Friday, July 31, 2009

And now for something completely different--- a glimpse inside the male psyche

Yesterday, at the movies in the middle of the day, I saw Hurt Locker, directed by Kathryn Bigelow. I was one of two or three women in the audience. Everyone else was male. I was a stranger in this demographic. I was the minority. The men were in their late 20's to mid 30's. All these men could be soldiers. I'd never experienced anything like this before. In fact, I kept looking around me, and saying, Yes, there is only one other woman. I am sitting in a sea of men. Furthermore, mostly everyone had come alone. It was definitely not a date movie.

When I first walked in, the movie had already started, and the theater was deserted. It was dark and I had a bucket of popcorn, a soda, a Village Voice and an umbrella. So I wasn't about to turn back and start over. I thought, well, I've just missed the first 20 or 30 minutes. I knew exactly what was going on. Two American soldiers in Baghdad, tattooed with shrapnel, talk about life and death.

Suddenly it was over. I'd walked in on the last five minutes. Now I opened my paper, now I sat back, good, I'm going to see the whole thing. Little by little, the audience trickled in, little by little, I saw the aforementioned phenomenon. Men. Young men. Arriving alone. Some eating popcorn, some wearing Mohawks, Brooklyn hipsters, and telecom cowboys, in suits, in jeans and T's.


The movie began again. The narrative carries us through the last two months of their rotation. They are part of a team of demolition experts. Some are high on the adrenaline. We see that this can be a beautiful thing. After a dangerous day out in the field, we see them bonding with alcohol and wrestling--- a scene with a strong undercurrent of homoeroticism, which can also be beautiful.

This unexpected, poignant and powerful perspective of the male psyche is courtesy of a female director. The New York Times said this:

Ms. Bigelow, practicing a kind of hyperbolic realism, distills the psychological essence and moral complications of modern warfare into a series of brilliant, agonizing set pieces.
When I walked out into the heat of a 90 degree day in the East Village, I ordered a Margarita (this is the fun part of being on vacation). I applauded the brilliance of the film and my own changed perspective on men, and on war.

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