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NCFM  Mr. Manners Goes to the Movies

October 26, 2021
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Mr. Manners

One of the phenomena of feminism and the media, is that even when there is some validity behind their claims, women’s activist slant facts and the mainstream media confirm the distorted information. For instance, one aspect of the film industry and women certainly has common sense behind it. That being, one would naturally expect that older women actresses would generally not equal the sexual attraction of successful male actors and have more difficulty finding leading roles.

It is doubtful that the general public is particularly concerned about formerly prominent older actresses and actors finding good acting parts.  After all, these performers are richer than the great majority of people their age, most of whom are already happily retired. Yet regarding actresses, the topic gets significant attention. This is unsurprising considering much of journalism regarding such issues are more advocacy commentary than reporting.

There are a number of reasons to expect the many older women would not have the box office appeal of a lot of men in the same age group. Women are sexually attracted to high status men in ways men are not similarly attracted to high status women. Men’s reproductive years last longer than women’s, resulting in physical attraction of men often outlasting that of women. In fact, women’s attraction to older actors is the primary reason such men can attain romantic leading roles easier than women their age. Their attraction also is not independent of the roles these men play. A man the age of Jack Nicholson with equal acting ability, would be considered less attractive, if the characters he played had been less sexually appealing.

The negative effects of these factors for the male sex consistently go unmentioned. For example, with the number of men who remain attractive through more of their adult life being larger than that of women’s, there are repercussions to lower status men. More men than women are without the ability to attract members of the other sex. Money being a remedy to this. Such things as men being far more likely to commit crimes to accrue wealth, accounts for a lot of the gender disparity in the prison population. It also is a factor leading to men dying in the workforce, both legal and illegal in greater numbers than women. The lack of attraction to women of men with low earning capacity, is a reason more men live with parents and are more likely to be homeless.

It is not true that the media does not discuss issues such as men’s earlier death rate, higher prison rate, homeless rate and such. To the contrary, they call it the man shortage. That being, a shortage among older women of men to date and marry. For feminist women this appears to be a particular dire circumstance, based on their complaints involving this issuing. Meaning they are upset with the dearth of men around, to oppress, degrade or exploit them. How do these women stand it?

So let’s get back to women in film. Recently, I happened on the movie “Book Club” on cable.  I did not watch much of the picture, so I will not critique any possible biases of the film. The stars of the 2018 film are Diane Keaton, born in 1946, Jane Fonda born in 1937, and Candice Bergen, who emerged from the womb of her mother in 1946 and Mary Steenburgen, the baby of the group, who arrived on the planet in 1953.

Quoting from the movies Wikipedia’s description: “Book Club only intermittently rises to the level of its impressive veteran cast; fortunately, they’re more than enough to bring pedestrian material entertainingly to life.” The film was a box office success, so I think it is correct to presume that the big-name females in the cast contributed to it being a profit earning enterprise.

What interested most about the cast though was Diane Keaton. Because twenty-two years earlier, in 1996, she starred along with Goldie Hahn born in 1945 and Bette Midler born in 1946, in the 1996 picture “The First Wives Club.” In the film, Hahn was cast as an actress too old for leading roles. In addition, the iconic line: “In Hollywood, women have only three ages: babe, district attorney and `Driving Miss Daisy” came from the movie. The ironies that not just Hahn, but Keaton and Midler had leading roles in the movie and none played the only parts supposedly available to women, were not observed in any review of the film I could find.

We learn in the movie that all three characters graduated from college in 1969. Therefore, we can presume they were born in 1947, making them slightly younger than the actresses who portrayed them. Based on the theme regarding age in the movie, all three should be long past being able to get lead acting roles. Twenty-five years later, all three along with a number of other actresses in their age group can still attain such parts.

Bette Midler, never a women of lead actress looks, is still plays major roles on stage and is slated to co-star in the movie “Hocus Pocus II” in 2022. Keaton has continued to star in movies after “Book Club”. Hahn, I believe has the most box office potential of the three, although she has recently made few movies. In her last major role was co-starring in “Snatched” in 2017.

Clearly, although movies such as “The First Wives Club” are considered feminist pictures and are disproportionally viewed by women, one cannot conclude they promote positive behavior for women. The photographed advertisement for the film showed the three smoking cigars. Rather than a bad health habit, it was portrayed as liberation because they were engaging in traditional male behavior. Goldie Hahn’s characters received an absurd amount of cosmetic work in an attempt to stay attractive. This is also feminist, because it portrays women as societal victims. Think of the great message it sets for young women watching the picture.

Complaints about the James Bond movies by feminists are common, the age of the actor playing him being one of them. Actress Helen Mirren observed:  “We all watched James Bond as he got more and more geriatric, and his girlfriend’s got younger and younger https://www.vulture.com/2015/06/helen-mirren-on-ageism-fcking-outrageous.html ”   This is a partial truth at best. While each James Bond may have been cast with younger women, he eventually ages out of the role. Imagine what would be said if we had an ongoing female character who was over time replaced by a younger woman who was playing the same individual.

The movie that I believe is heralded as the worst example of age disparities in film is “The Graduate”, which came out in 1967.  If I remember accurately, this contention was stated by Bonnie Erbe on her show “To the Contrary”, some years back. On the movies 50th   anniversary in 2017, it was still receiving criticism for the age disparity between the two main characters. An article in Vox observed, “Anne Bancroft was playing a woman at least 10 years older, which is a sharp reminder of Hollywood’s ideas of women, (At 50, The Graduate holds up. Its central character doesn’t ….).”

The criticism centers on the fact that the thirty-five-year-old Bancroft, who played Mrs. Robinson, born in 1931, was only six years older than Dustin Hoffman, born in 1937. Hoffman played Benjamin, the son of Mrs. Robinson’s husband’s friend and law partner. Robinson, the “older women”, had an ongoing sexual relationship with Benjamin. In reality, considerable effort was made to make Bancroft look older than her years, something clear for anyone that watched the film. Because of this, the director of the film Mike Nichols “wouldn’t even let her see the dailies (Mark Harris, “Mike Nichols a Life”, Penguin Press, 2021, p206).”  Of course, making someone look younger or older to play a role is common in the cinema. Hoffman’s was made to look older for the movie.

In the backstory of the movie, we learned that Bancroft’s character got pregnant in college with her daughter who was attending college herself.  Considering this and other information from the film, I would put Bancroft as being around four or five years younger than the character she portrayed when the film hit the screens.

The greater disparity between ages of the actor and the character was the one played by Hoffman. The thirty-year-old Hoffman played Benjamin, who turned twenty-one near the beginning of the film. It was the casting of Benjamin, not Mrs. Robinson, where director Mike Nichols deliberately sought out a performer older than the character being portrayed. Nichols found that “boys” that age could not find the right “attitude” to play the character and as a result looked for older actors to play the part (Mark Harris, Pictures at a Revolution”, Penguin Press 2008, p 271). This begs the question, are younger male actors disadvantaged in getting similar parts based on such beliefs?

An age disparity that is not part of the discussion of the film is that between Hoffman and the man who played his father. In this case, obviously the father would have to be of a certain age to be the biological father. His father played by William Daniel was born on March 31 1927, Hoffman, December 8 1937. Add nine months of pregnancy and Daniels’s character would have been nine years old when Hoffman’s was conceived.

There also is what looks like a revisionist feminist view of Bancroft and Hoffman’s characters. The late film critic Roger Ebert started his retrospective review of the film stating: “Well here *is* to you Mrs. Robinson. You’ve survived your defeat at the hands of that insufferable creep, Benjamin, and emerged as the most sympathetic and intelligent character in The Graduate and Roger Ebert’s 1967 and 1997 Reviews.”

In the movie, Mrs. Robinson lies about being raped, still a potential death penalty crime at the time the movie was made. She colludes with her husband to keep her daughter from marrying the man she wants to. She has an affair with the son of her husband’s law partner, who her husband related, he thinks of like his own son. Benjamin sneaks into the Robinson house to see their daughter and Mrs. Robinson responds by makes a false police report, claiming a “burglar” is in the house.  Later in the movie, Mr. Robinson tells Ben that because of him, his wife and he are getting a divorce. Doesn’t that make her the most sympathetic character in the film? Particularly more than her husband, who adding to his woes, was knocked down when Benjamin punched him.

In case you think that if Mrs. Robinson was a man the behavior would be no big deal, let’s reverse the genders. Mr. Robinson fails in attempts to seduce the daughter of his wife’s law partner. Let’s call her Gwen. He tricks Gwen into coming into his bedroom. He locks the bedroom door behind him and exposes himself to her. We learn his wife thinks of Gwen as she would her own daughter. Eventually, Gwen agrees to an ongoing sexual relationship with Mr. Robinson. The Robinson’s agrees to a divorce and the wife blames not her husband but Gwen. Later, he calls the police with a false burglary charge against the young women. Imagine the sympathy for Mr. Robinson if he acted as Mrs. Robinson did in the film, and claimed he was raped by the women he had the sexual relationship with. In truth, a woman the age of Ben would been too old to charge statutory rape. However, make her a few years younger and in a few states she would be.  Now doesn’t such behavior seem acceptable when exhibited by a man?  Let’s not omit Gwen decking Mrs. Robinson with one punch.  Doesn’t all this make Mr. Robinson a more sympathetic character than his wife in this version of the story?

 

national coalition for men

NCFM Mr. Manners Goes to the Movies

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