The Masculine Mystique

Do you know the difference between a Chick Flick and a Guy Movie? In a Chick Flick, one person dies very slowly (Love Affair, Steel Magnolias, The Notebook, A Walk To Remember); in a Guy Movie, lots of people die very quickly (Raiders Of The Lost Ark, 28 Days Later, Gladiator and anything word the word ‘Bruckheimer’ in the opening credits).  Often entire cities (Armageddon), sometimes entire planets (Star Wars).

Natalie and I were watching The Women… not the current one in theatres with Annette Bening (uber-milf), Jada Pickett Smith (hot), Debra Messing (hotter), Eva Mendez (Man down! Man down!) and the original 80’s Manic Pixie Girl who’s former cuteness shall not be named. We were watching the original; the one from 1939 that George Cukor got kicked off of Gone With The Wind to direct because he was better suited to direct “dames” (Leo Mayer’s words, not mine… my word was MILF so feminist send your emails… now). For those unfamiliar, it’s 130 speaking roles, all women, not a man in sight. It was remade in the 1956 as The Opposite Sex, this time as a musical and with guys including Leslie Nielsen back when you could call him Shirley and he would just take it like a man. The movie is essentially 131 minutes of women complaining about their cheating men while unbeknownst to them (but beknownst to us) those very women are in the room with them. There is a lot of deciding whether they should leave their husbands or forgive their infidelities and scenes of children being explained how divorce works…

SNORE… sorry. I dozed off.

Now my train of thought works like this: This movie has no men. Are there any movies that have no women? John Carpenter’s brilliant The Thing (although the original 1956’s Thing From Another World did). There’s Predator that has a woman for no good reason. They could have just removed her as they could have with Adrienne Barbeau in Escape From New York. There really doesn’t have to be women in Dr Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Clockwork Orange, Platoon, Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket (since they only scream in Vietnamese and then get killed). There are no female speaking roles in Lawrence Of Arabia. I can’t remember any women of importance in Patton or Saving Private Ryan (well there is Ryan’s mother but she has no dialogue and you don’t even see her face). The point is, women in men’s movies are so easily omitted. Even in a movie like JFK or Malcolm X, the women are reduced to wives worrying about their husbands.  I would like to think the Betty Shabazz, wife of a sixties civil rights leader has more to her then, “when are you coming home, Malcolm?”

Now all those movies I would consider masculine movies. They are about men being men. Even a movie like Road To Perdition which my brother calls the second best movie about fathers and sons he’s ever seen (the first? Finding Nemo) is about fathers, respect, revenge and breaking the ties that prevent you from becoming your own man. Guy stuff.

Consequently, I started thinking of the stereotypical Chick Flick and realized all girl movies revolve around men as a catalyst. In Beaches, had their marriage gone well, these two chicks never would have seen each other again. In Brokedown Palace they’re in a Thailand prison because one of them (I’m still not sure which one) did something stupid with a cute boy. Sleepless In Seattle, An Officer And A Gentleman and When Harry Met Sally… are about finding the person you’re “meant to” be with. Even the Sex And The City movie (as well as the series) at its heart is about women and their relationships as if it weren’t for men, they’d have nothing to talk about.

In my best Carrie Bradshaw iMac impression (CLOSE ON SCREEN TEXT):

And it makes me wonder, is there more to women’s relationships than just relations?

Now I am not saying I dislike the movies listed above. In fact, I own most of them because I’m just that kind of guy. I do hate The Notebook which isn’t even mentally challenged… it’s flat out retarded. There are two men she has to choose from and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist guess she went with the one she was in love with that her mother thought wasn’t good enough for her. Let me see, I have a uterus, do I want to make the logical decision or the emotional one? If you really wanted to be clever she should have married Ryan Gosling but James Garner should have been the James Marsden who never married, always loved her and after her husband died and Alzheimer’s set in, he wanted her to relive her happiest moments by reading her own love story to the woman he could never have.

Yeah, I should I write screenplays.

I am the guy who owned five of the seven seasons of Sex And The City before I met Natalie and had to go with my sister-in-law to the movie with eight of her friends I had never met. I went willingly while the other straight men in the audience could hear the first Indiana Jones movie since 1989 in the next theatre and realized God had forsaken them. Some strange woman gave me shit in a Best Buy when I was buying the four-disc edition of Gone With The Wind because it was older than me. News Flash: The movie is seventy years old… it’s older than most of the people in this state. For the record, I was also buying the three-disc edition of Hellboy because it was double-feature night, Mancard reinstated.

You could make the argument Hollywood is run by men but The Devil Wears Prada, 27 Dresses, PS I Love You, Beaches, When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless In Seattle were all written or directed by women. It isn’t that every woman should be a feminist or anything about these movies is anti-feminist. Soul Plane was directed by a black guy and the highest grossing film by a black director is Scary Movie… I have to sleep at night knowing that. The same way I wish black people could make movies that celebrated black people without racism being a factor, I would think women could do the same. Make movies that celebrated who they were without that thing being wives or mothers… just about them being women.

Understand, I am not saying there is anything wrong with those things.  I am not saying women or Hollywood should eschew these concepts as negative, because they aren’t.  I find it odd that somehow women aren’t women without these tenants.

Then again, maybe men have it all wrong. And being masculine and manly isn’t Keanu Reeves being able to bend time and space with his mind (and still feel the need to carry a gun) to destroy an all-powerful computer in Armani. Maybe being men should be about being husbands and fathers and not saving the world from super-powered, immortal Chinese mummies.


3 thoughts on “The Masculine Mystique

  1. “Let me see, I have a uterus, do I want to make the logical decision or the emotional one?”

    really jim? did you think about this line at all?

    i’m telling natalie.

  2. lisa,

    i am a man. of course i don’t think before i run off at the mouth. but if you want to argue whether women are more emotional than men or not we can do that some time…


    it’s obviously a generalization. and based on the movie where the woman chooses the man with no money, who comes from a questionable background with little potential over the war hero from an established family with money and a bright future, i’d say she chose emotionally, too.

    keep in mind the last paragraph of the blog questions the entire concept of what’s important in “guy movies” over “chick flicks.”


  3. Jim,

    Man, you really shouldn’t have used the word ‘dames’.

    Terms like that can be REALLY offensive to skirts and broads.



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