Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ladies' Night

A friend of mine made the very poor decision to go see The Hangover II yesterday. She later pointed out to me that apart from her brother and two other young men, the entire audience was female, the vast majority of them adolescents. That got me wondering over what the reason for that demographic appeal would be, and as I considered the point I recalled watching the DVD special features accompanying a season of the FX series Rescue Me. In an interview, one of the show creators relayed that a number of female fans of the show said that they watched it primarily for the sake of the all-male firehouse discussions that take place regularly, because they thought this would give them some earnest insight into what men talked about when women weren't around, and consequently how they thought.

I wonder if a similar impulse could be at play in the minds of young women who decide to attend a showing of a film that follows three men after a night of wild debauchery and forfeited inhibitions. In particular, this case would be an audience of teenaged girls on the cusp of adulthood watching a movie about adult males, ostensibly stripped to their most basic characterization.

I'm not saying that I believe this is why my friend observed the audience demographics that she did. I haven't considered the matter very closely, and I don't know whether her experience was anomalous or not. What I am prepared to say, though, is that if these were the factors at play, it is a terribly foolish idea in the minds of women to think of media like this as representing male experience or male thought, or as presenting characters that should be thought of as true men of the first order. It's entertainment, and generally low-brow entertainment, and its insight does not extend farther than that. Thinking that base humor speaks to an understanding of the male psyche depends upon already being committed to the notion that the male psyche is first and foremost a subject of base humor.

If there are women who really do watch gross-out comedy and other things of that class as a way of better understanding men, I hope that a failure to gain in that understanding brings these women to a breaking point whereby they realize that what that tendency of theirs should really teach them is a better understanding of themselves.

But as I said, I don't know if this impulse driving feminine media consumption is actually commonplace. Does anyone else have a better explanation for why young women would be attracted in large groups to films like The Hangover?

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