he bought her. “It’s a Rolex,” he proclaims, proudly, with a massive, bearded grin. Honestly, what an absolute flannel this guy is. I firmly believe that John McClane could have grabbed Ellis by his fucking beard right then and there and launched him directly through the window to his death, and there’s no jury in the land that would have convicted him. Not even in one of the weirdo states. Defenestration would be a mercy killing. Not for Ellis, but for everyone else who ever had to suffer spending one moment in his odious presence.

Anyway, once it all goes pear-shaped and terrorists take over the Nakatomi Plaza, Ellis starts freaking out a little bit. Maybe it’s the fact that armed gunmen have taken him hostage, or maybe he’s just desperate for another toot of Peruvian Flake, but instead of trusting John McClane to sort all the baddies out like everyone else has, ol’ Harry decides to take matters into his own hands. He requests an audience with the terrorist leader, Hans Gruber, in which he pretends to be an old friend of John’s who can talk him out of sneaking around in the shadows, capping terrorists, and generally fucking up Hans’ plan.

“Hans! Bubby! I’m your white knight!” he audaciously claims, utterly oblivious to the fact that he’s in way over his head. He tries to convince Hans that they’re equals, only while Hans prefers to conduct his business via the medium of threat and/or violence, Harry does his deals with the stroke of his pen. If looks could kill, Hans’ burning hatred for Ellis would have zapped a hole through his head there and then, but ever the consummate professional, Hans hears him out. Harry’s plan, it seems, is to negotiate with John, get him to stand down, and then what? Have a glass of champers with Hans and his mates, before going back to his apartment to watch Home Alone 2 like a normal person on Christmas Eve? Honestly, I don’t think he thought this plan through. But then maybe his drug-addled brain wasn’t capable of rational thought.

Say no to drugs, kids.

“Hang on, you’re telling me Ellis hasn’t already been inducted into Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks? The fuck you bin doin’ lad?”

Jerk-off Quote: “I’ve watched 60 Minutes, and I say to myself, they’re motivated, they’re happening, i.e. they want something. Maybe it’s because you’re pissed off at the camel-jockeys or maybe it’s the Heebs, Northern Ireland, it’s none of my business. I figure, you’re here to negotiate. Am I right? Hey, business is business. You use a gun, I use a fountain pen, what’s the difference? Let’s put it in my terms: you’re in a hostile takeover, you snatch us up for some green mail, but you’re not expecting some poison pill to be running around the building, am I right? Hans! Bubby! I’m your white knight.” — Harry Ellis, who negotiates multi-million dollar deals for breakfast, dealing with some Eurotrash.

Comeuppance: Unfortunately for Harry Ellis, he’s not the master negotiator that he thought he was, and his plan to make friends with his terrorist captors and get out of the situation unscathed all goes to pot. Hans Gruber — in a move so crowd pleasing that it almost turns him into the hero of the movie — shoots Harry Ellis dead when John McClane refuses to give himself up. And nobody, not even his mum, turned up to his funeral. Maybe. They don’t deal with that bit in the movie. But come on.

Jerk-off Rating: Beards didn’t come back into fashion for like twenty years after Die Hard. Coincidence? I think not, bubby.

Somewhere around the time that Ellis is first starting to wish he had another gram of gear on him to get through the terrorism-related pickle he’s found himself in, Deputy Dwayne. T. Robinson of the Los Angeles police department turns up outside the Nakatomi Plaza to stick his oar in. Up until this point, John McClane has been chatting via walkie talkie to another cop named Al, and the two have been getting along swimmingly. But for whatever reason, Deputy Dwayne T. Robinson takes an instant dislike to John McClane, and pretty much whatever the situation is, he finds some way to point the finger of blame towards him.

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Look at Al’s face. It’s the exact same face I make when I hear the phrase, “And up next, the new song from Ed Sheeran.”

Has there ever been a worse policeman that Dwayne? You’d think that when you’re facing an incredibly volatile terrorist threat with dozens of potential civilian casualties, you’d be glad of a little help from an inside man, but Dwayne seems determined to fuck the whole thing up from the moment he arrives on the scene. The bullet-riddled terrorist corpse that John McClane threw from the window to get Al’s attention? He reckons it’s probably a stockbroker who got depressed. Now, admittedly, depression is a difficult thing to quantify, and it’s hard to predict how exactly it may affect the person afflicted by it, but I have a hard time believing that depression could cause one to repeatedly shoot themselves in the chest and then leap face-first through a high-rise window. It’s a slightly ostentatious method of suicide, wouldn’t you agree?

Still, who knows? I’m not a big city psychiatrist. Maybe that’s a common occurrence in Los Angeles. Far be it from me to dispute Dwayne’s credentials when it comes to dealing with such matters. Maybe Dwayne just wanted to look at it from all angles? To be thorough? So what about when a SWAT team tries to enter the building, terrorists mercilessly gun them down and leave them bleeding on the pavement, and then John McClane drops C4 down an elevator shaft to blow up the baddies responsible before they can do any more damage? Surely, that tells you McClane must be fighting the good fight? Well, Dwayne gets annoyed that McClane blew out of a bunch of windows with the blast. Say what you will about Deputy Dwayne T. Robinson, but he’s a man who respects his glass. Don’t fuck with windows on this dude’s watch.

But hey, we don’t know Dwayne’s history. Maybe his parents were artisan glassmakers and that’s why he was so upset about McClane brazenly destroying dozens of windows just to save a few lives. I mean, these guys knew what they signed up for. It’s a dangerous job. People die. And if a handful of people have to die so that we don’t have to make an uncomfortable phone call to the local glazer, then so be it. That’s why Dwayne is the Deputy — he has to make the tough calls that we wouldn’t be able to.

This man respects glass.

Jerk-off quote: “We don’t know shit, Powell. If there’s hostages, how come nobody’s come to us with ransom demands, huh? If there’s terrorists in there, where’s their list of demands? All we know is that somebody shot your car up. It’s probably the same silly son of a bitch you’ve been talking to on that radio.” — Deputy Dwayne T. Robinson, PhD in Psychology, master glassmaker, enormous twat.

Comeuppance: None, really. His authority is fairly quickly diminished once the FBI arrive, but then I guess he probably gets it back when the FBI are blown up minutes later. At the end of the movie it looks like he’s about to read John McClane the riot act, but then some shit goes down and it never happens. Presumably he got fired for being absolutely shit at cop stuff, and he now lives on the street, drinking liquor from a brown paper bag, recanting tales to all and sundry about how shit Die Hard 5 was.

Jerk-off Rating: I’ve seen all three The Naked Gun movies, and every Police Academy, and he’s still the worst cop ever.

Not long after Deputy Dwayne T. Robinson arrives to make John McClane’s life more difficult at every single turn for no apparent reason, the press gets wind of something sinister being afoot at the Nakatomi Plaza. Enter Dick Thornburg, slimeball reporter extraordinaire, played with effortless sleaze by the wonderful William Atherton. Long time fans of Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks may recall that William Atherton was featured as our very first entry thanks to his role in Ghostbusters as EPA Agent Walter Peck. How fitting, then, that he should be our final inductee, too.

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen William Atherton in anything where he’s not an absolute scumbag. He’s probably really nice in real life.

If there’s one profession that Hollywood has historically been unkind to more than any other, it’s journalism. Reporters are frequently presented as self-centered, arrogant, sell-their-own-mother-for-a-story types, and hey, maybe that’s all true. I don’t know any actual journalists. Maybe they’re all massive whoppers. And whoppers don’t come any more massive than Dick Thornburg. The guy practically oozes out of the screen in every single scene he’s in, like some sort of creature out of The Ring, only ginger, and much shitter. As far as Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks inductees go, Thornburg is the gold standard.

Perhaps his greatest crime against taste and decency occurs in the latter half of the movie when, after discovering John McClane’s name thanks to Harry Ellis’ ill-fated attempt to coax John out of hiding via Walkie Talkie, he travels to McClane’s home address and threatens the Mexican house-keeper with the INS if she doesn’t let him in to interview McClane’s infant children about potentially never seeing their parents again on Christmas Eve. Wow, that’s quite a sentence. There are so many things wrong in that sentence that it’s tough to know even where to begin, but Dick couldn’t give a flying fig. He wants a Pullitzer, and if he has to threaten a few Mexicans and ruin a couple of kids’ Christmases to get what he wants, then so be it. Hey, sounds like another guy we all know.

Anyway, once the terrorist incident has been dealt with via a combination of gunshots, explosions, and cheesy one-liners, John McClane and his wife, Holly, are about to head home for a well deserved glass of sherry when Dick decides that now is the perfect time to poke his nose in and ask for an interview. Holly, bemused with Thornburg thanks to the whole threatening the housekeeper and putting her traumatised children on national television thing, scones him with a right hook, live on camera for all the world to see, proving that Santa really is out there, listening to our appeals for physical violence against smug people we don’t like. Thank you, Santa.

Jerk-off Quote: “Look. You let me in right now, or I call the INS. Comprende?” — Dick Thornburg, proving that douchebaggery sounds the same in every language.

Comeuppance: After getting jarped by Holly McClane on live television, he gets a restraining order against her and remains a massive prick, ready to reprise his role in the alright-but-not-as-good Die Hard 2. Eagle-eyed viewers will also notice that the wedding ring that Thornburg is wearing in the first Die Hard is nowhere to be seen in the sequel, and so it’s safe to assume that his wife learned of his pending induction into the annals of Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks history, and got out while the getting was good. Nice work, girl.

Jerk-off Rating: We’re ending Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks with him. He’s the peak. Or the trough, depending on how you look at it. He’s an arsehead, okay?

Thank you to everyone who enjoyed – or read, at least – our celebration of all things jerk-off here with Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks. It’s been a blast to write, but all good things must come to an end. If you’re in the mood for a little more cinematic dickheadery, then check out the previous entries into the hall of shame right here. Enjoy your Christmas, and whatever you do, leave being a jerk to the professionals.

 

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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks #23: Paul Krendler from ‘Hannibal’

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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Since this week we’re talking about Paul Krendler, this is your spoiler warning for the 2001 movie Hannibal.

Hannibal Lecter was convinced he’d be winning the money on this week’s Come Dine With Me.

The Hannibal Lecter movies have never left us wanting when it comes to characters that are so loathsome and detestable that we want to see real bad things happen to them, real soon. While many of these characters are of the criminally insane variety and fall more in line with what we traditionally think of as baddies when it comes to serial killer movies, there’s also a few that are ostensibly on the side of good, but are absolute hoops regardless. The Silence of the Lambs gave us the hideous Dr. Fredrick Chilton, but Hannibal ups the ante with Ray Liotta’s Paul Krendler.

Paul Krendler has a bit part in The Silence of the Lambs (and it’s not Ray Liotta) as a big-shot bureaucrat that’s about to make life very tricky for Clarice Starling unless she catches serial killer Buffalo Bill, and quick. Of course, she does and we never hear from Mr. Krendler again. By the time Hannibal rolls around, Clarice (and it’s not Jodie Foster) has had the shine taken off her career somewhat after a couple of botched jobs in the public eye, and her bosses are coming down on her hard. Paul Krendler is one of those bosses, and he seems to take immense pleasure in making Clarice squirm at every conceivable opportunity.

As the movie goes on, we learn that Paul Krendler is a prick to Clarice because years previous she rebuffed his romantic advances and told him to go home to his wife. Romantic advances might be overselling it somewhat, because he strikes me as the “any hole’s a goal” sort of scumbag, and it’s more likely than anything that he just wanted a bit of slap and tickle behind the back of her indoors. Anyway, obviously, since Clarice didn’t want to partake in any of these adulterous shenanigans, Paul Krendler now has to be an absolute peenarse to her because those are the rules. Someone doesn’t want to have sex with you? Thou shalt make their life a misery forever more. I think that’s one of the Jerk-Off Ten Commandments.

It’s Gary Oldman under all that make up.

Anyway, not only is Paul Krendler massively incapable of dealing with rejection like a rational human being, it later turns out he’s also not above taking bribes from the dregs of society in exchange for his clout within the FBI. Mason Verger – an evil millionaire paraplegic – isn’t too fond of everyone’s favourite cannibal psychiatrist, and he’s sending Paul Krendler money as part of an international effort to lure Hannibal out of hiding so he can have him killed for revenge. You see, years previously, before Hannibal was ever arrested for his naughty eating, he came across Mason Verger and wasn’t a big fan. Mason liked to abuse children which Hannibal thought of as incredibly rude, so he drugged the millionaire with hallucinogens, convinced him to peel his own face off, and then snapped his neck leaving him alive, but paralysed. Yikes. Mason is none too happy about his current state of affairs thanks to Lecter, and wants Paul Krendler to publicly destroy Clarice Starling for whom Hannibal has a bit of a thing, knowing it’ll capture the good doctor’s attention and then they can strike.

Paul Krendler spends most of the rest of the movie being an obnoxious jerk to Clarice, while also taking money from a known pedophile and all round rotter with nary the briefest hint that he might feel remotely bad about any of it. He’s a scumbag crooked FBI agent, and that’s just something we simply can’t stomach. If you can’t trust the FBI, who can you trust? Paul, you’ve let the FBI down, you’ve let America down, and most importantly, you’ve let me down. On the plus side, by the end of the movie, we don’t really need to worry about that any more.

I hate it when you start the night with good intentions, and then someone says, “Jägerbombs?” and then next thing you know your brain is out.

Jerk-off Quote:

Paul Krendler: I always figured him for a queer.
Clarice Starling: Why would you say that, Paul?
Paul Krendler: Well, all this artsy-fartsy stuff.

Comeuppance: Okay. Sometimes baddies get their just desserts and sometimes they don’t, but when it comes to making sure that what goes around comes around few movies deliver quite as resolutely as Hannibal. Hannibal Lecter foils Mason Verger’s plans to murder him, and, of course, murders him right back. It turns out that Lecter isn’t totally okay with Paul Krendler trying to destroy Clarice Starling’s career just to get one over on him, and so he prepares a little revenge. Before I wind up slipping into some sort of lazy, “Revenge is a dish best served cold,” pun, let’s just get down to brass tacks: Hannibal kidnaps Paul, drugs him, lobotomises him, cuts the top of his skull off with a surgical saw, picks bits of his brain out, stir fries them, and feeds them to Krendler while he’s still alive. On the plus side, Paul does seem to enjoy his meal.

Jerk-off Rating: Honestly, all that horrible shit above happens to him and you don’t even feel sorry for him at all.

Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks. And if you’ve not quite had your fill of cinematic jerk-offs, check out #22 Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter), #19 Byron Hadley (The Shawshank Redemption), or Iosef Tarasov (John Wick).

 

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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks #22: Draco Malfoy from the Harry Potter Series

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Cinema’s Ultimate Jerks is a celebration of the characters we love to hate in the movies we love to love. They’re not always the main villains – and sometimes they’re not even villains at all – but they’re definitely jerks. So let’s take a look at this week’s jerk-off, and why they find themselves forever enshrined here in the hall of shame. Since this week we’re talking about Draco Malfoy, this is your spoiler warning for the all of the Harry Potter movies.

Draco is the sort of kid that makes you think that perhaps we should go back to beating our kids when they step out of line.

POTTER! If there’s one thing worth celebrating about Draco Malfoy it’s that he somehow perfected the fine art of turning someone’s surname into a slur through nothing more than the sheer venom in which he enunciates it. POTTER! He really spits the name every time he says it, and in many ways it’s impressive that he could furnish so much hatred into two innocuous syllables that, spoken by anyone else, are a form of identification and little more. But it’s also part of the reason why we’re talking about him today, because Draco Malfoy is a bully and we can’t abide bullies here. He’s a cockgoblin of the highest order, and someone needs to bring him down a peg.

Harry Potter is a ten year old boy who one day finds out that he’s a wizard, and he’s cordially invited to attend Hogwarts wizarding school to hone his craft with other wizards, and giants, and shapeshifting cats, and all kinds of mad shit – mostly in the form of rubbish early 2000s CGI. His invitation to Hogwarts is a life-saver, because Harry Potter is an orphan who lives with his aunt, uncle, and cousin and they’re an absolute shower of bastards. Awful people the lot of them. The uncle is played by that gay old dude from Withnail & I, I think. Anyway, all Harry wants to do is go to wizarding school, do all of his homework, study hard, pass his wizarding A Levels, and then get a soul-crushing middle management job for which he’s marginally overqualified and equally underpaid, but not by enough to do anything about it. That’s life, kids, and having a magic owl or, you know, saving the wizarding world from the greatest evil it has ever faced isn’t going to change that fact. Better grow up and accept it.

Anyway, Harry Potter, as it happens, is some kind of legendary kid because back when he was a baby, Lord Voldemort – who is basically magic Hitler – tried to murder him in his bed after icing his mum and dad, but somehow the baby survived the attack – spoilers, it was magic – and now everyone reckons he’s the key to stopping the aforementioned Big Daddy V and his minions of evil. While that makes him popular among some students, it also makes him the target of bullies, because that’s how it is at school. Honestly, I remember the time a kid at our school got some new shoes that were different to everyone else’s, and man, that was some dark shit that went down. It was like the end of fucking Platoon – people throwing shit about at him and all sorts. School is a warzone. You’ve got to play it smart, and Harry makes a bum decision when he makes friends with Ron Weasley who is not only ginger, but poor too. Double whammy. Hey, I have nothing against redheads, but let’s face facts, aligning yourself with one at school is fucking suicide because even cool gingers get tortured.

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In an alternate reality, Draco Malfoy works at the zoo, and is still a massive knob.

So the ringleader of the bullies at school is Draco Malfoy, whose mum and dad are rich and well-to-do, and he’s from a distinguished line of pure blood wizards. That’s important, apparently, because some wizards aren’t down with the whole wizards and humans gittin’ it on thing, which, you know, seems a bit uncool to me. Maybe it’s an allegory for something. Who knows? Since he’s rich and everything, he thinks that gives him free reign to do whatever he wants, and whatever he wants to do is pick on young Harry Potter every chance he gets. He’s basically every stereotypical rich prick bully you’ve ever seen in a movie, all rolled into one vile, white haired, smug little shit that you just know would end up abusing his power in his job at the zoo if he didn’t come from wealth. But he’s rich so in reality he’d probably go on to join the Conservative Party, putting some sort of mad slogan like, “£300 million a week for the NHS if you all punch yourself in the kidneys” on the side of a bus. He’d probably end up as Prime Minister, too, the jumped up little cu

Anyway, so he’s a prick, and everyone knows it, and for the next eight movies, literally all he does is bully Harry Potter in slightly different ways. Most of it involves saying, “POTTER!” with a ferocity usually reserved for usage of the words on George Carlin’s list of things you can’t say on TV, but he also does some other shit, like mocking Harry’s dead parents, and joining a cult and agreeing to murder the kindly old headmaster of the school. Actually, that last one is probably a bit much, but then he never actually goes through with it. He’s a coward, you see. All bullies are cowards, or so the old adage goes. He runs his mouth, and he talks a big game, but really he’s just a scared little boy, pushed into a life of villainy that he’s ill-prepared for by his ruthless, overbearing father. He’s still a twat though.

They look like they’re about to drop the worst rap track of all time.

Jerk-off Quote: “No one asked your opinion, you filthy little mudblood!” – Draco Malfoy, basically being a magic racist.

Comeuppance: He doesn’t really get any, which totally annoys me. I’m still not over it, actually. It pisses me off. He’s a rotten egg, and he picks on everyone for seven years of school, then he joins the Death Eaters and tries to kill Dumbledore, and then he has a big fight with Harry and Co. in which one of his friends actually gets burnt alive and dies, and nothing happens. He just gets to live his life. Doesn’t even get grounded, probably. Honestly, if I was Harry I’d have let him burn, but no, Harry rescues Draco from certain death and lets him go despite all of his shenanigans. Ultimately, it’s this that saves Harry’s life, as Draco’s mum helps him in exchange for information regarding the fate of her son, so I guess it all works out, but The Deathly Hallows Part 2 would be like 14% better if someone just shivved Draco in the back at some point with a filed down tootbrush.

Jerk-off Rating: If you had a dose of polyjuice potion you’d neck it, transform into Draco Malfoy, and then immediately punch yourself in the John Thomas.

Tune in next week – same jerk time, same jerk channel – to find out who’s next in our celebration of cinema’s ultimate jerks. And if you’ve not quite had your fill of cinematic jerk-offs, check out #18 Rene Belloq (Raiders of the Lost Ark), #8 Simon (True Lies), or #4 Glenn Guglia (The Wedding Singer).

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