When I watch a movie, it’s like there are two of me in the same seat. There’s that regular movie-going guy who likes blood and boobs and things that explode, the kind of movies we call POPCORN MOVIES. But there’s another fellow who accompanies him. This guy likes some of the same things as his friend, but he is a seeker and connoisseur of SERIOUS CINEMA. This guy doesn’t just want to see a movie, he wants it to change his life. POPCORN: Dude, you gotta check this chick out. CINEMA: There you go with that chick stuff again. I’ve told you, that’s going to get you in trouble. I know how you are, but someone else might see it as objectifying women, referring to them in such a way that . . . whoa, she’s hot. POPCORN: I know, right. CINEMA: Well, maybe not hot, so much as . . . POPCORN: Boobish. CINEMA: That might cover it. POPCORN: She’s a pretty good shot too, and totally kicks ass behind the wheel. CINEMA: Alright, sorry. I’ve got to apologize. I shouldn’t base my initial reaction on nothing more than an image, which, in this case, is a . . . robust, full-bodied woman in a revealing outfit. I’m usually more restrained than this, but my biology took over for a moment. POPCORN: It’s alright, dude. She can’t hear you. CINEMA: Well, it’s really beside the point if she heard me or not. As a man with a functioning mind, I should try to set a better example for other males out there. So what is this anyway? POPCORN: Something called LASER MISSION. It’s an old Brandon Lee flick, before he got all famous with THE CROW and then died. CINEMA: Wait a minute, I think I’ve seen this. It was somewhere around 1989. He’s some kind of soldier of fortune, trying to rescue a scientist from the KGB. Supposedly the old man knows how to combine lasers and diamonds to create a nuclear weapon – POPCORN: Yup, but we never see a single laser in the whole movie. CINEMA: The scientist is played by Ernest Borgnine, slumming away in b-movie Purgatory? POPCORN: That’d be the one. CINEMA: This was terrible. Not even the fun kind of bad movie. POPCORN: I dunno, dude. I was kinda thinkin’ that too, but then she showed up. CINEMA: Your ‘chick’. POPCORN: Yeah. It was just Brandon Lee being all, like, generic bad-ass. Fightin’ and blowin’ shit up, that kinda thing. I was about to give up, go watch an old Hammer flick. But then. Well, all of a sudden, it’s like, what’s ninety minutes anyway? CINEMA: Uh-huh. POPCORN: There’s a bunch-a dirty Commies and some Nazi-lookin’ dude that’s got heads in a fish tank. This random ninja jumps out and starts fightin’ Brandon Lee. You know, one-a those kinda ninjas they have in Africa or Cuba or wherever the hell they’re supposed to be. CINEMA: They call it Kavanga, but there’s no such place on earth. POPCORN: Brandon Lee gets gut-shot, but then does a bunch-a leaping and fighting and shooting. By the end of the movie, he’s all laughing. It’s like he forgot all about the bullet hole in his belly oozin’ blood. CINEMA: We can only assume that he went into septic shock and died a few days later. POPCORN: A lotta guns in this movie, man. There’s even some dude on fire shootin’ at people. But only good-guy bullets ever hit anything. What’s-her-face whips a 9mm Beretta out of nowhere and just starts takin’ dudes down. CINEMA: That was the moment you fell in love. POPCORN: Her name’s Debi Monahan. Looked her up, and she’s only got one other movie. She played a dancer in A CHORUS LINE. But she’s done a bunch-a TV appearances. MARRIED WITH CHILDREN. PROFILER. EMPTY NEST. STAR TREK: Deep Space Nine. PARTY OF FIVE. CHICAGO HOPE. Funny, but I don’t remember seein’ her in any-a that. CINEMA: Well, she probably wasn’t wearing this revealing, low-cut blue dress. POPCORN: Yeah, dude. It’s about the only thing she wears in this flick. CINEMA: And I’ll bet that she’s supposed to be a rocket scientist or something, right? Like Denise Richards in that James Bond movie. POPCORN: That movie was jank, dude. No way that chick was a rocket scientist. CINEMA: Because she was hot? POPCORN: No, cuz she was stupid. Like, Angelina is hot too, but she could still pull off being a rocket scientist, know what I’m sayin’? Lots-a hot chicks could – CINEMA: But not Denise Richards. POPCORN: Naw, man. Angelina’s boy Brad ain’t no scientist either. CINEMA: So, it’s coming back to me. Your girl here is a veterinarian and a secret agent. POPCORN: Yeah, and she might be, like, Betty Boop on the weekends too. CINEMA: She could be. I’ve noticed the high-pitched, pouty whine that screams showgirl more than government employee. That’s why they put her in the dress. POPCORN: It’s the Honk Hogans, dude. They can sell anything. CINEMA: Alright, alright. Look, it’s wrong for us to be speaking in terms of hot, and – POPCORN: You started it. CINEMA: Well, yeah, in private conversation. But to bring these kind of comments into the public forum . . . they might give the wrong impression, propagate further sexist observations, and even be seen as disrespectful. I’ve got to say, I was probably wrong to let my first words about this actress be based upon – POPCORN: Her bazongas. CINEMA: Uh, yeah. POPCORN: The barnyard boppers. CINEMA: Yeah, because a human being is more than just a series of body parts – POPCORN: Like the humpty dumplings. CINEMA: – like melons, jugs, mud flaps, or anything else that – POPCORN: Woofers, tweeters, and hooters. CINEMA: – brings the conversation down to the lowest cut – I mean, lowest common denominator – POPCORN: – like the bouncing Buddhas, the sweater stretchers – CINEMA: – or berries, peaches, milk bombs . . . yes, any of these terms are – POPCORN: The Golden Globes. Bert and Ernie. The Pointer Sisters. CINEMA: – inappropriate. So, no Balboas or Heisenbergs. POPCORN: No Smothers Brothers. CINEMA: Or Pia Zadoras. It’s just wrong to keep going like this – POPCORN: Even when we’re going to Twin Peaks? CINEMA: Stop it, now. Really – POPCORN: Goombas. Yabbos. Baloobas. Baby feeders. Honkers. Maracas. Pechugas. Nay-nays. Num-nums. Lilyhammers. High-beams. Berthas. Winnebagos. CINEMA: Or dirty pillows. Yeah, okay, just knock it off – POPCORN: Knockers. Knobs. Whoppers. Bee stings. Lewinskis. Dinglebobbers. CINEMA: Seriously, stop. POPCORN: The wop-bop-a-boo-bops. CINEMA: Come on . . . POPCORN: Or the Great and Glorious Nippled Mound of Suck from the Planet of Boob-bah. CINEMA: Dammit. POPCORN: Sorry, dude. CINEMA: Like most of our gender, you tend to get carried away sometimes. POPCORN: What about all that biology then? So I’m not supposed to dig chicks, even though everything in me is just howlin’ for them? CINEMA: You can dig them as much as you want. But we need to see them as more than just sex objects, rather as equals who merely have different parts than we do. You know, a woman can do anything a man does – POPCORN: Dude, I know that. Ain’t like I don’t see us all equal. But if you were built like Brandon Lee’s girl here, I’d be seeing you equal and still wanna motorboat at fifty miles an hour. Know what I’m saying? CINEMA: Unfortunately, yes. POPCORN: <makes motor sounds> CINEMA: Have you heard of the male gaze? POPCORN: Got some friends that are, but ain’t no big deal, dude. People are just people. CINEMA: <sighs> No, you nincompoop. Not gays, but gaze . . . as in, to look upon someone. In film theory, the gaze is a concept used in analysis of visual culture, concerning how an audience is made to view the images presented on the screen. It’s typically categorized by who the filmmakers believe is doing the looking. POPCORN: So it’s a bad thing for straight dudes to look then? CINEMA: Well, that’s not entirely it. The concept was first put forth by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey in a 1975 essay, positing that gender is unbalanced in cinema and constructed almost entirely for the pleasure of the male viewer . . . POPCORN: So if there’s a bunch-a hot, naked chicks up there – CINEMA: That would be considered the male gaze. The assumption made by the filmmakers, and therefore the focus of the film, is that it’s going to mostly be watched by heterosexual males. Therefore, you’ve got a lot of loving, close-up shots of nubile female flesh, like Megan Fox in a tank top and cut-off shorts bending over the engine in TRANSFORMERS. POPCORN: I love that scene, dude. CINEMA: Much of the criticism is that the movies, like most of the Western world, is based in patriarchal ideologies. In other words, it’s straight white males who are running everything, so everything is set up for their enjoyment. POPCORN: Dude, you’re saying they like you aren’t one-a them. Tell me you weren’t all about Phoebe Cates comin’ up outta that pool – CINEMA: That’s not what I’m saying. POPCORN: – or Olivia d’Abo or Christina Ricci or Angela Bassett – hell, even Molly Ringworm back in the day! Come on, dude. Tell me you weren’t into all that shit. Tell me you weren’t just as stoked about Megan Fox, or about Anne Hathaway in a skin-tight cat suit – CINEMA: Actually, I preferred Michelle Pfeiffer – POPCORN: Yeah, in a skin-tight cat suit! So don’t be all like, ‘those damn white hetero guys’, cuz you are one, dude. Unless you really aren’t, but then I don’t give a shit either. Then I guess I’ll have to watch some stupid-ass Barbra Streisand flicks when we hang out – CINEMA: There’s another stereotype. And the criticism isn’t really about what you or I enjoy. It’s more about the lens of the male gaze, through which so many American filmmakers are looking, being a lens of entitlement. It’s about this attitude that everything is just made for us to take, that we can participate in the exploitation of women’s bodies – POPCORN: Oh, come on, dude. CINEMA: – or that a woman owes us something if we buy her a drink, or the way that some men whistle and wink at a woman as she passes by, making her feel unsafe in a world that we know is full of assault, even rape – POPCORN: So now I’m a rapist cuz I’m watching a shitty Brandon Lee flick? CINEMA: No, but if you’re ogling some girl, she doesn’t know that you’re not a rapist. And before you even say it, I know that checking someone out in a movie isn’t the same thing as doing it in reality, but it comes back to that sense of entitlement. As white heterosexual males, we are taught in very subtle ways that everything belongs to us and – POPCORN: Bullshit, dude. I never learned that, subtle or not. Man, I grew up poor. We had government cheese when I was a kid, and sometimes didn’t have heat in the house. Sometimes we didn’t even have plumbing – CINEMA: I know, but what I’m saying is – POPCORN: I figured out really quick that I didn’t have shit, couldn’t expect shit, and wouldn’t get shit. CINEMA: I know, but – POPCORN: Look, man. What you’re sayin’ ain’t no joke to me either. CINEMA: I didn’t say – POPCORN: This was a long time ago, I was probably about sixteen. My mom came home one day from going fishing by herself. She had a black eye and a concussion, and she was just kinda rocking back and forth on the couch. I tried asking her what was wrong, but she started crying. Just kept saying, I didn’t do anything, didn’t do anything . . . CINEMA: Oh no, what happened? POPCORN: While she was out there at the lake, two good ol’ boys pulled up in a pickup truck and decided that it was party time. One of ’em actually said that, it’s party time. Then the other one held her down while he raped her. Right there in the back of the family van. CINEMA: Shit. POPCORN: She was just destroyed, dude. Police didn’t do shit to help her either, or to make her feel better. They were all, well, you should never go somewhere secluded by yourself. I mean, what the hell is that? I was just a kid, but I went out lookin’ for those dudes with my dad. He was all calm, talkin’ about taking them to the cops. But me, man, I wanted those guys to die . . . CINEMA: Damn. I’m really sorry, I really am. But then you understand when I say – POPCORN: I don’t understand shit, dude. I could watch twelve hours of some chick jumpin’ around on a trampoline in slow motion, top it off with twelve more hours of internet porn, and I’m gonna be seein’ that in my head all day. But I still won’t be whistlin’ at chicks or trying to cop a feel or scopin’ out racks while I’m out there. And I sure as hell wouldn’t ever do something like rape somebody, man. Katie (Jemma Dallender), Georgi (Yavor Baharov),Photographer (Simon Versano) CINEMA: But not everyone has that kind of restraint. POPCORN: Well, then start puttin’ the bastards down like rabid dogs. Let ’em know we’re not fucking around anymore. But dude, watching some obviously fake-ass action flick – cuz there’s a hot chick with massive hakuna matatas – will not make me go out and do some shit that wasn’t already in my head. CINEMA: It’s not just about rapists. There’s an element of things being unbalanced in cinema, that we objectify everything around us, especially sex – POPCORN: Dude, I watch sex cuz I’m not gettin’ any. CINEMA: – and there’s the filmmakers argument that they are just giving the audience what they want. But that’s not entirely true. They are giving some of the audience what they want, while everyone else has to just accept what they are given. POPCORN: Then start makin’ your own movies, dude. Change that shit. CINEMA: It’s not that easy. POPCORN: Cuz I’m tellin’ you, there’s just as much of Captain America’s ass in THE AVENGERS as there is Black Widow’s. And don’t even tell me there ain’t a female gaze too. Not when we got James Bond in a teeny bikini and all them Magic Mike dudes struttin’ around up there. Hell, there’s even some eye candy for gay folks out there now too. CINEMA: I don’t think there’s an even split on the gaze. POPCORN: Alright, dude. Since you’re a feminist now, tell me what I’m s’posed to think about something like Michelle Rodriguez? CINEMA: What do you mean? POPCORN: I mean, like, MACHETE, dude. She’s a total bad-ass in that movie. That chick could do anything she wants, and she don’t need no man. Not unless she wants one. Whatever’s going on, she’s got that shit under control, know what I’m sayin’? CINEMA: And . . . POPCORN: And she’s crazy smokin’ hot. So is it, like, right to think a feminist is hot? CINEMA: I couldn’t even begin to answer that. Maybe you’re attracted to her power, which is still a very masculine thing to want. But, whatever it is that you or I claim to like about her character, there’s still the hotness factor. It’s not like they cast Melissa McCarthy in that role. POPCORN: Hey, I’d be up for any actress as a bad-ass. CINEMA: Whoa, did you see what happened there? POPCORN: What? CINEMA: You actually referred to someone as an actress, not a chick. POPCORN: Yeah, well, don’t get used to it. CINEMA: Okay, I’ve got a confession to make. POPCORN: I’m gonna be watchin’ some Barbra Streisand movies? CINEMA: No. But something happened the other day that has been bothering me. POPCORN: Shoot, dude. CINEMA: I was at the college. As I passed through the door, there was someone coming up behind me. Without even thinking about it, I held the door for them – POPCORN: You genteel bastard. CINEMA: Yeah, well, it was only then that I looked up to see the person. It was a female. But she stood there, just glaring at me, and then she grew incredibly indignant. She said that she didn’t need or want any man holding the door for her. POPCORN: So what happened? CINEMA: I slammed the door in her face. POPCORN: What? CINEMA: I don’t know where it came from. My response was probably the wrong one, but . . . I would have held the door for, literally, anyone. I wasn’t even aware who I was holding it for, nor would I have done anything differently if I had known. POPCORN: Damn, dude. CINEMA: Honestly, I’ve been very troubled that I reacted in such a way. Later, I wished that I had tried to explain my position to her, not that I really had a position. I was just holding the damn door. POPCORN: Well, dude, even a feminist can be an asshole. CINEMA: What would you have done? POPCORN: I’d-a held the door anyway, whatever. That’s just how I was raised. CINEMA: To be courteous to everyone. POPCORN: Yup, even assholes. CINEMA: Hey, could we watch something else right now? I think I’ve had enough of Brandon Lee and his laser mission. POPCORN: You wanna watch YENTL? – j meredith CINEMA: Here’s a fun little benchmark for movies you can try. It’s called the Bechdel Test. Named after cartoonist Alison Bechdel, it was kind of a lesbian in-joke that went mainstream with movie critics. POPCORN: How’s it go? CINEMA: Very simply, look at any movie and ask yourself three questions: are there more than two women in the movie, do they have a conversation, and is it about anything other than men? POPCORN: Oh, wow. CINEMA: I know, right. POPCORN: Dude, we’d fail that test. CINEMA: Yes, we’d fail it miserably. See larger image Laser Mission A scientist’s daughter helps a CIA agent find her father, kidnapped by the KGB to make a laser. New From: $2.20 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.