I am a third generation Walter. I personally have no problem with the name. A little old fashioned, perhaps, but it sure beats the shit out of Nevaeh. Should I ever have a man-child of my own, I will not hesitate in introducing a fourth gen Walter to this world. If his mother’s against it, she can call him whatever the hell she likes around the house, as long as it’s not Nevaeh or “late for dinner.” Nobody, after all, wants to be called late for dinner. See what I did there?

Walter, however, is a name which finds itself pretty much cursed in the realms of pop culture – particularly movies. As far back as I can remember (admittedly, that’s only about two or three months, tops) I’ve noticed that any character named Walter is a bad dude. Falling under the “bad dude” category are the following: creep, perv, psycho, criminal, dick, etc.

Let’s look at some examples, shall we?

Remember that jagoff in Ghost Busters from the Environmental protection Agency who tries to shut the boys down? His name was Walter Peck.

Colonel Kurtz, from Apocalypse Now? One of the biggest movie psychos of all time? First name Walter.
In the classic noir Double Indemnity, the jerk that tries to collect on a life insurance policy he sold to a woman by killing her husband is named Walter Neff.

John Goodman’s character in The Big Lebowski  is reportedly based on real life film director John Milius. Milius is bat shit insane. Goodman’s character is named Walter Sobchak.

Hey, you saw Jim Carrey play an unhinged murderer in The Number 23, right? Oh that’s right, you didn’t. In any case, his name is Walter Sparrow.

Before he was Batman, Christian Bale was Walter Wade, Jr., a racist murderer in the 2000 production of Shaft. Shut yo mouth indeed.

There was an animated series based on The Mask. That stuck around for a few seasons in the ‘90s. There was this hulking Frankenstein-esque henchman character. His name was Walter. I remember this shit.

And, finally, we have The Woodsman in which Kevin Bacon plays a convicted child molester named Mike. Just kidding, it’s Walter. (To be fair, the slight upside to that last example is that I too can now be linked to Kevin Bacon in less than six degrees of separation, depending on what rules you play by.)

Also, I don’t feel like doing the research on this one, but I’m relatively sure that every third episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit features a rapist named Walter.

But why does this phenomenon exist? Why must so many fictional Walters be instantly vilified simply on account of their name?

If we look to real life Walters throughout history, it is immediately apparent that there is no real factual basis for this unfortunate tendency.

For decades, Walter Cronkite was the man millions of Americans trusted to give them the news. He was a broadcast institution. Nobody has ever said a single bad word against him, except maybe that one guy who thought he was in on the Kennedy assassination plot (his exclamation at the TV spot was so legendary, in fact, that it ultimately became his epitaph: “A LIKELY STORY YOU PINKO PIECE OF SHIT!!!”).

You may not know this but Bruce Willis’ original first name was Walter. And he’s not a bad guy. He’s John Fucking McClane. Walter McClane, meanwhile, would totally let Professor Snape have his way with his wife, just for kicks.

Walt Disney, meanwhile, is for all intents and purposes, a famous Walter and he’s responsible for making the lives of an infinite amount of children just that much better thanks to the pantheon of classic family entertainment he established. Not a single derogatory word or potentially libelous thing could ever be said about the man. NOT A SINGLE THING.

Is it, perhaps, the old-timy ring of the name itself that dooms it so? Does the name Walter automatically conjure up the mental image of a paunchy bald man in a plaid sport coat, exiting a small adult bookstore on a Tuesday afternoon? And even if it does, can’t we get past that? Can we not have a universally-good character named Walter?

There is hope yet.

In the upcoming Muppets gritty reboot film, a new felty dude will be introduced to the universe named Walter. From some clips and pictures I’ve seen, he seems like a fairly jovial fellow and I’m pretty sure he’ll get a bunch of screen time with Jason Segel. Unless the film ends in a horrible gut-churning twist where Walter roofies Miss Piggy and does unspeakable things to her, this just might be the saving grace of fictitious Walters.

Please don’t be a pervert Muppet. Please.

This is Walter’s first post here at 9to5 (dot cc). Hopefully he’ll do some more things that are less about him and more about things that people care about. For the record, my friends and I tried to start a ghost hunting club in the 6th grade and Walter shut us down. I secretly hope Walter can continually tie in the phrase ‘pervert Muppet’ into all of his articles. -K

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