Awesome nicknames stand for awesome characters. I think of classic nicknames and labels used for movie characters. The entertainment biz loves the names that send shivers down our backs. The names that speak to our primitive urges find us lending agreeable nods. And when I say primitive urges, I mean here the run and gun type of movies where things explode every two seconds and the men in the theater grunt with approval of the deafening surround sound. Nicknames like The Eraser, The Punisher, The Cleaner, and The Trash Collector, and really cool Italian Mob nicknames make the list. What’s better than hearing the Italian in the track suit announce, “yo, I’m here to take out the trash.” The only prerequisite is that they have to sound tough, or at least potentially sound psychotic enough to strike fear into anyone who sees reality with a hint of clarity.
Sticking with the macho tough brand, I’ll toss out two throw backs from an era now past. Anything worthy of Stephen Seagal’s squinting, trademark eyebrows, and slicked back hair. Anything that can harken back to the glory days of Arnold Schwarzenegger with his mechanical acting and unforgettable accent. If you want textbook macho you know the actors and the movies to get.
For the bad guy nicknames there’s nothing more praiseworthy than to be called The Cleaner due to your rep for killing mobs of defenseless people in remote villages of Africa. You clean up those sticky bloody situations that no one else can, and you don’t leave a trace behind you. You’ll do anything for a blood diamond. You’re that silent undetectable killer. Your business associates may even praise you with names like The Ghost or The Angel of Death. You’ll also accept the name Keyser (Kaizer) Soze. Though you yourself have never seen Soze or the Devil face to face.
There’s also those cross over types. The guys that are good and bad. The checkered past types. Enter the under 200 lb hunks, with a preferable ripped 6-pack. You even get George Clooney to rob a casino or two every couple years. And really, what’s better than a Brad Pit here and there? Surely it’s not an overstatement in the least to say that the hopes of the world’s survival rest squarely on your shoulders. Maybe you’re the ex-spy CIA guy going rogue. You infiltrate the base of the bad guys and kill a couple hundred of ‘em every thirty second. The scene perhaps lasts four minutes total which of course includes you losing your gun so you have to Chuck Norris round house kick a couple of bad guys in the process. (Of course those guys firing two hundred bullets per minute couldn’t shoot a stationary cow ten feet away…but I digress…I too would be angry if a random bullet did ever pierce 007’s heart, oh James!) It ends as it should. You dip the toughest villain’s head into the ever so convenient bucket of acid that’s nearby before you toss him over the railing into which, down below, is suddenly out of nowhere roaring like the raging fires of hell about to blow up the entire secret bad guy’s complex. Quick, you gotta get outta there before the whole place blows! Just don’t forget to grab the wounded and half-conscious beautiful girl before you make your dramatic exit.
We can’t wait to see the next gen Matt Damon Pierce Brosnan hybrid. And the answer is no, Moneypenny cannot resist 007. After all, Moneypenny knows, James Bond is not just a person, he is an icon, and that icon is powerfully enthralling.
And so it is with us. Icons speak for us. Icons captivate us as well. Movie characters become larger than life icons. They say something about life, about hopes, dreams and wishes. Icons tells us about ourselves. Icons teach us about our values and our society. The entertainment fantasy made up world of pretend still puts a finger on something that is somehow real in the minds and hearts of the people who sit in the seats of the theater. It somehow becomes alive to us, and resonates deep within us. The life worth living examines what lies behind those external walls of ours when the lights come back on, and people begin to clear the theaters. Behind every awesome nickname, character, and movie theme is something stirring deeper.