July 17, 2007, - 2:35 pm

Reverse Sexism: Tired of All the Movies . . .

By Debbie Schlussel
. . . in which men are slacker-losers and the women are put-together, directed, smart careerists? Movies like “Knocked Up,” etc.?
Well, so is The New Yorker film critic David Denby. Read his excellent (but long) “A Fine Romance: The New Comedy of the Sexes.” Here’s an excerpt:

knockedup.jpg

His beard is haphazard and unintentional, and he dresses in sweats, or in shorts and a T-shirt, or with his shirt hanging out like the tongue of a Labrador retriever. He’s about thirty, though he may be younger, and he spends a lot of time with friends who are like him, only more so–sweet-natured young men of foul mouth, odd hair, and wanker-mag reading habits. When he’s with them, punched beer cans and bongs of various sizes lie around like spent shells; alone, and walrus-heavy on his couch, he watches football, basketball, or baseball on television, or spends time memorializing his youth–archiving old movies, games, and jokes. Like his ancestors in the sixties, he’s anti-corporate, but he’s not bohemian (his culture is pop). He’s more like a sullen back-of-the-classroom guy, who breaks into brilliant tirades only when he feels like it. He may run a used-record store, or conduct sightseeing tours with a non-stop line of patter, or feed animals who then high-five him with their flippers, or teach in a school where he can be friends with all the kids, or design an Internet site that no one needs. Whatever he does, he hardly breaks a sweat, and sometimes he does nothing at all.
He may not have a girlfriend, but he certainly likes girls–he’s even, in some cases, a hetero blade, scoring with tourists or love-hungry single mothers. But if he does have a girlfriend she works hard. Usually, she’s the same age as he is but seems older, as if the disparity between boys and girls in ninth grade had been recapitulated fifteen years later. She dresses in Donna Karan or Ralph Lauren or the like; she’s a corporate executive, or a lawyer, or works in TV, public relations, or an art gallery. She’s good-tempered, honest, great-looking, and serious. She wants to “get to the next stage of life”–settle down, marry, maybe have children. Apart from getting on with it, however, she doesn’t have an idea in her head, and she’s not the one who makes the jokes.
When she breaks up with him, he talks his situation over with his hopeless pals, who give him bits of misogynist advice. Suddenly, it’s the end of youth for him. It’s a crisis for her, too, and they can get back together only if both undertake some drastic alteration: he must act responsibly (get a job, take care of a kid), and she has to do something crazy (run across a baseball field during a game, tell a joke). He has to shape up, and she has to loosen up.
There they are, the young man and young woman of the dominant romantic-comedy trend of the past several years–the slovenly hipster and the female straight arrow. The movies form a genre of sorts: the slacker-striver romance.

You get the point. Hollywood hates successful, good, decent, hard-working men. But loves those characteristics on women.
And life imitates art . . . after a while of Hollywood constantly hitting young men (and women) over the head with this view.

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6 Responses

I know that this response may be alittle of subject but……. Not only does Hollywood have this viewpoint of men but I firmly believe that there are allot of girls raised up with these beliefs drilled into their heads by the mothers. Women today are not looking for a hard working, tough, no bullshit kind of a man. The standard now is a man who is sensitive, financially well off, professional (doctor, lawyer etc.). Women have complained for so long about all of the things that men aren’t. It would be such a refreshing change to be acknowledged as something more than an object that holds down the couch!!

newinnewark on July 17, 2007 at 3:57 pm

These are some interesting times we live in. The slacker-type man is increasingly trendy and popular in Hollywood right now, but I think much of that is for the comedic effect and not as a yardstick for what women are actually looking for. Notice that at the same time the “Slacker male” is popular on the big screen, Chuck Norris’ “Walker, Texas Ranger” and his movies are achieving near cult status among college students. Film festivals featuring movies starring Humphrey Bogart and Cary Grant are packed across the nation, mostly with a lot of young people. The TV show “24″, featuring a lot of very hardcore men as both heroes and villains, is very popular with a substantial number of women.
Now it is true that women do tend to like men who can make them laugh, but there is a distinction between being humorous and being just plain goofy and irresponsible. However, I think the movie slackers and/or the whiny kind of guys featured in TV sitcoms may be funny to watch, but are they a barometer for what women are really looking for in a man in the 21st century? I don’t think so, but that remains to be seen…..

JibberJabber on July 17, 2007 at 5:14 pm

It’s not just movies. If you want to hear the slacker male vs smart woman scenario played out a hundred times a day, just listen to radio ads. Many of them are mini-sitcoms featuring a man and a woman – one smart and one an idiot. 99% of the time the idiot is the man.
Why? Because men don’t get uptight and protest and boycott. Just reverse this trend and see how long it takes the brown-skirts to start marching.

stevecanuck on July 17, 2007 at 5:32 pm

So, when a woman is hostile to a man she is an intelligent, assertive woman. When a man is polite yet firm, he is an insensitive jerk. Sounds familiar?
A woman who wanted compassion for illegal immigrants broke up with me when I said, sorry, zero tolerance for criminals. That was the end of that. No regrets but bet she thought I was not compassionate enough.. lol. I could have asked her to check out the children I sponsor. But I did not want to blow my own horn, so to speak. Anyway, I do believe that a man has to stand up for himself and be counted. Debbie, I like your take on the subject. Appropriately different, man and woman have their own characteristics, they should be happy about. But then, what does a man know? LOL.. just kidding.

Alert on July 18, 2007 at 12:10 pm

I saw Knocked Up Last weekend. Besides being total bullshit I cannot for the life of me fathom why a “comedy” wopuld run 2 hours and 9 minutes! Also why would a beautiful career woman want to a) have a one nighter with a “stoner”? (yes she was drunk) and (b) want to spend her life with a Joe Black lookalike? The movie was at least 20 minutes too long and the obnoxious obstetrician was totally unrealistic as well.

Ripper on July 18, 2007 at 12:33 pm

It is obvious the trend is triggering the gradual disempowerment of men in society that began in the late nineties I have given up on the of way of life and have begun telling what I think (many a shocked look).

Daniel ahrens on October 11, 2009 at 12:27 pm

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