A few more notes in the vein of my last post.
This week, Slate’s brilliant Dana Stevens has her way with the Entourage boys, laying out just exactly how she’d fix up that ode to young-dumb-full-of-cum. High on her list: flesh out at least one female character. Obviously the relentless appeal of Entourage is the chick-deflecting boy-on-boy bonding, and that it’s not hell bent on self-monitoring with that po-mo wink that sinks so many other telegenic ships. But I admire Stevens for genuinely not digging on the show, because I can’t fall in with her. I first watched it at the home of a rather premier rock critic and thought, I must admit — it’s so rock critic to dig this arrested-development traviata. But then I ate my words, most likely the way many men surrendered grudgingly to Sex and the City while their girlfriends glued themselves to it. Both shows, at their core, do what TV does best: illustrate a real-life dynamic (male or female friendships) against an eminently desirable backdrop. It’s entertaining as all get out to watch the boys wield their puny, TV-sized swords. Plus, Vince is cute. (What is it with me and Vincents this week?)
That said, Stevens is right. The patriarchy — would calling it cockacracy render this concept more, uh, palatable? — is such that no one connected to Entourage has thought to include a few women that aren’t just plot-movers. The always-capable Debi Mazar sinks her tiny, feral teeth into her tiny, feral role as Vinnie’s publicist, for sure, but it’d be just as easy to give more backstory to her as it has been to give to agent Ari Gold (an ideal role for type A Jeremy Piven, heretofore relegated to the premature-baldy special: la sidekick). I ain’t going to pretend that Sex and the City features any straight male characters who don’t play second fiddle in our girls’ urban orchestra, but because the girls view men with a more complicated cocktail of fear, confusion, and admiration (not just lust, in other words), the male characters benefit from greater depth. Big and Aidan are drawn with broad strokes, for sure, but generic boytoys they are not.
Also on a loosely related note: someone on David Poland’s Hot Blog pointed out that Wedding Crashers was marred by the romantic love object’s brother, Todd Cleary, a horrendous gay stereotype. Since the Hot Blog’s normally a hotblogbed for said boys-will-be-boys bluster, the comment took me aback — mostly because I couldn’t believe I didn’t bother to sputter about that character myself. The sheer hatefulness of both the character and the protagonists’ reaction to him (deranged, cringing artist throws himself on Vince Vaughn, who shrinks in terror) sinks any legitimacy of the relentlessly male angle of the film. The aggrandizing of the boyish antics (stone-cold dogging of chicks, mostly) seems less excusable when the film’s underlying old-school, geneneralized male anxiety translates into a protest that just because it’s about male friendship doesn’t mean it’s gay or anything. Nah, they’re real men.
That I didn’t bother to complain about the Todd plotline only shows how inured I’ve become to sacrificing my politics, empathy, or even self in order to gain the experience a movie intends. What passes for clever is backbackbackbacklashing more every day and sometimes I find I’m holding that whip.