Originally posted December 14, 2009...
Have you ever been in a discussion with a group of people and voiced an opinion so unpopular that you are literally shouted down? To the point where you can’t get a word in during subsequent discussions? It’s frustrating, particularly because you often feel if you could just get the words out, wrong though the sentiment may be, just articulating them would make you feel better? That’s why blogs are good.
Dream: To halt worldwide sale of The Hangover.
Goal: Sadly, unachievable. There is such an immense buzz behind this movie’s DVD release that no one person could stop it. But maybe I can say my piece here in cyberspace, and it might reach someone, who might reach for another movie the next time they head to the old video store.
Plan: Grassroots outrage. Agree with me? Forward this to people you know with messages like “Right on!” and “OMG sooooo true!”. Disagree? Forward this to people you know with messages like “Who is this idiot?” or “This guy’s an idiot.”
I’ll admit first off to being a movie snob. I’ve seen a lot of movies in my time, and like any true snob, now only watch something suited to my taste. If movies have robots, murders, or Russell Crowe, chances are I’ve never seen them. But when everybody says, “You HAVE to watch this movie! It’s the best!” Even if it’s not in keeping with my discriminating tests, I will rent it, if only to decry it and feel superior. This is not the case here. This is not merely a movie I don’t like, this is a movie that is offensive. Offensive to me, to tigers, but most importantly, to women.
I get that this is a guy’s movie, and that groups of guys go to movies like this for the raunchy, gutter humour. Without, as one friend so eloquently put it, watching women “have their period all over the place.” But the misogyny in this movie is so blatant, I find it truly disturbing.
Slight spoiler alert ahead in case you plan on watching this masterpiece anyway.
The basic story is this: three guys take a fourth guy to Las Vegas for an unforgettable bachelor party. They wake up the next day in a trashed hotel room with no memory of what happened the night before because the well-intentioned doofus of the group slipped roofies into everyone’s first drink, thinking it was ecstasy (By the way, using the drug responsible for date-rape as the catalyst to your zany adventures? Hilarious!). Here are the women in the movie. The Bride, waiting impatiently for her Groom-to-be to return. She is seen sulking, fretting, and bitching, but other than that we don’t know anything about her. The Dentist’s Girlfriend, a shrill, angry shrew who seems to serve no purpose other than to belittle the Dentist, be angry with him, not trust him, emasculate him, etc. An obese policewoman who laughs uproariously as men are shot with stun guns. The Main Character’s Wife, who has no lines. Bradley Cooper picks her up, twirls her round, sets her down, and that’s it. He spends the early part of the movie bemoaning relationships, marriage is a prison, etc., but all we see of his wife is an agreeable mute who doesn’t question where her husband’s been for the past forty-eight hours, and submits to a pick-up-and-twirl when he arrives. Heather Graham plays a prostitute that the Dentist quickie-marries in a drunken stupor. She is also perfectly agreeable, not appearing to mind that these men took her baby overnight. In fact, the baby seems only to exist for the moment where she pops her breast out to feed him and the men openly stare. From that point on the baby is never seen or mentioned again, so it appears baby existed only for a cheap tit shot. But Heather Graham is cheerful in her nudity, cheerful when she helps the men gamble, cheerful when the Dentist insists the marriage be annulled, cheerful when she recounts her career trajectory from stripping to prostitution. Cheerful in spite of the fact that Dentist spends a third of the movie going, “I can’t believe I married a filthy, disgusting whore!” At another point in the movie is a photo montage of the guys’ Vegas night, filled with fake-breasted strippers, more drunk hookers, and even a few shots of some overweight faceless woman performing oral sex on the one of the men while he points down at her, laughing. Come on.
I could forgive most of it (maybe not all, but most) if there was one female character written in with any redeeming qualities. One woman written with even half the effort used to write the male characters. There have always been “guy” movies with plots like these. Gross-out sex comedies with bare breasts and blowjob jokes. But in those movies there was at least one great girl that the protagonist was thrilled to end up with, or at least learn from. I’m thinking of the teenage crushes in Superbad, Ellen Pompeo in Old School, Rachel McAdams in Wedding Crashers, the girls in American Pie series, there were at least sweet, if lacking in substance. I know I sound like a whiner here. I should lighten the fuck up, these movies are just for fun, and maybe so, but something is wrong when a movie is brimming with sexism as badly as this one, and nobody even notices. Reviews for The Hangover are overwhelmingly positive. One reviewer snarkily comments, “Viewers complaining that women aren’t well-represented in this movie is like complaining Sex & the City didn’t have enough car-chases.” Not an apt comparison. Props for comparing women to cars, but to say Sex & the City is feminist equivalent of The Hangover is inaccurate. Remember how empowering and feminist it was when Carrie was so devastated that her cold, asshole boyfriend left her at the altar, that she had to be spoon fed? Hear you roar, ladies! Or how about the supposed “powerful women” romcoms of late, like The Proposal, where Sandra Bullock is forced to literally kneel in the street and beg Ryan Reynolds to marry her? Or The Ugly Truth where a tough-as-nails producer is rendered useless in a pair of vibrating panties. We’ve come a long way!
Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood for to see it. Maybe I just can’t relate to a bunch of drunken former frat boys getting blind drunk all night. Maybe I’m too sensitive. But maybe I’ve known too many great women to believe that this movie is the highest-grossing R-rated movie of all time. But millions of viewers can’t be wrong. Can they?