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December 28, 2006

Note to Hollywood: Speak More Spanglish

My wife and I rented The Break-Up last night. I guess it was fine enough. But it reminded me how tired I am of Hollywood's formula for comedic depictions of relationships: Selfish, Idiotic Man + Brilliant, Hard-Working Woman = Instant Hijinx and Hilarity. [Cue Ron Popeil: Presto! With the Ronco-matic Cinemizer, it's that easy!!]

Yawn. Really, that's so old. And what's even more tired is the fact that to reverse those roles -- presenting a pathetic woman who is lucky to have a wonderful man -- seems to be verboten in both movies and TV sitcoms.

Is this 2006 or 1976? Can we finally admit that women now enjoy all of the same opportunities and successes that men do? A great illustration of this reality is the fact that women make up a greater percentage of college students than men. These days, you have to look awfully hard to find evidence that women are not equally treated in an American institution. That's worth celebrating, for sure, but too many of today's feminists seem to be unsatisfied; it's no longer about rights but about raw, cultural power.

That's why I found Spanglish to be so refreshing. In that Adam Sandler (of all people) movie, you had a wonderful husband and father putting up with, and (gasp!) staying with, a rotten, cheating buffoon of a woman, to whom he had the extreme misfortune of being married. A little more such equity in relational depictions would go a long way toward true sexual equality in entertainment.

This morning, I was again reminded of this when I read this observation from Anthony Esolen in the Quodlibet section of the newest issue of Touchstone magazine (titled "Winning Unlovely"):

Women are beautiful, and men are necessary. It has been the great victory of the feminist movement to make women unlovely by persuading them that men are not needed.

Indeed. Much of the feminist movement was important. Sadly, what it has become in recent years is an anti-male cultural wrecking ball.

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Katharine Eastvold

I agree that true gender equality means equal treatment for both men and women. But I don't think that's any reason to yet again "reverse the roles" in hopes of restoring balance. I'd rather see a movie in which both the hero and heroine are flawed but still fairly good people. And, no, that wouldn't be boring - plenty of hilarious mishaps can still happen on the way to true love. :-)

I don't at all like the quote that ends the post, though. Not all women are beautiful (at least according to any of the standards voiced today), and not all men appear to be necessary. God teaches us through the Bible that we (men and women) are beautiful inasmuch as we are God's beloved creations, and that we are necessary to one another as helpers.

Overreacting to the radical wing of the feminist movement will only strengthen it.



Many thanks for the feedback. I actually disagree with nothing you said; I think what I intended to communicate simply didn't come across to you. Sure, we all like "Sleepless In Seattle" and the countless other romantic comedies with flawed but nice characters. But when the storyline requires "the benevolent idiot" (think Tim Allen's character on Home Improvement) or "the jerk" (Vince Vaughn in The Break-Up) in a relationship, either of which can legitimately add to a story, I tire of seeing that role played nearly always by men. That's all.

As for the quote, you are misreading it a bit (admittedly, it works better when situated in Touchstone's Quodlibet pages). Read the first sentence as a contrast to its parallel, subsequent sentence. It's a set-up, not a declaration that either sex is the sole owner of those qualities. Esolen is certainly not refering to physical beauty, either, but rather "loveliness" of character (again, to set up the contrast in the second sentence). And he's decrying the feminist philosophy that declares men irrelevant/unnecessary. Nothing more. As for taking Esolen's two-sentence cultural commentary down to the individual level, pithiness nearly always prevents global applicability, but rather general accuracy; and such is the case here.

Thanks for the visit Katherine. Hope to see you again.


Michael Snow

You conclude re: the feminist movement that "what it has become in recent years is an anti-male cultural wrecking ball."

Having suffereed through the reading of feminist writings over a quarter of a century ago while in seminary, it is my belief that it has been an anti-male wrecking ball from the get-go.

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