I'm gonna fast-forward through most of the article (though, someone explain to me sometime why I should care which movie is a Farrelly brother's favorite; dude, you're a Farrelly brother! I could just ask my dad which Pauly Shore movie is his favorite* and be every bit as impressed with the answer) and get to the part Meryl mentioned, the part in which Slate's own movie critic, Dana Stevens, raves about the movie she's seen the most. Sit down and have an air sickness bag handy. Do not, I repeat, do NOT be eating lunch:
Leaving out the movies everyone's seen countless times (The Wizard of Oz, Citizen Kane, It's a Wonderful Life), my candidate would have to be Nagisa Oshima's erotic drama In the Realm of the Senses, which I've watched, in theaters and on home video, probably 10 times over a period of 15 years. In my early 20s I had an unfortunate habit of dragging prospective suitors to this movie, as some kind of litmus test of their cinematic stamina. Given that the film culminates (SPOILER ALERT) in a famously graphic scene of castration, it's no wonder so few of those guys called me back.
Don't you love people who put the [SPOILER ALERT] tag directly before the actual spoiler? I don't know about you, but I read pretty fast, and by the time I get to that tag I'm already previewing what follows it. I'd rather people put the spoiler alert a couple lines above the paragraph in which they divulge the spoiler.
I'd be more upset about this abuse of the spoiler tag, except--WOW. WHAT A SPOILER. Actually, come to think of it, Dana, you could have left that tag out entirely. I believe you had a civic duty to let us all know about that spoiler. And now that you have, I can safely assert that I will not be adding In the Realm of the Senses to the Netflix queue anytime soon.
Me: Oh, I meant to tell you, I've reordered the queue. Next up is In the Realm of the Senses.
Boyfriend: Which one's that?
Me: It's that Japanese film that culminates in a famously graphic scene of castration.
Boyfriend: That what?
Me: Seriously. It's art!
Boyfriend: Okay, FINE, you can put Fried Green Tomatoes back in the queue.
Boyfriend: That's what this is about, isn't it? You're still pissed at me for taking that out. So now you're making me choose between Fried Green Tomatoes and something much, much worse than Fried Green Tomatoes. I get it. You win. We'll watch Fried Green Tomatoes.
Me: No, no, to hell with Fried Green Tomatoes. In fact I'd forgot all about that. I just think we need--I mean we as a couple--for the good of the relationship, I think what we need is to watch an erotic Japanese film that culminates in a famously graphic scene of castration.
Boyfriend: I disagree. I think what we need as a couple is to break up.
File under "Purely Imaginary Conversations My Boyfriend and I Will Never Actually Have."
Anyway, this Slate piece is great. I couldn't be more pleased to have found it. Because now, the next time some antifeminist gets on me about my hateful man-hatred, and how my all-consuming hatred of masculinity obviously makes me want to do hateful things to men's horrible hateable man parts, I can politely remind my critic that, no, he or she wants Dana Stevens. "You know, Dana Stevens?" I'll ask. "Writes movie reviews for Slate, can use 'erotic' and 'castration' in the same paragraph, yet remains free to roam the aisles of Williams-Sonoma stores unsupervised? Yeah, her. Listen, go shopping for cutlery with Dana and then come back and tell me how much I hate men, pal."
The best part of Stevens' endorsement (and here I'm stealing from Meryl's email to me, because she was absolutely right about this) is that it only gets creepier the more you read of it:
I was not only floored by the film's formal perfection and beauty, but fascinated (and, let's face it, turned on) by the way it captures the centripetal logic of obsession, spiraling toward an ending that's both squalid and deeply romantic. My apologies to all the guys I freaked out (I can think of at least one who's probably still cowering in the men's room of a movie theater in Paris), but I don't think I could love anyone who didn't love this movie.
I mean, hell, what do you add to this, really? I don't get this. I mean, not even a little bit. See, because I would be extremely apprehensive about dating a guy who did love this movie. I would suspect he had a little unresolved self-loathing to work through, and I would recall that people who are that down on themselves are seldom able to be "up" for anyone else, including me, and, okay, he really loves this movie that pairs sharp objects with genitalia and HOW IS THAT A GOOD THING? How? "Deeply romantic?" What? Huh?
I just don't get it.
Anyway, thanks, Meryl! I suddenly feel a lot less stupid for loving Urban Cowboy. The castration count in that one, at least, is a healthy, respectable zero.
UPDATE: I propose a carrot-based rating system:
*I'm kidding. I already know it's Son-in-Law.