August 17, 2010

"Eat, Pray, Love"

Four decades into the feminist era, the number one movie at the box office is Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables, in which Eighties action heroes blow stuff up. Right behind is Julia Roberts’ Eat, Pray, Love, in which a divorcée expensively feels sorry for herself in Italy, India, and Indonesia. (Iowa, Indiana, and Idaho presumably being all booked up.)

I don’t think it’s too scandalous in 2010 to point out that these films are aimed at disparate audiences. Today, in fact, it’s hard to remember how nervous such observations made the bien-pensant as recently as the early 1990s, in the wake of the Anita Hill-Clarence Thomas brouhaha. Back then, it was almost mandatory to add after any subversive notice of sex differences, “But, of course, that’s all due to dressing baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink; if it weren’t for society, everybody would like the same things.”

When depressed about the intellectual flaccidity of the 21st Century, I cheer myself up by noting that nobody wholly subscribes to feminist orthodoxy anymore. Most people can now admit that social conditioning isn’t what differentiates the sexes; instead, it’s the only hope of their ever getting along civilly. When allowed to indulge their inner fantasies, however, as incarnated in movies such as The Expendables and Eat, Pray, Love, the sexes barely seem to inhabit the same planet.

Eat, Pray, Love is faithfully adapted from magazine writer Elizabeth Gilbert’s 2006 memoir/self-help book, which sold nine million copies. ...  It embodies Oprahlosophy so cunningly that I might suspect it of being another hoax, like Oprah’s earlier autobiographical fave, A Million Little Pieces. Yet, trying to discern which events Gilbert might have concocted is pointless, because there are practically no events in the movie.

Read the whole thing at Taki's and comment upon it below.

76 comments:

William B Swift said...

>But, of course, that’s all due to dressing baby boys in blue and baby girls in pink

A few months ago I was browsing in an old etiquette book, published in 1905, and it commented that the simplest way to dress your infants is "boys in pink and girls in blue as everyone expects" [not an exact quote - from my memory]; I've been wondering when and how it changed.

Has to be said...

"When depressed about the intellectual flaccidity of the 21st Century, I cheer myself up by noting that nobody wholly subscribes to feminist orthodoxy anymore."

For that we have to thank Bill and Monica. Singlehandedly, they rendered the whole feminist movement ridiculous and impotent. The famous alternative use of the cigar is probably the most consequential event of the 1990s (or at least the second most consequential, after bombing of Kosovo.)

Sheila said...

I can think of no greater testament to women's general ignorance and vapidity than the fact that this prime example of the self-absorbed, vapid American woman sold nine million copies.

Thrasymachus said...

Steve, you mention these movies represent what the sexes dig, but anytime guys actually do venture out to kill brown people and blow stuff up you say it's because they have been bamboozled by Frum & Co. Which is it?

Anonymous said...

What about Iceland, Israel, Iran, Iraq and Ireland? Were they booked too?

James Kabala said...

William B. Swift: I've heard the "blue and pink were once reversed" claim before, but usually poorly sourced (e.g., quotes ascribed to newspapers with no mention of city or exact date). Assuming you're reliable, thanks the evidence.

Anonymous said...

Good review- one mistake-no man I know or sports fan talks or cares about lebron's contract

Dan in Dc

PD in SF said...

In case you missed this:

eat, pray, spend
priv-lit and the new, enlightened American dream

http://bitchmagazine.org/article/eat-pray-spend

"For decades, self-help literature and an obsession with wellness have captivated the imaginations of countless liberal Americans. Even now, as some of the hardest economic times in decades pinch our budgets, our spirits, we’re told, can still be rich. Books, blogs, and articles saturated with fantastical wellness schemes for women seem to have multiplied, in fact, featuring journeys (existential or geographical) that offer the sacred for a hefty investment of time, money, or both. There’s no end to the luxurious options a woman has these days—if she’s willing to risk everything for enlightenment. And from Oprah Winfrey and Elizabeth Gilbert to everyday women siphoning their savings to downward dog in Bali, the enlightenment industry has taken on a decidedly feminine sheen."

Anonymous said...

The glossy lifestyles portrayed in chick flicks always raise the question, “How can she afford that?” Yet, money goes unmentioned as unromantic.

Money is the most inspiring part of the story! Gilbert is a freelance writer. She pitched the idea to her publisher and funded the trip with their money. I have no interest in Gilbert's journey of self-discovery but respect the hell out of her business savvy.

Anonymous said...

What about Iceland, Israel, Iran, Iraq and Ireland? Were they booked too?
Does Ivory Coast count? Or is it called Cote D'Ivoire now?

Ray Sawhill said...

Funny and smart review.

A guy's take on "Eat Pray Love".

Anonymous said...

A single white American woman traveling alone through Italy, India and Bali for a year?

Even American women I knew who were 1/10 as attractive and traveled in packs and/or with boyfriends were harassed, groped and even assaulted in Rome southward. Far worse in India where such a woman without escort, local dress and a extremely demur attitude would be taken for a brazen whore and endangered as such in the streets.

Bali, no where else in Indonesia, is the only place I know of where loose American hippie chicks successfully projected their simpleminded and naive nihilistic sexual fantasies with local boys without consequence.

Ironically, this last point is probably because of a latent "racism" where these women would never get serious with a Bali boy (unlike falling victim to predatory Italian men). The film seems to avoid these real world complications by setting the love segment in Bali with a Euro Brazilian.

Anonymous said...

What about Iceland, Israel, Iran, Iraq and Ireland? Were they booked too?

A little off-topic, but since we're talking movies: In 2005, Kelly Macdonald [the chick from the iSteve favorite, "No Country for Old Men"], then about 29, and Bill Nighy ["Viktor" from "Underworld"], then about 56, made an otherwise idiotic [BBC?] television movie, called The Girl in the Café - filmed largely in Iceland - which features some of the hottest May-September chemistry since Alfred Hitchcock was pairing Grace Kelly with the likes of Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart.

Anonymous said...

"Steve, you mention these movies represent what the sexes dig, but anytime guys actually do venture out to kill brown people and blow stuff up you say it's because they have been bamboozled by Frum & Co. Which is it?"

Why can't it be both? Guys have a lot of stupid urges, but they don't always act on them. Neo-cons understand what buttons to push, that's all.

There's no contraction here, that Steve has to answer for, and I don't know why you think there is.

Sigh... said...

Sheila said...

I can think of no greater testament to women's general ignorance and vapidity than the fact that this prime example of the self-absorbed, vapid American woman sold nine million copies.


And Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (a game which involves playing as a gang member and murdering your way through a fictional Californian city) sold 17.3 million copies. What does that say about the American male?

The me-tooism of some women on HBD blogs is so adorable it deserves a pat on the head.

Sylvia.

Anonymous said...

A Steve Sailer, cold hard truth, love song :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IeZMIgheZro

Anonymous said...

. Far worse in India where such a woman without escort,
yep. White women under 35=target - they groped and harassed constantly and lucky not to be raped. Guess its bad cinema though.

l said...

Another flick heavily promoted by Oprah was "Stella Got Her Groove Back." That proved a great boost for Jamaica's "romance tourism" industry.

It's funny: When lonely and depressed middle-aged Western men head for poor countries to take a mental inventory (and get laid on the cheap), they're regarded as pathetic figures -- they're too homely or socially maladept to get a girlfriend back home, so they have to exploit poor Thai/Filipino/Dominican girls. When lonely and depressed middle-aged Western women head for southern climes, the chorus sings "You go, girl!"

agnostic said...

They may not be feminists, but since the '90s they've lived in a world apart from men, as those two movies show.

Before, girls were boy-crazy -- "let's hear it for the boy." Now, as you point out they're self-crazy -- "it's all about me."

It used to be that action movies had something about romance, marriage, family, etc., that women could identify with and see the movie with their boyfriend or husband.

The romantic tension between the revenger and Dirty Harry in Sudden Impact.

Ko backing up Rambo in Rambo II (where she realistically gets killed, unlike today's invincible butt-kicking babes; same thing happened to the female rookie cop in The Enforcer).

Sigourney Weaver and Bill Murray in the Ghostbusters movies.

The "husband saving his wife from villains" motif in Die Hard.

Maverick and the chick instructor having a thing for each other.

Riggs and the South African bureaucrat babe in Lethal Weapon 2.

...yeah, even The Princess Bride.

Men and women used to stay in touch with each other's world and keep the other in check. Now we get laughable caricatures of machismo for guys and sickening self-indulgence for gals, with both sexes kept apart.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Kaufman threw up his hands when attempting to dramatize "The Rose Rustlers" and ended up with a satire of postmodern idiom that would have been amusing had it not been so boring.

Anonymous said...

As my male friend commented, the movie might as well be called "Me, Me, Me." I'm not all that interested in seeing it but I'm not planning on seeing "The Expendables" either. Neither play into my fantasies. But there is a definite difference in your average little boy and your average little girl. My 4-year-old nephew's conversation revolves around trucks, guns and shooting deer with Grandpa while riding in Grandpa's truck. When not talking about that, he's talking about balls. At the same age I was playing beauty contest or hospital with my dozens of dolls. My feminist parents gave me a collection of Big Wheel trucks and told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I gave the trucks names and played with them like they were dolls.

Anonymous said...

James Kabala,

Here's Google Answers on the pink/blue issue, with tons of references. Apparently pink=f blue=m didn't solidify until the 1950s.

In the 60s when my younger brother was born, I was outraged that the hospital gave him a blue blanket. Blue was obviously for girls, RED was for boys.

OhioStater said...

Steve, the question for you is "is feminism doing more damage to this country than multiculturalism, or do we have feminism as a result of multiculturalism (2 income trap)"?

In any event modern American women are not worth marrying.

What this country needs is marriages of a specified term, like a lease, that expires giving both spouses the option to part ways cost free.

What we'll get is changes to divorce law that saves high earning women the ignominy of paying their loser husbands alimony (man-imony).

travis said...

I thought a story about a woman's journey to an exotic land(s) where she encounters three men sounded awfuly familiar. Sure enough, on Elizabeth Gilbert's wikipedia page, I found this quote, "I am a writer today because I learned to love reading as a child—and mostly on account of the Oz books..."

It would be an impossible task to determine how many different times the Oz formula has been repackaged in different forms and sold to American women. William Leach, an editor of a recent version of the Wizard of Oz and author of Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture, believes the Oz formula appeals to a culture that is "wish-oriented, optimistic, sunny, the epitome of cheer and self-confidence, and completely lacking in anything resembling a tragic view of life."

It's hard to argue against that assessment. We live in a nation whose conservative party is responsible for "morning in America, "no child left behind," "making the world safe for democracy," and "to every resident (legal or illegal) a McMansion."

Anonymous said...

no man I know or sports fan talks or cares about lebron's contract

To which I can only add - Who's this Lebron person?
I used to slavishly follow football. basketball and baseball. But I have moved on. I have matured and evolved.

I am still inordinately fond mixed martial arts cage fighting. I'm sure everyone noticed that Randy Couture is one of the action stars in The Expendables. But my current favorite sport has to be Ninja Warrior.

Steve, you should drop those bien-pensant sports like golf and soccer, and get modern.

Talk about low scoring, this year again like almost every year no one could complete the course - 100% failure to score. The cumulative score is something like three winners out of 2400 attempts.

There is a HBD angle too. There are no black contestants and almost no white contestants. Although there are no age limits and Mr. Octopus is well over sixty, you don't have a chance if you are over forty. Yet it seems to take at least a dozen years of competition to reach your peak. Anyone who has a hope of winning is in a narrow age range.

The course is optimized for being Japanese. The last Grand Champion weighed 120lbs and was 5'2". The most successful American was a "giant" of 5'9". He was obviously too big.

Mr. Octopus by the way is a skinny old guy who wears a hat made of octopi. He isn't just another San Diego Chicken who is paid to entertain between innings. He enters the real competition each year and the octopi are real and live.

In decades of trying Jim McKay never found a junk sport venue that could match Ninja Warrior for colorful participants, audience enthusiasm, and real athletic feats.

Albertosaurus

PRCalDude said...

This entire movie is basically a corollary to Sailer's law: aging yenta is somehow still attractive to handsome alpha males and gets to act on her natural polyandrist urges while money is no object.

Anonymous said...

No one seems to comment on the fact that these two films share the Roberts siblings. Eric Roberts and Julia Roberts in real life apparently hate each other but look alike and each has a career focused on a narrow appeal to their respective sex.

Julia is a famous beauty who is not that good looking. Diane Lane plays these same kind of parts - Under the Tuscan Sun - and is much more conventionally attractive.

The Roberts facial architecture works better on a man. Eric - in spite of decades of snorting blow - is still better looking than his little sister.

Eric discovered that he looks good with his shirt off so he moved into kung-fu flics when the major studios would no longer have him. He probably can't really fight but on the giant silver screen his combination of six pack abs, an Elvis class sneer and a whole lot of swagger has made him a memorable kung-fuist (is that a word?).

The Roberts pair are roughly at the same point in their careers - too old. She in her mid forties is beginning to look a little haggard and worn. He in his mid fifties is getting to be a trifle arthritic and stiff. She doesn't appear on screen alongside younger women but he is still a juvenile when next to Stallone.

Albertosaurus

BamaGirl said...

"I can think of no greater testament to women's general ignorance and vapidity than the fact that this prime example of the self-absorbed, vapid American woman sold nine million copies."

Maybe Sheila, but isn't it a testament to men's general ignorance and vapidity that Tucker Max's "I hope they serve beer in hell" was on the New York Times bestseller list for three years? Neither sex has a monopoly on idiotic self-indulgence.

BamaGirl said...

"Even American women I knew who were 1/10 as attractive and traveled in packs and/or with boyfriends were harassed, groped and even assaulted in Rome southward."

As far as Italy goes, Ive heard American women resemble the locals get harassed a little less. Two of my friends went as part of a study abroad program, and my reddish-blonde haired/pale friend was harrassed far more than my tan/brunette friend, despite the fact that the latter is more attractive and thinner.

ASDF said...

I for one am very thankful for dreck like "Eat, Pray, Love" and the "Twilight" series. They are an excellent filter for deciding if a girl is worth a long term relationship or not.

Anonymous said...

"This entire movie is basically a corollary to Sailer's law: aging yenta is somehow still attractive to handsome alpha males and gets to act on her natural polyandrist urges while money is no object."
---
But of course, it's not at all unrealistic for us to believe that 'roided up, Botoxed, human-growth-hormone-injecting, 60-something fossils like Stallone and Schwartzenegger are action heroes who punch out bad guys a third of their age with ease. No, not unrealistic at all.

Julia Roberts at 42 is "too old" to play a romantic lead but 64-year-old Sylvester Stallone can still play a convincing buttkicker. Right.

Let's see a companion article on the delusional fantasies of aging men as exemplified by "The Expendables."

James Kabala said...

"making the world safe for democracy"

We can pin a lot of regrettable remarks on the GOP, but not that one (at least not originally).

Anonymous said...

I wish some smart HBDer would straighten out the commenters at this WSJ story.

http://tinyurl.com/349hwgl

"Why, oh why are ACT scores dropping??"

elvisd said...

"William Leach, an editor of a recent version of the Wizard of Oz and author of Land of Desire: Merchants, Power, and the Rise of a New American Culture, believes the Oz formula appeals to a culture that is 'wish-oriented, optimistic, sunny, the epitome of cheer and self-confidence, and completely lacking in anything resembling a tragic view of life.'"

"New order of rank amongst spirits. Those of the tragic natures no longer to the fore."
-Nietzsche

Don't know what he would have thought of American New Age Pop Imperialism as being "to the fore".

Anonymous said...

"Eric discovered that he looks good with his shirt off so he moved into kung-fu flics when the major studios would no longer have him."

Eric Roberts is an excellent actor and was expected to be among the great actors of his generation early on before developing a reputation as a demanding and unreliable troublemaker on the set and acquiring a nearly unquenchable desire for cocaine. I respect him for holding a career together, sometimes with duct tape, for over 30 years, all while working on projects far below his technical ability while his sister became a household name. He's lived the career doldrums Mickey Roarke couldn't stomach.

He always maintained a good attitude, was appreciative of whatever work he could get, and never seemed publicly resentful of his sister's success. His daughter is the knockout the entertainment industry has been purporting his sister to have been for the last twenty years.

Curvaceous, etc. said...

"60-something fossils like Stallone and Schwartzenegger are action heroes who punch out bad guys a third of their age with ease. No, not unrealistic at all."

Hey, my dad at 72 bull-rammed a guy, 46, into his ladyfriend's china closet (because the 42 y o was her son, begging for money).

When the 42 y.o. called the police for assault, the cop was amazed and exceedingly entertained at the age of the perp:
"You're 72. And you took on a 42-year-old? I gotta arrest ya, but I gotta say, that's pretty good!"


So it could happen!

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Julia Roberts at 42 is "too old" to play a romantic lead but 64-year-old Sylvester Stallone can still play a convincing buttkicker. Right.

Spoken like a woman. The absurdity of the latter does not disprove the absurdity of the former.

--Nobody in the 18-35 moviegoing demographic wants to see two middle-aged people liplocking on screen.

--Quite frankly, most middle-aged people don't care to see their peers liplocking on screen.

--Old people don't go to movies.

This is a film for the narrow demographic of divorced/never-married white women in their 40's who need reassurance that their superficial, patronizing, narcissistic worldview is proper rather than completely effing sociopathically insane.

This movie came to mind while I was channel-surfing last night. The local PBS station was promoting some travelogue, with Americans mooning for the camera and yelling out their locale ("Micronesia!," "Tuscany!")

The fact that I can go anywhere and STILL not get away from yuppie swine tends to deter me from "travel."

SFG said...

"And Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (a game which involves playing as a gang member and murdering your way through a fictional Californian city) sold 17.3 million copies. What does that say about the American male?"

Feh, remember public executions? The Roman gladiatoral games? At least there's no real blood being spilled.

Remember GOP governor Arnie, after Robert E. Howard, when asked what is best in life? "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women."

josh said...

Brain droppings: A)Good news is that EPL did Ok at the box office,but not boffo. It peaked at #2 behind Sly. Part of the reason is that Julia is simply too old and has been away for too long;her status as a happily married (to some nobody,as opposed to being m. to Brad)mother,doesnt help her with the target audience. B)Men delusional? Well many of the guys reading Roissy may have fantasies of bedding Asian models or Russian expats but Roissy sets them straight:Game will up you a point or 2 or three.3)Come on! There arent hordes of middle aged guys going to see Expendables imagimning they are going to kick ass,like Sly.Its mainly young men,and kids,and they prob get off more on current ass-kicker Jason Statham-def one of my faves-than the decrepit Sly/Arnie. C)Its funny how women have conquered yoga. Yoga is huge with the aging American princess.It used to be for hippie types,to open up the chakras,become psychic and be able to go months w/o eating. Hey wait- go w/o eating? That DOES sound like the suburban white woman!

Dutch Boy said...

Idiocy has no sex restriction.

gwood said...

"He (Eric Roberts) probably can't really fight ..."

I thought he was convincing as a fencer in "By the Sword".

Svigor said...

Remember GOP governor Arnie, after Robert E. Howard, when asked what is best in life? "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of the women."

Howard got it from Genghis Khan if what I heard is true.

Bone Fire said...

Anti-Gnostic:

Nobody in the 18-35 moviegoing demographic wants to see two middle-aged people liplocking on screen.

Quite frankly, most middle-aged people don't care to see their peers liplocking on screen.

Old people don't go to movies.

Then you haven't been around in the 1980s, when movies such as "On Golden Pond" and "Coccoon" were huge sellers, and brough middle-aged and older people back into the theaters.

It was a time when Hollywood started making movies especially for the old-money crowd, and less so for youth.

C. Van Carter said...

"Will Liz hold out for a sequel in which she’s courted by Pitt and DiCaprio?"

How about a sequel where she's courted by the cast of The Expendables.

Steve Sailer said...

Her editor is actually a guy named Paul Slovak.

The Viola Davis character in the movie appears to be a composite character, which, I must say, is one of the better things in the movie because it gets them through a lot of exposition faster and Viola Davis is a good actress. But, it's still pretty Oprahlarious.

BamaGirl said...

"At the same age I was playing beauty contest or hospital with my dozens of dolls. My feminist parents gave me a collection of Big Wheel trucks and told me I could be anything I wanted to be. I gave the trucks names and played with them like they were dolls."

I played Romanovs, and medieval life with my barbies...Its not like playing dolls always is a "nurturing" type thing

PRCalDude said...

Julia Roberts at 42 is "too old" to play a romantic lead but 64-year-old Sylvester Stallone can still play a convincing buttkicker. Right.


What Anti-Gnostic said.

But "old guys kicking butt" is much less implausible than the premise of "Eat Pray Love." You heard of old man strength?

Sorry I touched a nerve.

lesley said...

What we'll get is changes to divorce law that saves high earning women the ignominy of paying their loser husbands alimony (man-imony)."

I wonder where some of you live. Or when.
Unmarried women are pretty much expected to earn their own way these days. Married too, for that matter, most of the time.

In Maryland, if the woman made more money, she is indeed liable to pay the ex-husband alimony, though I don't know the exact rules. I personally know of a woman who had her own business and had to pay so much to her ex-husband she lost the business and is living with her psychiatrist parents. Maybe more to the story, but she did have to pay her husband.

Some of you really must enter the 21st century. You'd be surprised at how things have changed so much at least they don't SEEM the same.

lesley said...

Both genders of actors in Hollywood are botoxed up and look more like androids than flesh and blood these days. Some actreses even without "work" look sexy later on, like Helen Mirren, but they are not to everyone's taste and must have exceptional talent to command the screen.
A few male actors (Cary Grant for one) did age very well and didn't look too weird with much younger co-stars, but Cary was an exception. Robert Young, dashingly handsome in his 20s, was considered over-the-hill and not leading man material by the time he was only 40. He ended up playing Father Knows Best, in his 40s. Most leading-man actors at 40 are still at their peak, but not at 50 for the most part. Jimmy Stewart decided not to play opposite any more much younger actresses after he was in Bell, Book and Candle with Kim Novak. Thought he looked too old for them, and re-watching the movie, I concurred. Stewart did grow up to be a bit fatherly looking towards the end of his major career. I always thought he was unusually realistic and admirably honest and considerate -- almost noble. To have gone on pretending would have been so expected, so unevolved, so blah. But he knew it was time to move on. Time to move over. Warren Beatty was a pup by then.

While the iconic image of lovers has always been of a couple at least of the same generation, there has always been a predictable percentage of May-September (at least not too many January) couples, and I suspect the percentage in societies where the women choose their own mates, has been consistant over the centuries. Just like there's always a certain percentage (about 3%) who are particularly attracted to other races. There are always some people attracted to great differences in age. How did they handle their social life and friends and those "remember when" conversations?
Anyway, both genders have plenty of examples of vapid, soul-destroying icons of behavior, esp. the young, poor things. Surprise of my life: some of us actually find being "older" -- and healthy -- to be a freakin' relief.

CJ said...

Albertosaurus said:

"Eric discovered that he looks good with his shirt off so he moved into kung-fu flics when the major studios would no longer have him."

Eric Roberts has also appeared in a slew of TV movies of the type that run on the Oxygen and Lifetime networks. He plays stalkers and bad news ex-husbands who say lines like "You're nothing without me, bitch." He actually does quite a good job of it; in some of these films he appears to be the only cast member with any real acting chops at all.

Anonymous said...

"60-something fossils like Stallone and Schwartzenegger are action heroes who punch out bad guys a third of their age with ease. No, not unrealistic at all."

Obviously you haven't seen Epic Beard Guy break the nose of some punk a third his age...

People that don't know about fighting shouldn't talk about it. The vast majority of guys can't/won't fight, but guys that can fight are dangerous at any age. Punching power is all about technique and body weight so a guy that's 60 can throw just as hard a punch as a guy that's 20. Stamina doesn't even enter into the equation in a skilled street fight.

Sure, all other things being equal, the 20 year old will have an advantage. But things are rarely equal.

Anonymous said...

Another flick heavily promoted by Oprah was "Stella Got Her Groove Back." That proved a great boost for Jamaica's "romance tourism" industry.

And the punchline to that, of course, was that the real-life "Winston Shakespeare" 23 years younger than Terry McMillian, who met and successfully romanced her in Jamaica, both inspiring the book/movie and marrying her, turned out to be a gay con artist targeting her for a green card scam, and later extorting huge sums in royalties in the divorce settlement.

Udolpho.com said...

Ladies, do you really think throwaway action fantasy like The Expendables--mostly a last hurrah gimmick movie--comes remotely near the knitting-needles-through-the-eyes idiocy of Eat Pray Love?

On the point of whether, on your giant abacus of error, male sins outweigh female sins, consider how quickly things have gone downhill since you got the franchise. I thought a woman's sensibility was supposed to fix the world. Mostly though it's just forced people to smoke outside and talk about how much we've offended them. I think we need about 1000% less female assistance in running the world.

Mr. Anon said...

"CJ said...

"Eric Roberts has also appeared in a slew of TV movies of the type that run on the Oxygen and Lifetime networks. He plays stalkers and bad news ex-husbands who say lines like "You're nothing without me, bitch." He actually does quite a good job of it; in some of these films he appears to be the only cast member with any real acting chops at all."

In the otherwise unremarkable Jim Carrey movie "The Cable Guy", there was a running gag about the televised murder trial of two Menendez-like brothers. One bit was a made-for-TV movie about the case, starring Eric Roberts as one of the murderous brothers. When I saw that, I remember thinking. Yes - he is exactly the guy they would get to play that role. I think his exceptionally creepy role in "Star 80" type-casted him for good.

Mr. Anon said...

Steve, I hope that Takimag pays you some kind of extra hazard pay for reviewing a chick-flick. Or perhaps bonus hazard pay for reviewing one with Julia Roberts.

Anonymous said...

Howard got it from Genghis Khan if what I heard is true.

Yeah, I like the original better:

“The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”

sabril said...

"Neither sex has a monopoly on idiotic self-indulgence."

I'm a guy and I agree with this. However, it does seem to me that the "you go girl" mentality is particularly offensive and destructive.

What is the equivalent, if any, for men?

Anonymous said...

The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.

Thank goodness that Joseph Smith Jr & Brigham Young toned down the rhetoric just a little.

Johnny B. Goode said...

"Spoken like a woman. The absurdity of the latter does not disprove the absurdity of the former."

Did you see EXPENDABLES? It stunk. I love action movies. But this movie stunk.

EPL stunk too.

I think Sailer's point is about sexual dimorphism playing out in movies (true), not that drivel appealing to men* is better than drivel appealing to women.

Drivel is drivel.

I wish Sailer would do an article about how French romantic comedies (such as Amelie, and Priceless) are so much better than American romantic comedies. He could take on Maureen Dowd, who proclaims incorrectly of the death of the romantic comedy in one of her stupid columns. It may be dead in America, but not France. Maureen is so predictable.

*the plain English definition of "appeal to" in moviespeak is "pick your pocket."

Anonymous said...

I think one reason Blockbuster is probably in financial trouble is that middle age people want movies that appeal to them. The majority of movies inside BB are the top 20 types that smashes at the box office with 14-20 year olds and they just live on on a shelf somewhere. It is truly depressing to go in to look around for a movie that does not involve an exploding car or a machine gun.

Ray Sawhill said...

Hilarious review and great comments. I'll co-sign Lesley's. I also think the point that Steve made and Agnostic brings out and elaborates on -- that entertainments for males and females have hardly any overlap at all any longer -- is really important, so far as noticing developments in popcult go. Popcult often used to be a bringing-the-masses-together kind of thing. These days much of it seems to be about treating all audiences as niche audiences, and then catering in very specific ways to that niche.

A question/point I've asked/made before here? These films are fantasies. For whatever reason, many guys love indulging in fantasies of action-and-rescue. Many gals love indulging in fantasies of crisis-and-renewal. Anything wrong with any of this? (Or in creating entertainments to cater to these tastes?) Yet some guys in these commentsthreads seem convinced that the guy-fantasy thing is OK and the chick-fantasy thing isn't OK.

Why? What possible justification for this position can there be? Chicks don't deserve an occasional couple of hours of indulgence in silly, vain fantasies the same way guys do? Why not?

My own hunch here is that some guys are so horrified by what really goes on inside gals' brains that they react with moral condemnation. But I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I've ever posted three remarks to one article - so pay attention.

Men last longer than women on screen for quite simple reasons that have little to do with irrational prejudice.

The first is that men have thicker skin. In aging the skin thins revealing the underlying bone structure. Women with good bone structure do better - e.g. Dolores Del Rio - but all all women find their faces sagging on their facial bones earlier then men do.

This effect is more important today than ever before because of better optics and image technology. In a well lit and photographed Hollywood feature seen on an eight foot wide Home Theater screen from a Blu-ray disk, you can see every pore and every dab of make up. Keanu Reeves for example has bad skin. So does Rosario Dawson. In HD you can see every pimple.

Cary Grant never had to deal with this kind of resolution much less Doris Day. In the old days you used to hear people say - "When you see them in person they don't look like they do on the screen". Today they look better in person because the screen is so revealing.

Doris Day of course was famous for being photographed through Vaseline like Norma Desmond. In the near future perhaps this will all reverse when actors and actresses no longer appear live but as CGI manikins with perfect digital skin.

If the face and figure is a clue to the individual's fertility, it's not surprising that men who can produce progeny well into their dotage look better in later years to our sub-cortical brain structures than do women whose ability to reproduce comes to a grinding halt at menopause. In Dawkin's terms we are lumbering robots serving the agenda of our genes. We find attractive those whom our genome tells us to find attractive, like good little robots.

As to men's fighting ability, many of the commenters take comfort in the ability of old men to punch out a kid. True but not quite relevant.

We have a lot of collective wisdom about development direction - Ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny, The fish rots from the head down and The legs go first, etc.. In animal development the head develops first, then the front legs (arms) and lastly the rear legs. It is a little less well known that aging proceeds in exactly the opposite direction. So old men still have perfectly good heads and arms when they no longer want to go out on the dance floor. Their feet and legs are long gone while their arms and hands are still strong.

If you can get an opponent to stand completely still in front of you, even a old fart will have enough upper body strenth to clobber him. This was the secret of George Foreman's late life success.

But Eric Roberts is like many movie kung-fuists - a little guy. In the movies little guys beat big guys with their fancy footwork - literally. They don't punch all that much. Rather they kick the bad guy in the head. This is the secret of Jet Li's success.

Alas Eric (and Jet) have lost a step and can't quite jump up high enough to kick the villain's head anymore.

Albertosaurus

Dahlia said...

The male equivalent to this noxious drivel aren't the action movies with aged stars, but the ones with young, nerdy or average dudes sleeping around, or trying to, with the hottest babes; girls are only sex objects: "Revenge of the Nerds", "Animal House" The Harold and Kumar movies, etc.

I remember watching the Nerds movie way back with my husband and asking what happened to the nerdy girlfriend? She takes this guy's virginity and the next thing you know, he spends the rest of the movie going after the hot cheerleader. Nerdy girl is simply disappeared.

And Epic Beard Man? May peace be upon him.

BamaGirl said...

"Ladies, do you really think throwaway action fantasy like The Expendables--mostly a last hurrah gimmick movie--comes remotely near the knitting-needles-through-the-eyes idiocy of Eat Pray Love?"

Yes, 64 year old men "kicking ass" does approach the idiocy levels of "Eat, pray, love." Personally I wouldn't be caught dead at either movie. I fail to see the difference in crappy self-indulgent fantasies starring washed up actors/actresses.

BamaGirl said...

"Punching power is all about technique and body weight so a guy that's 60 can throw just as hard a punch as a guy that's 20. Stamina doesn't even enter into the equation in a skilled street fight."

Hahaha, seriously? You're assertion is just as ridiculous as a middle-aged woman thinking she's at "her peak" at 47. Self delusion much...

The Anti-Gnostic said...

What possible justification for this position can there be? Chicks don't deserve an occasional couple of hours of indulgence in silly, vain fantasies the same way guys do?

I think the difference is women don't see this film as a silly, vain fantasy--it's How Things Should Be. All middle-aged women should be paid to travel the globe so they can be hit on by ruggedly handsome men who own import-export businesses that never encroach on their leisure time.

ATBOTL said...

"Maybe Sheila, but isn't it a testament to men's general ignorance and vapidity that Tucker Max's "I hope they serve beer in hell" was on the New York Times bestseller list for three years? Neither sex has a monopoly on idiotic self-indulgence."

I think you and the other women making these kind of comparisons are sort of missing the point. Stuff like Tucker Max and video games appeals mainly to adolescents and twenty somethings and lacks pretensions of seriousness.

EPL is targeted towards supposed adults and wraps it's hedonism in a package of self deceived bullshit about "meaning" and "empowerment."

Svigor said...

"Howard got it from Genghis Khan if what I heard is true."

Yeah, I like the original better:

“The greatest happiness is to scatter your enemy, to drive him before you, to see his cities reduced to ashes, to see those who love him shrouded in tears, and to gather into your bosom his wives and daughters.”


Yeah, I like the original better too. Talk about a guy flick...

Svigor said...

"Revenge of the Nerds", "Animal House" The Harold and Kumar movies, etc.

I've never seen the last, but the first two have always struck me as Jewish propaganda dressed up as nerd/loser fantasies.

Ray Sawhill said...

In response to my question about men and women and fantasy and entertainment, Anti Gnostic sez:

"I think the difference is women don't see this film as a silly, vain fantasy--it's How Things Should Be. All middle-aged women should be paid to travel the globe so they can be hit on by ruggedly handsome men who own import-export businesses that never encroach on their leisure time."

ATBOTL sez:

"EPL is targeted towards supposed adults and wraps it's hedonism in a package of self deceived bullshit about "meaning" and "empowerment.""

I don't think those are dumb things to say. But at the same time I dunno: maybe men and women have not just different fantasies but different ways of enjoying their fantasies. Men like excitement, playing, pretend, joshing around, jokes ... Women like caring, feeling, identifying, etc. Men like games; women not so much.

Check out soap operas and women's romances. They're as formulaic as can be -- the women who consume them know perfectly well they're indulging in fantasy. But they aren't full of chases, jokes, joshing. They're usually humor-free, they're usually anything but light in tone (though a certain amount of attitude or sassiness is sometimes present), they're devoted to getting the reader to indentify, and they're relentlessly focused on selling emotional experience. That's why the women read 'em and watch 'em: to indulge in a lot of dreams and gushy feelings.

Which sounds a little like EPL, no?

Anonymous said...

"Hahaha, seriously? You're assertion is just as ridiculous as a middle-aged woman thinking she's at "her peak" at 47. Self delusion much...
"


Yes, seriously.
By way of reality check, George Foreman is now in his 60s. Would you want to fight him? I'm in my 20s, and I wouldn't.

By way of history, an ancient Jack Dempsey knocked out two muggers who attempted to mug him, then stood watch over them until the police arrived. Dempsey was in his 70s at the time. Billy Conn, a former light heavyweight boxing champion, ran off a robber who was holding up the convenience store Conn was in. Conn was 72. More recently, 88 year old former boxing champion, Gerhard Brinkmann, knocked out a greasy, long haired punk who tried to mug him. "I told him to come closer if he wanted it and, as he did, I landed a full-force right hook on his chin."

http://www.billyconn.net/articles/billy_conn_takes_on_young_store_.htm

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/050211/344/fc9t5.html

But I agree with the poster above that the larger point is that men know that the expendables is cheap fun, while an alarming number of women think EPL is serious stuff.

Ray Sawhill said...

Anonymous sez:

"But I agree with the poster above that the larger point is that men know that the expendables is cheap fun, while an alarming number of women think EPL is serious stuff."

A number of you seem to have this hunch, and maybe you're right. But do you have any actual proof of it?

Anonymous said...

"Yes, 64 year old men "kicking ass" does approach the idiocy levels of "Eat, pray, love."
---
Yes, exactly right. Stallone looked ridiculous, and his puffy 'roided up face was scarily Frankensteinish.
---
"On the point of whether, on your giant abacus of error, male sins outweigh female sins, consider how quickly things have gone downhill since you got the franchise."
----

That's why Germany with Angela Merkel at the helm is the only Western nation currently with an economy that's worth a damn. That's why the only American statesman -- statesperson? -- who has the balls to protect American national sovereignty is the female governor of Arizona. But hey, neither of them are "hot" and both of them are "past their prime" so I guess they're invisible to you, huh?

Mr. Anon said...

"Ray Sawhill said...

Anonymous sez:

""But I agree with the poster above that the larger point is that men know that the expendables is cheap fun, while an alarming number of women think EPL is serious stuff.""

A number of you seem to have this hunch, and maybe you're right. But do you have any actual proof of it?"

Well, there is this: "Eat, Pray, Love" was a book that many women bought and read, before it was a movie. I don't think many men would buy a novelized version of "The Expendables". The kind of man who would probably doesn't read much anyway.

David said...

>the only American statesman -- statesperson? -- who has the balls to protect American national sovereignty is the female governor of Arizona<

Score one for the girls. :)

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