Just prior to the Lewinsky scandal exposing feminism’s unapologetic lack of principle, 1997 proved to be a watershed year for gender-related culture. It’s the year that brought us the Lilith Fair, songs like Where Have All the Cowboys Gone? and Smack My Bitch Up, and the Neil LaBute film In the Company of Men.
All the hotties getting down on the dance floor to Smack My Bitch Up couldn’t get me to swallow the Red Pill (“it’s just a joke” “they have low self-esteem”), but In the Company of Men almost did. My conversion was a long and painful journey; countless times I “got it” but then quickly reverted to the boring safety of betahood. LaBute’s movie is one of the only times that the Pill almost stayed where it belongs. Did I spit it back up? Yes, but I actually accepted the truth for a day or so after I watched it. That says a lot, because dammit, I was plugged-in.
Largely because it had such an effect on me, I think it could be a useful tool in our attempts to enlighten others. Watching it alone on some Tuesday night might not have the desired effect, but watching it with a friend who really sees what’s going on and gets the subtext could be downright deadly. To use a volleyball metaphor, this movie is the perfect set for the spike of a conversation with a guy who knows Game.
It centers almost exclusively around three characters: Chad (Aaron Eckhart in his breakout role), Howard (Matt Malloy), and Christine (Stacy Edwards). Chad is the Alpha, Howard the beta, and Christine the lonely girl who’s given up on romance. Chad concocts a plan to devastate some random girl (who turns out to be Christine) by having both him and Howard throw themselves at her feet, only for both of them to pull away at the same time in order to hurt her as much as possible.
Of course, there’s more to Chad’s plan than meets the eye, and as it unfolds we see an intricate portrayal of the Alpha, Beta, and Woman archetypes. Chad knows exactly how to get what he wants and dominates every situation, Howard is a really nice guy who muddles his way through.
Guess which one Christine falls in love with.
Part of what makes the movie both entertaining and enlightening is the direct and continual contrast between Chad’s Game and Howard’s. We see Chad on a date, then Howard on a date. Chad calls her home and talks to her mother, a few minutes later Howard does the same. This structure enables the viewer to clearly differentiate between what works and what doesn’t, so it’s the perfect way to show a nice guy what he’s doing wrong, and how to do things right.
However, one of the reasons that In the Company of Men could backfire if it’s not seen in the presence of somebody who understands Game is that Chad’s seduction style isn’t quite the same as a PUA’s. Chad’s not looking to score a one-night stand by hitting every one of Christine’s attraction triggers as quickly as possible. Instead, he’s pursuing the perfect strategy for a high SMV male to get a relatively lower SMV female to fall in love with him. He therefore strategically shows vulnerability, buys her flowers, and treats her fairly well (most of the time). His Game is more reminiscent of the Marquis de Valmont in Les Liaisons dangereuses than Roissy’s.
Still, he’s an Alpha through and through, just a smart one who understands context and which type of Game works best when. He dominates every conversation and intimidates everyone with whom he comes in contact, and his push-pull during his first date with Christine is sheer mastery. A mistake AFC’s often make is to think that behaviors that can increase the appeal of an Alpha (like a sincere expression of affection or singing a power-ballad) will just make a beta seem more needy. If you know Game you can explain this to anybody watching the movie with you, and they’ll then be able to benefit from Chad’s mad skills.
A warning to females: There’s at least one scene in this movie that will make you extremely uncomfortable, and those of you who resist the Red Pill absolutely despise the movie’s message. ITCoM shows a really sweet girl turn into a heartless wench before our very eyes, and most women don’t like admitting that such a thing could ever happen.
Chad and Howard’s final scenes are symbolism at its most poignant. What happens to Chad as he looks up at the ceiling epitomizes what it means to be an Alpha; Howard’s final cries show the same for the average schlub. The contrast couldn’t be greater, and whatever you might think of Chad, you sure as hell know you don’t want to be Howard.
Don’t expect explosions and gunfights. It’s low-budget and feels like a play. LaBute got his start as a playwright, and with each subsequent viewing you’ll find more and more layers of subtext. Not much happens, the setting is a generic company in a generic city with generic locations for dates, and you have to pay attention to get anything out of it (so don’t watch it with your drinking buddies and a case of Busch Light), but it’s beyond thought-provoking and one of pop culture’s best portrayals of the realities of sexual attraction.
Unfortunately, it’s not streaming on Netflix. It’s not particularly expensive at Amazon, so you should get it through the Amazon link at Viva la Manosphere!–that site rocks and deserves all the support we can give it.
LaBute explores similar themes in The Shape of Things and Your Friends & Neighbors. Both are pretty decent flicks, but neither is as funny or poignant as In the Company of Men.
It should be known as a masterpiece of masculine insight:
I’m slowly collecting a list of mainstream-seeming movies that demonstrate game/reality/charisma principles. Haven’t seen this one, but will check it out and add it to the list.
What are some of the others on your list?
Vicki Christina Barcelona, The Quiet Man, Hatari!, Donovan’s Reef (my ever-useful Duke trio), Zorba the Greek… that’s all I can remember just now. Mostly I’m aiming at stuff that’s fairly subtle on a surface level but strong and undeniable once you see it. That first one is borderline for it, but most of the list rests on being inoffensive-looking.
The film was well-made and delivered, but needless to say, I wasn’t much of a fan. It seemed to be missing something, like a “center”… what do you think of the way LaBute called out men’s similar hypocrisy in “Fat Pig”?
Peregrine John, not sure what you mean by “Game”–The Quiet Man? (Hello?) Does “Game” signal that you believe women actually lie about what we say we want in males? As one who never has, I think this trait in women is due to low consciousness about sexism. We ask men to treat women as equals, so women need to treat men as equals too… if we are being hypocritical, then we need to be called on that. But I think most of these women you think are “lying” about their true desires, are not feminists and would never identify that way. Thus, I prescribe more feminism, not less.
Movies that might qualify for your list: Manhattan is required viewing. (Also has one of my favorite lines about lesbian mothers… Woody worries about his son having two moms, “Because I always feel very few people survive one mother”.) Also “Sideways” is good.
For an insight into how women see men seeing women (I don’t know if Zoe Kazan identifies as an actual feminist or not), check out the recent “Ruby Sparks”. I’d love to hear your opinion. For a great bio of the feminist that scares all men to death, check out the older movie about Valerie Solanas, “I shot Andy Warhol”–Yo La Tengo plays the Velvet Underground! (((fangirl scream))) Both are excellent movies. Lili Taylor is in “The Conjuring” which is currently #1 at the box office (I saw it this past weekend) and that is one reason I remembered “I shot Andy Warhol”… . BTW, I assume yall have seen “Chasing Amy”?
You might also check out “Atlantic City“… and here is my review of “Repulsion”–the only feminist movie I can think of that was made by a rapist.
Always love to talk about movies. 🙂
Obviously, John can speak for himself if he wants to, but yes, women frequently lie about what they find attractive, or more precisely the messages we’re fed from youth encourage us to develop the softer nice side of maleness and neglect to encourage us to develop our masculinity. When a woman says she wants a guy to respect her, what’s she’s saying (whether she knows it or not) is that she wants an Alpha male to respect her (Alpha Is Assumed). Without proper training, most boys won’t fill in the blanks and try to be nice. That doesn’t work unless you’ve already become more of a badass.
I haven’t seen “Fat Pig” (although ITCOM isn’t exactly flattering for males), but I think the real tragedy is LaBute directing movies he hasn’t written and giving us schlop like Nurse Betty and Wicker Man.
I despise Woody Allen, so unless I happen to stop by somebody’s house who’s watching Manhattan, I probably won’t see it. I saw Chasing Amy a long time ago, and as I remember it I agreed with the female more than the male, but I’ve changed a lot since then. It might be worth a rewatch.
The others sound interesting and I’ll gradually check them out. “Andy Warhol” sounds especially interesting in that I love VU (VU & Nico is an unbelievably solid album) and like Yo La Tengo when I saw them live a few years back (the keyboard play kept her shirt on, unfortunately).
“Does “Game” signal that you believe women actually lie about what we say we want in males?”
Yes. Most women do lie about what they want in men. And most of them do it without knowing it or not. When a woman says “I just want a nice guy who will treat me right”
what she is really saying is
“I just want an alpha man who is nice to me and treats everyone else like shit; who earns a lot of money and spends it on me; and who will have great sex with me (and only me), and who will commit to me.”
“As one who never has, I think this trait in women is due to low consciousness about sexism.”
No. It is because women do not know themselves; do not understand human nature; do not understand men; and because they do not even know themselves they are doing it. She genuinely believes what she’s saying “I Just want a Nice Guy who will treat me right”. She just omits the part where she says she wants an alpha badboy.
But most importantly, women lie about what they want in men because if they admitted the truth, they will come off as shallow, slutty, rude, snobby, picky, and/or bitchy. And that would expose a woman to the one thing she hates most of all: Judgment. Above all, women HATE being judged, and especially hate being judged negatively.
“We ask men to treat women as equals, so women need to treat men as equals too… if we are being hypocritical, then we need to be called on that. But I think most of these women you think are “lying” about their true desires, are not feminists and would never identify that way. Thus, I prescribe more feminism, not less.”
At best, your way of thinking would only create more sex pozzie feminist alpha chasers.
In moderation again. (sigh)
What to make of the fact that LaBute’s female-critical stuff gets made into movies, but “Fat Pig” (critical of men) has NOT been? Hmm, wonder why? (rhetorical, I already know the answer)
Oh yeah, have you seen “Adventureland”?
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Its a shame you hate Woody…. he has always dramatized exactly the stuff you guys are talking about… sometimes, with a vengeance. AND he is a riot, meaning women will “take it” from him when they won’t from other men.
In “Stardust Memories” and a few other honest moments, he even admits he’s an alpha too.
What interests me, there were even radio commercials for “Manhattan” in the 70s that were totally upfront that he was involved with a high-school girl in the movie (“I’ve always encouraged you to go out with guys more your own age! Kids from your class, Billy and Biff and Scooter!”) — whereas now, he’d be called a pedophile. Times and mores certainly do change.
As an older person, I tell young people to always remember the morality they take for granted, can change utterly, seemingly on a dime.
I saw that Manhattan is steaming on Netflix so I MIGHT give it a shot. I just hope it’s better than Annie Hall and the Mighty Aphrodite (the two movies of his I managed to make it all the way through).
In moderation, really, your blog has me flagged for feminist cooties. 😉
You guys may be too young to appreciate Howard Cosell, but just in case: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QK9y_sY4dKg
…cracks me up every time. They were married for real at the time, which is of course how he got away with it.
That was actually almost funny.
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