The (Ongoing) Image Problem of Granny Sex

Older women have an image problem, a negative one that has become normalized. What do I mean by normalized?  Simple. We’ve been conditioned to not see our own worth.

Back in 1972, Susan Sontag wrote about the Double Standard of Aging, and nowhere is this more evident than in film and romance fiction. In movies and books, men get distinguished as they age, and they are allowed to age. Men at 45 are silver foxes, while women of the same age are merely ‘old.’ Representations of women of a certain age have become ingrained in society and have resulted in stereotypes—you know the ones I mean, the acceptable roles; grandma, crabby, crazy cat lady, old hag, peddler of adult diapers, retirement communities, denture creams. Women over 40 are seldom presented as attractive, intelligent, sensual, sexual, whole human beings the way men are. Women become mutton dressed as lamb, cougars, are shoved aside, or dropped into those acceptable stereotyped roles because, unlike men of the same age, women are now toothless hags who need denture cream. Of course, the upside of this is that an older woman can now wear white trousers and swim and box and be sporty without ever having to worry about periods or leakage.

Opps. I forgot about incontinence pads.

As I said, we’ve been conditioned to not see our own worth–except as consumers of products that tell us we have to fight the disease of ageing–or face a wrinkled, toothless future of pee pads and retirement living and funeral insurance.

What you do see is what you’ve always seen, and it is what you accept because that is all you have ever been shown. You may not be aware that you buy into the negative image. After all, for decades we’ve been bombarded with ageist and sexist imagery about adult diapers, creams that lift sagging skin, Cary Grant with Audrey Hepburn, and Daniel Craig’s James Bond (who was in his late 40s at the time) romancing twentysomething Lea Seydoux rather winding up with than the disposable fiftysomething Monica Bellucci in the last Bond feature, Spectre.

**Yes, I’m still irritated by that moment when the Craig Bond was poised to go on being different but failed to deliver. After SEVEN minutes (if I remember, that’s how long Dan and Monica had on screen) the story fell back onto the usual status quo that disposed of the older woman for the younger woman. By the way, if you’re wondering, I had already written the first book of my butler & spy In Service series, At Your Service before that movie came out.**

Sorry to digress and rant, but I’m sure you understand that advertising, that the persistent older man-younger woman construct, reinforces the information you see about women ‘getting old,’ and men being hot silver foxes. Although you’ve had plenty of movies and romance novels where the older guy silver fox gets the girl, and gets it on with the girl, how often do you seen a couple who are the same age getting it on?

I bet you can count the times on one hand, maybe two. Who would blame you for believing the double standard of aging?

In the celluloid world, in the fictional world, especially in the world of romance fiction, the silver fox smokin’ hot grandpa is easy to find, it’s even a trope in the romance genre, but smokin’ hot grandma? Age equivalent sex is viewed as problematic—and it’s all because of the woman. Add a woman with sagging skin and she’s automatically a grandma, and granny sex is gross because grandmas don’t have sex—even with silver foxy grandpas. What’s the point of a man having sex with a woman who’s probably no longer fertile anyway since everyone knows that a woman is only attractive if she’s fertile, like the Nile Delta, and able to bear children.

Go ahead and call bullshit on that. You know you want to.

I’ll leave the rant about the predominance of men writing, producing, and perpetuating the silver fox hero and masculine wish fulfillment that has kept older women sidelined or invisible (thanks for the reminder, Vassiliki) to another day, but what turned me to become a hybrid author was when I had a female romance publishing CEO tell me no one wanted to read granny sex. Yes, I’ve ranted about that before. A lot. I saw what I was up against, what I’d always been up against. The comment corroborated the findings of my doctoral work. I knew that, despite an offer from my publisher, and on-the-fence interest from another who worried about ‘where to place the book’, I could do a better job marketing my butler & spy series in what is still considered to be a niche or yet-to-prove itself audience my research demonstrated was and IS there. The CEO’s comment is revealing and points to the fact that, for some publishers, an older female protagonist is risky. A sexy, sex-filled romantic interlude in romance fiction, like onscreen, is still considered to be a venue open only to young, fresh-faced, fertile women.

For many publishers the status quo remains, it’s silver foxy men, but no silver foxy women, and THIS is the root of the image problem. We get what we’ve always had because of the pervasive attitude that older women aren’t attractive or sexual and it’s a vicious circle. Keeping grandma out of the bedroom, that is, not allowing portrayals of older women as sexual or attractive serves to reinforce the attitude that no one wants to see grandma as sexual or attractive.

Here are a few questions to consider why some find portrayals of sexual women over 40 is so problematic.

Is it really about sagging breasts and lined faces?

Is it really that romance is a tale for younger women, or readers who want to remember what it was like when they were younger?

Or is it because we are so rarely shown positive images of mature female sexuality, or that mature sexuality is too often portrayed as a joke where older women fan themselves or blush or giggle and mention Fifty Shades of Grey while whispering about viagra and their older partners with erectile dysfunction?

The image problem boils down to a lack of representations showing us that women over 40 are attractive, intelligent, sensual, sexual, whole human beings. This means it’s time to make a NEW status quo, to normalize how life really is, and how women over 40 really are. If a publisher thinks granny’s saggy boobs are distasteful (not something a romance hero would care about), the solution is simple. Romance has various ‘heat’ levels. That is, an array of how intimate sexual activity is described–from a chaste kiss and closing the bedroom door, to graphic sex. There is a spectrum of readers, those who like the bedroom door closed and those who want explicit description.

There is a spectrum of readers who want ‘Seasoned Romance’, Later in life tales featuring women 40, 50, 60, and beyond, those who want granny to close the bedroom door, and those who want to see granny in all her glory.

Most importantly, there is a spectrum of people who want to see their lives reflected in the stories they see on screen and in the pages of a book. Love has no age limit. We’ve let advertisers, filmmakers and publishers tell us that love has an age limit.  I want to point out again, that this is not a niche market. There is money to be made. Advertisers, filmmakers and publishers need to stop believing and peddling the old bullshit hype. They will, once there is a story that hits it big and makes them some coin because guess who has the cash to be instrumental in making this come to fruition this? Women over 40.

And we’re worth a lot.

Older Broads Are The New Box-Office Powerhouses. Are You Listening Romance Publishers?

Wielding my Shield of Smartass

Wielding my Shield of Smartass

As part of the ongoing expansion of The “Mature” Content Stockpile of articles regarding women and age on this website, I keep track of news and other items I can add to the stockpile. When I came across this fab piece by Mark Harris from NY Mag over at Vulture you know I fist bumped myself, and OH YEAH MAMA-ed while I jumped all my about my kitchen. I was so loud, so exuberant, the builder installing insulation in my garage called out to to make sure I hadn’t hurt myself.

The article is titled Actresses Over 60 Are the New Box-Office Powerhouses.  As I read, the line that first stood out is pretty much what I soapbox about on a regular basis. Harris mentions “society’s tendency to write off older women as dear little “characters” without passions or aspirations of their own.” Then Harris goes on to discuss a 1968 study in Hollywood that examined the age demographics of film-goers.  It’s that paragraph that truly hits home; it’s what I say about a certain overlooked demographic of romance readers with an appetite for a certain overlooked subgenre of romance fiction–the Older Romance, Mature Romance, Mid-Adult Romance, Seasoned Romance, Contemporary Adult Romance. 

The audience is real, and so is its appetite. And those who get it — who don’t simply view this particular group of movie lovers as the “about to die” demographic — may, a few years hence, look like very smart early adapters. In 1968, well before demographics were a subject of serious discussion at the studios, Variety reported the results of a study that showed 48 percent of American moviegoers were 24 or younger. For the middle-aged men who then ran Hollywood and thought they were making movies for themselves, the news was revelatory. Baby-boomers — the pig in the python — were coming of age, and over the next 15 years, the way movies were conceived, made, and marketed would undergo a revolution as a result. Now, almost 50 years later, that demographic is coming of old age, and making itself heard again. And if anyone wants it, they’ve still got money to spend. —(Harris, 1 Aug 2016)

Did you notice that first line Early adapters are smart?

Did you notice the last line? That last line means I have to rewrite a small part of an academic paper I am presenting at the upcoming University of Love conference in Adelaide, Australia. My paper is titled The (Saggy) Bottom Line: Women of a Certain Age and Romance Fiction. I have to include what Harris says alongside what a few other studies and authors note. That last line is a big fat flag I wave when I’m on my soapbox, a big fat signpost that is being overlooked by the publishers of romance fiction.

In case you missed it, because romance publishers miss it, so it must be easy to miss, that big fat signpost is MONEY.

I’ve said it before, I say it in my paper presentation, and I’ll say it here again, There is a demographic of romance fiction readers  who MATCH this demographic of film-goers, and this demographic wants romance fiction that reflects the reality of their lives, not some hackneyed stereotyped bullshit about how a woman over 40 is dead below the waist, or, as Harris mentions, are people who buy “adult diapers and medic-alert systems and sit in their adjustable beds leaning forward with ear horns to make sure they hear the list of dangerous side effects in the commercials.”

This demographic wants romance fiction with heroes and HEROINES who are whole, intelligent, vibrant, active, sexual human beings, not diaper-wearing crazy, cat-loving, dried-up-old grannies with walkers. This demographic of romance reader wants a romance heroine who is like any romance heroine, only she just happens to be older. This demographic of romance reader is trying to make itself heard, and they have money to spend.

This Demographic HAS MONEY TO SPEND! What are you romance publishers waiting for? Early adapters WIN! Romance has been the Early Adapter of so many social changes regarding women– until now, and the industry is missing this goldmine right in front of them.

Thanks to Mark Harris for making me have to rewrite a small section my paper. I have to include this article because he’s given me more evidence that the romance publishing industry is overlooking a goldmine.

The Ick Factor and You: The Origin of the Notion Older People Having Sex Is Gross

Sometimes it doesn’t take much for me to jump on my soapbox. Last week, after I read Ann Brenoff‘s column Dear Hollywood, I May Be Invisible To You, But I’m Very Real on the Huffington Post I got in quite a lather (see what I did there, soapbox, lather?) with another reminder of the ‘culture of invisibility’ in Hollywood. You know the thing, that misguided idea that deems any woman over 40 as unviable, unwanted, unfuckable, unbankable onscreen. All lathered up, I pondered, again, the source of the idiotic invisibility. Since I have a PhD and wrote a dissertation that examined the culture of invisibility in romance fiction, I’m going to share my theory with you.

wtfRemember when you were 5 years-old, and your mother explained the penis and peegina* sex thing that time you were precocious and asked at the dinner table one night? Remember when, a short while after learning the revolting details of where babies came from, you realized that all the kissing you saw on TV, and in movies, was another incomprehensibly revolting thing that grown-ups like your parents did, and you thought every time your parents kissed they were trying to make a baby and you couldn’t fathom WHY your mother would let your father put his penis in her peegina?

Do you also remember how incredibly disgusted you were, but how your confused little kid mind tried to make sense of how you didn’t get pregnant when Raymond Michaud kissed you that time you played in the treehouse the big kids built in the woods near your house?

Remember when the whole notion of sex was absolutely repugnant and then one day it wasn’t? It didn’t seem that far-fetched or icky. But then, when you were about 11, your older brother told you about anal sex and you were all sex was never going to be something you did.

Ever.

Remember when you were 17 or 19, or 22 and kissing and sex was like perpetual springtime and a raging thunderstorm of emotion and passion and excitement? Remember when you joined the club you never thought you’d join? You wondered how you ever thought sex wasn’t something you would want to DO and be DONE TO, and you finally, FINALLY got why everyone on TV, in books and movies wanted to do it. Everyone had sex, all the time—except your parents.

Or grandparents.

Or your unmarried, forty-something aunt.

You thought this because never saw parents or grandparents or spinster aunts on TV, in books or movies doing it or even interested in doing it. They were too mature, tool old, too busy with work and retirembunsent, and went to bed early after their 4:30 dinnertime. And movies, books, and TV didn’t lie. The message was subtle, but you noticed, unconsciously, that people only ever had sex when they were young. You never saw people over 40, like your grandparents, kissing or groping, grinding, or dry humping on TV, in books or movies, and because you never saw it the idea of people over 40 kissing—or humping—was as incomprehensibly revolting as your mother letting your father put his penis in her peegina. The only reason your parents and grandparents still kissed was because they were Italian, Italians are affectionate, and that sort display of affection was allowed on TV, in movies and books. Your parents and grandparents weren’t really passionate because passion was for the young. The perpetual springtime raging thunderstorm of emotion and passion and excitement was for the young you saw on TV, in movies, in books, in romance fiction.

The images of youth are everywhere in the media, on TV, in books, movies, advertising, and this is the insidious way the Ick Factor is enacted. You are indoctrinated without knowing. You are misled to believe sex and passion is only for the young since that is all you see. This perpetual lack of truth is the way stereotypes of age and sex are maintained. The erasure of a huge portion of the population from view has led to the notion that sex is something only human beings under 40 want and enjoy. But it’s worse. If you’re a woman, you notice there’s a double standard when it comes men and women and sex. As you get a little older, maybe when you hit 30, you realize there’s an additional aspect to the Ick Factor you didn’t notice before, when you were younger. Men over 40 continue to get it on in books, movies and on TV.

Women grando not.

Even more sinister is way the Ick Factor works, the continual lack of truth is the way stereotypes of woman and age are maintained, the way women over 40 are cast in stereotyped roles (Hey, grandma!) or dismissed, excluded from appearing on TV, in movies and books. This is truly incomprehensibly revolting, and this is how we are conditioned to think. We erase women over 40 from being when we know this is NOT how women over 40 are.

In a world of reality television, isn’t it time to change the Ick Factor to a Truth Factor? Isn’t it time we show life as it really is, show people of all ages as whole, passionate, sexual human beings in love? Isn’t it time we grow up from being grossed out little five year olds who can’t comprehend how mommy would let daddy put his penis into her peegina?

I battle the Ick Factor. I write books that challenge the ‘younger’ norm of romance fiction. My lead characters are all over 40; the romance heroines are older than the standard twenty-something romance heroine.  The women I write are whole, intelligent, vibrant, sexual humAntonellicoverssmallan beings, not stereotypes of age. I write outside the norm because I believe it is beyond time to change. Discussing the Ick Factor and the ‘culture of invisibility’ is excellent, important, but what good is all the talk about age discrimination and sexism if no one challenges the ‘usual?” For decades, Romance fiction has been at the forefront of adapting to social and cultural change for women. What better place to shift the attitudes about women age, sexuality, make women of a certain age visible, and kill the Ick Factor?

Trust me on this. I’m a doctor who writes romance fiction.

*Becasue Pee comes out of a boy’s penis and pee comes out of a girl’s peegina

That Thing Where Your Book is Available for Pre-order

If you couldn’t tell by the title of this post, Next to You is now available for pre-order on AmazonNextToYou_V1_Round3-Harlequin1920_1920x3022

And if that’s not thrilling enough news, you can also have a good squizz at The Next to You Pinterest Board  where you’ll find Fun facts, fashion, films, and frivolity from the book.

 

The Soundtrack of A Fictional Life

William Murphy never sees It comingA mix tape, a playlist, a soundtrack whatever you call it, why can’t books have soundtracks for sale like movies? 

Because kids,  compiling a soundtrack for a movie is something of a copyright, A&R big money nightmare. For books to have a companion soundtrack would be a copyright, A&R ginormous money acid trip hallucination beyond the comprehension of mortals.

Despite that, from the very first book I ever wrote (the one that will never see the light of day) to A Basic Renovation, For Your Eyes Only (originally titled And She Was–a title I think was better–but marketing didn’t think so and what do I know about marketing?) and Driving in Neutral, every book I write has a soundtrack. Most authors I know listen to music when they write. Music can be inspiring or set the mood for a scene. Characters might have their own theme song. Some characters might even have an entire theme soundtrack, which is the case with Next to You, my upcoming July release.

The music for Next to You is so vital to the story, to the character of William Murphy. Music, Bubblegum pop and Super Sounds of the Seventies is what makes Will Will, –just like movies are what makes his new next door neighbour Caroline Jones Caroline Jones, but more about Caroline in future posts.

In the words of Barry Manilow (yes, I am quoting Barry Manilow), I am music and I write the sooooooongs, but really I am writer and I write the characters who listen to the sooooooongs, and the character I wrote listens to the songs (although he doesn’t listen to Barry Manilow) that make him the man he is.

Here then is some of what William Murphy listens to.   Next to You3coverAnd seeing as all of these songs (and many more) are in my  music library, you can be assured these are also songs I listen to. You can listen to the Next to You Soundtrack here on William Murphy’s YouTube Channel

Tell me, would you buy a book’s soundtrack the same way you’d buy a film soundtrack?

A Romance By Any Other Name…

I’ve been sitting on this for a little while, brewing my thoughts to get them just so. Usually, dears, we discuss that rare-but-subversive woman known as the Mid-life romance heroine–and lack there of. I’m heavy into that big ol’ taboo of fading beauty, saggy boobs, and gettin’ funky with middle-aged sex. This year brings us to another subversive, very particular taboo in romance fiction: The windy pop

Yes, kids, today I’m talking about farts. Turn away now if you can’t deal with my cheese-cutting-is-adolescent sense of humour.

Let’s get to it. I wonder why there exists a form of a double standard when it comes to Romantic Comedies and farting. In celluloid rom-com the bottom-burp (How many fart euphemisms can I work into this post?) is allowed. TV’s Sex And The City had an entire episode based around the humble bun shaker. Rom-com films and Chick Lit aren’t afraid of firing a little stink torpedo, but Contemporary romantic comedies in print form run screaming from the threat of a tiny squeaker. Is a fart not really a fart if you can watch it come to life in a moving picture?  In a big screen broad romantic comedy, like Bridesmaids, a little gas and diarrhea is fine, but why is it the game changes in print? Farting, like loose skin, or erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness, or a little grey in the pubic area simply can’t play any part in the fantasy of romance in print. I wanna know why rom-com lovers can tolerate film & digital image gas but not when it’s printed on a page.

Here are some questions I pose to you, my worthy friends:

1. Is the issue with a printed fart your imagination? That is, is it because the mind’s eye vision of the passing of gas you read about much, much more malodorous than the one you watch on screen?
2. Or is it for the same reason you seldom find (or see) fictional 40+ romance heroines or older people having sex: it comes down to an ICK FACTOR?

If you answered yes to question 2, I say, hold on sweet talkin’ lover…it’s so sad if that’s the way it’s over.

Romance comes in all forms. If the romance is key to the story, why should the little bits like body shape, age, and less-than-perfect-all-too-human tooting ruin the fantasy? Yes, my romance fantasy may not be your romance fantasy. My idea of funny might not match yours, but maybe we can agree on a few things. Beyond slapstick stuff, comedy is generally situation based. Contemporary rom-coms are usually situational. Finding love is situational. Falling in love is situational. The fantasy of love is situational.

This situation completely works for me. It’s the sweetest fart story I’ve ever heard, and it’s ripe (excuse THAT pun) for inclusion in a big screen AND print version romantic comedy.  The story comes to me from VaVeros, author of Shallowreader’s Blog (http://shallowreader.wordpress.com/) It goes something like this:

Amy and Ryan (fake names, naturally) have just had their very first date. The date went well, very well, and Amy happily gives Ryan a ride home. She drops him off in front of his house. Windows down as she reverses out, Amy safely releases the gas she’s been, politely, holding in for the last few minutes. When she pauses to change from Reverse to Drive, Amy discovers Ryan leaning in at the passenger window to restate how much he enjoyed their first date. Of course Ryan was startled, but the air biscuit was all it took. Surprise gave way to laughter and then it was love, not at first sight, but first fart. Ryan fell in love with Amy the moment he saw (and smelled) her humanity. They’ve been married 15 years.

When it’s handled in the right way there’s not so much an ICK factor there as you might have thought, huh? You can see the entire romance blossom from that one little fizzler.

But what do I know. I’m a stinker for romance.

Preempting Our Bite Lecture for a Re-Run of a Previous Post

You have twitter, Katydidinoz, the lovelies at Fangbooks (www.fangtasticfiction.com/), and VaVeros from the Shallow Reader (shallowreader.wordpress.com/ ) to thank for this 2007 re-run on Romantic Comedies. Since then we’ve had a few rom coms–Thanks Hollywood for It’s Complicated and Easy A, however, my rant to Tinseltown remains much the same as I stated below, in green.

Do you think so too?

There’s a trend to have the hero in be a loser in film romantic comedies. For example, in Failure to Launch the guy lives with his parents. In Knocked Up the dude is an unemployed pothead. Sure, that’s funny, but it’s a gag that wears out quickly, and it makes me wonder why there are so few good romantic comedy feature films. Emphasis has been on the comedy, not the romance.


Have production companies forgotten how to make a romantic comedy?

If so, here’s a suggestion: Look back through the film vaults for examples. Remember Sabrina? How about Bringing Up Baby, It Happened One Night or The Princess Bride? Use those as blueprints. And remember, a rom com is about two people and their road to finding love. It should be witty, clever, sexy, and the circumstances of the humour should not revolve around how stupid the hero (or heroine) is. They can make stupid choices, or get into strife due to someone else’s stupidity, but for God’s sake give the man a brain. Make him appeal to the heroine and filmgoers. While slap-stick funny, a pothead is not an appealing romantic hero–is it? 

Well, is it?

How many of you girls out there really want a doobie smoker to sweep you off your feet? Do you actually dream of hooking up with a guy who lives in mom and dad’s basement or attic and think, hmm, here’s a great potential life partner. 

Are any of you are bouncing up and down shouting, meee mee?

Not getting any good screenplays, Hollywood? IS that the problem? Well here’s another heads up: There are many romantic comedy novels out there that aren’t being optioned as films.  My top picks for books with a wide audience appeal? Well, for a start,

Jenny Crusie’s Fast Women
Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ It Had To Be You and Natural Born Charmer
Rachel Gibson’s Sex Lies & Online Dating


Why those? Simple. The heroes are normal. They have jobs that will appeal to men (Private investigator, Football player, cop) while appealing to women on the hero front. These heroes aren’t stupid, they’re vicitms of circumstance and they’re grown ups. They come from various socio-economic backgrounds, just like Linus Laribee, David Huxley, Peter Warne, and Westley.

Am I projecting? Is this what I hope for my own Rom Com writing? 

Well, duuuh.

Doin’ What Comes Natural Natually

PhD research can lead you to a couple of interesting places. As you Biteyites know, I’m examining roles, representations of age, and non-traditional romance heroines. Part of what I investigate involves  applying conventions and certain constraints–the do’s and don’ts of romance–upon romance and romance heroines.

Y’all know I’m a total sucker for a romantic comedy like Bringing Up Baby. Rom Com, It’s what I write, what I read, and what I like to watch at the movies. If a rom com book doesn’t live up to my expectations, I’ll skim through it looking for the rom and the com, and if it fails to be either, I’m not likely to finish it. However, movies are different. I’ll sit through crapfests like The Bounty Hunter and The Ugly Truth waiting, believing that at some point the romance and the comedy will kick in. I watched The Ugly Truth (right up to the end credits) dismayed that the scene with the vibrating underpants never reached beyond unimaginative, cheap, 13 year old boy humour, which is pretty odd considering I’m also a total sucker for 13 year old boy fart and poop humour.

While I’m on the subject of The Ugly Truth, before I go any further, allow me a moment to digress. Since I mentioned The Bounty Hunter and The Ugly Truth as examples of doody, let me give Hollywood producers a quick head’s up. Gerard Butler. Please, for the love of sweet Mother Mary, keep him out of rom coms! You want to give the guy a love interest? Use his talent properly and put him in something passionate, sweaty, noir-ish, and hard-boiled–the way women would really appreciate seeing him.

Back to what I was saying…While I’m more likely to toss a book aside, I’ll watch a rom-com to the very end. I’m committed even if it looks like an absolute turd of a film from the start. Ever seen the Matthew Perry-Salma Hayek romantic comedy Fools Rush In? It’s a film where I expected turd and wound up with a sparkly, little brown diamond instead. Fools Rush In is a sweet little rom com, an underrated rom-com if you ask me. It goes like this:

Alex meets Isabel in Vegas. They have a one night stand. Isabel winds up preggers and they wind up getting married. As you can guess (with the lovely Latina, Salma) there winds up being a clash of cultures involved in making the marriage work.
Yes, it contains the It’d-never-work in-real-lifegirl-gets-knocked-up-after-one-night-
stand-marriage
convention, but the chemistry between the likable leads, combined with Matthew Perry’s comedic timing, make the groan-worthy cliche work. The result is a charming little movie, which

curiously fits in with my PhD–in a roundabout about way.

While researching like a good little PhDer, I came across Paperback Writer (pbackwriter.blogspot.com/2009/02/heroine-no-nos.html), a blog that touted the Ten Things your Romance Heroine Should Never Do. It says stuff like

 

Do not allow the heroine to handle condoms;
A heroine does not use swear words;

A heroine never goes to the bathroom in front of the hero.

I thought I’d hit real genre constraint gold–but that was only before I realised the blog is tongue-in-cheek. So let’s go back to on that says, ‘the heroine never goes to the bathroom in front of the hero.’ Upon reading that, Fools Rush In immediately popped into my head because the movie contains two very, very important things. First, the film has THE best romantic film line EVER:

"You’re everything I never knew I always wanted."
 

Sigh….Doesn’t that just sum up the delightful messiness of love? Anyhow, next, there’s a scene where Isabel (Salma) is on the toilet in front of Alex (Matthew). And yep, she even wipes.

AND flushes!

Well, isn’t that just how life is? Isn’t that just how love is? Fools Rush In was made in 1997 and I think we’re a little behind in the times. C’mon Oldbitey, I hear you say, ‘what the hell is the big fat point all this is leading up to?

I’m sayin’, if there are as-nature-intended potty-going scenes in a rom com made fourteen years ago, I’m betting the world is ready for as-nature-intended middle-aged heroine who cusses like a drunken stevedore and has sex scenes on the page and screen. I’m sure you are ready too.

There’s just one more thing. Hey, Hollywood! Couples Retreat? So NOT a rom com!

What’s My Movie Line?

We’ve got a new catch phrase over at the Shrinky & Bitey homestead. Catch phrases are very important for us, very important to mankind and home life. Think about it. Honestly, where would we be without a good Homeric D’oh!?

I’m not the only one who thinks catch phrases are essential to living and there’s a real art to finding a good one. Michael Cieply over at The New York Times had a sweet little article about ’em www.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/movies/20lines.html a few weeks ago. Some of the babies he mentions like Go Ahead. Make my day, have gone global, others he doesn’t discuss, such as "Gene Hackmankickyourass" are obsure, minor lines in a film that may only mean something to a few viewers in a particular household, like mine

Over the weekend I finally watched, in its entirety without any interruptions (as with my previous three attempts), the Coen Brothers’ 2009 offering A Serious Man, and I quite enjoyed it. I love how the Coens use oddball bits of humour in dark tales of woe, you know, like Javier Bardem’s Toni Tennille hair in No Country For Old Men. I love how eloquent hick-sounding H.I. McDonnough is in Raising Arizona. Mostly I love the Coens because they come up with lines that I can, and do, use in my daily life. Raising Arizona’s "OK then," and "Awful Good cereal flakes, Ms McDonnough," are staple lines at Biteycrest as much as a Noo Yawk-ish "Look in your heart!" from Miller’s Crossing. After viewing A Serious Man, and laughing at the subtle horror of a man’s life gone to dreck, "working on The Mentaculus" is now the new home  phrase for dicking around when you should be concentrating on something else, like taking out the trash, writing further chapters of And She Was or doing a lit review for a PhD. For example,
Shrinky: "Did you iron my shirts?"
Oldbitey:  "No, I’ve been working on the Mentaculus."

The phrase also comes in handy for those times when you don’t want to do something rather unsavoury.
Shrinky:" How about we go and see Avril Lavigne in concert this weekend?"
Oldbitey: "Oh, sorry, I can’t. I’ll still be working on the Mentaculus."


I’d be curious to know what you Bitye-ites out there use as your movie catch phrases of choice. Are you a Nobody puts baby in the corner kind of gal? Do you Yoda up your life with "do or do not, there is no try?" Does your naughty kid spend time in "The Cooler?"
Oh, and if you’re curious about the "Genehackmankickyourass," it’s from Fletch Lives, with Chevy Chase. And we use it the same nonsensical way he does.

 

What A (Squicky) Feeling

This being October, the month that ends with Halloweenie, I’m going to share a grisly horror story that Shrinky types out there might like to say explains my extreme dislike for a much-loved film. If you’re squeamish and prone to nightmares, skip the next sentence. Every time I hear the Giorgio Moroder synth opening I see the poor little dog who met a miserable end on the freeway outside Toledo. Begin reading again HERE: Pretty gross, huh? I think so too. In fact, now I need a little lie down and something delightfully distracting to get those dreadful images out of my head.

You might think that harrowing event is what spoiled the film for me, but you’d be wrong. Honest. It has more to do with Irene Cara’s vocals, the warehouse-dwelling welder by day, dancer by night who looked nothing like any eighteen year old I ever knew, and the fact the movie is unmitigated crap challenged only by the sheer shittiness of Fame. All that is what makes me feel ooky and squiky.

In case you haven’t guessed it, I’m talking about Flashdance and I hate Flashdance. With. A. Passion. Does that hatred Take My Breath Away, you ask? Well, yes, but not in the same so-bad-it’s-guuud way as Top Gun, or the Time of My Life cheese-filled Dirty Dancing or the uber-schlockfestive Sergent Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (A worried-about-my-career-looking Peter Frampton! The BeeGees in the tightest pants ever! Arrowsmith’s bitchin’ cover of Come Together!). Besides the ickiness of the Toledo accident scene, perhaps Flashdance came out at a time in my life when I started noticing cliched plots and characters, and this movie is filled with them from the rich boss, the older, wiser mentor, to the nasty ex-wife. YAWN. Then there’s Alex, the heroine in Flashdance. She, and the Fame kids, looked nothing like my high school, or just out of high school classmates. My high school was populated by the weirdos, cliques, jocks, burn-outs, and ordinary kids peppered throughout Sixteen Candles. By no means do I mean Farmer Ted, Samantha Baker, Long Duk Dong, and Jake Ryan were realistic teenagers, but in the John Hughesiverse, and the realm of "teen" movies, they came closest. That said, The Breakfast Club was a total miss for me. It annoyed me, but not in the same dog horror-inducing way as Flashdance.

So then, my fair Biteyites, here comes my big fat question: what’s the movie that gave you, or gives you, a big fat NOOOOO feeling? What blockbuster is a gut buster or brain buster for you?

Since I’m feeling a little fragile now, what with all the bad memories Shrinky would suggest need to be examined in therapy, I have no choice but to gaze upon Something New, which you know means Simon Baker.