Andrew Klavan tells us or tells men, rather, how to be a real man. Just like the guys on The Hangover! Before I comment on his article I'd like to preface this post with two things.
1. Yes I did see The Hangover, and I thought it was hilarious. Hilarious in a completely ridiculous and absurd way, but still hilarious.
2. This post may contain some spoilers to "The Hangover."
He starts by pointing out that the roles of men and women in typical "dude" movies like this are pretty narrow, or "squirrelly" as he puts it.
The guys are all children whose manhood consists exclusively in hell-raising. The women are either fun-loving party girls or grim, death-of-pleasure wife/mommies who seem ever ready to take their little menchildren by the ears and force them to wash the dishes while they stand by wagging their fingers.
Yeah... that's about right. "Bitch" or "slut" are usually the two types of women in these kinds of movies. In The Hangover, Rachel Harris plays superbitch to Ed Helms "manchild." Sometimes the "bitch" isn't ALWAYS bitchy but she definitely doesn't want her man to have any fun. All she cares about is responsibilities and bills and lame stuff like that. She is a nag, always complaining about her boyfriend smoking pot all the time and not having a job. (Old School, Knocked Up, Stepbrothers, etc.)
But back to the Hangover, in which we have characters who are the epitome of "real men." A brief character analysis of these "real men."
Doug AKA "The Groom" - Probably the only one that real women would actually want to date if he existed in real life. Typical good-looking guy next door who is also well off as demonstrated by his nice suits. Doug is excited to get married and reluctantly agrees to let his friends take him to Vegas where he thinks he's going to drink a few beers and play some blackjack with his buddies. Incidentally, Doug is both central to the plot and practically nonexistent in the movie. (He is "missing" for most of the movie as his friends wake up not remembering anything and unable to find him.)
Phil AKA "The Bad Boy" - Schoolteacher by day, menace to society by night. Phil is the instigator, trouble maker, and spender in the movie. (or at least he uses peer pressure to get his friends to pony up - super mature). He does not think twice about stealing a cop car. He preys on his friends weaknesses to get them to do things like spend $4000 a night for a suite in Vegas and marry strippers in the middle of night. But he is, as all bad boys are, oh so dreamy.
Stu AKA "The Nerd" also "The Wuss" - Stu is a nerdy but likable dentist. He lets his fiance ("The Bitch") walk all over him, even though she cheated on him, has to ask permission to do anything and of course has to lie about going to Vegas. He also lets his friends walk all over him, but that is portrayed as super cool because how else would they pay for such a manly penthouse in one of the most expensive hotels in Vegas?!
Alan AKA "The Stupid One" - Alan is Doug's soon to be brother-in-law. He is also borderline mentally retarded. He cannot be trusted to drive a car. His own father admits "there's something wrong with him." He also thinks a good way to bond with his new friends is by slipping ecstasy into their drinks - which turned out to be roofies, or "the date rape drug" - hence the reason why this group of "real men" cannot remember any of the previous night's shenanigans.
Andrew Klavan takes the art reflects life theory and postures that the real reason movies depict men like this is because of evil women who are threatening their masculinity.
More and more often I meet young guys just like this: overgrown kids who are their grim wives’ poodles. They sheepishly talk about getting a “pink pass,” or a “kitchen pass,” before they can leave the house. They can’t do this or that because their wives don’t like it. They “share” household and child-rearing tasks equally - which isn’t really equal at all because they don’t care about a clean house or a well-reared child anywhere near as much as their wives do. In short, each one seems set to spend his life taking orders from a perpetually dissatisfied Mrs. who sounds to me - forgive me but just speaking in all honesty - like a bloody shrike. Who can blame these poor shnooks if they go out and get drunk or laid or just plain divorced?
While there are probably some exceptions, I think most females don't really want to be the keeper of "the kitchen pass" but do expect some respect and courtesy and would simply like to know a general idea of where their significant other is going and when they're going to be back. And they show the same courtesy in return. At least that's how it works at our house. No, I don't need a play by play. But if you're going to Dallas for the weekend, I'd like to know. Obviously I am grim wife! (as all feminists are)
I am perplexed by the notion that sharing household tasks and child-rearing tasks is either impossible or completely emasculating. I can somewhat understand how some men may not care as much about a clean house as the women in their lives (a frequent argument in our house) but any man who does not care as much as his wife does about raising THEIR child (not HER child) is a terrible father and the opposite of what a real man should be.
In Andrew Klavan's world, marriage is designed for men to be "king of the castle"
I’m the old-fashioned King of the Castle type: my wife knew it when she married me, she knows it now, and she knows where the door is if she gets sick of it. And you can curse me or consign me to Feminist Hell or whatever you want to do. But when you’re done, answer me this: why would a man get married under any other circumstances? I’m serious.
:::consigning Andrew to Feminist Hell::: (because feminists are the devil who wish to consign all men to hell unless they agree to be our poodles.)
To be fair, Andrew says he's been married for almost 30 years and his marriage is somuchbetterthanyours because they adhere to traditional gender roles. He even posted a link to a tribute he wrote to her. Aww... Note that this was added as an update, probably in an effort to shrink the amount of hate mail in his inbox (no, none from me).
While Andrew Klavan believes that art is reflecting life in the case of The Hangover, I'm actually going to step out on a limb and give men a lot more credit than he does. I'm going to say that most men are NOT the irresponsible binge-drinking pot-smoking immature losers these "dude movies" portray them to be. Just as most women aren't the shrill, ball-crushing, fun-sucking bitches (or drunken sluts) that these movies portray THEM to be.
I'd love to see comedies where both the men AND women in the movie are complex multifaceted characters and not standard archetypes. And have the movie still be funny. Maybe one day. (I'm sure there are some out there, I just can't think of any at the moment...). I will admit that I laughed so hard I cried at The Hangover. It was without a doubt, a funny movie. But definitely not an accurate portrayal of manhood today.