So recently, I’ve been watching Showtime’s “Weeds” (2005 – 2012) – a little late to the game there, I know. I actually just finished Season 8.
Pretty much from the get-go, I was mentally-to-the-point-of-viscerally grossed out by the Nancy Botwin character – her whining, her simpering, her self-indulgent, self-centered, neglectful, dangerously impulsive, overwhelming over-reliance on her looks shtick overshadowed her occasional good qualities (decently brave, tenacious, sexually open…)
(pictured: Mary-Louise Parker as Nancy Botwin from “Weeds” Season Four)
Season after season, I watched and wondered: why did so many dudes like this chic?
Seriously – so many different dudes were captivated by this one kinda meh lady: Andy, Conrad, Peter, Esteban, Guillermo, Warren, Dave, and certainly some others I’m forgetting. At various times, these captivated men gave up their friends and families, successful careers, spiritual beliefs, and, in many cases, their literal lives… all just for the idea of Nancy. But that’s love, right?
No. (maybe? sometimes..?)
It’s like they’re all stupid or something.
Now, not all of these captivated dudes were ALL stupid. Conrad was far from stupid, as were Dave and Esteban and Guillermo. And Andy wasn’t entirely stupid either, but he was so paralyzed by Nancy that it seemed like he was. Stupid and kinda pathetic (but that’s love, right?) Further, the captivated guys were different from all the other additional ones who seemed to just wanna bang Nancy and/or were kinda charmed by her (U-Turn, Sullivan, Demetri, etc). Nancy Botwin Impact variability!!
Anyway, in addition to all this predominately Nancy-based stupidity, there were plenty of other uber-buffoon men featured on “Weeds” – that pack of fools who hung out with Demetri, all the guys present in any sequence related to Stevie playing soccer in Season 8, and the entire character of Dean to name a few. Hmmm…
For the sake of argument (and completeness), it’s also important to bring up Doug. Doug, who actually probably would’ve banged Nancy had he been given the opportunity, seemed relatively impervious to her charms throughout the series… maybe his pan-ultimate gauche crassness served as some sort of protective barrier? In many respects though, Peter Pan pot Guru Doug was the biggest fool of all.
It’s seriously like they’re all stupid or something.
Now, I know that “Weeds” is a TV show; thus, a team of someones created and wrote these characters. They’re not real. But why were they written this way? And why do we accept these sorts of characterizations? I realize that there are additional dimensions of race, class, culture etc at play here, in the “Weeds” example and beyond, but think about it: why are dudes so frequently written as fools? (they’re also frequently written as Masters of the Universe, so maybe the fool is supposed to balance out the He-Man?)
Further… Recently, while scrolling through Twitter, I came across this:
(pictured: Tori Amos… thanks Alyssa!!)
Guys would sleep with a bicycle if it had the right color lip gloss on. They have no shame. They’re like bull elks in a field.
Guys? ALL guys? They have no shame, absolutely none at all?!! They’re like bull elk? (the plural of elk is elk – multiple bull elk in a field)
I don’t know the context of this quote. Did Tori actually say this? Did she say it seriously or for snark (or something else)? And was this quote/image shared by Women’s Rights News in a critical manner… or like, for reals?
I don’t think it’s ok – neither productive nor constructive – to constantly show men as idiots, even in a lighthearted and totally fantasy-comedy like “Weeds.” And if Tori or someone else had made a comparable statement about women (ALL women)… well, we’d ALL be pissed.
Years and ago, I watched Jean Kilbourne‘s Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising’s Image of Women (2000). Passe today (I guess… though it’s since been updated… and is it passe really?), I recall her making the point that objectifying men (and anyone else) didn’t make it ok to objectify women (or anyone else). Co-objectification wasn’t equality or autonomy or freedom, and two wrongs don’t ever make a right – duh.
“Weeds” and Tori’s quote are examples of phenomena comparable to what Jean was talking about in Killing Us Softly 3.
* * *
You may quote anything herein with the following attribution: “Reprinted from Porn Valley Vantage/PVVOnline, copyright © Chauntelle Anne Tibbals, PhD (www.PVVOnline.com).”