Oh look, we have created enchantment.
June 6, 2008 6:37 AM   Subscribe

The male rejection of adulthood is now the dominant attitude in Hollywood comedy.

The center of attention is usually a guy, his buddies and his toys. He will, most of the time, be nudged toward responsibility, forgiven for his quirks and nurtured in his needs and neuroses by a woman who represents an ideal amalgam of supermodel and mom.
posted by plexi (154 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
The Advertising Standards Bureau, one of the few organisations that measures complaints about stereotypes in the media, reports a steady increase in the percentage of men (now more than a third) complaining about advertising, and their most frequent complaint is about sexual discrimination. A survey conducted for the bureau last year revealed that while 40 per cent of complainants thought women were portrayed offensively, an increasing 23 per cent thought men were portrayed offensively.

I wonder if people are just complaining about advertising more, in general.
posted by tybeet at 6:46 AM on June 6, 2008


You say that like it's a bad thing.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:47 AM on June 6, 2008


I prefer my escapism in the form of old-timey screwball comedies, but I suppose this falls into the same category, yes?
posted by davejay at 6:48 AM on June 6, 2008


The male rejection of adulthood is now the dominant attitude in Hollywood comedy. American culture.

Or put another way, it's funny cuz it's true.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 6:51 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


"The male rejection of adulthood is now the dominant attitude in Hollywood comedy"

And this is news to whom? As long as my mother is alive, I have no need to grow up. Once she's gone, I'll find me good-looking substitute.
posted by jsavimbi at 6:54 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Now" being "for the last 15-20 years" I assume. My wife was complaining about this very thing in TV commercials at least as far back as 1996.
posted by DU at 6:55 AM on June 6, 2008


As a man, I can certainly see men complaining more about advertising, I frequently find them offensive. The overriding message of a lot of TV ads is that men are lazy, stupid and pompous, and they need women to do things for them. When a child asks his father a hard question he says, ask your mother. When mom is out of town, dad orders McDonald's because obviously no man anywhere can cook. When there are chores to be done, a woman does them to empowering music, interspersed with shots of her husband lying on the couch watching football. Obviously, there are plenty of ads with negative images of women, but it seems like the number which portray men badly is on the rise.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:58 AM on June 6, 2008 [12 favorites]


yes, this is new...
posted by caddis at 6:59 AM on June 6, 2008


None of this would bother a real man.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:01 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Apatow seems to be doing it slightly differently...In Knocked Up, the principal character decides not to reject adulthood/responsibility, even though he's barely capable through most of the film. Carrell's character in 40-year-old Virgin is certainly kid-like in many/most respects, but the storyline involves embracing adulthood (and not just the virginity aspect). I'm just sayin.

I'm not sure I understand the insight in any of the links...Hollywood comedies tend to involve guys, buddies, toys, and infantile behavior. That's clearly marketable (and has been for a long time), and what is Hollywood but marketing on a grand scale?

There are great comedies outside of this type if you look for them. It's just that the ones with box office draw are typically schlock. That's not new.
posted by mcstayinskool at 7:01 AM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Talk of the Nation had an author on some time ago who had just written a book on this subject, and despite several men calling in to say that they were perfectly happy enjoying their lives and had no desire to start a family and transition into what our culture considers "adulthood", or "manhood" she just couldn't seem to get it into her head that some dudes aren't into that.

Not all women are into raising a family, not all women are into working, not all women are into combining the two, not all men are into any of the above either. Some men, including myself, have planned their lives carefully so that we do not have families to support, or responsibilities we don't want. I make enough money to be happy, I like video games, I'm free to go out many times a week, I see no need to change my life now. This is all entirely different than men and women who are just deadbeats and don't accept the responsibilities they've created.
posted by Science! at 7:02 AM on June 6, 2008 [15 favorites]


Nor has Mr. Sandler been alone, over the past 15 years or so, in turning male infantile aggression into the basis of a lucrative and long-running movie career. His rivals and confreres have included Jim Carrey, Jack Black and Will Ferrell — all of them different physical and temperamental types, but all of them committed to a brazen and unyielding refusal of maturity.

This guys talking about comedy. Who would want to see a comedian act all grownup and mature? How would that even be funny?
posted by delmoi at 7:04 AM on June 6, 2008


The media portrays [teenage boys] as either drug-crazed, illiterate, unemployable, suicidal, failures at school, sex criminals or vandals.

Yes, and I wonder why this is... It seems a bit strange to complain about media accuracy.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 7:05 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Who would want to see a comedian act all grownup and mature? How would that even be funny?

Steve Martin, we are looking in your direction.
posted by DU at 7:06 AM on June 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Besides vaguely mentioning "duty and responsibility", this article never really defines what it means to be grown up or adult. Clearly these characters can function in society - with the exception of Billy Madison, they usually have jobs and active social lives and pay their own way - so what is it that they lack, precisely? This article is coming from the same place as that stupid city journal piece we all dismissed a few months ago... the author implies that because they lack a path towards commitment and parenthood, they're not fully developed humans.

Fuck that game.
posted by Spacelegoman at 7:07 AM on June 6, 2008 [16 favorites]


I'm a man, but I can change. If I have to. I guess.
posted by heathkit at 7:07 AM on June 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Some men, including myself, have planned their lives carefully so that we do not have families

I don't even begin to get what this means.
posted by phaedon at 7:08 AM on June 6, 2008


Most people who identify as macho are humiliated by their former support of the current administration, and are now considering to vote for economic realism and such safety nets for themselves. This is against the Republican party fantasy program that always flattered their ego, and assumed their privilege, and imminent wealth and power. So I would gamble that a lot of them are experiencing a newfound anxiety.
posted by Brian B. at 7:11 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


These movies have this odd conservative streak:

40 Year Old Virgin: Wait until marriage.
Knocked Up: No abortions.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:12 AM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Nor has Mr. Sandler been alone, over the past 15 years or so, in turning male infantile aggression into the basis of a lucrative and long-running movie career. His rivals and confreres have included ... Robin Williams, Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Jerry Lewis, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy, Curly, Larry, and Moe, etc., etc.
posted by octobersurprise at 7:12 AM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


There's to things that I think have an effect on society's desire to "act young."

The first is that so much of marketing is focused on the young (that prime 18-25 demographic, or whatever). Once you get used to the media's attention to every little thing your peers do, it becomes harder to not to try to actively seek that attention. The Boomers are probably just as guilty as new generations of this, as they keep trying to stay young (for example, parents who want their children to delay having children, because becoming a grandparent would make them "feel old").

Secondly, it might be an accidental side effect of people living longer, for most people, as long as your parents are alive, you're someone's kid.
posted by drezdn at 7:13 AM on June 6, 2008


Since the previous concept of male adulthood pretty much involved working yourself to death for the benefit of everyone else, I'm not surprised that people are running away from it now that it's socially acceptable.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:18 AM on June 6, 2008 [27 favorites]


Some men, including myself, have planned their lives carefully so that we do not have families

I don't even begin to get what this means.


I guess I wasn't clear. I have a family, a great family, one I love very much. But I don't have a wife and kids, because I don't want a wife and kids now. It's ridiculous for authors/the media/whoever to say I should if that's not what I want.
posted by Science! at 7:24 AM on June 6, 2008


People now have the freedom to marry solely for love, if they wish.

People can decide whether or not they want to have kids.

Having these freedoms means that some people will exercise them.

For all the complaints that men have become man children gripped by consumerism, the alternative exhorted for them is to go have a wife and kids, and a house. The traditional American dream is a bill of goods in and of itself, one that was advertised on TV, in the pulpit, in the movies. For many, the sense of security and purpose was false. The secure job of yesteryear ended with a layoff, the security of marriage ended with a divorce, and the house....

When the previous situation no longer offers the benefits that it traditionally did, why is it a surprise that it is met with rejection?
posted by zabuni at 7:26 AM on June 6, 2008 [24 favorites]


There was a post like this a while back discussing this "phenomenon" in reference to Judd Apatow comedies.

I've found that the people who write pieces like this are usually bullshit social commentators who like to present personal anecdotes and pop culture references as evidence of "larger social trends." They get lots of pageviews out of it, and everybody has a nice, spirited discussion about how we're all going to hell in a handbasket.

Personally, I don't have time for this sort of thing.

Finally, because it always seems to come up, I'm going to call bullshit on the phrase "extended adolescence." Even though I fit the demographic who is often accused of having one, I assure you that my adolescence was NOTHING like this. I have money and get laid now. That never happened when *I* was an adolescent.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:26 AM on June 6, 2008 [23 favorites]


Movies/commercials have these male characters because otherwise men would feel jealous. It reinforces the slacker's self-worth.
posted by niccolo at 7:28 AM on June 6, 2008


Well, that would be how a comedy works, right? A state of affairs exists that does not support the societal norms. Everything is upended. At the conclusion, society norms are re-applied. So the progression from child-man to proper adult is an entirely

What's different, maybe, is that the heroes are not achieving their goals through self-sacrifice and self-improvement. Unless the women are just amalgams of the traditional companions?

Example:

Jack is a young peasant boy. An evil wizard rules the land. Jack goes on a quest, helped by a motley array of companions - big strong dumb guy, sassy thief, wise old guy. He gets a magic sword. With a great struggle he overcomes the wizard.

Jack is a young dude. He lives in a pigsty and his parents don't have any grandkids. He decides to grow up, helped by a succession of great girlfriends - ex-Marine, sassy beautician, mom. He gets a new suit. With a great struggle he gets the promotion and fiance.

So what's the difference? That Jack's plight is his own fault, not that of an oppressor? That he battles himself, not an external threat to society? That fits with our solipsistic age. Or that Jack's eventual success is not a result of his own efforts - his essential goodness? Remember, Jack doesn't have to be skilled, or handsome, or powerful: he just has to be good, sacrifice himself, for the story to work.
posted by alasdair at 7:28 AM on June 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm sorry, but the stereotypes have got to stop. Male ones, female ones, all they are is yet another way to escape the responsibility of interacting with an individual to determine for yourself whether or not they are worthy of your association. There are more than 4 types of women in the world. There are more than 12 (zodiac) types of personalities in the human race. If you're intellectually lazy enough to indulge in stereotypes, then I guess I'm entitled to call you 'stupid', and not associate with you.
posted by Fferret at 7:28 AM on June 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


We're grown-ups now, and it's our turn to decide what that means.
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:29 AM on June 6, 2008 [11 favorites]


God damn if I don't hate this non-observation being trotted out every couple of minutes. Oh noes! More men are figuring out they don't have to start playing house and pretending to be their dad at age 18-25 just because other people want to! Dear god, they're planning their lives differently than people who came along before the computer age did! Horrors!

What steams me is the implicit misandrism of this line of thinking. Young men should know their place, settle down, get a 'real' job, buy a house, start a family, wear ties, knock off all that kid stuff you enjoy and start playing golf or something. Anyone directing this line of thinking at women is seen as a bigoted dinosaur, and for good reason.

Why on earth should all men seek to embrace some bullshit machismo John Wayne fantasy? I mean, I can subjugate women and call people faggots with the best of them, but it seems like a step backwards. Besides, Isn't the fetishisation of that outdated male archetype the reason we elected it for the past two terms? It's silly conjecture steeped in choice-supportive bias; it's the sociological equivalent of people who swear that the music they heard as a teenager is objectively the best ever written.

What really steams me is this line of thinking is usually trotted out and parroted by fucking Boomers, who are pissed that their own 30+ year delay on having to admit that they're old is finally grinding to a halt.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:34 AM on June 6, 2008 [41 favorites]


People need to stop modeling their lives after movies.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 7:35 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


These movies have this odd conservative streak:

40 Year Old Virgin: Wait until marriage.
Knocked Up: No abortions.


Drawing a line between two points and calling it a 'streak'.
posted by kingbenny at 7:36 AM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


We spend the first 50% of our lives being annoyed at our parents; we spend the remaining 50% being annoyed by our children. We are screwed no matter what. I have tried adulthood. It is very angst-making and its rewards hardly worth the effort required.
posted by Postroad at 7:36 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


My body, my choice.
posted by Pollomacho at 7:39 AM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Drawing a line between two points and calling it a 'streak'.

Mistaking the meaning of "streak".
posted by cog_nate at 7:43 AM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


What really steams me is this line of thinking is usually trotted out and parroted by fucking Boomers, who are pissed that their own 30+ year delay on having to admit that they're old is finally grinding to a halt.

Bingo.
posted by desuetude at 7:44 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


My non-brother-in-law, who is generally a nice guy, just up and left my sister in law and their kids on some half-baked, nonconsensual mission to find work somewhere else. She had about a week's notice, and the only "discussion" was about whether she wanted to come along or not. He added that he needs more snow than our region provides.

I am ready for real adulthood to become cool again.
posted by everichon at 7:45 AM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Re: kingbenny's comment:

I believe A.O. Scott wrote an article about the emerging trend of doing the right thing, if you will, when it comes to sex comedy about a year ago when Knocked Up was released. He actually goes as far as saying comedies like Juno and Knocked Up (and indeed even 40 Year Old Virgin and Superbad) share underlying themes of responsibility and adulthood and that these themes coexist with intermittent potty humor and adolescent behavior.

Not exactly a streak, but an interesting anomaly within a genre.
posted by not applicable at 7:45 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Not exactly a streak, but an interesting anomaly within a genre.

Naw, I agree entirely about that, I just don't think those two examples _quite_ got us to 'streak', in that sense of the word anyway.
posted by kingbenny at 7:49 AM on June 6, 2008


Is it me or is the "rejection of adulthood" herein mentioned really just a twofold "failure": not adopting the cultural trappings of adulthood and not establishing a family? Why are these necessarily bad things, especially to people who aren't fundamentalist "family first" types?
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


To follow up on my earlier comment - the only hard evidence that anyone ever points to in these discussions is the fact that people are waiting until later in life to get married and have kids. I can't possibly see how this could be a bad thing. If you look at the statistics (I can dig them up if you like), the older people are when they get married, the less likely they are to divorce.

Obviously, you don't want to wait TOO long, because certain biological factors get in the way. But I think it's quite healthy to wait until your late 20s or early 30s before marrying and spawning.
posted by Afroblanco at 7:52 AM on June 6, 2008


Drawing a line between two points and calling it a 'streak'.

I meant these two movies each had a conservative streak, like two old people's heads could both have a bald streak.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 7:54 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've seen the "failure to have babies = kidult" canard raised in this context, and it's goofy. That said, if you do end up blessing the world with your issue, then, yeah, you should act in certain ways and not in others.
posted by everichon at 7:54 AM on June 6, 2008


The presence of man-child men in ads often has more to do with the client's inability to approve interesting work than it does with the agency's ability to create good work. When you see stupid stereotypes waltzing across your screen and interrupting your weekly does of Lost, it's because that's the way the lazy-ass MBA on the other side of the boardroom table sees the world. Or even worse - that's what focus groups thought was "funny" between fistfuls of little sandwiches.
posted by theinsectsarewaiting at 7:56 AM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


I personally love that many men are refusing to abide by some arbitrary model of adulthood. I'd far rather hang out with a man that can laugh and have fun and doesn't judge his success by the size of his bank account (although there are a few who have transferred this competitiveness towards their game systems). I'm not looking for my dad.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 7:57 AM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Talk of the Nation had an author on some time ago who had just written a book on this subject... --Science!

I remember that particular show... and I don't remember the last time I've been that riled up. Had I been listening in real time and not to the podcast, I probably would have been one of those that called in. She seemed to have decided upon this dichotomy where you're either a manchild as described in the post or you're a productive male who is married and supplying for a wife and child. There was no room in the scheme for responsibilities outside this. Continuing to take college classes, contributing to the community, working to create rather than simply collect a paycheck for the support of a family... those weren't deemed proper responsibilities. Responsibility for her seemed only to include settling down for the making and support of children. It came across to me like some bizarro reversion to 1950s expectations of men.

Not that I don't think one should treat the responsibility of marriage and children seriously... When I get around to such things, I will certainly do so. But wow did it feel like she totally trivialized the responsibilities I've chosen to take on in my life, which don't happen to revolve around rearing children. To me the image that's being put forward of the "bad male", that we apparently all are underneath and need a woman to fix, is no worse than the mold for a "good male" that we're supposed to conform to. Again, I think marriage and children are important responsibilities that should be treated as such... but screw the idea that I need these things to be "grown up".

Wow, that turned into a rant. Sorry if I caused just a bit of derail, but that show really hit a nerve and I never really got to vent about it...
posted by Bugg at 8:00 AM on June 6, 2008


I meant these two movies each had a conservative streak, like two old people's heads could both have a bald streak.

Ah, yeah.
posted by kingbenny at 8:07 AM on June 6, 2008


Jesus. Big Lebowski? Married with Children?

I think a more accurate observation is that the theme of "male rejection of adulthood" - which of course, has been around forever in one form or another - has simply gone totally mainstream. I don't think it's unfair to say that, in their heyday, shows like The Simpsons, Married with Children and the feature The Big Lebowski (just to name a couple) were described as having "cult" followings - in essence, a previously unidentified target audience. Now the character type is driving movies with $100-million budgets.

In a low-risk climate, mind you, where the niche/independent/art-house film has all but died in Hollywood. Actually, I think "killed" is a better word. In the past six months, Picturehouse (La Vie En Rose), Warner Independent (Valley of Elah) and Paramount Vantage (No Country, There Will Be Blood) have either gone out of business or folded into their parent companies.

And yet the Zohan persists.
posted by phaedon at 8:07 AM on June 6, 2008


My non-brother-in-law, who is generally a nice guy, just up and left my sister in law and their kids on some half-baked, nonconsensual mission to find work somewhere else. She had about a week's notice, and the only "discussion" was about whether she wanted to come along or not. He added that he needs more snow than our region provides.

I am ready for real adulthood to become cool again.
posted by everichon at 9:45 AM on June 6


A perfect example of the difference between a person establishing a life without responsibilities for the health and welfare for others by not starting a family, and being a deadbeat who refuses to accept those responsibilities. The former is a legitimate way to live a life, the latter is being an irresponsible asshole.
posted by Science! at 8:09 AM on June 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Adulthood is sooooo overated. Usually consists of a group of people declaring that they are "adult" and that their priorities are laws written on the face of the universe which all must follow.

I still don't understand how the certainty of death doesn't cure people of that disease once and for all.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:10 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]



The center of attention is usually a guy, his buddies and his toys. He will, most of the time, be nudged toward responsibility, forgiven for his quirks and nurtured in his needs and neuroses by a woman who represents an ideal amalgam of supermodel and mom.


Interestingly enough, these movies do just about as well with women as they do with men.
posted by tkolar at 8:11 AM on June 6, 2008


These movies have this odd conservative streak:

40 Year Old Virgin: Wait until marriage.
Knocked Up: No abortions.


I've heard this said before, also in regards to Juno. I disagree. In all three cases, but especially with Knocked and Juno, the decisions of the characters are crucial to the story. Telling a story about a 16 year old girl who decides to have an abortion would make for a much shorter, considerably less light hearted movie. There's nothing wrong with making a serious movie about the subject, but the producers of the movie set out to make a comedy. Most movies/books are usually about exceptional situations, that's why they're stories.

Several of my friends criticized Juno for it's supposedly antiabortion message. I agree that the clinic scene was handled crassly and was somewhat insulting to the passionate, caring people who work at those clinics. On the other hand, Juno would not be a movie if it ended within the first 30 minutes.

Watching these movies require the same sort of suspension of disbelief required when watching a fantasy of comic book movie. As an audience member I think it's kind of your duty to accept the basic premise of the plot and criticize the piece within that framework.
posted by Telf at 8:13 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am ready for real adulthood to become cool again.

Your one instance of someone who chose to try to be an adult by getting married and having kids and then flaking on a responsibility he chose to take on is not indicative of a societal 'trend' towards 'extended adolescence', whatever the hell that means. "Real" adulthood is taking responsibility for your own decisions, regardless of what those decisions are. It is not 'getting married and having kids'.
posted by spicynuts at 8:16 AM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


I went into an Adult bookstore once, but damn, for the life of me could I find anything geared for people that were into more than fulfilling adolecent fantasies.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:21 AM on June 6, 2008 [15 favorites]


On a different note, I will never use a product that employs this basic advertisement:

Scene:
Husband and wife are ready to begin their honeymoon/camping trip/house cleaning/fancy meal/sailing excursion/whatever. Wife is attractive and well dressed. Husband is perhaps slightly overweight and balding. Wife is packing, unpacking, preparing or stretching. Husband is sprawled out on couch regardless of setting.

Wife: "We are about to begin our plans for today. I will opt to use this amazing product. Husband would you care to utilize this product as well?"

Husband: "Hurfy durfy doo! Nuh uh, I don't don't need none of that cause I'm a man."

Wife: (Gives a wise and knowing smile, sagely shakes her head in amusement.)

Cut to 15 minutes later:
Husband is sunburned, covered in hives, wheezing, gassy, on fire, bleeding and in jail.

Wife: (Smiles wryly at husband.)
"Would you care to use this product now?"

Husband: "Ok."

Cut to last scene where couple is walking down the beach enjoying the sunset.
posted by Telf at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2008 [48 favorites]


I think a major facet of adulthood involves turning our attention away from ourselves and outwards toward others. My opinion is person has to do this to be fully grown-up, and that marriage and kids is a standard event that forces this change.

That said, it doesn't always happen, and it's not the only way.
posted by stubby phillips at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


Secondly, it might be an accidental side effect of people living longer, for most people, as long as your parents are alive, you're someone's kid.

I think about this a lot. I often wonder if I would have gotten my act together sooner if my dad had died when I was younger. He's still alive and I'm still a bit of a goofball, but slowly getting there.

I take offense to the way most people equate "maturity" with "getting married and having kids." I think it takes a certain kind of maturity to have the true, deep self-knowledge to actively prioritize your life to avoid emotional commitments. From what I've seen, relationships are pretty poisonous except for those rare few, and I'm not people smart enough to resist the psycho bitches I attract. What were we talking about?
posted by autodidact at 8:27 AM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


These articles need more evidence than the themes, values, and successes, of a selection of Hollywood comedies.
posted by Hicksu at 8:28 AM on June 6, 2008


Look, guys, you're not getting the message: It's time for you to give up your friends, videogames, and that guitar; find a profitable steady job you hate; and settle down to the serious business of serving as ATMs, furniture movers, and sperm donors for wives who will regard you with the faint indulgence one might have for a retarded cousin who will only wear clown pants. Stop Peter Panning it up.

Advertising is nowhere near as bad as the example set by sitcoms since the mid-eighties. The husbands are almost always impractical morons who could not be taken seriously by anyone. Even Bill Cosby, who portrayed a doctor, was barely better than Homer Simpson. Gee, the guys must be lining up for that kind of lifelong role.
posted by adipocere at 8:28 AM on June 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


There is a pleasing symmetry to this theory, since my rejection of Hollywood comedy is now the dominant attitude of my adulthood.
posted by rusty at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


I think throwing in "not having kids" as a sign of not achieving adulthood is a canard that prevents the more serious underlying issue from getting addressed.

There's an instant gratification impulse that fuels consumerism and is a symptom of an extended adolescence. It leads most people to spend money they don't have on things they don't need. As resources become scarcer though (especially oil and in turn plastic), this impulse is going to meet a very hard brick wall.
posted by drezdn at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2008 [7 favorites]


One crucial point is being overlooked here:

Adam Sandler is a motherfucking hack no-talent nunshitting unfunny skidmark of an alleged human being. When Rob Schneider's reason for being on this Earth is solely to make you look talented by comparison, you have to ask yourself some hard questions. Sandler apparently hasn't done that. If I had my way, I'd cast him as the host of that "Kick-me-in-the-balls!" teevee show from Idiocracy, giving him a thousand-year contract that stipulates that no stunt doubles may be used. Ever. And no reruns - if you wanna air it twice, tape it twice.

Also, I hope his head falls off.
posted by trondant at 8:31 AM on June 6, 2008


gorgor_balabala : People need to stop modeling their lives after movies.

But a pistol and a bull-whip are actually really practical tools for archeology. Especially when you have to fight Nazis.
posted by quin at 8:32 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


These articles need more evidence than the themes, values, and successes, of a selection of Hollywood comedies.

As does this thread. Attempting to connect Hollywood comedic adulthood to real life is a bit of a stretch, neh?
posted by tkolar at 8:33 AM on June 6, 2008


The female rejection of adulthood is now the dominant attitude in Hollywood comedy.

The center of attention is usually a gal, her galpals and her makeup. She will, most of the time, be nudged away from promiscuity, forgiven for her slutiness and nurtured in her needs and neuroses by a man who represents an ideal amalgam of hunk and dad.


Insulted?

Guys can get sick of their stereotypes as well ...

Oh, boy, I finally get to legitimately use the offensive/racist/sexist flag ...
posted by WCityMike at 8:34 AM on June 6, 2008


Secondly, it might be an accidental side effect of people living longer, for most people, as long as your parents are alive, you're someone's kid.

I think about this a lot. I often wonder if I would have gotten my act together sooner if my dad had died when I was younger. He's still alive and I'm still a bit of a goofball, but slowly getting there.


What if your father is still alive and is more of a goofball than you are?
posted by Pollomacho at 8:35 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Where is the Friends movie?
posted by srboisvert at 8:37 AM on June 6, 2008


I agree with others that what is being called in the article a rejection of adulthood is really nothing but a redefinition of adulthood. Men have decided that turning into a humorless drone that slumps through a life of quiet desperation is something to be avoided if possible. OH NOES.
posted by Justinian at 8:37 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's been demonstrated that this is anything more than a movie-plot trend. Remember when natural disaster movies were hot shit? Twister, Volcano, Deep Impact, etc. etc. Was that because we were under some great worldwide onslaught, and needed movies to have a cultural dialog about what was going on? No, it was just a movie fad.

This fad, too, will pass.
posted by echo target at 8:40 AM on June 6, 2008


... I will opt to use this amazing product...
...I don't don't need none of that cause I'm a man...
... on fire, bleeding and in jail....


To be fair Johnson&Johnson's "Flame Retardant Styptic Body Cream and Certificate of Diplomatic Immunity" smells like flowers and comes in a pretty girly pink bottle, and some of use just aren't comfortable using it in public.
posted by Science! at 8:41 AM on June 6, 2008 [6 favorites]


Not to ruffle any feathers here, but wife/kids/job does not necessarily equate to humorless drone. Some folks get a lot of fullfillment from these things.

Like me, for example.
posted by stubby phillips at 8:41 AM on June 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


Remember when natural disaster movies were hot shit? Twister, Volcano, Deep Impact, etc. etc.

Yeah, that was fuckin awesome!
posted by autodidact at 8:43 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Real" adulthood is taking responsibility for your own decisions, regardless of what those decisions are. It is not 'getting married and having kids'.

I just want to say that I completely agree with this. This post just poked raw nerve, as I am irritated with some of my extended family.

Seems like a "nerve-toucher" for a lot of us, in fact.
posted by everichon at 8:45 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I am going to go read Robert Bly and make masks and shit in the woods. Who's with me?
posted by everichon at 8:46 AM on June 6, 2008


Remember when natural disaster movies were hot shit? Twister, Volcano, Deep Impact, etc. etc.

Yeah, that was fuckin awesome!


I prefer those real manly man movies where the guy has a family, but then something horrible happens to them and that makes him angry, very angry.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:47 AM on June 6, 2008


Wait, are you going to shit in the woods, or go to the woods and make masks and shit? 'Cause I like masks 'n' shit.
posted by echo target at 8:48 AM on June 6, 2008


Like, masks 'n' shit. Though shitting may happen. Rrrrrow!
posted by everichon at 8:49 AM on June 6, 2008


I'd far rather hang out with a man that can laugh and have fun and doesn't judge his success by the size of his bank account (although there are a few who have transferred this competitiveness towards their game systems). I'm not looking for my dad.

Laughing and having fun is possible while still enjoying some responsibility. Yes, enjoying. What's tiresome is the meme that only humorless squares take on any kind of responsibility willingly.

Waaah, I don't have enough money to do anything.
Uh, perhaps you should work?
Jobs suck, I don't get to do anything cool there.
You're frequently late and hungover. If you worked harder, you'd get to do cooler stuff.
Aw, man, I'm too tired to put up with that shit.
Fewer bong hits? Stop having Cheetos and Miller Lite for dinner?
I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT.
posted by desuetude at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mitrovar: Since the previous concept of male adulthood pretty much involved working yourself to death for the benefit of everyone else, I'm not surprised that people are running away from it now that it's socially acceptable

As opposed to the reigning, dominant concept of female adulthood? Then and now?
posted by mistsandrain at 8:50 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I prefer those real manly man movies where the guy has a family, but then something horrible happens to them and that makes him angry, very angry.

Me too.
posted by Mr_Zero at 8:57 AM on June 6, 2008


A lot of these movies are simply the product of lazy writing, using a woman as a 'prize' that needs to be 'won' by the end of the movie by passing a series of challenges. Exploring new societal norms and giving them proper thought would require real work, something hollywood writers and especially audiences seem to be allergic to.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:59 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Hell, any product whose pitch person comes off as a smarmy asshole is one that I will avoid. I don't want to have anything to do with the Dinkface McSmirks of this world, so why would I buy anything based on their recommendation?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:09 AM on June 6, 2008


there's a rumor floating around that somewhere there is a land where men and women live much more mundane, yet complex lives, with competing and even contradictory motives - where people are a mix of responsible and silly, childish and stolid, boring and unpredictable

who knows? maybe some day hollywood will even decide to make a movie about it
posted by pyramid termite at 9:12 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


I prefer those real manly man movies where the guy has a family, but then something horrible happens to them and that makes him angry, very angry.

You have to watch the opening of the somewhat recent The Punisher adaptation. It does this to such a hilariously overblown level that I really hope they were consciously going for an element of self-parody.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:15 AM on June 6, 2008


I like these types of articles, analyses and arguments because they highlight the acknowledgement that Images, Media, and Presentation matter. The next time a women's group complains about overly skinny models and is met with some derisive snort about needing to get over it I'll point the snorter to this conversation.

On the other hand, what kind of social retard absorbs cultural norms from for-profit marketing messages? Are people really that shallow?
posted by sandking at 9:18 AM on June 6, 2008


It's kind of difficult to sift the valuable material from the total bullshit in these articles. The Simpsons is an example of this recent trend? The Simpsons have been around for over 20 years. When they started there was nothing even remotely like them on tv. It was revolutionary material to see an animated comedy about a dysfunctinal family quite like theirs, and certainly to see one on TV. These are not the examples you're looking for.

In the news, sex crimes are perpetrated mostly by men.

Ha. replace "news" with "world" and you'll have an equally accurate statement. How else should the news be reporting it? One instance of female perpetrated sexual violence for every instance of male? It used to be called "male violence," and in deference to the inherent sexism of the statement, feminists and support groups stopped calling it that. Again, you're barking up the wrong tree, which is weird because there are all sorts of right trees to bark up.

The other option for men, and one they seem to prefer, is to change the channel or turn the page, and go to the relatively uncontested battles of sport.

You have to be kidding me. Men are turning to SPORTS in their desperation for non-sexist media?! OH MY GOD, THE HUMANITY! They must be crying in the beer at their sports bar over the kind of sheer desperation that drove them to watch sports rather than Friends. I mean, shit, when did you ever hear about a guy wanting to watch sports more than 20 years ago? Fuck, practically never!

Sorry, man, but trying to turn sports into the entertainment choice of sensitive oppressed males is a joke. Anyone's free to love sports all they want, but exclusively male professional competition (not just in an athletic sense) is what's been driving culture for all of human history. It's not an example of non-sexist anything.

The apotheosis of media that depicts women as heroes and men as villains is the Buffy, Angel, Charmed, and Alias genre of shows which, despite repeating a Hollywood formula for violence against the ugly, have attained feminist approval because the shows display women being powerful and often over evil men.

Well, that was inevitable. Some of the only shows in decades to feature strong images of female empowerment, and BAM! they're sexist. For christ's sake, Angel is a man, and 3 of the principal villains of Buffy were women, but fuck it. It's simply sexist if a strong woman ever defeats a male villain. I think it's plainly obvious that what we need is a return to tv shows about men doing everything. If women are involved in any way (I'm looking at you, Emma Peel!) it's a sign of the kind of sexism that is so despicable and rampant everywhere in this culture... except sports. also, the WNBA is sexist for not allowing men to compete. sexist bastards.

and yet there is an argument to be made. Comedy has always had a center of the impishness and/or immaturity of comedians, even if not every comedian has made use of it. That it's become as ubiquitous as it has among our most successful comedies is something worth examining. But the problem with articles like these is that they always forget what Hollywood ultimately is. Hollywood, when you get right down to it, is a machine that does what its audiences tell it to. (This is not to say that Hollywood has no social responsibilities, but more on that later.) At its core, Hollywood studios want to make the movies that have been successful already over and over again until that stops working, then they want to make the next successful movie over and over again. "Risk" is a blasphemous word in a studio exec's office. So the question becomes, "when did we start wanting to see this type of comedy so much?"

I don't know that there's a solid answer to that. To my mind, the current trend typifies men in America beginning to reject society's expectations of them. Think of Juno, and Jason Bateman's character, who is neither some idealized male nor a shallow caricature of a manchild. Ultimately, he has to face the hard decision to divorce his wife because he doesn't want the life she wants, and the things he wants to accomplish are to her signs that he hasn't "grown up." He was incredibly close to adopting a child he didn't want because he was expected by his age to be a father and to ditch his guitar. This is not to say that he's in some way intended or interpreted as what men should or should not be, but rather that his struggle is a very real one for many men. What the rest of the world calls "growing up" essentially comes down to giving up everything you wanted to do in your life to accept the easier money to raise a family, whether you want one or are simply willing to have one because that's what's expected of you. I think men these days are less willing to simply accept that role being thrust on them. Maybe it's because none of the men at that age today are able to remember a time when simply earning enough to raise a family was a hell of an accomplishment. I don't know. But to quote Aesop Rock:
Now we the American working population
Hate the fact that eight hours a day
Is wasted on chasing the dream of someone that isn't us
And we may not hate our jobs
But we hate jobs in general
That don't have to do with fighting our own causes
We the American working population
Hate the nine-to-five day-in day-out
When we'd rather be supporting ourselves
By being paid to perfect the pasttimes
That we have harbored based solely on the fact
That it makes us smile if it sounds dope.
The problem with these movies, again something like Juno seems to be the exception, is that they all end with the manchild having his big "oh my god I'm a big baby" realization and deciding in the end that he's going to give up what he wants to do and instead do what his wife or girlfriend wants him to do because he loves her. Knocked Up treads this line pretty carefully, creating what seems to be a genuine character progression from unemployed pothead to "man that loves his potential child" in such a way that his transformation seems less like a cop out than an epiphany. Maybe it's because he was never "chasing the dream of someone that isn't us," and that the film made it seem like he had no dreams to begin with by the time he transforms. I'm not totally certain. But the comedy in the movie was still his manchild nature at the beginning. Toward the end, the laughs come less often and it's often at the expense of his friends, who have contracted pink eye by farting on each others' sleeping faces.

So IF this desire in modern men has some part in the current trend in comedies, why is it that we're laughing at that? Are these articles calling for a brand of comedy deeply entrenched in the humor of a life given up to expectations? Somehow I doubt it. None of the linked articles really give examples of what they'd rather see in their comedies, and that's telling. I don't think any of them are thinking that what hollywood needs is 10 movies a year that are exactly like the Steve Martin flick "Parenthood." (truth be told, I'm a fan of that movie, actually, but not especially as a comedy.) I think they're simply dissatisfied, and they don't know what to replace it with. I think they mostly just don't want to be reminded that it was once possible not to become saddled with the life they currently have. And I think, like most people, that they don't derive much satisfaction from watching someone give up their dreams. We're a nation of people who grow up with parents that don't seem happy, and who keep telling us that that's part of growing up. These movies are like our parents, we get to laugh and have fun at the beginning and then someone tells us that one day we'll be paying rent and having babies and the fun has to stop.

I think what a lot of people don't realize is that if there is sexism against men in this culture (outside of the inherent systemic sexism of modern marriage and divorce laws) that it exists in terms of what we're told we should be like. Much like women, we are taught every day of our lives what we should behave dress and think like if we intend to be real men. If we intend to reject this sexism, it has to begin by rejecting this indoctrination. And it's not the indoctrination that we are weak. We have to reject the indoctrination that we should always be strong, sports-loving manly men whose dreams come second to providing for an imaginary weaker woman.

my $.02
posted by shmegegge at 9:20 AM on June 6, 2008 [16 favorites]


This is the funniest thing ever! i already subscribed!
posted by femmme at 9:21 AM on June 6, 2008


It was revolutionary material to see an animated comedy about a dysfunctinal family quite like theirs

Not a fan of the Flintstones are you?
posted by Pollomacho at 9:23 AM on June 6, 2008


Not a fan of the Flintstones are you?

the flintstones weren't quite like the simpsons, hence my qualifier. There are clearly parallels and groening was clearly influence by the flintstones, but to deny the simpsons their role in history seems pretty unfair to me.
posted by shmegegge at 9:27 AM on June 6, 2008


Here's the obvious angle that no one seems to have mentioned: wish fulfillment.

Movies staring kids have the kids being far too competent and doing amazing things; i.e. Harry Potter. Is this realistic? No. But kids love it because it's what they wish they could be.

Men like these movies where they're portrayed as perpetual adolescents because that's what they (we) wish could be true. I'm as adult as it gets but sometime I do wish I could just live that kind of live again. My wife thought 'Dan in Real Life' was a cute romantic comedy but I sort of got the idea that it would be great to fall in love with Juliette Binoche if only my wife would just hurry up and die first.

As for women, here comes the flamebait - women in the movies are always perfectly dressed and portrayed as competent and in charge because most women wish they could actually be that way more often. Not saying that women aren't in control, but they don't feel that way.
posted by GuyZero at 9:36 AM on June 6, 2008 [4 favorites]


Don't characters like Batman, Spiderman, Ironman et al balance out the TV buffoons? Serious question.
posted by desjardins at 9:45 AM on June 6, 2008


As for women, here comes the flamebait - women in the movies are always perfectly dressed and portrayed as competent and in charge because most women wish they could actually be that way more often. Not saying that women aren't in control, but they don't feel that way.

No, I totally agree. See also: the ugly duckling --> swan makeover always gets the desired results.
posted by desuetude at 9:47 AM on June 6, 2008


Someone mentioned Steve Martin as an example of "grown-up" comedy, but his last five "comedic" movies have been: "The Pink Panther" (needless remake of Peter Sellers), "Cheaper by the Dozen 2" (needless sequel to pointless remake), "Cheaper by the Dozen" (needless remake of 1950s movie), "Bringing Down the House," and "Bowfinger." His forthcoming "adult comedy" is "The Pink Panther 2" (another needless sequel to pointless remake).

If that's adulthood, I'd rather watch Adam Sandler and Judd Apatow.
posted by blucevalo at 9:51 AM on June 6, 2008


My non-brother-in-law, who is generally a nice guy, just up and left my sister in law and their kids on some half-baked, nonconsensual mission to find work somewhere else...

That is not exactly new behavior. There are past generations of people who traded jokes and stories about stereotypical fathers who "went out for cigarettes" and never returned. Especially during the early 20th century when marriage was still based more often than not on expectations and necessity instead of love and choice, it wasn't particularly uncommon for a man to decide he wasn't cut out to be a father and suddenly disappear. Sometimes showing up years later, staying a few days, then disappearing again. Often just never coming back.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:52 AM on June 6, 2008


On the other hand, what kind of social retard absorbs cultural norms from for-profit marketing messages? Are people really that shallow?

Yep, as far as I can tell marketing and mass media are some of the primary sources for our cultural norms, which is incredibly harmful. There is hope, but people here won't necessarily approve because, for example, one of the hopes is called 4chan.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:54 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Don't characters like Batman, Spiderman, Ironman et al balance out the TV buffoons? Serious question.

I don't think so. These characters are obviously being depicted as being exceptional. The buffoons aren't positioned as the bottom decile of the bell curve - they're positioned firmly in the middle. Spider Man is very, very blatantly "you wish you could be this". Judd Aptow is positioned as "this is you, dude."

Spider Man has a widowed aunt, a low-paying job, rents an apartment in a bustling metropolis and has a hot girlfriend.

Homer Simpson has a boring job that required extensive technical training, a wife with blue hair, two kids, a dog and owns a house in the suburbs.

One of those two descriptions also describes my life perfectly (with the exception of a blue haired wife). The existence of the other Spider Man no more cancels out Homer's obvious analogy to my life than the existence of Mr Darcy.
posted by GuyZero at 9:54 AM on June 6, 2008


The male rejection of adulthood is now the dominant attitude in Hollywood comedy.

It is perhaps worth pointing out that as we speak the number one movie in America right now is Sex and the City.
posted by Skot at 9:57 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


As for women, here comes the flamebait - women in the movies are always perfectly dressed and portrayed as competent and in charge because most women wish they could actually be that way more often. Not saying that women aren't in control, but they don't feel that way.

How DARE you question my status as an in-control fashionista. Take that back or I'll throw my $500 Manolo Blahniks at you.

Oh, wait. I don't own any $500 Manolo Blahniks. Nevermind.

Damn you.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:58 AM on June 6, 2008


This is thing. As men, you are expected to "be responsible". Of course, if you have responsibilities and are shirking them, you've got some criticism coming.

But there's something in the back of our minds that just doesn't like the idea of men who haven't created enough responsibilities for themselves to be responsible for. And the cognitive dissonance of not being able to justify that feeling causes people to get upset at Adam Sandler movies and write articles like this one.
posted by the jam at 10:07 AM on June 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


This is the thing.
posted by the jam at 10:09 AM on June 6, 2008


I don't own any $500 Manolo Blahniks. Nevermind.

Man, if there was ever a show based on wish-fulfillment, that was it. Coupled with emotional porn for drama, as endless shopping trips would get boring. In some ways, SatC was about as adult as the average Adam Sandler comedy.
posted by GuyZero at 10:09 AM on June 6, 2008


I don't know if Steve Martin is an example of a "grown up" comic, but he did a (glorified) dick joke better than anything Apatow or Sander has done or ever will do.
posted by cog_nate at 10:10 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think the conservative streak comment, even if not in its original intention, is somewhat valid if the trend of these movies is also valid (which I'm not so sure of). Even if the character remains approvingly a man child it still offers a false dichotomy of immature vs. classical machismo. Both of these support the conservative sphere since they leave out the vision of a moral character violating societal norms. There has always been a section of conservatism in America where individualism without regard to social justice or the needs of anyone around you is applauded.
posted by kigpig at 10:10 AM on June 6, 2008


Does anyone else think that "Don't mess with the Zohan" is a direct rip-off of "The Big Lebowski" and the line "Don't fuck with the Jesus" ? Either way I won't see it because I'm not 12 anymore and just don't find Sandler funny.

I never thought that these lazy deadbeat characters ever represented childhood or the lack of adulthood. Even thought I think some of the movies like this are hilarious, I never thought it was cool to be a degenerate. This accusation is ridiculous. There have been deadbeats for centuries before "The Dude" or one of Sandler's lame ass characters.
posted by hellslinger at 10:16 AM on June 6, 2008


Don't women make like 80% of the buying decisions in the household. All commercials except for maybe beer commercials are aimed directly at women. Women have a lot of say about what movies are seen also. I mean if I'm trying to get laid and all that I'll take a woman to any movie she wants.
posted by Justin Case at 10:17 AM on June 6, 2008


I'm all about the prolonged adolescence. Perhaps this makes me queer.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:18 AM on June 6, 2008


I meant these two movies each had a conservative streak, like two old people's heads could both have a bald streak.

For fuck's sake I am failing at life today. I meant white streak. NOT (always) AN IDIOT.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2008


I'll take a woman to any movie she wants

Pride and Prejudice II: Prouder and Prejudiceder. Because you'll watch anything to get laid.
posted by GuyZero at 10:20 AM on June 6, 2008 [5 favorites]


There have been deadbeats for centuries before "The Dude" or one of Sandler's lame ass characters.

That's true of course, but the difference is that there was no sizeable segment of 30-somethings defending The Three Stooges (for instance) and saying there's nothing wrong with wanting to live your life poking people in the eyes or whatever. And actually going on to live their lives that way.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:24 AM on June 6, 2008


This is thing. As men, you are expected to "be responsible".

"And you've gotta overcome your programming - which in your case is a thirty-year-old television show." -- Bill Shatner, "Free Enterprise"
posted by tkolar at 10:26 AM on June 6, 2008


What's wrong with enchantment?

I mean, fuck adulthood. So, I'll work 60 hours a week, wear a too-tight tie and a damned hot wool suit every day, and have my first heart attack by 50. I'll golf and watch sports and let the wife play with the kids, then die a week before my retirement party. That's the ideal? Screw that.

Yes, I have a good, stable job, own a home, take care of my wife and child as well as anyone, but, damnit, if I feel like taking up welding at 40, let me go buy a welder and give it a shot. Let me dress up for Halloween, have a few beers when I feel like it, and screw around with my remote-controlled airplane. Let me roll around on the floor with my daughter, not just on Saturday afternoon, but Wednesday evening, too. Let me take up guitar without it being called a mid-life crisis. Let me be home for dinner every night. Let me have my buddies over, and not talk about sports or work or politics, you know, those sanctioned serious subjects.

It's about damned time we rejected adulthood, at least the Ward Cleaver super-serious style. Why do I have to be boring to be an "adult"?
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:38 AM on June 6, 2008 [8 favorites]


Not a fan of the Flintstones are you?

In all fairness, The Flintstones was fucking awful. Rip off the basic structure of The Honeymooners (which was pretty dull itself) and add to it a single joke: prehistoric animals as home appliances. And repeat that joke again, and again, and again. Why did anyone ever watch that crap? No other choices, I suppose. The animation wasn't even any good.

The Simpsons has always been about 10,000 times more sophisticated.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:39 AM on June 6, 2008


Once these threads get above 100 comments, I just scroll through looking for the ones with lots of favorites, because, you know, I don't have all day, and these video games aren't going to play themselves.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 10:39 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm certainly not defending post-"Billy Madison" Sandler, but is it possible, maybe just a little bit, that men don't want to "grow up" because the traditional definition of "growing up" kind of sucks?

Men used to graduate high school and then go to war, or get married and go to work in the steel mill.

Is it wrong to want something else besides that?

apologies if this ground has been covered, don't have time to read all 100+ comments right now
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:47 AM on June 6, 2008


Also, I agree on the conservative subtext of the Apatow comedies. I chalk this up less to social trends and more to laziness on the part of the screenwriters. Since they're not really trying to express that much of a theme or original idea of their own, they pick one out of the bin that they and the studio think is likely to please audiences. This gives them something to wrap the pot jokes around.

this doesn't apply that much to the 40 y.o. Virgin, which i like very much. but the ending of "knocked up" was schmaltzy, tacked-on crap.
posted by drjimmy11 at 10:51 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems to be acceptable to patronize men in popular culture in ways that would be declared unacceptable if it referred to women. I'd rather not see *anyone* patronized in adverts etc. Just one reason I avoid live TV entirely.
posted by mdoar at 11:04 AM on June 6, 2008


"Telling a story about a 16 year old girl who decides to have an abortion would make for a much shorter, considerably less light hearted movie."

Fast Times at Ridgemont High did it with grace and humor.
posted by klangklangston at 11:08 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Tom, leave her alone. TOM!
posted by knave at 11:25 AM on June 6, 2008


"And you've gotta overcome your programming - which in your case is a thirty-year-old television show." -- Bill Shatner, "Free Enterprise"

"We are going to emancipate ourselves from mental slavery because whilst others might free the body, none but ourselves can free the mind. Mind is your only ruler, sovereign. The man who is not able to develop and use his mind is bound to be the slave of the other man who uses his mind." - Marcus Garvey, made famous by Bob Marley, QFT
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 11:29 AM on June 6, 2008


shmegegge , you are awesome.

And the women in these comedies (like Knocked Up) are portrayed pretty one-sided-ly as well, and it's a portrayal that perpetuates negative stereotypes about women, too. The counter to the man-child is an uptight, possessive, paranoid control freak who doesn't know how to have fun? No wonder these fictional men would behave that way. That kind of partner would drive anyone insane.
posted by lunit at 11:53 AM on June 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Honeymooners (which was pretty dull itself)

blah, blah, your favorite tv show sucks, blah, blah, blah
posted by caddis at 11:54 AM on June 6, 2008


The counter to the man-child is an uptight, possessive, paranoid control freak who doesn't know how to have fun? No wonder these fictional men would behave that way. That kind of partner would drive anyone insane.

Hear hear. I remember having this incredibly visceral hatred of Jennifer Garner's character in Juno for much that reason. I stopped seeing her as a woman in a desperate situation with dreams of her own, and started seeing her as this uptight stereotype. It's hard to welcome these characters into your heart for a couple of hours when they seem to be saying something about who YOU are.
posted by shmegegge at 12:01 PM on June 6, 2008


I remember having this incredibly visceral hatred of Jennifer Garner's character in Juno for much that reason. I stopped seeing her as a woman in a desperate situation with dreams of her own, and started seeing her as this uptight stereotype.

Huh. I saw it differently. My favorite part of the movie was the sort of bait-and-switch they played with her character. She was introduced as a 2D stereotype, but scene-by-scene she gained depth until, by the end, she was probably the most sympathetic character.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:04 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I agree, Mr Roboto. That bait-and-switch (and the one with Bateman' character) was what made it more than just a funny movie.
posted by Stylus Happenstance at 12:10 PM on June 6, 2008


oh, I'm not trying to say that she was just a stereotype. I suppose I'm just sort of describing a reaction I had against what I perceived as a stereotype. I think I'm just explaining a viewpoint.
posted by shmegegge at 12:15 PM on June 6, 2008


the dominant attitude in Hollywood comedy is whatever the moguls think will sell.
posted by ornate insect at 12:40 PM on June 6, 2008


Pride and Prejudice II: Prouder and Prejudiceder.

I've always preferred the working title Too Pride Too Prejudice.
posted by yeti at 1:02 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I remember when Married With Children was first on the air. Al and Peg Bundy were SCANDALOUS. People were HORRIFIED. Same with Beavis & Butthead. Even Roseanne and her routine, it was a big deal that these characters didn't fit into the correct place as role models. But after a while, people weren't expecting them to anymore. It became normal.

Acceptable behavior in both culture and entertainment have just changed a great deal over the last 15 years. On one hand that's unfortunate because good role models really are important in society. There are a lot of people who learned great moral and human lessons from people like Andy Griffith, and it's tragic to think that more humane characters might be considered cheesy or outdated nowadays. But on the other hand, what was often presented as average family life in the past rarely matched what most people lived in reality. But now we've kind of gone the opposite direction. Viewers can't really be shocked anymore, and for most people real life is less crazy than tv life.

I mean, it's just gotten too comical to really debate. It's not like any of these over-the-top male OR female comedy characters reflect reality... we ALL know that in real life Carrie Bradshaw would have to be content to do her shoe shopping at TJMAXX. She writes for a newspaper, for christ's sake. I can guarantee you that none of my journalist friends are boasting about $500 throw pillows.
posted by miss lynnster at 1:30 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


The interesting thing about the Simpsons is that it was all scandalous, etc. for the irreverence and "foul" language or whatever, but nowadays it's a bit on the other end. I've seen mentions of conservatives praising it because they still go to church.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 2:10 PM on June 6, 2008


"Rip off the basic structure of The Honeymooners (which was pretty dull itself)"

Wrong. Honeymooners, along with The Andy Griffith Show, are two fine examples of classic comedy. If you can't appreciate the wit (and the fact that a lot of it was improvised) of the Honeymooners, you fail at sitcom.
posted by klangklangston at 2:43 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I got into an argument with a family member last night because I said I didn't think Adam Sandler was funny. She told me I needed to get a sense of humor and hoped "that I at least appreciated how funny Shia LaBeouf was in Transformers." At that point I needed another glass of wine.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 2:47 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


People are living longer. (Good)
No longer immediately drafting young men into war. (Good)
Better and more ubiquitous education for the masses, instead of just for the elite. (Good)
Knowledge of and widespread use of contraception. (Good, unless you're opposed to contraception to begin with)
Less need to raise a family for an agricultural work staff. (Good)
Women no longer confined to purely domestic, child-rearing roles. (Good)
Men no longer feel the need to start a family at 18. (BAD BAD BAD!)

Apparently.

There are so many issues here, but I'll start with the whole City Journal argument which seems to have reincarnated here. I don't yet have a family of my own, and though I'm pretty sure I'll want one someday, I also know that I want to do it correctly. This involves me having grown to enough maturity by now that I know that I want to be financially secure enough and deeply committed enough to never resent my wife and kids for making me compromise my dreams. I'll never be a rock star, but I'm keeping my guitar, and I know I need to figure out what that means in my life (which, in truth, can be figured out while raising a family, but why rush into that?)

There are, in fact, quite a few things I'd like to do, most of which will be compromised out of my life in one way or another, I'm sure, but even though the life I live is pretty charmed, I still have to remind myself often that this is the only shot I get at it, this is all there is, and what the fuck am I doing with it? This hurts me especially because I have many, many varying interests, and as life goes on I know that some of them have to be pruned down. Still, if "maturity" means saying "fuck it, I've lost, but maybe kids can represent some semblance of new possibility themselves," then, well, fuck that.

That said, I think I still want to have children some day. They can be a joy unlike any other, and there are both animal and human urges pushing me towards that. That said, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well, and having been brought up by amazing parents, I feel an incredible standard to live up to. That means both bring myself up to snuff (not quite there yet, but hopefully soon) and making sure that my wife is up to snuff as well (which takes quite a bit of getting to know a person.)

The second part is to explain and, perhaps, defend some of these movies. For one thing, the slacker-male character, when played well, is in fact very empathetic. The denial of the call and the eventual acceptance of the call are two elements of Campbell's grand story arc, and these characters exemplify it. Moreover, in comedy (speaking broadly) there are two paths you can travel when creating a comic character. They can be oblivious to their own comic traits (like Otto in A Fish Called Wanda) which can be hilarious, but will generally alienate the audience from empathy. Alternatively, they can make the characters at least somewhat knowledgeable about their failings (say, Archie in A Fish Called Wanda) which may or may not lessen the pure comedy, but allows us to see ourselves in their position more. We generally believe, or at least choose to believe, that our lives are lived willfully, and comedy points out human error, so error, adhered to with our even just casual knowledge of it, allows us to empathize far more than with an oblivious buffoon.

I don't hate Adam Sandler. I've liked many of his movies, disliked many of them, but I can't deny that he's got presence, and he's empathetic. Two of his most underrated movies - and least mentioned, perhaps because they don't fit the mold addressed in the article - are The Wedding Singer and Mr. Deeds. In the first, he's living in his siblings' basement, yes, but that's because he's trying to get a musical career off the ground. He's not afraid of commitment, and in fact his fiancee leaves him. The story isn't about extended adolescence or losing the dream, but about a man who knows the dream hasn't worked out, and who struggles with leaving the dream for the "American Dream," but who is lucky enough to build a relationship with a woman who wants to help him realize his dream.

The latter portrays a guy of some significance in his community, one who has no position of power, but uses his job of pizza boy to reach out to his town. When he's made the heir to the $40 Billion fortune, the rest of the movie involves the villains trying to make him act like a privileged kid while he really wants the responsibility he's inherited. I should note that I generally have pretty haughty taste in movies, but I love Mr. Deeds. I expect others who see it not too, and so if it comes on T.V. I'll invite whoever else is watching to change the channel, but no one ever wants to. It's not great, but I don't know anyone who hates Mr. Deeds.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:36 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


Back in my lesbian heydey, I worked on crew at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival with a woman who told me the following two things in one conversation without seeming to recognize the contradictions:

1. "I worry about lesbians and how many of them don't have babies, because nobody ever really grows up until they've had children to push them into adulthood, so lesbians are just, overall, fated to be immature their whole lives."

2. "When I was a mother and married, my kids knew I could not wait until the last one turned 18, and then I was out of there! I told them, the minute they turned 18 they were on their own and I was finally going to live my life. Now they've been calling me because they want to talk to me about the kind of mother I was, they want to talk about our relationship, and I say, Fuck that, I did my time, they're grownups and they can just deal!"
posted by not that girl at 4:30 PM on June 6, 2008 [3 favorites]


mistsandrain: As opposed to the reigning, dominant concept of female adulthood? Then and now?

Well, if you went out and suggested that a woman was a pathetic child unless she got married and had children, you'd quickly be compared to a club-dragging troglodyte, and rightly so. I understand this wasn't always the case, but the fact that it has changed is looked upon favorably by everyone who isn't, well, a club-dragging troglodyte. Now that men are breaking out of their traditional roles, they're encountering the same resistance.
posted by Mitrovarr at 4:41 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think a major facet of adulthood involves turning our attention away from ourselves and outwards toward others.

I think in many cases you're confusing correlation with causation. Realizing you're a selfish bastard, and working with it, is a very mature thing to do.
posted by autodidact at 5:03 PM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I just realized, my favourite movie that takes place on earth, in constrained by the laws of physics, and doesn't have any guns or monsters, is "About A Boy." I pretty much want to turn it off after the first hour when he starts wanting to give up his permanent adolescence.

Just in case you don't know: In "About A Boy" Hugh Grant plays a guy who's never had a job because he's lived his entire life off the royalties from a cheesy christmas song his dad wrote in the fifties. The first half of the movie has Hugh pretty much being a big kid, just lazing about and diving his day up into "units of time" which are parcelled out between various forms of amusement and self-indulgence. For me it's like porn without sex!
posted by autodidact at 5:09 PM on June 6, 2008


if women had completely free choice-- independent access to resources and no threat of rape, coercion, or child abuse-- would they choose to let John Wayne or Billy Joe Armstrong father the next generation?

Mainly Billy Joe, I think, and this has had and will have the effect of infantilizing men to a considerable degree in the affluent West (what man appeals to women as much as a baby does, after all?), but harder times are just around the corner, and tough guys will be firmly back in the saddle again.
posted by jamjam at 6:04 PM on June 6, 2008


tough guys will be firmly back in the saddle again.

What a tragedy; machismo is a terrible thing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:35 PM on June 6, 2008


I'd rather stay a child
and keep my self-respect
if being an adult
means being like you


-Jello Biafra
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:40 PM on June 6, 2008


Mainly Billy Joe, I think, and this has had and will have the effect of infantilizing men to a considerable degree in the affluent West (what man appeals to women as much as a baby does, after all?), but harder times are just around the corner, and tough guys will be firmly back in the saddle again.

Yeah, it would be really awful to have a talented, intelligent, creative, political world-famous musician who has reinvented himself successfully several times for a husband and a father than an unfaithful, twice-divorced actor who dropped out of college when the going got rough and dodged service in WWII, despite what most of what his characters would have done. The guy wasn't exactly a Green Beret. For just about any position other than pretending to be a cowboy, I would prefer Billy Joe Armstrong in just about any personal or professional context.

I don't have too much against John Wayne, but c'mon. The guy was a good actor and not a horrible person, but he was also a walking example of the fiction of the macho lifestyle. At least Wilford Brimley was a real cowboy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:03 PM on June 6, 2008


I'd just like to know where Borat fits in to all this.

Also Liz Lemon.

SPOILER ALERT

I don't know what her adopted child is going to look like, but I do know that she's going to screw up in raising him/her in novel and imaginative ways, and I'm looking forward to watching.
posted by A dead Quaker at 8:28 PM on June 6, 2008


I don't hate Adam Sandler. I've liked many of his movies, disliked many of them, but I can't deny that he's got presence, and he's empathetic.

I didn't use to hate Adam Sandler, but goddamn. Zohan is like every bad idea he's ever had taped together. Did anyone find his fake accent in Little Nicky funny? Does anyone ever give the man feedback at all, or is he just surrounded by guffawing yes-men?
posted by graventy at 10:30 AM on June 7, 2008


is he just surrounded by guffawing yes-men?

I believe every single one of his films has been profitable. Most are pretty low-budget. I'm pretty sure when the studios look at him all they see is a gigantic walking dollar sign.
posted by GuyZero at 1:03 PM on June 7, 2008


Well, if you went out and suggested that a woman was a pathetic child unless she got married and had children, you'd quickly be compared to a club-dragging troglodyte, and rightly so.

Replace the word pathetic with damaged or slutty. There is certainly a notion that women are incomplete until married and having had children. The pitying looks reserved for single women over thirty may be a little better-disguised than they were 20 or more years ago, but believe me, they're still common.
posted by desuetude at 4:17 PM on June 7, 2008


If Ngai Croal in Newsweek is to be believed, the average age of the gamer is rising into the mid-30's and beyond. Which doesn't really bother me, or make me think the sky is falling, but it's interesting to consider. Remember when we all had Atari 2600's? I mean, my Dad definitely wanted to play with it and have some fun. Good times. But the idea of my father playing an MMORPG or something like that, for hours at a time? It would never have happened. But now I have friends who are deep into those things, some with wives and children, and I guess I'll have to cop to thinking, yeah, that's a little bit weird of you man.
posted by bardic at 5:25 PM on June 7, 2008


But the idea of my father playing an MMORPG or something like that, for hours at a time? It would never have happened. But now I have friends who are deep into those things, some with wives and children, and I guess I'll have to cop to thinking, yeah, that's a little bit weird of you man

Just before I got married last month, I was in the pub with my dad. We talked (lightheartedly) about stuff like commitment and "settling down" and how strange it felt both to me now and him 30 years previous.

"One thing that seems different though" He said to me, "Is that I know you play a lot of computers [his words]. Doing that for hours on end will be strange for a married man."

I laughed.

"You still spend most of your Sundays tinkering with stuff in the shed?" I asked him.

He paused for a little while.

"Guess its not that strange after all." He finally said.

We all need our hobbies.
posted by garius at 2:20 AM on June 8, 2008


Yeah, it would be really awful to have a talented, intelligent, creative, political world-famous musician who has reinvented himself successfully several times

Wait wait, are we talking about the guy from fucking Green Day? That guy? Oh, holy vomit. I certainly hope that men today have more options than "whiny suburban choad" and "Nixon-lovin' poseur cowboy." That we see the choice as this stark may well point to the real underlying problem here.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:29 AM on June 8, 2008


I certainly hope that men today have more options than "whiny suburban choad" and "Nixon-lovin' poseur cowboy." That we see the choice as this stark may well point to the real underlying problem here.

Got that right. This paucity of role models and healthy masculine imagery isn't an artifact of the 1990's or even the past couple of years, despite what a bunch of pop. crit. authors have to say about Knocked Up or dumb guy movies as some indicator of a new masculine crisis. John Wayne the character may have had all the signs of honarable manhood, but John Wayne the person wasn't exactly a paragon...which is fine, but when the illusion becomes more important than thought and deed, then you get bullshit consumer culture valuations of manhood.
posted by Snyder at 3:35 PM on June 8, 2008


Why the fuck do we need role models to tell us how to be men? Manhood is whatever men are, full stop, and I am what I am. Fuck role models.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:20 PM on June 8, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh, Atlas, you're such a individualist.
posted by Snyder at 5:04 PM on June 8, 2008


Or, to be a little more clear, if you think how the men around you act, and how masculinity is portrayed in the media and culture has no effect on you, and your self-perception, then you haven't really thought very hard about it. If you think you're just some radiacl individualist exception, then go on and read some Ayn Rand.
posted by Snyder at 5:08 PM on June 8, 2008


Or, to be a little more clear, if you think how the men around you act, and how masculinity is portrayed in the media and culture has no effect on you, and your self-perception, then you haven't really thought very hard about it.

I don't deny that such influences exist. I deny that they are necessary or desirable. We make manhood for ourselves; when we allow it to be made for us, problems emerge.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:46 PM on June 8, 2008


And clearly we've never crossed paths on MeFi before if you're labeling me an individualist.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:53 PM on June 8, 2008


Or, to be a little more clear, if you think how the men around you act, and how masculinity is portrayed in the media and culture has no effect on you, and your self-perception, then you haven't really thought very hard about it.

Or you believe that people do what they're going to do, and all that hard thinking they engage in is just a way of rationalizing their actions after the fact.
posted by tkolar at 7:03 PM on June 8, 2008


« Older A Day In The Afterlife of Philip K Dick - An Aren...  |  I would have added this to the... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments