Friday, March 28, 2008
It's A Man's World
Some friendly debates you have over and over, like whether men and women can just be friends (I hold to the idea that they can, despite all evidence to the contrary) or whether you'd rather be famous or rich (to quote Ralphie from The Sopranos -- Why was I born handsome instead of rich?). In this day and age, the discussion can take the turn of whether men or women have a worse deal. Used to be this wasn't even a thought; women have a raw deal given all the sexual violence, injustice in earning power, the pervasive beauty fascism of the culture spawning eating disorders, plastic surgery, and so on not to mention whole childbirth bullshit. But while I still think the great James Brown is right (It's a man's world, baby!), I'll risk the possible revocation of my NOW membership card and say that I think men have it tough as well.
To note: the rise in male eating disorders in the last few years, the economic difficulties that make supporting a family damn near impossible, the trauma of war. Paul Shrader (director of one of my favorite movies, Affliction) addresses this male identity issue in his first film, Blue Collar. Harder than hell to get (Thomas Video when I return it), it's a brilliant gem set in my fair city of Detroit in the late 70s. Three men attempt to get money from a factory system determined to squelch them in an attempt to keep the trains on time. Masculinity for two of the characters means supporting their families which they can't really do well and for one providing a break of booze, drugs, and women as a bas relief to the grueling mundanity of their existences. Nothing good happens during the movie for any of them and a truly ghastly end comes for the one without a traditional bulwark. Detroit, the factories, the despair -- it's all on camera. As for male bonding, the dudes sit around and drink. (Hey, it's my favorite form of bonding so no harm there.) But they have to part ways given certain plot issues and when it comes time for them to go their own ways, they are left without the usual arsenal of gestures of parting. But in the most Detroit moment of the movie, the two remaining guys are standing out in the parking lot and exchange open beers as a symbol of trust and love. Like communion, they drink deeply from the same proverbial cups until they are in their cups without a way out.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Write something, even if it's just a suicide note." Gore Vidal
Drinking music suggestion: The Odd Couple Gnarls Barkley
Benedictions and Maledictions