A varying assortment of typical characters we may or may not play out in our day to day lives. Ranging anywhere from “mean girl”, “cool girl” or “girly-girl” to “diva”, “hot mess”, “workaholic”, etc.
In my own description, I see a “trope” and even an “archetype” as sort of a cliche. A stereotype of how we believe someone should be based on their style, choice of words, or even the music they listen to.
The goth could never like Ariana Grande, the bad girl’s favourite pass time is smoking cigarettes and getting royally fucked up, a girly-girl who doesn’t own a pair of sneakers and whose life revolves solely around Britney, Barbie, and boy bands. They are quite one dimensional in their interests and non-fluid in their behaviour — they are their label to a T.
In popular culture, we’ve seen grade A examples of this.
Mean Girls (2004) birthed the great dictator Regina George, who is not only an Alpha Bitch but of course a mean girl. Jennifer Lawyer is or at least was Hollywood’s cool girl as seen by her love of food and beer or as Gillian Flynn wrote in her 2012 novel Gone Girl “Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer…” “…while somehow maintaining a size 2…”. Clueless (1995) produced Cher Horowitz — a girl-girly. Her love of shopping and fashion are enough to pigeon hole her into this category. Mariah Carrie is a not so notorious diva, Carrie Bradshaw — a hot mess who is constantly falling over, bad at love, but still a hopeless romantic, or Miranda Priestly, a cold workaholic whose work has zero time for a family or personal life due to work being her life.
Fictional characters are easy to identify with because we see these “people” they embody some traits and if you’re someone with minus zero clues of who you are then you can latch yourself to this person or at least with this idea of how you should be based off how they are.
In films and televisions things almost always work out for the protagonist so when you start to feels lost you might catch yourself thinking “what would ____ do?” then follow through with actions that you might deem to be ideal in a situation because whatever character you admire would do that.
Maybe no one else can relate but I know that I’m definitely guilty of this.
I’ve always found it easy to paint myself in another light and pigeon-hole myself into an archetype. Especially when I spent so long trying to figure out who the fuck I was. Was I the bad guy, the mean girl, the anti-hero, the hero, the ditz, the trainwreck? With an abundance of categories, I couldn’t seem to fit myself into one.
Who the fuck was I?
People can’t be one thing.
No one is just an A, B, or C. I’ve come to realise, I am the person I am due to a compilation of little things coming together to form me. And while I still draw inspiration from characters that I feel resemble some part of me, it’s still important to act in a way that is true to me.
Maybe Jane Margolis would backslide and turn to self-destruction when shit gets hard but that’s not me — well at least not anymore. But Carrie Bradshaw would turn to her girlfriends in time of crisis and that’s not a bad move.
There are copious amounts of Pop Culture Icons that we don’t necessarily need to aspire to be but ones they can help shape was in the best ways.