Thursday, October 23, 2008

Movie guilt

As regular readers may have assessed, I'm often a socially awkward, nutty mess. Here's yet another chapter in my struggle to comfortably sail through simple social settings. Thankfully, I've eventually realised that I am not alone in movie recommendation anxiety.

The problem I struggle with is the pressure to ensure the good time of others. In the instance of orchestrating a movie viewing, if their movie viewing is of my urging, then I feel a tremendous pressure for everyone to like it. If they do not, I feel that I have failed them miserably and that my good character and presumably respected taste will be tarnished. The problem with this coniditon is that it prevents ME from having a good time. I'm now wondering why I'm writing this since its a lot like my birthday party blog from 11 months ago. I don't think I repeat myself too often, so fuck it. I shall proceed.

(Oh shit. What if they think I'm boring and out of ideas and stop reading my blog? What if they thought I was cool all this time but this blog evokes the final yawn before they close the door on The Angry Tiki? Why do I write blogs? I'm just asking to be judged and I can't take the heat. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit....)

The first noted instance of movie guilt, and possibly the benchmark for all related nausea ocurred, I believe, in 1996 when I organised for my gang of friends to see the newest Leslie Nielsen movie, Spy Hard. Yeah, I know. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We all liked The Naked Gun films, so it stood to reason this would follow suit, but instead the whole thing was a disaster. There must have been about eight of us who went which was a great responsibility to provide entertainment for. Shortly after it started, my friends were getting up and going outside to smoke, returning, groaning at the movie, shaking their heads at me, then leaving again. Since I had been the champion of this screening, I felt compelled to sit it out and honestly, I didn't think I thought it was so bad. Perhaps I was a late bloomer in my cynicism, but I daresay that today I can out cynic all those fuckers put together any day of the week and twice on Sunday. But not quite yet in this story. I suggested this movie, everyone hated it and my reputation was mud. I copped a lot of shit for that one.

What happened? It says right there that it "Absolutely hilarious" and "Very funny". What gives?

Fast forward to couple of years later. A Clockwork Orange was playing at an arthouse theatre and I had never seen it. My taste had blossomed, obviously as I was seeking out this well regarded film, revered by many of my musical heroes. I knew it was one of those "must see" movies of a certain ilk and so I advised my friend Mark and my sister of this "must see" aspect and advised they come along. I had no idea what to expect and subsequently, my mind was blown by it in a good way. At least I think it was. As much as I thought it was titilating and fascinating, I knew it was nothing like anything us suburban folk usually sought out. So my feelings about the film were completely confused. It was right up my alley, yet I spent the entire film with what felt like a large rock in my stomach and every peculiar and perverse event only made it heavier. "How much longer is it? How much more can they take? They must fucking hate this and me for bringing them to this. God, this is so awesome." I thought to myself.

Alex assaults a woman with a giant penis sculpture. Yeah, I guess that was shocking...the first time I saw it in Gone With The Wind! Sheesh.

Finally, it ended and I was relieved. We walked to car.

Rebecca: That was really good!
Mark: Yeah! I wouldn't mind seeing it again, actually.



You would think that lesson would resonate and be yet another reminder (and there are many) that I should chill the fuck out. It can work if I think about it and self talk myself into relaxing, but then I realise that that only applies to that incident and there could be many more Spy Hards ahead. No, actually. There really couldn't be anything that humiliating ahead of me.

I recently realised that I had accumulated enough of a collection of similar stories from other people to constitute an epidemic, if a total of four can in fact make an epidemic. To those of you who do not suffer from such incredible insecurity and self loathing, I salute you.

Here are some other examples from others:

My friend's mother got it into her head that she wanted to see a Kill Bill because she had heard all about Quentin Tarantino. After much effort to deter her, the mother was set to see the movie and so my friend struggled to relax through all the swearing and violence in the company of her mother. The discomfort wasn't misplaced as I believe the mother got up from the theatre with either no remark or something very vague and polite, not addressing what was just seen.

The blushing Bride in Kill Bill.

My brother-in-law Sam was afraid to go see the Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny with my parents because he thought it would be inappropriate to laugh at the certain things in front of them. He was somewhat forced to attend this family outing as the film featured yours truly in a stellar performance as an extra. Thankfully, my parents were well warned ahead of time and seemed to be able to roll with it and delight in mine and Neil Hamburger's performances.

I'm all over this scene from 1:37 onwards. Check it.

There is one other incident in which the guilt was carried by someone else regarding Gladiator, but since that incident ended in tears (not mine, thankfully), I feel it's best it remain untold, though I will say that I was able to comfort this person with my own movie guilt tales.

Oddly, even after the Tenacious D incident which I was not at, I was more disturbed to learn that my parents went to see Clerks II. I was not there and I did not recommend it to them, but somehow I felt awful by virtue of the fact that liked Kevin Smith movies and quite enjoyed Clerks II myself. My parents had Gold Class movie tickets which were expiring and were desperate to make use of them. For those who don't know, Gold Class are fancy movie tickets where you watch the movie in a special theatre with reclining seats and can order food and beverages to be delivered to your seat. These tickets are often prizes in work places which is how I think they came have them, however no amount of padding and champagne could prepare my poor, innocent mother for excessive planning and final realisation of a scene in which a man has sex with a donkey. I had so much guilt once I heard about that and I had nothing to do with it.

My mother should never have had to see a man doing the vagina thing.

I thought I was the only person to suffer this, but I'm starting to realise that I'm not. I'm hoping that shedding some light on the matter might help to alleviate some of the discomfort.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The male stripper and the heterosexual woman

*Note* This blog may, nay, WILL contain words like "queer" and "faggy" and reduce people of all orientations to stereotypes, but with no ill will intended, I hope you can get over it.

I write to you after waking up in horror at 4am. I awoke from a dream in which I was hanging out at my parents' house with my mum and and my sister only to have my sister announce that she is going to call "Rakesh" (name invented as actual name from dream is not remembered) her male stripper and all her friends for some evening entertainment. A playful fight ensues with me detailing why a male stripper is so horrible and why she has let me down, after allowing me to believe for some time that she did not find this kind of entertainment enjoyable, but in fact gross. She giggles endlessly and tells me to get over it. I retort that I would be sitting in the other room while it went on and said it would be like sitting in a room knowing a molestation was going on and not doing anything about it. As the debate rages on, furniture is being pushed aside to pave the way for Rakesh's impending arrival. While he never actually makes it, amid all the discussion, vivid pictures are painted. Apparently he is of east Indian descent and ripped like nobody's business. My otherwise prudish mother is on the fence about this whole thing, seeing all my points, but not thinking it's so bad for a "bit of fun". Again I feel betrayed. On and on it goes, ad nauseum, until I wake up disturbed and ready to blog.

For the record, I would like to state that in reality, my sister does NOT like strippers and at last discussion was known to abhor them. When planning her hen's/bachelorette party this past January, her other bridesmaids and I were pleased that we were not required to seek out a stripper. No doubt, I'd have washed my hands of the whole affair should she have wanted one.

The heterosexual woman's love of the male stripper is something that has long baffled me. In times where there is, sadly, a movement against gays and their fight for equal rights, the popularity of the male stripper, usually among the suburban female, the type more shielded for the flamboyant gay culture and more likely to oppose it, are the very ones summoning the supposed man-gods to shake their wangs at them for titillation.

As a heterosexual woman, I have never been able to understand why a straight woman would find a male stripper appealing. For lack of any better explanation, why do I want to see a gay man, more interested in himself than me, literally PRANCE before me? Male strippers are downright faggy, the very thing that so many of these woman are afraid of. I see this conflict regularly as I work for a company which sells some very queer fabric.

I give you Tom of Finland. Tom of Finland, for those who do not know, was a Finnish artist who in his career did over 3500 illustrations of gay scenes of men on various states of undress showing heavily accentuated torsos and over sized penises either bulging in pants or unleashed altogether. Whether or not the men are clothed or engaged with each other in a scene, a Tom of Finland scene is quite distinct and its ultra gay intent is never in question.

A Tom of Finland piece. Got bulge?

Back to the fabric, my company has a series of designs inspired by Tom of Finland. On my first day, as I was being shown the various groups in the collection, when I saw one of those I asked "Is this part of the gay group?" Despite this being obvious to me and many others, I'd say most of our client base does not seem to see it that way, much like they do not see the gayness of a male stripper.

Of the design named "Heavy Equipment", a description by one of our customers reads, "With a cheeky title to boot, these cut construction workers don hardhats, tool belts, and little else as they strike some racy poses atop a ground inked with blueprints. Hmmm...perhaps it's time for a remodel at my house!" Keep in mind that many of our customers are quilters from all over the country, many from America's heartland, aka, Bible belt, aka queer hating country. It delights me no end to have an apparently conservative quilter tell me she wouldn't mind having him (pointing to one of our 'hunks') leave his slippers under her bed. Poor thing hasn't a clue that he would not want to leave his slippers under her bed. Not because she's old, overweight and wearing a cat sweater, no, he would not even want to leave his slippers under the bed of her hot, barely legal grand daughter. This man is a homosexual and prefers the company of men.

Building a fence to block the view of ugly, scary tits.

Back to the male strippers, my confusion persists. The male stripper type, when he physically exists in the heterosexual world is almost always a self absorbed, too concerned with his own appearance to pay the necessary attention to a woman. One common gender difference is that females instinctively need to preen and make a good presentation for males. Males can be slobby and even stinky and be attractive to females. So when men start adopting the female role of preening and obsessing about their bodies, there seems to be some gender role reversal going on. Might I call this As a preened man goes against the natural order of things, I am baffled as to why a straight woman finds this man attractive. Gay or straight, he's not into you!

Finally, the dancing. Looks aside, when it happens on a mardi gras float, this kind of display is nothing short of queer. No question that this to the homophobe is the second grossest display of an abomination, the first of course being the old rogering to the rear. But take out the balloons and the multitudes of surrounding gays, and this man can now be brought into your living room for some almost-innocent fun.


Not gay

If there are any women reading this who are attracted to gay men, I'd love to hear from you. I get the idea that accentuated muscles show signs of strength, useful for protection, but when that strength is used only for lifting weights and reaching for the bottle of Nivea for Men Revitalising Body Lotion, I cease to find how this can be reassuring or attractive.