sorry to bother you

The ideal employee is like a horse in ‘Sorry to Bother You’

I watched Sorry to Bother You for two reasons. One, the trailer was artsy and bonkers. I tend to trust artsy and bonkers. Two, it stars Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson. When a film features well-known, respected, young black actors, I feel obligated to support it.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and life without a father

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is a film about a team of, well, space guardians, who fight a planet. Literally. An entire fucking planet. But this all starts after Guardians leader Peter Quill is approached and found by his father, Ego.

After a childhood with David Hasselhoff as his pretend-father, Quill finally got to spend time with his real father. They play catch with a ball made from Quill’s God-like forming abilities. It’s touching. For like 20 minutes. Cause then we find out Ego’s plan is to use Quill’s Celestial powers to terraform the rest of the galaxy.

Which you’re probably like that sucks, but at least Ego is spending quality time with his son, right? I mean, sure. If you consider using your child for evil purposes “quality time.” Then yes, they had that.

But keep in mind, Ego roamed the galaxy impregnating countless species of women in hopes of gaining a child with access to the Celestial power (which none of them did, so he killed them all), claimed to love Quill’s mother, Meredith, only to abandon them after getting her pregnant, killed her by implanting a tumor in her head because she was a distraction to his mission, and then used Yondu, a smuggler, and thief, in hopes of retrieving Quill.

Presumably to use Quill’s Celestial power. Which he might not have possessed by that point, resulting in him being killed, too. So yea, to hell with that “quality time” foolishness.

Anyway, once Quill realizes Ego is a shit dad, they fight. But Quill has help from his friends and fellow Guardians (who are like family), and Yondu who is like a dad after helping Quill survive his teenage and young adult years (even if it was as a criminal). And with that, they work together to kill Ego who, may I remind you, is an entire FUCKING PLANET!

While Guardians Vol. 2 is just as much about intergalactic adventure, Quill being steps away from mating with a gold woman (cause the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree), and Rocket having the feels, it’s also about how one man’s life is defined by not knowing his father.

I was fortunate to have my father be an active part of my life. Which shouldn’t be a big deal. I mean, a father is a father, he is supposed to be there. Right? Well yes, technically, but no, that doesn’t always happen. It’s a weird thing I learned growing up with friends whose fathers were not around.

My friends enjoyed hanging out with me AND my dad. And not because my dad was the “cool dad” per say. He was far from it. Rather, he was a dad-like figure for a group of friends lacking one, or two, or several.

 

Peter Quill and Ego

Peter Quill (Chris Pratt) and Ego (Kurt Russell) from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

 

There wasn’t a man around to discuss girls, school, jobs, hard decisions, or just general man stuff. So my dad became that man for them. And looking back now, I realize how lucky I was. I got to have my dad 24/7. My friends were just happy to have him for a couple of hours.

I don’t know how it felt to be them. I don’t know what it felt like to navigate life as a teenager without a father. I don’t know how that ultimately defined them as they became adults. What journey awaited them as they tried to find an identity in not knowing their identity at all?

Quill spent his life making up fathers, wondering how someone could leave his mother, was left alone to watch her die, and became the galaxy’s delinquent in a life lacking purpose or direction (as we’re told most fatherless boys do). Ego wasn’t there for any step of that road. And when the day finally came for Quill to meet his dad, Quill finds out this dude ain’t shit and never was.

That had to hurt, and I always imagined that was the road my friends were staring down: one of pain, mistrust, anger, glimmers of hope only to be followed by frustration and disappointment. I imagined life without a father being a tougher road than it needs to be. And they would find that a man who passed on being a father to his kid, passed on protecting and cultivating them, probably wasn’t shit anyway.

But I always hoped their lives didn’t have to turn into shit because of it. They didn’t have to become the very men that abandoned them. They could become great men, husbands, fathers, professionals, citizens, whatever in spite of not having a living, breathing example of what one looks like.

Guardians Vol. 2 is the story of Quill finding his identity. And not just in finding out whose seed he emanated from. But also learning his biological identity says little about the person he is. He may not have known who is dad was, but that never precluded him from being the man he always wished was there for him.

I think that’s why my dad wanted to be available for my friends at that time. Because he had the exact same hope for them. The odds in our culture say those guys have probably used crime as a means of survival, struggling to make the kind of life for themselves that they once desired. I hope my dad taught them enough to help them realize that doesn’t have to be true.

What ‘Knock Knock’ says about men acting on impulse

So here’s the situation: you are a man, you are alone and will be for a couple of days, it’s a rainy night, and you have nothing more productive to do than finish some work. Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. While you really should inspect what’s outside from a peephole or upstairs window, you instead open the door to the sight of two young, lovely women.

They are wet, they are cold, they are barely dressed, and they are lost. Their phones are dead and they just need some help getting a ride to their intended destination. What do you do?

This is an important question because the answer probably changes a bit depending on a number of factors like race, gender, attractiveness, or your present mood. And if so, that doesn’t make you racist or sexist or a bad person. As human beings we are naturally cautious of others based on our past experiences.

As a black man that grew up living in a much rougher Atlanta neighborhood than the one I’m in now, my experience tells me that casually opening my door puts me at risk. But if I grew up in the suburbs or owned a nice home in an affluent community, I would probably think differently. And if I were Keanu Reeves’ character Evan Webber from Knock Knock, I would probably make the same mistake he did.

Knock Knock is a film about Evan, a man that allows two women, Genesis and Bel, into his home after they get lost looking for the address of a party. The intentions of both sides initially seem good. But then conversation leads to Evan showing off his DJ skills, music leads to Evan getting a little too close to Bel, and before we know it the women are sharing a shower before ultimately sharing Evan’s penis.

Little does Evan realize, the two women are actually testing his will and are set to punish him for giving into temptation. There were enough signs to suggest the arrival of these women was strange. And certainly things don’t get this far without Evan doing some stupid shit. But even as I watched Evan eventually be tortured and tormented for his decision, I kept thinking to myself “I understand.”

Because regardless of how cautious I am or what my past experiences tell me, the power of boners is strong. That’s the problem in thinking with the wrong head. Despite knowing better, attractive women prompt me (and plenty other men) to go against my gut because I’m one of those dumb guys that thinks going out of one’s way for a woman makes a man “nice”.

Now odds are that I let the women in (because leaving them out in the cold in harsh), but immediately call them a taxi and do little in the way of starting a conversation. I hate having my day disturbed by random events. But it’s not like I can guarantee that outcome. If the two women looked like Lorenza Izzo and Ana de Armas (Genesis and Bel respectively), I’m just as likely to let them chill, pour them some water and maybe even share my dinner over Netflix.

I’m a talker. If two beautiful women want to sit down and chat, I offer my guests conversation. And whether that lasts until the taxi arrives or goes on until midnight, I’m going to chat as long as they want.

And if they begin flirting with me and getting physically suggestive, I cannot promise I won’t return the pleasantries. Now I’m probably less likely to let them dry their clothes (meaning they have to undress). And I sure as hell am not entering the bathroom while they shower just to get them to rush outside to catch an Uber. Two mistakes by Evan. But turning down consensual and casual sex admittedly isn’t easy.

But that’s also because I’m single. The only moral qualms I have are a) checking my intent at the door and making sure I’m not actually preying on these women, and b) deciding if they are trustworthy. The same cannot be said for Evan.

So consider the following caveat when determining if you would’ve taken a bite of Satan’s apple like Evan: you have a wife and two children. Now the context of the plot changes. Now the decision to invite these women into your home no longer looks well-intended. And rushing them to step out the shower by dropping off their clothes no longer appears as innocent.

knock knock keanu reeves

Keanu Reeves in ‘Knock Knock’

And that’s really at the crux of this film: we now have to question the intentions of what appeared to be a happily married man, while also determining if Evan is an empathetic figure or a creep for a husband and father. One might see a man who should be ashamed for himself for falling into the web of these two women. But I see a man that has been domesticated by family life and at war internally over urges and fantasies he long had to leave behind.

And maybe I’m wrong for calling him domesticated. But that’s not a statement against marriage (heck, I wouldn’t mind loving someone enough to be married one day). It’s a statement based on what the film clearly shows us about Evan.

There’s a life Evan lives for his wife and children, but also a former life he clearly misses and holds onto. Evan doesn’t have time to be Mr. DJ when he has a family at home that needs his presence. Evan doesn’t have time for sex when his wife needs a break. It’s a life Evan accepts, but not one that he necessarily envisioned or wants.

During the day he has a wife that isn’t interested in a quickie before she and the kids are set to leave. But at night, here are two beautiful women showing an interest in his love for music and discussing the appeal of older men and how monogamy goes against nature. Evan never stood a chance.

Had it not been so obvious that Genesis and Bel were up to no good (I mean, those two laid it on thick), deciding who the antagonist and protagonist are would be a bit confusing. On one hand, Evan is a victim of his impulses. But as Genesis and Bel are clearly shown to be the predators in this scenario, there is breathing room to understand Evan’s own struggles. He’s a guy on the edge finally given the avenue to take to the sky.

It’s a common struggle for men: having the willpower to act on what’s right as opposed to acting out on one’s urges. I was put to the test just last year and managed to fail miserably. Rather than take a moment to stop and think, I initiated sex with someone I shouldn’t have at a time when I wasn’t mentally or emotionally capable of handling a sexual encounter responsibly. But I was lacking something (well, sex) and saw a moment to fix that.

I was talking with a friend about the importance of willpower about a month ago. I told her that one of the more difficult things for me to accept is that the things I want in my life might not be the things that I need. That rather than act on impulse, I should stop to consider what’s right for everyone involved. We forget that our decisions don’t just involve us. They also yield the power to affect others.

I’ve heard this thinking is just a part of male leadership. The life Evan lives as a husband and father isn’t just about him. It’s also about his wife and children and making sure they are protected and taken care of. That maybe we’re being blocked from some of the things we desire for reasons beyond our limited scopes. The problem with giving into our impulses isn’t the impulse itself. It’s the fact that it’s selfish and comes from a place of self-gratification. It doesn’t consider anyone else involved.

Genesis and Bel clearly went out of their way to tempt Evan for their own twisted purposes and game. Evan’s decision might have fueled the two women, but they obviously had evil intentions in mind. Ultimately it’s hard to feel sympathy for either side. So instead of rooting for anyone, we just find ourselves laughing at what is just one dark joke. No one is “good” per say, but there is some capacity to understand the feelings of both sides.

So what is there to understand about Genesis and Bel? There is a scene where Bel rapes Evan while wearing the clothes of Evan’s daughter. (Note: And yes, if it is forced sex, furthermore under the threat of injury, it is rape.) What initially seems like Bel acting out a twisted character and disgusting daughter-father fantasy might really be her confessing to her past, namely being a victim of sexual assault as a minor.

Which is unbelievably sad. It’s not just two women targeting cheating men. It’s two women exposing men engaging in sex without a single thought for the partner and their ability to make responsible decisions in regards to consenting to sex. And yes, Genesis and Bel clearly look to be in their 20s. Got it. But the point is that Evan never gave any consideration or thought for the two or their ages. He wanted sex, it was clear he was going to get it, and that was enough for him.

It’s not just the worst episode of To Catch a Predator ever seen. It’s just an incredibly conflicting story. Is this a revenge story for women or a crazy take on the midlife-crisis? I don’t even know. In the end, I just wanted Evan to survive the torment and get back to his safe, domesticated family life. As boring as that reality may be, it certainly beats being strapped to a chair and having one’s eardrums blown out over a trivia show about pedophilia and statutory rape. Yea, that’s another thing that happened.

Porn addiction? Nope, Don Jon is a sexual superman.

Don Jon is a film about Joseph Gordon-Levitt being graced with the gift of nailing Scarlett Johansson, but losing that gift all because he is addicted to porn. I know, sounds crazy. What guy would lose out on the chance to have sex with Johansson over porn? That’s kinda the point: Gordon-Levitt’s character Jon loves porn so much that he risked losing Johansson over it.

And then Jon has an awakening of sorts and ends up being with Julianne Moore. I don’t know how you view Moore’s attractiveness (hint: she is attractive), but I’d say that Jon is a rather fortunate man over the course of the film. You know, aside from being addicted to porn.

But back to the point: Jon REALLY loves porn. You can tell from how he describes it. As someone that dealt with porn addiction, it’s weird listening to Jon describe how watching porn makes him feel. Not because it’s creepy (well, it is creepy), but because of how honest it is.

“For the next few minutes all the bullshit fades away and the only thing in the world is those tits… that ass… the blowjob… the cowboy, the doggie, the money shot and that’s it, I don’t gotta say anything, I don’t gotta do anything. I just fucking lose myself.”

That’s perfect. Not the fact that he’s addicted to porn, mind you. Just the way he describes losing himself in porn is damn-near perfect.

The fact there is no work required is precisely why porn works. You get this adrenaline rush of hyper-visuals that men want to experience with sex, and all men have to do is turn on the computer (or pick up a mobile device, which Jon does in the middle of class).

And he is also a compulsive masturbator, which isn’t as expressly shown as his addiction to porn. Granted, he doesn’t masturbate while watching porn in class (thank God). But each moment of porn viewing in his home is followed by the disposal of a tissue.

And I doubt it’s because his nose is runny. Or maybe it is. Watching so much porn might do weird things to him, I wouldn’t know.

Oh, and he is also addicted to sex. Not sure how that slipped me. His addiction to sex isn’t expressly said, but it’s certainly understood. With the exception of his mother and sister (thank God, yet again), Jon has either had sex or is hoping to have sex with every woman he runs across.

I never dealt with any form of addiction other than PMO (porn, masturbation, orgasm) in my life, so I cannot say this with full certainty: the way Jon talks about his addiction is the way I imagine every addiction being. Your mind enters a zone completely separate and away from reality, and that zone offers so much bliss that you don’t want to come back to earth.

This is all great stuff on the part of Don Jon. But as great as the depiction of porn addiction is, there is one issue that is rather curious: his ability to continually have sex goes against what we’ve been told about how porn addiction affects men sexually. Either all the articles we have read are wrong, or Don Jon is superman.

It’s possible Jon has sexual mutant powers and we will find out about it in a future Deadpool movie. But odds are the connection between porn addiction and sexual activity was something Don Jon opted not to fully tackle, which is perfectly fine but would’ve also given the film an even more interesting tone. There are negative affects associated with porn addiction, and Jon manages to defy most of them.


don jon

While Don Jon was ultimately able to kick away the stronghold of porn addiction, how many of its negative effects was he able to trump along the way?

1. Loss of sexual drive: No. The film opens up with Jon taking home some girl he meets at the club. Jon’s sex drive seems pretty fine to me. I think the real discussion is …

2. Loss of interest in sex: No, depending on how you look at it. On one hand, he is clearly still interested in sex. You don’t “smash new girls” on a consistent basis unless the interest in sex exists.

The issue is that while Jon is always interested in sex, he doesn’t find sex to be particularly interesting. It’s almost as if sex is something he engages in simply because he can or he feels as if he should. He wants it, he’s always on the hunt for it, but it doesn’t actually do anything for him.

Jon says it himself: “real pussy is good, but, I’m sorry, it’s not as good as porn.” Think about how nuts that sounds. Digital vagina, something he can’t even feel or experience, captures his interest more than the real, living thing. That’s porn addiction in its hyper-form, the point where it becomes the new reality.

It’s not that Jon doesn’t want to have sex or isn’t interested in getting it. If a girl is going to pass that ass to him, he’s going to accept it. But it clearly doesn’t do it for him any longer because it’s not nearly as lavish as porn.

3. Inability to perform sexually: Inconclusive, but let’s say no. We can only assume that he doesn’t have an issue with performing sexually although it isn’t explicitly stated. If Jon was unable to perform sexually, one would think it would come up at some point in the film. And considering he routinely has sex with girls he encounters at his workplace, you would think word would get around.

4. Thinking sex exists in different realm: Yes, and we finally hit a bullet point that Jon’s superpowers can’t defeat. In Jon’s world, there are two different versions of sex: real sex and porn sex. He wants the latter realm as porn sex is clearly more alluring to him.

There is a point in the film where Jon beautifully lists his gripes with real sex compared to porn. For him, eating pussy is crazy from the male’s visual point-of-view (even though he doesn’t mind a good pussy-eating clip), hates that women would prefer not to give oral, can’t stand missionary, and thinks condoms are the worst (whilst acknowledging that unlike in porn, real vagina can kill you).

Here’s the thing: it’s not like men would necessarily disagree with him. Missionary isn’t visually enticing, getting oral would be appreciated, and the only men that tend to like giving oral are those who are actually good at it. But that’s also a porn mindset, one where the focus is on what the man likes.

That’s not the reality of how sex works, and Jon isn’t digging that reality. Porn is a different realm of sex that Jon can’t have, and it frustrates him.

5. Struggle getting aroused by porn: No. He seems to be beating off just fine. If I remember correctly, he masturbates to porn 11 times after breaking up with Barbara (Johansson). You know how hard it is to get aroused on 11 successive occasions, enough to the point where you reach orgasm? I don’t even know because I’m not brave enough to try.

6. Counteract feelings of inadequacy: Yes, and that’s really the point of the film. Jon knows there is something wrong with him, specifically he can’t lose himself in sex the same way he loses himself in porn. His enjoyment for porn overshadows and protects him from his lack of enjoyment in real dealings with women.

He can’t cut it in reality. Remember, porn doesn’t ask anything of him, it doesn’t require any effort or work. Real life does, and if life can’t offer him anything resembling what porn does (essentially, simplicity), he isn’t all that invested.

Jon doesn’t take an active approach to changing this, but his fledgling relationship with Barbara along with Esther’s (Moore) growing presence steers him in a better direction. His struggles with passion and sexual relationships get exposed, and Esther gets him to consider the possibility that his dependency on porn may be a part of a problem. It’s hard to lose yourself in a breathing, living thing when the highest moments of arousal come from your computer screen.

Which isn’t saying that porn is the devil. I don’t think that’s what the film is communicating nor should it. Rather, addiction to porn and its version of reality has far-reaching consequences that aren’t realized until you can realize life without it.

Jon manages to trump many of porn addiction’s negative effects, but he can’t trump the biggest one of all. Jon may very well be superman, leaping tall hoes in a single bound, but he couldn’t survive in our realm, at least not until he was willing to leave his behind. In a bizarro continuation of the Gordon-Levitt movie universe, it’s just like Inception: you can delve into the dream world, but don’t try to make it your new reality. That’s how people get lost.

Do the four rules at the hotel in “The Lobster” make sense?

The Lobster is a movie about a society where being single is a crime, punishable by being transformed into an animal. Colin Farrell would prefer to be a lobster. I didn’t make any of that up.

“The targets are shaped like single people,” and being anywhere alone will draw unwanted attention. Thankfully you aren’t necessarily arrested if you’re caught roaming around town on your lonesome. Good thing considering the current state of affairs with police relations. #SingleLivesMatter.

Rather, law enforcement makes an attempt to get you help, an unexpected commentary on jail rehabilitation. You are sent to a hotel where you get trained in the art of being in a relationship, learning every antiquated rule on what makes a relationship work and necessary in our lives.

Which is really the joke: trying to apply old modes of thinking in such an evolved world. There are still those who are staunch believers and followers in how relationships worked ‘back in the day’. And with Farrell as the lead, there is express focus on the lessons learned by the men.

Let’s face it gentlemen: society needs us to get our shit together. Granted, it’s the same society that gave us easy access to porn, an app for booty calls, some show called The Pickup Artist, and then questioned where things went wrong. But women would understandably like to go to the bar without us eye-raping them.

It’s not a man’s world anymore, so we have a lot of work to do. But does much of what we hear actually make sense? By my count, the hotel in The Lobster believes in four rules that will prepare men to get back in the game and be good partners to their women-folk.

the lobster film

1. “A wolf and a penguin could never live together, nor could a camel and a hippopotamus.” Because that would be preposterous. Try and imagine a wolf and penguin mating. Did you picture the wolf eating the penguin instead? Me too.

People that are together should have some basic, defining commonality between them. There is little harmony in being completely different from your partner. If someone can’t understand that as a human, maybe they can figure it out as an animal.

Makes sense? Yes, and no. Yes, commonality is the basis of any friendship, and relationships are a unique type of friendship. And yes, a camel could never live with a hippo, at least I don’t think so. But no, it isn’t that simple.

Take a character called “Limping Man” as an example. His parents split apart because his father found a woman that was better at math. The man’s deceased wife had a limp just like him.

It’s a remarkably stupid yet common theme: finding someone that matches a singular characteristic and hoping to make things work from there. We look for people just like us on some level without considering whether that makes a person a good match. So we inevitably start calling the girl that’s better at math.

2. “She jumped from the window from 180. There is blood and biscuits everywhere.” Favorite part of the entire film. Some ratchet-ass female tries to offer Farrell some ratchet-ass sex, which Farrell wisely declines. Said ratchet-ass female then opts to jump out a window.

That’s good, very good, but not the best part. A shaken Farrell acts remorseless in hopes of impressing a “Heartless Woman” known for not giving two fucks about anyone. “I just hope her pathetic screams can’t be heard from my room, because I was thinking about having a lie down, and I need peace and quiet.”

No Colin, you’re lying. You shouldn’t be a poser and trick someone into falling for you. Eventually your lies catch up to you.

Makes sense? Absolutely, especially when the person you’re lying to is heartless. She might kill your dog or something, you never know. Never trick people liable of doing some really wicked shit.

3. “Please place your hand in the toaster.” John C. Reilly’s character gets punished for masturbating, which is not allowed in the hotel. He masturbated to a picture of a naked woman on horse. That’s great.

That’s such old school erotic imagery. Isn’t that what Playboy was built off of? Nude women doing normal shit so you feel like “you know, I might have a chance at someone like that.” Hahahaha … no, no you don’t.

Makes sense? Ehhh. I don’t want to say there isn’t some validity to the idea that not masturbating to porn is beneficial. A difference can be felt. But damn, using a toaster is just savage.

But here’s why this punishment shouldn’t exist. The hotel has their maid service rub their asses against every crotch in residency to see if they can reach an erection quickly. But you can’t pop. You’re stroked enough to excitement, but there won’t be any fireworks.

“That’s awful, just awful.” I agree Mr. Farrell, I agree.

4. “Back then, he didn’t know how much it hurts to be alone.” At one point in the film, it’s Presentation Day at the hotel. The staff does a couple of skits to show the residents the importance of having a partner.

Men are apparently good at ensuring women don’t get raped by shady characters. Women are good at ensuring men don’t choke on their food. Without a partner, those scenarios would turn bad, or in this case comically bad, in a hurry.

Makes sense? Reluctantly, yes. I once read on how socially isolated carpenter ants have a reduced life span compared to ants that operate in groups. The reason? An imbalance of energy income and expenditure. Social interactions help regulate energy balance.

We are those ants, isolated from others, literally being hurt by the loneliness. Life can be very depressing when the only voice you consistently hear is your own. Just ask Randy Orton.

And yes, the presence of a man tends to be a good deterrent for men looking for trouble. And no, you don’t need a woman to save you from choking on food. Just cut your food into smaller pieces.

But being alone sucks. Doesn’t mean you have to leave the house today and find yourself a significant other. But never underestimate the power of just having someone there in some form or capacity.

That’s the point: everyone is looking for someone. No matter if it’s in a hotel, the woods, on a bus getting ready to tranquilize loners, or if you have to lie for it, everyone wants the feeling of someone being there. Here’s the caveat: there are no rules in this.

My father once told me, surprisingly, that college wasn’t for everyone. Surprising because my family did an otherwise sound job of shielding me from such thinking. He told me that while the destination is to gain the knowledge necessary for a career, a four-year university isn’t the only road that can get me there.

There is no roadmap to finding love and/or happiness. You find it however you find it, even if it doesn’t make sense to rest of us, even if it goes against the grain.

We’re all shooting for a similar destination, but everyone’s path is different. Some deal with a lot of obstacles and harsh lessons while others take the more “safe” and traditional route. No road is more correct than the other, and it isn’t a crime if your road happens to be longer.

Well, except in this case, I guess. I would want to be a dog. The excessive petting would get extremely annoying, but at least I still get to watch football on Sundays. Hope my owner isn’t a Saints fans.