Thanks to Thingsthatlooklikepenises.com for the images
Here is a little known fact about me: I am something of an expert on film. When I was eighteen I undertook a long and arduous pilgrimage to South Belfast, where I studied under the tutelage of the Arts and Humanities professors in Queen’s University. Most of my studies were done under the influence of one too many lunch time pints, which made it hard because the Queen’s Film Theatre seats are really comfy and some of the films are boring as shit, so just staying awake often required serious effort. I soldiered through though, after discovering that if I filled my bladder just so, I would wake up about five minutes before the end of the film. If I was then asked to comment, I would just say that the ending was poignant. This tactic backfired the first time I tried it because I had only ever seen the word poignant in print and didn’t realise it isn’t pronounced ‘po-ig-nant’. I got out of that one by feigning an epileptic seizure and simply never going back to that class. How much could there really be to Film Sound anyway?
Anyway it has come to my attention that some people do not believe that the study and analysis of film is an exact science [Editor's Note: It's not.] and so by means of persuasion I have decided to reveal the process for all you philistines out there by analysing the last film I saw. That film is Hall Pass, in cinemas now, and here is my analysis…
One Big Sex Joke: How The Farrelly Brothers Perpetuate Gender and Racial Stereotypes Surrounding the Modern American Male.
You might think that short, snappy titles – like the ones you have come to expect of my articles – would be best, but as a general rule, academics like their titles unnecessarily wordy.
Next, start with a quote from a famous person which vaguely relates to your subject.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said ‘white middle class American men are just a bunch of little bitches.’ (1)
Always reference quotations in full at the end of your essay, numbered for ease of use.
This quote is particularly poignant [there's that word - get it in early!] when considering the works of the openly political film makers The Farrelly Brothers. It should come as no surprise where their sympathies lie, considering that they describe themselves as ‘brothers’. Are they even black? I don’t know, I’ve never seen them. But even if I had I couldn’t tell, because I am colour blind. [This is true - it makes shopping for underwear particularly tricky.] Unfortunately the same cannot be said of these so-called ‘brothers’ who, with their latest film, have jumped on the ‘white middle aged men are flabby and stupid’ bandwagon. This after their film Stuck On You, in which the image of conjoined twins is used to imply that all white men are the same, and their smash hit film Dumb And Dumber, the title of which says it all. Hall Pass follows the same trend, once again taking two white men as its main characters. In fact the only two black men in the film [The only two I noticed, anyway.] are the confident, jive talking member of the group, and a heavily muscled man with a massive penis. To reinforce the racial stereotype we all familiar with, the penis in question is framed right next to Owen Wilson’s face. On the surface, this creates a direct reference point for the viewer who is able to see clearly that the penis is in fact the same size as Wilson’s entire head. The subtext [Subtext is gold!] of the shot, though, is much more subtle and much, much more nefarious. The framing of the penis on the left of the screen with Wilson’s head just to its right is a visual metaphor for the common insult ‘dickhead’. The implication being, of course, is that all white men are dickheads. The Farrellys do not confine themselves to racial prejudices though. The emasculation of the American male by his female counterpoint is, if anything, an even more prominent theme in the film.
The film opens with Wilson flicking through a photo album with his children. After establishing via photograph that he has been physically wasting away over the years, we are introduced to his wife, played by Jenna Fischer. Fischer, as we all know, is the most beautiful woman in the world. But rather than using this fact to suggest Wilson’s manly prowess in having married her, he is portrayed as unappreciative of her beauty, implying idiocy, and subservient to her demands that he help out with the children. This suggests that far from having ‘bagged’ a ‘total hottie’, he has been chosen by a dominant female to provide for her financially, after she has made use of his seed. The similarities here to black widow spiders should be self evident.
Even outside the home the men in the film are depicted as being ‘under the spell’ of beautiful women. This is summed up quite succinctly in a scene in a coffee shop in which our two protagonists are turned into bumbling brutes by blonde barista booty. [Alliteration is generally frowned upon in academic writing. I, however, think it is the balls.] The suggestion is that this behaviour stems from weakness of character, which scientific studies have proved is bullshit. (2) [Profanity is also to be avoided, unless you can do it with class, like me.] This sort of femi-Nazi man bashing is typical of the men who brought us There’s Something About Mary. I’ll tell you something about Mary: (deleted for reasons of libel).
I say its time Hollywood started allowing men to appreciate the female form by openly gawping at chicks asses, without fear of ridicule. What next – no friendly groping in the work place? It is political correctness gone mad, and it has no place in sex comedies. The Farrelly Brothers, as fore runners of the genre, have a moral obligation to start portraying white middle class men in a more positive light. The men in their films drink ‘iced coffee, two Splendas’. This only a few decades after the John Ford films in which John Wayne drank his coffee still boiling, fresh from the campfire, so as to burn the top layer of skin off the back of his throat, allowing for maximum caffeine absorption. I guess Hollywood just can’t cope with that level of man any more. The type of man who didn’t ‘work on his tan’ but simply allowed himself to naturally burn in the key areas. The two main characters in Hall Pass don’t simply have white skin, but pallid, unhealthy looking skin. Success, it seems, is once again linked to skin hue as not one, not two, but three! [Throw in some bad punctuation now and again, to keep the reader wary.] heavily tanned men are depicted as wealthy, studly, and caring, respectively. For more on the Farrellys fascination with skin colour, go back to the start of this essay and read it all over again.
Finally, draw some conclusions by repeating everything you just said, but more concisely and without the word padding of the body text.
In summation, The Farrelly Brothers hate men. Not just any men, though. White men. They have fashioned an entire career out of the emasculation of the white American male and their latest offering ‘Hall Pass’ continues in the same vein. It would seem that feminism and civil rights finally won. But who could have predicted that their victory would have been secured by the subtle and genius application of fart jokes?
1. Charity website supporting the rights of white supremacist prisoners to racial segregation when behind bars.
2. University of Ulster Sports Medicine study 2003. Results showed that nervous behaviour in men when confronted by a sexy ass woman is actually the result of amazing mental concentration, thought to be caused by the suppression of an erection.
I hope this exercise has been enlightening for you and you now see that film analysis, though complex, actually works to enhance one’s enjoyment of a film, as well as providing interesting talking points for late night drunken debates. Here’s a good one: would you rather spend one night with Jenna Fischer, or be Superman?
Answer: Be Superman. Spending a night with Jenna Fischer is an entirely unreasonable wish.