Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men Is an Appalling and Disgusting Farce

Note: I have not read the David Foster Wallace collection on which this film is based. But even my admittedly beginner's knowledge of Wallace (his subtlety, his empathy, his unwillingness to rely on crude stereotype) leads me to believe that this "adaptation" took some very, um, hideous liberties. 

It is rare that I feel compelled to actually verbalize "Oh, fuck you" to a film I am watching. It is also rare that I think to myself, "John Gray [of Men are from Mars, Women are From Wherever "fame"] makes this movie seem sociologically complex." Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009) has the dubious honor of invoking both these responses.

A brief (pace director John Krasinski) primer on the film's wholly unironic categorization of desire:

Heterosexual Men: Disconnected from and terrified and ignorant of their own sexual needs, smug to the point of figurative auto-erotic asphyxiation, psychologically violent to themselves and women, emotionally handicapped, and weaponizers of intimacy.

Heterosexual Women: Mute and wounded.

Homosexual Men: Invisible.

Homosexual Women: Same.

Trans or Bi Men or Women: See above.

Oh! And nearly everyone is white.

This film, which assumes a self-satisfied and omniscient tone about heteronormative sexuality from minute one and, in its one and only admirable quality, consistency, doesn't drop it for the entirety of its 80-minute run-time, manages to import all the most noxious aspects of toxic masculinity and normalize them. Men and women are mutually suspicious of and aggressive towards each other, to the point that infidelity is figured as a moral high ground and rape a path to growth and enlightenment. Truly, this movie must be seen to be believed. (Author's Note: Don't ever see this movie.)

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men unbelievably stakes its ground on the argument that sexual, emotional, and psychological violence must be met with violence, and in fact, that such violence is the only path to empathy. The film takes the most clumsy and half-assed stereotypical "differences" between men and women and makes them the structural premise of the film. The movie revels in not only the objectification of women, and men, but the institutionalization of remarkably prejudicial and dangerous assumptions about the nature of gendered identity. I honestly can't believe it exists.

1 comment:

  1. All that said, your review makes me want to see this movie. If only to shout at the screen and feel like a old timey feminist, tilting at windmills.