05 September 2011

Helga; Olga

I kind of have a thing for words and names - as evinced by previous posts.

I realize now that I didn't really capture their full power.

Let's pretend that you and I are lazy, lazy writers. We've got a surefire comedy smash hit involving misbehaving children, a tough-guy caretaker (played by an actor who needs money) and a series of unsuccessful babysitters. Eventually, someone comes to a realization and then roll credits.

We've already covered the scene where the pushover babysitter gets covered in yucky goop and runs away, screaming.

But, before the tough-guy-with-a-heart-of-gold-who's-actually-okay-at-raising-kids-but-doesn't-know-it can step in the picture we need one more foil to really clobber the moviegoers with the idea that these kids, they don't behave so good.

In steps the disciplinarian babysitter. She's stout, she's got her hair in a bun and she doesn't take shit from anyone. Maybe she has a rolling pin or something. The assumption is that she's going to beat the kids with it but, being a lighthearted comedy, this is only implied.


That's a great idea. We'll put her in glasses too so when the pie gets thrown in her face, things get extra funny. People in glasses are justified targets for scorn and ridicule.

Also she has an accent because foreign people are hilarious and as I stated before, we're two very lazy writers.

Now that we've crafted this very flat throwaway character about whom the audience could not give a fuck, we have to name her. It's got to be a hilarious (like Chattanooga or Yazoo City) but it has to probably be an actual people-name.

Remember, she's foreign and her accent is hilarious.

After some head-scratching and a few more hilarious names that are actually cities (thanks, Native Americans!) we both come to the exact same conclusion at the exact same time.

It's Helga. It's got to be.

Or if not Helga then Olga would probably work. They meet all the criteria that we've outlined above and we can forge ahead and figure out how to get Hulk Hogan (or Vin Diesel or Ice Cube or... I dunno. The guy from the Transporter. Jason Statham.) into a tutu.


Is this fair? Should lazy writers try a little harder when they name their stock mean-nanny character? Are uncreative names the lynchpin of lazy character development? Maybe they would have said "We need a Helga" for this scene and everyone woud know what they were talking about.

It seems like it may be typecasting, more than a bit. Evidence?

Here's an actual Helga:

And here's an actual Olga:


Take that, lazy writers.

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