a. raymond johnson

gadabout | bon vivant | writer

It’s a Shame About Ray: Seeing My Own Name In Pop Culture

[cross-posted from IFMiB]

While I don’t mind people calling me “Ray” informally, I always introduce myself and write out my full name as Raymond, a habit I wonder if is in part because most of the Rays I’ve seen on television, movies, and books were, to be honest, low life jerks.  Frequently they are the drunk ex who shows up in a dingy a-frame t-shirt that some colloquially refer to as a “wifebeater” – a term I don’t use, though in the case of a Ray, chances are, they do indeed beat up on their wife or girlfriend or kids.

Ok, not all Rays are violent addicts.  There’s also the patchouli new agey boyfriend in High Fidelity played by Tim Robbins or the obnoxious Jason Bateman-played publicist in Hancock.  Ray Tango of Tango & Cash is sadly one of the better ones of the bunch, I could do worse than Sylvester Stallone, but let’s be real, that movie is not my movie.

So the pickings may be VERY slim, but here are a few Rays that I have enjoyed from TV and movies.

Ray Koval from Duplicity

Did you even bother to see Duplicity?  I did, and honestly it wasn’t so great – though re-reading that review, I wonder if it’s a movie that makes you cranky for paying for a theater visit, but makes for a decent airplane trip or Netflix Instant viewing.  The important part is the main character is named Ray, and he is played by Clive Owen who looks damn good in a linen suit and sunglasses.  And a towel.

Ray Fiske from Damages

I was late to the Damages party, but now that I’m here, I can’t stop talking about it.  I breezed through seasons one and two over the first two weeks of 2011, and every day I contemplate foregoing groceries to purchase season three on iTunes.  Sure, I could probably find a bootleg streaming of it, but Megavideo has a time limit, and I like to watch them all in a row.  The first season features the character of Ray Fiske, the attorney for Arthur Frobisher (Ted Danson), and he’s sort of a ‘bad guy’ in the simplistic sense, at least until you watch more of his story unfold throughout the season.  To say more would be to reveal spoilers, and Damages gives good twists, so I don’t want to deny you any of those pleasures.  Besides, saying the character is played by Željko Ivanek (with a southern accent) is enough of a recommendation.

Ray Kinsella from Field of Dreams

I know it’s Kevin Costner and this is included not so much because of the character – I am only the most casual of baseball fans, nor am I from Iowa – but because I saw this movie a lot the year after it came out, in the theater with youth group outings, on bus trips across the country, during weekend family movie nights, and so damn it if in times of feeling frustrated and demoralized, I will sometimes hear James Earl Jones encouragingly say, “people will come, Ray.

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What characters in pop culture have your name that you love or hate?

Posted in writing by a. raymond johnson on February 3rd, 2011 at 9:10 am.

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  1. Lingering guilt for having failed to post this first time around…

    Mr. Ray from Finding Nemo…the fish school’s awesome, geeky science teacher! Gather children…


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