Tag Archives: movies

Having It All: Magic Mike’s Life Lessons Better Than Brave’s

The sense of entitlement towards “having it all” is perpetuated by modern princess movies. What happened to all the gruesome, German fairy tales when failed seduction meant mermaids disintegrating into sea foam, when beauties sleeping too soundly meant getting raped? Bring back those wholesome tales- that’s what kids should be seeing and that’s what I read about in my Red Fairy Books, not stuff like Brave.

Pixar’s Brave disappointed me by implying you should have it all- shoot arrows, run a kingdom, do princess stuff- Merida shouldn’t have to choose! This is a dangerous message to send to anybody, male or female, because it’s false. Merida has no idea what she wants to do but according to Disney fantasy she can have everything once she figures it out- the mom inexplicably decides to break tradition and delay marriage until… whenever? Does Merida want to marry someone ever? Does she want to shoot arrows all day? Does she want to have a hand in running the kingdom? What is her goal? She’s a foolish child who inexplicably avoids negative consequences of her bad decisions. This is a fantasy and not a lesson I want my kids to learn. You have to choose what you want, you have to use precise word choice when discussing contracts- especially with magical beings- and then you have to bust your butt to achieve your goal.

Don’t get me wrong- I love old Disney princess movies. They have nice love stories and there’s cute animals singing and dancing about youthful yearning, or the origins of their murderous desires. Sadly Brave did not have any of these components. Although I enjoyed the visual beauty, they did not have one singing animal despite various extremely natural moments to throw that in. A magical bear doesn’t break into song even once? Come on.

Despite Pixar’s cliched perspective, the wait for a movie that sets the right tone is over. Hollywood appears to have been making leaps and bounds in terms of sexism, deciding even cutoff shorts are too much clothing for werewolves to suffer and must fly off. Now in Magic Mike we have Matthew McWhatever developing the same allergy to clothing endured by those same Native American werewolf tribes. Regardless of whether objectifying men counts as a win for feminism, I’m all for it (I was so inspired by Channing Tatum’s performance in Magic Mike that I followed him on twitter (he’s seriously probably one of the best dancers I’ve ever seen, makes it look natural and easy)).

Mike’s stripper wisdom is that everyone, even a hot guy, has to choose. If your goal is to make weird furniture but you spend your life having sex and doing drugs, then odds are 10 years will pass and you will be a lonely, aging stripper instead of a successful entrepreneur. When considering resource allocation, I tend to imagine vector arithmetic. If you invest your resources in a direction orthogonal to the direction of your ultimate goal, 5 or 10 years can pass and you won’t have anything to show for it. You want the divergence between the trajectory of your goal and the trajectory of your resource investments to be small.

I feel lucky my parents fought so hard so that I could think about the problems of philosophy instead of war (figuratively). My parents were not home very often. Mom took English classes during the day and worked at night. Dad labored in a lab deep underground with no end in sight. If your parents were immigrants you know no one has time to babysit you. It’s probably more like you babysitting your kid brother or something while they’re at work (luckily I was an only child and only had to be responsible for myself). For years my mom was never home and I was proud of her for it, but there are always costs. It wasn’t until we moved to Mt. Lebanon that I had some inkling that there existed kids whose parents did nothing but chauffeur them everywhere and endured the daily tribulations of middle school with them. If you want to haul your family from the depths of poverty you have to work a lot and sometimes you don’t bond as much with your ungrateful kids. Everyone has to choose.

Once, I was talking with my dad about love. I probably said something like how my vision of love involved trust and loyalty- I don’t remember what idea I had, probably based on princess movies instead of horrific Grimm fairy tales. I do remember my dad told me he thought love was about sacrifice. His perspective surprised me and I chalked it up to yet another example of the idiocy of my pathetic parents. Years later, I’m starting to see what he’s talking about.