Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Recently I discovered an entry on the movie website Rotten Tomatoes entitled Manliest Movies. This is allegedly a list of the 15 manliest movies of all time, as compiled by a panel of five experts (they're all men), Ryan Fujitani, Jeff Giles, Luke Goodsell, Tim Ryan, and Alex Vo.
Disappointingly, all they came up with were a bunch of movies about guys shooting people. I must say, this gives a completely unrealistic portrayal of what it means to be a man. The notion that men only care about violence stems from a misinterpretation of Desmond Morris's book The Naked Ape. Specifically it stems from the interpretation that the book isn't a load of hokum.
With that in mind, I thought I'd compile a list myself of the real 15 manliest movies.
15. The Social Network
The Rotten Tomatoes list can be forgiven for excluding this movie, because it came out after the list was created. Nonetheless, The Social Network is a much more realistic portrayal of male aggression than anything on that list. While Schwarzenegger and Stallone may express their manliness by shooting everything that moves, real men express their manliness by bitching about their ex-girlfriends on the internet.
Some may say that the shoot-em-up movies on the Rotten Tomatoes list are more manly because of their lack of realism. They supposedly represent what men wish they were. But in The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker get everything they wish. Zuckerberg becomes a billionaire for inventing a slightly-less-crappy version of MySpace and Parker becomes a billionaire for hanging out with Zuckerberg. So when they can to whatever they want, do they go around shooting things? No! They get blowjobs in public bathrooms and snort coke off of chick's bellies. Like a man! Come on Arnold and Sylvester. You know you'd do the same.
The Social Network even features an appearance of the ultimate man's man, Larry Summers. And the fact that he's one of the less disgustingly misogynistic characters in the movie just shows how manly this movie is.
Of course, if Larry Summers is to be believed (he's not), what distinguishes men from women is that men are better at math. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Canadian horror movie Cube.
The movie is your usual story of a bunch of two-dimensional characters trapped in a three-dimensional building where they're forced to factor three-digit numbers . . . or die!!! One of the two-dimensional characters is a female mathematician named Leaven, who appears at first to be the one who can save them. But, after a painful rant about permutations, it becomes clear (to the audience, at least) that she doesn't know what she's talking about. On top of that she starts acting like P vs. NP affects factoring three-digit numbers and claims that the time it would take to perform a simple task like factoring 567 into primes (34x7) is "astronomical".
And then, of course, a man comes in and saves the day. Yup the retarded guy turns out to be an idiot savant who can determine whether or not numbers like 567, 898 and 545 are powers of primes. Imagine that! Thank goodness there was a man around, or else they'd all be dead.
Now, some might claim that this horrible math on the writer André Bijelic, rather than the character of Leaven. This is ignoring one important fact. André Bijelic is a man and Leaven is a woman. Larry Summers has spoken, thankyouverymuch.
One of the big problems with the narrow-minded Rotten Tomatoes list is that it doesn't adequately consider that masculinity is expressed differently in different cultures. For instance in ant culture, men are submissive drones. With that notion of masculinity, Woody Allen is a far better representative of the gender than Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So it's entirely fitting that Woody Allen would star in a movie about ants. I'm sorry, antz. Allen plays the ultimate man's ant'z role as a whiny neurotic, i.e. every Woody Allen character ever, but as an ant. Meanwhile the much more aggressive lady ant J.Lo does the heavy lifting, which in ant terms, is very feminine. Even when Woody Allen does lead his quasi-Marxist rebellion against the status quo (actual quote from the movie: "the workers control the means of production!"), it's ultimately to defend the Queen Jane Curtin against an evil general. But subservience to the queen is also very masculine for antz. Keep up the good work, bro!
12. Jurassic Park
You may be thinking "What does this have to do with manliness? It's about all technology being evil and inevitably resulting in people being eaten by dinosaurs! What does that have to do with masculinity?" The answer lies in the circumstances that cause technology to be evil.
You see, when they clone the dinosaurs, they make sure they're all female so they won't be able to reproduce and get out of the cages. But as Ian Malcom (a male mathematician) points out, "life finds a way". Or more accurately, masculinity finds a way. The female dinosaurs willed themselves into becoming men so they could reproduce. It was just that will to manliness that caused everything to go wrong.
You may now be thinking "But that wouldn't have happened if they had used emu or alligator DNA instead of frog DNA to fill in the gaps in the genetic code. And having Newman from Seinfeld shut off the electric fence probably played a bigger role in the dinosaurs escape anyway. How is that life finding away?" But you are forgetting a crucial fact: in movies about why man shouldn't play God, you aren't supposed to think about why things actually go wrong. You're just supposed to think of the message, however illogical: in this case "Manliness overcomes all obstacles!"
11. Hard Candy
If you want to make a movie that's really for men, you have to find something that men are in a unique position to relate to. So it all comes to that one big biological difference between the genders. As such, Jeff Kohlver, the main character in Hard Candy, undergoes a uniquely male experience.
Maybe not all men can relate to what Kohlver's gone through. In fact most men probably can't. I know I can't. If you can, there's probably something wrong with you, you horrible person. But the point is, this is a movie that men, and only men, can relate to, even if it's not all men.
10. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Hard Candy director David Slade would go on to direct an even manlier movie five years later, with the third installment in the Twilight series. The Twilight series a whole, is one of the most man-friendly series out there, but in Eclipse, it reached its peak.
There are basically two ways men can go about finding a woman. One way is emotional manipulation, playing hard to get using a system of "negs" to make the woman feel worthless if she doesn't want to be with you for all eternity. This is represented by Edward the vampire. The other way is by brute force, insisting that the woman loves you no matter how many times she says no, and picking fights with anyone who gets in your way. This is represented by Jacob the werewolf. And in Eclipse they come head to head to determine Bella the human's fate, with little input from Bella herself (because women thinking for themselves is very un-Mormon).
Eclipse doesn't resolve which of those two methods works best. Later on the series we learn that emotional manipulation is the best way to get the girl while brute force is the best way to get the girl's infant daughter. But once we get to Eclipse, we do know, for a fact, that embodying the worst aspects of masculinity are the only way to get the girl.
9. 8 ½
For all its surrealism, Fellini's 8 ½ is a fairly simple story. Guido's a film-maker who runs out of ideas. As such he gets exiled to a high-class spa where he's surrounded by tons of beautiful women until he finds inspiration. If only all men could receive such punishment for not being able to do your job.
The movie is, itself semi-autobiographical. Guido's character is based on Fellini himself, who similarly ran out of ideas. His solution? To make a movie set in a high-class spa with tons of beautiful women. So whether you're thinking of the movie itself, or the act of making the movie, 8 ½ represents the ultimate male fantasy.
8. Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure
Actually, scratch that last one. This movie represents the ultimate male fantasy. I mean what man hasn't wanted to go galavanting about the country in search of his stolen bike while helping an escaped convict, hitching a lift from a ghost, watching the sunrise in a model dinosaur, going to the Alamo, riding a bucking bronco, facing off against a biker gang and, last but certainly not least, crashing a Twisted Sister music video shoot? I mean, come on! That's practically a lit of things all men want to do.
In addition to being the ultimate male fantasy, this is also the ultimate female fantasy, the ultimate hermaphrodite fantasy, the ultimate intersex fantasy, the ultimate smismar fantasy, the ultimate genderless single-celled organism fantasy, the fantasy for the single-gender aliens from Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, the ultimate fantasy for all three genders of those alternate universe aliens in Isaac Asimov's The Gods Themselves and the ultimate fantasy for any genders I may have missed. I mean, it's Twisted Sister!
But for the purposes of this list, it's only that first one that matters.
7. Pineapple Express
This is part of a recently invented hyper-masculine genre called "bromance". It's like romance, but without all those pesky women interfering with the characters' manliness. Pineapple Express actually does have some female characters, namely Seth Rogen's girlfriend, but the underlying message of the movie, one that the characters repeat throughout the movie, is "bros before hos".
Seth Rogen may have a girlfriend and Danny McBride may have a wife, but they come to learn what really matters in life; male bonding. Relations between men and woman are one thing, but the important thing is the male bonding between a guy, his pot dealer and his pot dealer's pot dealer. Provided that the two pot dealers are men.
6. Top Gun
The trouble with the bromance genre is that it doesn't go all the way. If you really want to make an all-man romance, it has to be a gay romance. That's just the way it is. If you're not gay, then you will be dependent on women for at least one aspect of your life. So to be truly manly, homosexuality's the only way to go.
Top Gun makes a lot of steps in the right direction, first by casting Tom Cruise as the lead actor. They still couldn't be explicit that the characters are gay, because Cruise is a notoriously litigious closet case. In order to avoid offending Cruise's religious sensibility's the movie never makes it explicit that it's about Tom Cruise abandoning women in favor of a manly gay relationship with Iceman. But they made sure to put in enough clues to make it clear that that's what's going on.
Don't believe me? Well, then maybe you'll believe Quentin Tarantino!
The battle of the sexes was summarized in the musical Annie, Get Your Gun with a song called "Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better". For men to truly win the battle they have to be able to do anything a woman can do better. But in real life, women may be better than men at some things, while men may be better at others, and it may also vary from individual to individual rather than representing the entire gender. However, the laws of biology dictate that there is at least one thing that women can do better than men: give birth.
Or can they?
It figures that the Governator himself, Arnold Schwarzenegger would star in the movie that suggest that yes, men can even give birth better than women. The fact that the folks at Rotten Tomatoes chose Predator over this as their Schwarzenegger entry completely boggles the mind.
4. The Room
Man, this movie is so manly that one of the actors is named Stestosterone or something like that!
More importantly, it gets at the underlying sentiments that drive all attempts at manliness: women are evil. Johnny just wants to be an ordinary man, doing ordinary man things. You know, like tossing around the old pigskin, wearing tuxedos and tossing around the old pigskin while wearing tuxedos. But his future wife, Lisa is tearing him apart (because she's a woman)!
Even though it's made entirely clear that Johnny is a really great guy who likes puppies! And he can provide for Lisa, which she clearly can't do for herself (because she's a woman)! And Lisa's mother Claudette can't provide for her either because she definitely has breast cancer (because she's a woman)! And the other female character Michelle just sort of randomly shows up in their house and makes out with some guy and contributes nothing to the plot (because she's a woman)!
Actor Tommy Wiseau ultimately captures the heartbreak of all men. Come on women! Stop tearing us apart!
"A crying woman is a scheming woman. False in legs, false in thighs, false in breasts, teeth, hair and eyes."
Lars Von Trier is the only director ever to win the esteemed award for "the most misogynist movie from the self-proclaimed biggest director in the world" at the Cannes Film Festival. That's because the award was made for the sole purpose of being given to Antichrist, the single manliest horror movie of all time. You think Ash is manly. Well Willem Dafoe's character is so manly his name is "He".
The movie is about a couple of abstract representations of masculinity and femininity named "He" and "She" (Charlotte Gainsbourg) respectively, who decide to camp out in the woods. Being a horror movie, horrible things follow. All of this stems from the fact that She is a fucking psycho (because She's a woman)! He suggested that He and She go to the cabin so that She could get over the grief of their son's suicide, but then He discovers that She drove their son to suicide by making him wear his shoes on the wrong feet (I think. The movie didn't make a whole lot of sense). Once She hits He in the balls with a two-by-four, makes him ejaculate blood, ties a whetstone to his leg and cuts off her own clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors (because She's a woman) He has no choice but to kill her, just as we must kill all women. Because we're men!
WARNING: Do not watch the following video clip under any circumstances!!!
2. Gayniggers From Outer Space
Despite Lars Von Trier winning that award, he still loses out in the game of manly movies to the only Danish movie not directed by him. I speak, of course, of Morton Lindberg's science fiction classic Gayniggers From Outer Space.
Lindberg draws on many of the same themes as Von Trier, but in a much more concrete fashion. While Antichrist features an abstract representation of masculinity who has to kill an abstract representation of femininity, the gay niggers from outer space have to kill every single woman on the face of the Earth, in order to liberate men from their oppression.
The Gayniggers are much, much more intelligent than anybody else in the universe, and live in a world where men can express themselves and be as when they were born. It's a perfect society, without the presence of women. But then they discover a planet called "Earth". And sir, there is something terrible going on there. There is, pardon me, female creatures on the planet! Female creatures. We haven't dealt with a case of this magnitude in many years. They decide that "we will not tolerate any oppression of our male brothers anywhere in the universe. Let's go and terminate these evil female creatures and make planet Earth a gay place to stay" So they send a team of elite gayniggers down to Earth to shoot all of the women with their ray guns. The newly liberated men of earth then immediately fall in love with the gayniggers and everybody lives happily ever after.
I mean the only way you could get a manlier movie would be to actually put the words "man" and "movie" in the title!
1. Man With the Movie Camera
Like, I said, it's right there in the title. MAN. With the MOVIE Camera.
Don't believe me. Well then, I refer you to a little thing called the Bechdel Rule. This is a completely scientific method for determining the manliness of a movie. If the movie 1) Features two or more female characters (that's characters, not extras) 2) Has the female characters actually talk to each other and 3) has the female characters talk to each other about something besides men, then it passes the Bechdel test so, it fails the test of manliness (because Alison Bechdel is a woman)!
Man With the Movie Camera fails the Bechdel test, and hence passes the manliness test, on all three counts. 1) There are no female characters because it's a weird experimental movie that doesn't have any characters, per se. 2) Even if there were two or more female characters they wouldn't talk to each other because it's a silent movie (without intertitles). And 3) if there were two or more female characters and they did talk to each other you just know they'd be talking about men. Why? Because that's what the movie's about. Like I said, it's right there in the title.
Dziga Vertov - The man with the movie camera (1929)
So, Messrs. Fujitani, Giles, Goodsell, Ryan and Vo, I hope this opened your minds as to what really makes a movie manly. And maybe the next time you're getting together with the guys, you can check out one of these movies for your male bonding and whatnot.