Christy DeSmith: Gentlemen prefer 'Rambo'

  • Article by: CHRISTY DESMITH
  • Updated: June 10, 2008 - 11:44 PM

Or at least the prevailing view says they should. Which is typical -- and hypocritical.

“Sex and the City,” with Sarah Jessica Parker, is on the big screen, which means that male fans can be witnessed watching it.

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My boyfriend, he with the barrel chest, baritone voice and other such manly features, was planning to accompany me to "Sex and the City: The Movie." The TV show had been one of our late-night guilty pleasures -- we didn't feel exactly virtuous after watching the thing, but enjoyed it nonetheless -- so, naturally, we anticipated a movie that was equally frothy. But that was before boyfriend heard Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass, on National Public Radio of all places, discussing his recent article on how men can resist being "nagged" into taking their wives and girlfriends to see "Sex and the City."

Kass's article was, of course, passed off as ironic humor. But as any thinking woman knows: The defense of irony is evoked whenever an ostensibly intelligent, enlightened man wants to indulge his misogyny. (At least a Neanderthal will say "Iron My Shirt" to a girl's face.)

In the days following, David Letterman joked that "5 million women ... and one male flight attendant named Gary" saw the movie during its opening week. Videographers from the popular website Gawker.com stalked a New York City cinema to bust various men lined up to see the movie. Footage featured a few brave dissenters shrugging off the interviewer's questions, stating simply that they had liked the TV show. But it also featured a man who snaked from the camera as he shouted, "We're not gay!" as well as plenty of speculation as to the sexual orientations of the others in line.

Change of plans! I went to see the movie, appropriately, with three girlfriends, whereas boyfriend saw "Rambo: The Fight Continues" instead.

Still, I couldn't help but be irritated: The media hadn't bullied me when, only three weeks prior, I'd gone to see "Iron Man," a movie in which the protagonist accumulates expensive sports cars, drinks too many cocktails and even owns a posh, private jet with a staff of flight attendants who double as strippers. If this materialistic, self-involved and so-called Iron Man isn't the Y-chromosome's equivalent of "Sex and the City's" Samantha Jones, then I don't know who is.

I liked "Iron Man," as it turned out. But as a female moviegoer, I am allowed to identify with, and enjoy, the plights of male characters. Let's face it: If I wasn't capable of this, I wouldn't be able to tolerate the vast majority of entertainment. Men, on the other hand, are made to feel like Princess Barbies for enjoying the strong, self-guided characters of "Sex and the City." This is probably why, more than 30 years after Shirley MacLaine first complained of it, most of the bankable roles for movie actresses still fall into one of three categories: hooker, victim or doormat.

So the ever-so-manly media thumped their chests and, as a result, many a fragile male ego was scared off. But knowing how popular the TV show was with both sexes, I can only imagine the hordes of disappointed dudes who'll see "Sex and the City" just as soon as they can get it -- discreetly -- from Netflix.

Christy DeSmith, formerly an editor of The Rake magazine, is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer.

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