Somebody posting as “Phoebus” is very concerned that a snarkfest on Shakesville (regarding the comingsoontoacinemanearyou Dudebrocalypse that is a Judd Apatow/Seth Rogen/Adam Sandler “comedy” (see the trailer)) is a display of “vitriol” and “personal animus”, two terms which are so beloved of concerned commentors everywhere that one must suspect the existence of a Concern Manual with sample texts.
I wish to expand Phoebus’ vocabulary: the words you are looking for are “mockery” and “disdain”.
Mockery because it’s an appropriate response to the parade of sellout sexist tripe masquerading as “funny” (oh look, another Crazy Drunk Slut! another Demanding Nagging Shrew! another Selfish Career Bitch! watch compellingly unlikeable ManChild destroy them as is only right and proper! Whee! What fun!). Demeaning women for laughs is offensive and should be held up to examination, and mockery is an effective tool for doing so. Which is probably why it disturbs Phoebus so much.
Disdain because apparently once upon a time Apatow and Rogen made a thoughtful work that a lot of people I respect still love, Freaks and Geeks (I’ve never seen it), and people are highly disenchanted that his body of work since then has been escalating in misogyny to rake in easy money from sexist knuckleheads at the box office, because it means that Apatow/Rogen were probably never really who these F&G fans thought they were back then – they were probably always showbiz sellouts just waiting for the big bux.
Anyway, enough of Phoebus and his concerns.
As A Public Service Announcement to women everywhere: if you initially find a man attractive and then discover that he is a huge fan of any Apatow/Rogen work other than F&G, consider deeply the possibilities of running like hell and not looking back (there may be a get out clause if he only likes the one starring Steve Carrell, who adds a sweetness that isn’t actually in the script).
For a full rundown on the Apatovian canon, read Sady’s description of the pervading misogyny in guest post at Shakesville (which links to her detailed analyses of her Movie Manathon at her awesome blog Tiger Beatdown, which you should all bookmark NOW).
Categories: arts & entertainment, gender & feminism
Now I’m confused. I went through and watched the trailer for Funny People and despite the usual suspects lineup, it doesn’t look like one of their usual adolescent snigger-fests which I wouldn’t touch with a bargepole. It looks more like a genuine attempt at an adult oriented film – looked like King of Comedy territory from the trailer – and obviously focused on male relationships (I don’t think I want these guys to even try to ‘get’ women). Yes, the usual output of this group is crap of the lowest order, viciously and openly misogynistic and usually amusing only to the prepubescent male, but is it fair to tar the new movie with the same brush before confirming whether it is actually in the same genre?
Apatorogenia is always focussed on male relationships – they’re the only relationships they show as real. Women are not real people in Apatorogenia, they are there purely to be pursued for sex or to act as obstacles to be overcome in the pursuit of bromosocial bonding.
The fact that Sandler’s character is fixated on “the woman who got away” flies a huge red flag for me. Sure, he’ll be flawed, selfish and deeply unreliable, and in yet another “um, why?” moment she, or some other gorgeous partner-mommy, will fall for him hook line and sinker anyway, so that he can continue being ManChild forever.
The main take-home message in Apatorogenia is that the only worthwhile woman is one who won’t call a Man Child on his bullshit, and that any woman who does call a Man Child on his bullshit is a harpy who deserves bad shit and whom other men will despise. Even if they avoid the sniggerfest in this one, I bet they still send that message to every young man who watches it, and to the young women who watch it as well.
In which I contribute to the harshing of Apatow’s Google Buzz
Yeees, but then most movies tend to be written and marketed to a very specific demographic, often identified by gender. I somehow doubt that the “Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants” had much to offer a male audience either. I don’t suppose Funny People will have much to offer me as I don’t really find that relationship-centric stuff particularly interesting (I LOVE the new Star Trek though) but it looks like a genuine attempt at a date movie that wont have the female half barfing into her popcorn in horror and might actually keep the guys in the audience comfortable thinking about their emotions and relationships.
Female focused films have also used the “one that got away” model where it’s positioned as “romantic” and accepted as such. Without seeing the film it’s impossible to tell how it will be handled in this case.
I think Shakesville had a massive overreaction based solely on the people involved, though that’s not surprising. It’s hard to think much positive about people who’ve produced a movie where the rape of an unconscious woman is positioned as funny. I am personally willing to keep an open mind.
Do remember that the initial post was just three lines, only the last one of which was snark. The comments afterwards? Mostly snark for snark’s sake, and not especially nasty either, just disdainful. The massive over-reaction came from Phoebus, not Shakesville.
I’m willing to be surprised, as the people involved are not un-talented. Doesn’t mean that I won’t remain disenchanted and dubious about them as a general rule though.
My reservations are not just a generality about “male-focussed films”, they are specifically a reservation based on the past work of THIS TEAM. That’s a rather large shift of some goalposts there, DEM.
Well I don’t think Apatow is really a feminist filmmaker, but the Apatow films are quite original and can be quite successful in what they try to do. Probably their biggest problem is that they’re ‘gross out comedy’ type films. They probably have to be; to get an idea past the Hollywood studios you would pretty much have to cast it in terms of a known genre. And gross out comedies are, well, pretty limited and stereotypical; still, like any genres the conventions can be stretched and toyed with and exaggerated to make a point.
And so you get stuff like the ending of Superbad, which strongly suggests, but doesn’t say out loud, that one of the boys has a strong homo-erotic attraction to the other boy. (Most Hollywood films would only play this sort of thing as a joke; they’d never allow it play seriously, like in Superbad. And they wouldn’t have two boys who have been friends for years confessing their love for one another, either, like happens earllier in that film).
Similarly, in ‘Knocked Up’, the premise is something that is completely unexpected in gross out comedy – ie, that sex can actually have consequences and that people should actually be responsible for their actions. That said, the plot is pretty unconvincing on second viewing and the implicit pro-life message isn’t for everyone.
Another nice thing about the films is that they do write about characters who are just plain weird or pathetic, and the strongest comedy moments come not when these weirdness are made fun of but when they are played on for sympathy. A case in point being The 40-Year-Old Virgin, with the clear message being that some people *can* have difficulties with sex, and with sexual expression, and that the porno or rom-com cliches can create all sorts of false expectations.
The films have got a lot of problems, as has been said. But I think that nevertheless Apatow and his team have got a lot of potential, and they at least have original and honest things to say, even if most of those things are for a mostly male audience. (Perhaps that will change, too.)
I’d agree that the Apatow/Rogen films are quite original within the gross-out comedy genre conventions. It’s not that these guys are untalented.
I get that gross-out comedy relies particularly heavy on stereotypes. It’s just that they only ever subvert the stereotypes to reveal individual character depths with the weird guy protagonists. The female characters remain rigidly stereotyped at all times, barely individualised at all, and a huge proportion of the male bonding moments come from objectifying women sexually and/or demeaning women socially.
Tedious, lazy, misogynist comedy. If the men could bond otherwise than through the mediation of women’s humiliation, now that would be original.
Surely someone somewhere has done that? Surely?
Not in a gross-out comedy, I don’t think.
Sorry, that was me. WordPress didn’t like my new password so I tried the Open ID thingy. Now I’m back to a long and difficult password. I shall try changing it again.
With the OpenID, people should be able to edit their profile to change the display name. Just click on your hyperlinked name above the comment box where it says “Logged in as”
@ Tigtog – Thank you. Feeling a little technologically inept today.
I’ve just added a fuller explanation for anybody else who wants to change the name displayed with their comments here.