I first started noticing this trend with the commercials. Here’s
just one of the more obnoxious ones, for Coors beer:
Wife in bathroom checking
to see if the strip for her pregnancy test has turned blue: “Honey, I
think this is what we’ve been waiting for…”
Oafish husband checking to see if label of his beer has turned
blue, indicating it has reached the perfect temperature for consumption: “Yes, I think it is!”
And so on.
It’s a familiar pattern, acted out in dozens of other ads, in
which the enjoyment of such guy things as drinking beer, eating junk food or watching
sports gets shunted aside because of some needy, homemaking, or reproducing
female. If the palimpsest of TV ads is correct, and it seldom lies, there is a
crisis in male sensibilities, a conflict between acting like a spoiled
nine-year-old dolt or becoming an emasculated, pussywhipped
And the movies this summer are all over it. Take “Shrek the
Third” for example. Poor Shrek. All he wants is to hang out in his hovel in
the swamp, eating, sleeping, farting, doing the things an ogre likes to do. But the
beautiful princess he married has transformed into an ogress herself, demanding
he face up to responsibilities and take up her dad’s job as king. Who needs that shit? And then the coup de grace: she’s pregnant!
Or “Spiderman III.” Peter Parker as a superhero enjoying the
adulation of millions, getting all the chicks and fighting bad guys if he
didn’t have an idea in his head to marry his high school sweet heart, the
talentless singer and jealous, energy drain Mary Jane.
As for “Knocked Up,” what more to say? Only that the marriage
between the characters played by Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann, in which she hunts him down like a detective to find
out he’s two-timing her to play fantasy baseball with his pals (worse than
adultery in her mind), is one of the most pathological depictions of the
institution of marriage I’ve seen since "The War of the Roses." And it’s supposed to be a good thing!
And finally, and I’m sure that there are plenty of other examples
as well, there’s Fantastic Four: The Rise
of the Silver Surfer in which bride-to-be Sue Storm, played by the
lusciously vapid Jessica Alba, has
forced her fiancé Reed, Mr. Fantastic no less, to do his earth-saving research
stuff on the sly because otherwise he’s not being “focused” on their wedding.
But honey, Galactus is about to suck all the energy out of the planet!
All of these films have happy endings, of sorts, all affirming
the sanctity of family values. But they also allow the guys a little wiggle
room to do what they do best -- be assholes. So, in the movies at least, the
blue slip of the pregnancy test and the blue label on the beer bottle can be
the same. I think this is what we’ve been waiting for.