Oh, wait, no. That is ALL I write about, pretty much! Regardless: I have found a staunch defender of the Dude Comedy in one Amanda Hess of The Sexist! In this week’s installment of Sexist Beatdown, we discuss the subtle charms of the bro-com, share tales of how Judd Apatow ended our own personal relationships, and ask a VERY IMPORTANT QUESTION: where are all the funny, immature, non-traditionally-gendered, somewhat self-destructive ladies? (HINT: They are all having mean things written about them by Linda Hirshman.) Behold our scintillating dialogue!
SADY: hello there lady. are you prepared – prepared, that is, to debate the fine points of dude comedy?
AMANDA: i can’t say i’m as prepared as you are, sady. but i am willing to confess: i believe that i enjoyed nearly all the films you profiled in your apatow series. when i saw them. in the theater.
SADY: yes, it’s true: apatow has become my great white whale. he is basically all i think about these days. i dream in Apatowvision. well: i enjoyed some of them too! (shhhhhh.) I enjoyed “Knocked Up” immensely, for example.
AMANDA: i CRIED at the end of knocked up. i was on a really bad date, which may have had something to do with it.
SADY: OH GOD. YOU SHARE MY TERRIBLE SECRET. i cried too. also, broke up with the dude i saw it with?
AMANDA: same. well i’m glad we’ve cleared the air.
SADY: yeah. my reactions to “knocked up” kind of define my relationship to the Apatow canon. I was totally digging Leslie Mann’s character – oh, that poor lady! She is totally at the end of her rope! – and then left the theater, and discussed it with people, and realized that YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE ROOTING FOR PAUL RUDD. In that particular sub-plot.
AMANDA: i think i had the same reaction as you did, honestly. i thought she was sympathetic, but totally pathetic. all of apatow’s male characters are pathetic, too, but they seem to ease out of that gracefully without having to think about it too much.
SADY: right – plus, they are pathetic in a totally fun way! they get to hang out and do bong hits and fart on each others’ pillows and such! so, by the end, where it’s like, “sadly, we realize that procreative monogamy with one of these strange ‘woman’ creatures is necessary to maturation” you kind of get their sadness at giving up the pillow farts and lightbub battles. whereas women are just grown-ass-adults by the time they hit puberty, apparently. or at least they’re scripted that way.
AMANDA: yeah, so the women are just haggard at the end. one thing your reviews always touch on are these coiteries of man-children that apatow scripts. and you mention the rejoinder from defenders of the movie that ‘you’re not supposed to LIKE or IDENTIFY with them.’ and i do think that you are supposed to like these characters, and even like them for (and not despite of) their date rape punch-lines. but they’re still in a context, i think, where they’re there to provide a contrast to the hero of the story. their douchiness must be overcome, basically.
SADY: yeah, exactly. they’re given such loving attention, and their little world of date-rape jokes and vague bromosocial lady-avoidance is presented as so much fun. so you forgive them for being immature in order to forgive your own immaturity, like, “well, my wife may be at home sobbing but i can’t help it! i’m a regular bro!” and then you get a Valuable Life Lesson that sticks for maybe ten to fifteen minutes.
AMANDA: … but they’re funny!
SADY: it’s true! sometimes they really really are! I subconsciously repeat Jonah Hill’s pronunciation of “abortion” as “shmushmortion” at least once a week! and then i realize it’s a joke about making a lady have an abortion because obviously her fetus is YOUR decision!
AMANDA: yeah. and apatow’s versions of women i cannot excuse. they are either bitches or whores. but caricatures of douchebags, even lovable ones, i cannot resist. see: paul rudd in wet hot american summer. i think it’s just possible to love the character and not the character if they were a person.
SADY: exactly. question: where the lady douchebags at? where are the stoned ladies that can’t get it together to have an actual apartment, and get jobs that require nothing of them because they’re afraid real jobs would be too much of a commitment, and pretend to be gandalf or some business when no-one’s looking? the ladies who would rather watch “the muppet show,” again, than do anything useful with their lives? WHERE ARE THOSE LADIES? Because I want movies about them! They exist! So I am told in a way that has nothing to do with my own personal life, at all.
AMANDA: i know, which is why I desperately want Apatow to write a movie for them. partly because i think his brain might explode, but also because i think it would be funny.
SADY: exactly. like, writing a movie about a lady that is not a sexy/stupid harlot or a knife-tongued scold would be fantastic. because the closest we’ve got to an Apatowomany character, right now, is Juno. I DON’T WANT JUNO.
AMANDA: sometimes i look at popular culture and i think of the female characters who have had abortions and i get really sad that like carrie bradshaw is the only one i can think of. but that’s a tangent.
SADY: yes, well, my forthcoming feature movie film, “50 First Abortions,” will be an exciting new direction for film, i think.
AMANDA: indeed. I think we should start a letter campaign that mirrors the request of Pixar to make a film with a heroine who is not a princess.
SADY: but, you know? i think that women have all the same maturity/commitment/not-being-an-idiot problems that these dudes have. PLUS, what with all the work we have to do to make our bodies presentable, there are many more occasions for gross jokes about our inherent schlubbiness. HUMOROUS BIKINI WAXING SCENE? I think so!
AMANDA: because us girl-women desperately need an Apatowian heroine who is not a boring slut
SADY: Right. Plus, I would love to see a movie that is just mostly women TALKING to each other, and having FUN. you never see that! unless it is in “Sex & the City!” And then it’s like, “blah blah blah shoes new boyfriend!” ZZZZZZZZ.
AMANDA: but does this mean our love interests are going to be Boring Professional Dude Who Doesn’t Understand?
SADY: deep in my soul, I say yes. Just to bother the dudebros. Make them all be played by John Corbett, and have them be like, “look! We have got to get married! Because, ADULTHOOD! Also, please stop playing the Wii for five seconds and clean the damn kitchen with me!” But no, I don’t think there’s any reason, really, why you can’t have two equally funny and interesting genders. EVEN IN A MOVIE.
AMANDA: that’s crazy! i also think it might be interesting if apatow would produce a film with a female director. a la one of the greatest Dude Comedies of all time, Wayne’s World.
SADY: WHAAAAAT. this was the work of A LADY? Tell me more! I knew there was a reason Tia Carrere sort of had a personality!
AMANDA: yeah, perhaps that’s why there is a “GRATUITOUS SEX SCENE” joke instead of a gratuitous sex scene? who can tell?
SADY: seriously. it’s just gross because there are (a) so few female directors and (b) so many stereotypes about women and comedy (namely, that we can’t do it because of our vaginas) that it’s kind of nuts to know that this huge – and, i believe, very humorous – dude comedy was directed by a lady and I don’t know who she is. I don’t know who ANY lady directors are. kathryn bigelow? kelly reichardt? SOFIA COPPOLA? yep, that’s it. i’m depressing myself now.
AMANDA: well, once 50 first abortion hits …
SADY: right? “you’ve got to stop having all these abortions!” “sorry, i forgot where the condoms were!” “let’s get totally married!” SUCH IS THE DIALOGUE OF MY FUTURE COMEDY HIT. you will laugh! you will cry! you will get an abortion!