Wednesday, January 19, 2005

"Groundhog Day", "Superman" and "The Wizard of Oz"
Jonah Goldberg asks for arguments for or against the movie "Groundhog Day". Ever since I first enjoyed and hated this movie I've wanted to write about it, and now I have an excuse.

"Groundhog Day" was very well done and was very funny and entertaining.

But it had at its core a horrible message, namely:
"Normal, heterosexual men are fundamentally evil and should be banished to a circle of hell." (Of course, after suitable re-education there, a few may be redeemed.)

What exactly are Bill Murray's sins?

It's true that he makes fun of people, but that doesn't seem to be what the movie really complains about. I think it's clear that his real sins involve his attitude towards women. What is that attitude? He likes attractive women, he wants to have sex with them, and he doesn't pretend otherwise. He is superficial and self-centered.

And what about the woman he likes? Andie MacDowell isn't attracted to unattractive men such as Chris Elliott just because they're nice, but rather to attractive men who aren't especially nice. But she wants more than just attractive. She wants her man to be knowledgeable about French poetry, AND to expertly play a musical instrument. And then her man must seduce her in just the right way and without making any conscious effort to do so! And the movie sees nothing wrong with this.

The movie "Superman" can be viewed as a satire of "Groundhog Day". (This is possible, even though "Superman" came out first, because of that whole faster-than-light thing.) "Superman" is aware of the superficiality of women, but instead of banishing them to hell it merely pokes gentle fun at them. Clarke Kent is clearly not man enough for Lois Lane, and -- as she makes clear in her flying soliloquy -- she has to be literally swept off her feet by a man before she will consider him adequate. It is possible to make fun of people, or of a group of people, without the stark cruelty of "Groundhog Day".

And speaking of expecting too much from men, or from fathers, I can't resist mentioning my favorite line from "The Wizard of Oz". When Dorothy realizes that the Wizard is a fraud, she says to him, "You're a very bad man!" He responds, as many husbands and fathers have:
"No, I'm a very good man. I'm just a very bad wizard".

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