I’m bothered by Kristen Stewart‘s titular character in Snow White and the Huntsman being called “Snow” by characters within the film, and by critics. I realize there’s nothing else to call her, but her last name isn’t White as in Jack White. It’s an aptronym, and people in films should never have names that point to character or destiny or inner aura. It’s really cheesy — a theatrical conceit that harkens back to the horse-and-buggy days.
I remember thinking this years ago when I saw a Wilton Playshop production of a 1930s play called Pure As The Driven Snow, in which the lead female character was called Purity Dean. Even back then (i.e., the ’30s) it was meant as a parody.
Darth Vader is another one. Even if you didn’t know his name was Annakin, you wouldn’t call Lord Vader “Darth” if you happened to see him in a bar, and it wouldn’t be right if you ran into a mutual friend at a 7-11 and he said, “Hey, have you seen Darth around? Fucker was supposed to meet me here an hour ago.”
What if Goodfellas was about a family of likable, community-minded Queens mobsters (three brothers and a kid sister) whose last name was literally “Goodfella”? This would be no less tiresome than people running into Stewart in Snow White and the Huntsman and saying, “Hey, Snow, you ready for the big battle? Howdja get that big forest monster to back off like he did?” I guess I wouldn’t mind if someone ran into her and said, “Are you Snow White, the fairest maiden in the land?” That’s okay, but the diminutive is out.
Once you start linking names and fates (or vocations) there’s no end to it. I always hated the fact that Janet Jackson‘s character in Poetic Justice (’93) was a poet whose name was Justice…God! That’s almost like Clint Eastwood‘s character in Unforgiven being called “Un.”