Thursday, August 14, 2008
Knocked Up (and Down) Women
and the Men Who (Maybe) Love Them
I must first apologize for the long-ass delay in posting. Believe it or not, I've been doing more blogging than ever the past two weeks, just not on this site! (Yes, vague statement. Hopefully I will be able to clear it up for you, dear readers, very soon).
A few months ago, I watched Knocked Up, Judd Apatow's offensively endearing movie about pregnancy. Heard of it? My boyfriend and his roommate were big fans, along with just about every other guy I've ever met, so I figured since I had labeled myself as a "cultural critic," I had better engage with this thing. Prior to my viewing I had heard Knocked Up described as everything from "offensive" to "sweet." And granted, yes, I had read some of the reviews, which were fairly bipolar However, I will say that my beloved Jezebelles really loved the movie, especially Moe.
My own bias prevents me from seeing Katherine Heigel's character as a real person since she never fully weighs the pros and cons of keeping her baby. (So Moe, I disagree). I understand that as a plot device, maybe Apatow doesn't have the writing chops or the time to give Alison the "holy shit what the fuck do I do now I don't even know this guy" panic sequence. Instead, she takes a pregnancy test, tells her sister and mom about being with child, and when her mother asks if she's thought about aborting it, simply replies, "No." Juno, which I haven't seen, is probably even worse about this sort of thing: a woman resigning herself to the swell predicament she's found herself in.
I have an issue with films that treat pregnancy as just the "TERMS" (forgive the puns) of women's lives. Sure, women get pregnant. Shit happens. They also have abortions. Not all of them do. And I'm all for women who decide to keep their babies. Hell, I promote the survival of the human-race, and you know what? I love babies. I love looking at them, I love holding them, I love making faces at them, and I kind of want to have a lot of them eventually. That said it's hard for me to believe that there are women (aside from very religious ones) who DON'T EVEN CONSIDER the possibility of abortion, especially if they are independent, and want a career.
And aside from those issues, there are a whole lot of vagina jokes in Knocked Up that I just find a) stupid, and b) stupid, oh and c) not funny. But then again, I'm the girl who hates dead baby jokes and period jokes. Dear God, if you are reading this right now, please strike down any male who makes a period joke with ULTIMATE MENSTRUATION for the rest of his life. Then we'll see who's laughing.
When I told my boyfriend I "hated" Knocked Up he was surprised. "But you were laughing!" he said. "I saw you!" his roommate said. Yeah, guys. I was laughing. Then I went home and I thought about what the hell I would do if I found myself in the same situation, and generally about the way men and women function and what they want out of life and things suddenly became very serious.
The women in Knocked Up struck me as shrill shrews. Especially Debbie, who is constantly complaining that her near-perfect husband Pete (played by the delicious Paul Rudd) isn't giving her what she needs. Pete is a great Dad. He might not be a great husband, but he's also a DUDE. Since when are dudes great husbands? In fact, since when do men make "good" husbands? Do we know any? If so I'd really like to hear about them.
Cause here's the thing I've realized: Men don't make good partners according to women. And that's because women and men are so crazy different that there's no way in hell a guy would ever do exactly what you want him to do 100% of the time unless he was telepathic and he loved you enough to go out of his way to make you happy. Some guys are capable of the second option, but clearly not all the time. Which makes women upset. In turn, we become SHRILL. Maybe not all women are like this. Let me hear from you if you aren't so I can bottle your DNA and study your brain to figure out how to be more like you.
So, yeah. The women in Knocked Up are emotional and they are shrill. Because women are that way. And it isn't as if the men come off any better. They're fat, lazy, stupid, and almost completely non-functional across the board. I think guys like this movie maybe because it makes them feel a little better about themselves: especially if they weren't the most popular jock at the sock hop.
But there are some brilliant fucking moments in this movie. When Debbie discovers that Pete, her husband, isn't actually cheating on her but instead is running off to play fantasy baseball with his friends, she's still upset. You know why? Because she just wants to be included in his decisions, in his life. He says he went to see a movie without her because he didn't think she would like his choice of film. She responds by saying she just wants to be asked even if she ends up not going. I can't think of anything more beautiful than this exchange: it communicates the fundamental difference between men and women. Men need to do their own thing and feel like they have no obligations (even if its achingly apparent that they do), and women need to feel like men care about them and consider their feelings (even if they don't).
Later, when the guys are in Vegas together, acting like assholes, they realize (with the help of shrooms) that they really don't deserve the love of these awesome women who for some crazy reason want to be with them despite their insane loser-dom. Even if Debbie and Alison are still, emotional, and pregnant (in Alison's case), their dudes somehow find a way to suck-it up and stay the course. And that's pretty cool. Because if you really love someone, you deal with the fact that they might get pissed if you forget to call and check-in.
So, Knocked Up isn't perfect. But neither are we.