Thursday, December 5, 2013

Revisiting Crazy, Stupid, Love

[Content note: Ableist terms in title of movie, brief mention of pedophilia]

Last night I was flipping through the channels and noticed that FXX was playing Crazy, Stupid, Love. I saw the movie in theaters in 2011 and enjoyed it.  I haven't seen it since and (except for Ryan Gosling's abs) the general content slipped from my brain. But remembering that I liked it, I was happy to stop on it last night.

As I re-watched about an hour of it, I couldn't remember what, exactly, I had found so charming about it in the first place. I'm sure there was something...? Maybe I just had clouded judgement from a Gosling high? I don't know. It's certainly possible.

What stood out as upsetting to me were two primary plot lines.

First, we have Steve Carell's character, Cal, who is getting help from a pick up artist type dude, Jacob (Gosling.) Cal is all for Jacob's "lady-charming" lessons and lifestyle until he learns that Jacob is dating his adult daughter, Hannah (Emily Stone.) At the flip of a switch, Cal suddenly hates Jacob. His new best friend is now the official-worst-guy-on-the-planet because he's with Hannah. It's the whole "narcissistic fatherhood" phenomena where Cal is perfectly fine with Jacob's misogynistic behavior if it's helping to get him dates. But when Cal discovers that same behavior may have been used to attract his own daughter, it's now immoral. In other words, all those women don't deserve to be treated well, but if it's someone who's related to him, you aren't good enough for her, and if you were, you had better treat her like a queen.


The second problematic plot line I noticed was with the 17 year old babysitter to Cal's kids, Jessica (Analeigh Tipton.) Jessica has a huge crush on Cal and, acting on bad advice, takes unsolicited nude pictures of herself for him. She doesn't end up giving them to him, stuffing them in her sock drawer, presumably forgetting about them. Here's where stuff gets really creepy. Her mom discovers them, and instead of talking with her daughter about why there are photos like this in her sock drawer intended for a grown man, she immediately hands them to Jessica's dad, who looks at them, and runs out of the house in a rage to beat up Cal, refusing to listen to Jessica say no one has ever seen them. I mean, there's no indication that Jessica is anything other than a good kid all along, so it's not like her parents had a reason to believe she was lying--they just didn't listen to her, at all.


I can actually comprehend the horrifying feeling of finding something like this in your teen daughter's belongings, but let me make this perfectly to your kid. (And maybe don't look at the goddamn pictures yourself, creep.) Good decisions in life are rarely made when you are flying off the handle. You might do something fucked up, like falsely accusing your friend of pedophilia because you didn't listen to your daughter. I know the writer (Dan Fogelman) made this choice so that Jessica and her dad could crash the already incredibly awkward party happening with Cal, Jacob, Hannah, and Emily (Julianne Moore.) But this entire situation just stood out to me for how heinous it is to actively ignore your what you daughter is saying about something so embarrassing and personal for her. As someone who has been involved in youth services since 2005, there are a few parenting tips I've picked up and #1 is really discuss things with your kid.

Seeing all this happening in the film last night, I turned it off and just went to bed early. It's certainly not the worst content to ever grace the screen, but I am very perplexed how I didn't note any of that the first go around.

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  1. Even creepier: (spoilers I guess) the babysitter gives the kid her nude pics. Imagine if a 17 year old male babysitter gave a 12 year old girl his nude pics. No one would find that funny.

  2. Also, Cal's big graduation speech includes "I don't know if it'll every work out [his relationship with his ex-wife] but I'll never stop trying". I can't help but wonder how that would sound to a woman who really didn't want to be with Cal. I can divorce him, and I can tell him to get lost, but he will NEVER stop trying to get back to me. Horrible.


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