Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Raising Consciousness through Easy Virtue

I've been watching more than my usual share of movies lately -- a function both of feeling brain dead after a particularly busy and stressful couple weeks at work, and the fact that MrsDarwin (rounding the corner from first to second trimester) often crashes right after the kids do, leaving me with nearly bachelor levels of free time late at night. Last night I made an attempt at The Constant Gardener, though in the end I dropped it after a bit over half an hour. I was in the mood for something much more noir like, not the earnestly quiet improbability of recent John le Carre. (Now if someone would start making movies of Alan Furst novels, I'd be all over it.) I could take a story about Big Pharma running illegal human testing rings in the third world and killing beautiful young activists who see through their plans in a silly action movie sufficiently punctuated by explosions and chases , but it's rather uninvolving in a movie that takes itself deadly seriously.

But what struck me in particular was that Constant Gardener had the same inciting incident as a more entertaining movie I watched earlier this week, Iron Man. In both movies, the hero is a front man (either the quietly earnest Ralph Fiennes or the wildly amusing Robert Downey Jr.) for evil organizations without really knowing it, and his path towards eventual heroism begins when an attractive and earnestly progressive female reporter confronts him, asks uncomfortable questions, accuses him of apologizing for an evil organization, and then is next seen taking her clothes off with him in bed.

Tony Stark in Iron Man is protected by his loyal personal assistant Pepper Potts the next morning when she (in her own words) "takes out the trash" and so the Christine Everhart character is restricted to showing up at key intervals to ask Stark probing questions and move the plot forward.

Justin Quayle, on the other hand, has no such protector, and the quiet and polite Englishman soon finds himself in a sudden marriage-of-convenience with Tessa, the young activist who (after landing in bed with him after confronting him about the Iraq war in a press conference he was giving for another diplomat) demands that he take her with him to Africa where his next assignment is.

Two instances, of course, do not make a trend. I'm trying to think of other examples in which movie writers decided the best way to raise the consciousness of their male hero was to throw an idealistic female reporter at him, leading to salvation through one night stand. Thank You For Smoking would count, except that the anti-hero never turns around, he just gets out of his current difficulties and carries on.

Do we have a trend here? Perhaps this is the inverse of my long standing assumption that more traditional mores are likely to win out in the end because they perpetuate and are perpetuated by stable families: Progressive ideas are destined to win out because hot female proponents will sleep with anyone who doesn't agree with them. Then, after we spend the next two hours of screen time fighting big corporations, the world will be a better place. (This does seem rather rough on the men who already agree with progressive ideals, though. Do they get any time?)


August said...

If you feel like pursuing this any further, watch:

The Shape of Things

The first is a good film, in the sense that it is put together pretty well (it was originally a play), but it's the emotional equivalent to a punch in the stomach. Same actress as The Gardener.

The second isn't as good in terms of film making, but the woman gets to be really easy, and yet have the moral high ground.

Neither of the female character are journalists, but these two movies push this strange version of feminism so far that they break it.

Anonymous said...

The Na'Vi in Avatar have very conservative sexual mores.


Anonymous said...

The Blackadder Says:

Progressive ideas are destined to win out because hot female proponents will sleep with anyone who doesn't agree with them.

Um, wouldn't this create some fairly strong incentives for men to reject progressive ideals?

Darwin said...

Well, of course, they have to be unenlightened at the beginning of the movie -- first because otherwise they won't get any, and second because change creates drama. But after landing in bed with the agent of truth, they need to turn around and gain convictions. Otherwise, they might turn out to be the evil friend/father/uncle/underling figure who turns out to be the primary villain because he really supports the evils the hero didn't know about.

This, of course, leaves the question of where the sluts-for-truth are coming from -- and why understand the truth about the everything in the first place but the heroes don't.

It also leaves an obvious opening for the evil Christian character: If you have a representative of the evil company/government/society who isn't willing to sleep with the first reporter who asks him tough questions, then he'll never learn the truth and become the villain.

Anonymous said...

The Blackadder Says:

of course, they have to be unenlightened at the beginning of the movie -- first because otherwise they won't get any

That's what I'm saying. It's like Charles Murray's example of how the government paying people to quit smoking would lead more people to take up smoking.

Fortunately, it seems that some people have already thought of a more incentive-compatible scheme.

Enbrethiliel said...




CMinor said...

What, BA, they don't carry t-shirt lines for people who only sleep with Republicans, Libertarians, or Constitutionalists? So much for free enterprise!

RL said...

Oh, nothing is too out-there for those Democrats. They even have an I only sleep with Democrates shirt for dogs. Must they advertise it?

CMinor said...

Well, my pit cross only sleeps with Republicans, though we don't advertise the fact on a dog shirt. But only on really cold nights.