2 weeks ago
10 November 2005
Why is it that people love movies like Sideways and American Beauty? The people who love these movies often say things like "It's so beautiful . . . it's a universal story . . . it's about love . . . it's about life. . ." What I see is that these particular movies that people absorb as if they are some kind of commentary on american culture are really about protracted male adolescence. The main characters in AB and Sideways are men who have not grown up, are obsessed with fantasy females, and are not very interesting. What this says to me about our perceptions is that we fail to recognize this male adolescent fantasy as a depiction that is anything other than the norm. That is, it serves as the default for "universal" in our patriarchal culture. Some might say that these films are a critique of protracted male adolescence. Bullshit. They celebrate it. One more thing--to those who might argue that Sandra Oh's character in Sideways is a tough female character who doesn't accept male manipulation, I would say that her character's behavior is pathologized. That is, once she learns that her new BF is an asshole, she beats the shit out of him in what can only be read as a crazed, irrational, hysterical fashion. Thus her character becomes the "hysterical" angry female, the stereotype of normal woman in patriarchal culture.