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In the Company of Men Essay (1 Viewer)

C

colom

On the utterly basic complexities of being a man

“Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from none but self expect applause; He noblest lives and noblest dies who makes and keeps his self-made laws.”
- Sir Richard Francis Burton​

In a movie so heavily saturated with overtones of masochistic deceit and the many shades of evil of the male ego, it is understandably difficult to see through the blatant verbal abuse that is recurrent throughout the movie. But to see beneath is to find a much simpler truth, one that stands true for half the population. What, “In the Company of Men”, has effectively accomplished is genuinely representing, that yeah, being a man is complicated.

The movie virtually introduces this concept in the first scene, depicting itself as Howard sits in the chair holding his face after having been slapped by a woman whom he had just asked the time. This encounter on first glance leads the two men into a fit of contempt concerning what they believe to be an unjust offense but their mutual anger is in actuality subconsciously directed towards their own, or rather mankind’s thorough and complete incompetence as to understanding the nature of women.
“The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’” –Sigmund Freud​
Indeed, what do women want? This movie appears to, at some levels, address this question. But does it really? Is Chad and Howard’s frustration and near persecution of womankind, some type of sick, last ditch effort at attaining an understanding of a question most men hold dearer than the meaning of life? No, I argue it does not, I believe that in reality this movie is showing that there is no “answer” per se, we are different beings who operate on different cognitive levels. Nothing in the movie speaks more clearly of this point than when Howard, in the last scene of the film, is seen yelling, nay screaming at Cristine, the deaf woman, to “listen”, “LISTEN”. Man does not understand women, just as woman does not understand man. It just seems as though we, men, are the more frustrated of the two.

I digress; as the movie progresses the characters begin to find their niche in this fabricated microcosm of greater and lesser evils, genuinely stepping into each role with every intimidated gaze and ever spit of sincere sarcasm. The dialogue proves deeply vital to this movie, each short sentence pristinely crafted to fit each of the archetypes.
"So it is that the gods do not give all men gifts of grace - neither good looks nor intelligence nor eloquence." -Homer​
In the instance of the game, when both choose to reveal their “care” for Cristine, each sentence consists of three words, but for some reason the differences between the two defines acceptance and rejection. Chad, whom ultimately proves successful at wooing her, lightly says “I like you”, leaves it at that and changes the subject. Howard on the other hand, chooses to reveal this matter in a moment of desperation, spurting out “I need you”, as though a child to his mother. Again showing the lack of knowledge, which would allow him to interpret the long lost language of “womanese”.

Stepping into that spectrum, the one filled with smelly stores that sell candles and monthly psychological breakdowns is an intimidating portion of manhood.
“Viewing manhood as an ethical category makes plain- with tangible evidence from real life—the metastructure of social subordination. This transactional model of manhood takes accurate account of a given human male’s experience of relative social powerlessness, and locates his gender identity in whatever acts of power he chooses over and against others, and explains the interconnection.”​
Such an idea of proving ones self though strength or will power is true of all men, this is in essence a cultural universality, whether it be loosing one’s self in the throes of a ethenogenically induced trance, or something much closer to home, like pounding that beer when you are told to indeed, pound, it is a constant battle upstream to prove one’s self according to the societal understanding of “manliness”. A scene, which illustrates much of what I am talking about, is a confrontation, which takes place between Chad and a subordinate named “Kief”. Chad in this scene is just blatently masochistic, he is showing his worth and power by pushing down on a lower employee, effectively flexing his power to make it known around the office that Chad is no man to fuck with. Kief’s position on the other hand takes more analyzing because he too is proving himself, he knows he is just one of many other entry level employees, and for him to make it in this business, this is one of the various men he must figuratively kneel before. So he does what he is told to do, in hopes that he is proving himself within boundaries of the sales-industry’s understanding of “manhood”. Which in this is really just an understanding of where one stands in the grand scheme of the company, and acting accordingly.

Oh, but one might ask, “what of the betrayal?” “What of the relationships?” “What of the sincerely intense dichotomy of the emotions that span the film?” “Is that not what ultimately ‘made’ this movie”? Do I debate such does not exist? No, of course these ideas are all evident, pertinent and poignant to the story. In fact without such there would not be a film nor an abstract underlying meaning for me to decipher and regurgitate via this paper. But I do believe that this underlying meaning I mentioned is as integral to the story as the plot that is shoved in ones face. Without this asthenospheric message, this would just be another half-assed, cookie cut, romantic comedy. These confusing rules of manhood are played-out in one form or another in every scene, though the dialogue seems to direct our attention towards a different place. As if to sweep these things under the rug, pretending they do not exist, for as much is true in the world we live.
 

winner

Senior Member
I like your writing, but, honey, that picture you put up with your name - that's scary. Your writing is so eloquent, classy. Why do you put up such a disturbed looking picture of yourself? :?:
 
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