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Interesting post. Of course I have several points of opinion to offer, even though I haven't seen the movie.

If the culture of movies usually revolves around men as people and women as types, then typically unpleasant types that typically are represented by women, are misogynistic, yes.

How often do we see shrewish characters that are male? And yet, there are just as many disappointed-in-their-schlubby-wives husbands who attempt to change their behavior. Therefore, yes, shrews are misogynistic, because the audience participates in all such caricatures by selective bias in their memories, remembering only the times when a woman acts like that, and forgetting all male behavior that is comparable, because they don't have cultural points of reference for the latter.

All of this is reinforcing. The cultural deck is stacked against women. If I am sometimes shrewish with my husband, that's far worse than when he does the same to me, because everyone (including him and me) notices and examines my behavior more. That's because "how women are" and why they are that way is more frequently under the microscope than how men are.

Men, even if they are types to begin with (such as The Schlub), are allowed to experience growth and the mistreatment of them is portrayed in such a way that even when the audience recognizes they are schlubs and therefore worthy of some blame, the audience sympathizes with them. The story, as you point out in the case of The Hangover, is about them. That would be fine if it happened half or even 70% of the time. But it happens 90% of the time. The woman-as-type is rarely just herself because she is rarely the story. Both those facts - that she isn't the story, and that she's a woman-as-type who doesn't experience growth - are interrelated and yes, they are misogynistic. The end result is: women aren't people. Typically female types are loaded. Loaded with the implication that this is what women are like. And the male character gets to experience life and growth against this backdrop of Woman as Obstacle, Woman as Shrew, Woman as Catalyst, whatever. Of course I think this is problematic.

One can't watch a movie like The Hangover in isolation from its cultural/social and Hollywoodian context. By itself, it might be okay. But in context? Yes, it sounds misogynistic. Especially the bit about Stu getting with a stripper/prostitute to become more of a man, or whatever he's in the process of doing. I mean, Jeeeesus! The Shrew v. The Whore?

Even misogynists don't think there are no nice women, so the presence of the nice woman as a side character is not impressive. What they do think is not think of women as people, therefore no woman character that is a popular type is "just herself." That would be much too much of a coincidence. Women aren't allowed to be complicated, like men are. This movie sounds that way, but I'd have to watch it to be sure.


Apostate, of course you have opinions to offer. That's why we're always glad to see your name pop up in the comments. Good points. It's a political argument, though, not an artistic one, and it makes all male writers and filmmakers guilty by association and assigns them the political job of changing the culture in a way you approve.

Tracy's presence doesn't do the trick all by itself. There are other "nice" women in the movie. Her mother, the desk clerk at the hotel in Vegas. It's Tracy's importance to the plot that matters.

Stu, Phil, and Alan are types, and unattractive ones to boot. Stu is the big-talking schlmiel, the little man who puffs himself up until he's actually challenged. Stu's a coward and not just with Melissa. Phil is the charming schemer and cad whose plans get everyone around him into trouble he can't talk his way out of. And Alan is the man-child, a type that includes Bud Abbott, Harpo Marx, and Stan Laurel, but he's less inhibited than Harpo and has an even more active libido, plus he can talk, and he's icky.

There are probably male shrews in movies and novels, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. The more usual type that's a male counterpart to the shrew is the miles gloriousus, the self-important bully, who demands that "his" woman serve his ego all the time. Have you seen Philadelphia Story? The guy Katherine Hepburn's character is going to marry until Cary Grant "tames" her is that type.


If the absence of admirable and memorable female leads is misogynistic in and of itself, almost all war movies are misogynistic.


Nancy, I think that certainly makes the movie industry misogynistic. I wouldn't have a problem with that assertion at all.

And no, it's not the absence of admirable and memorable female leads ONLY, in this case; it's also the presence of nasty feminine types and a storyline that has misogynistic themes.

And Lance, I would argue that art can't operate without a complete context, both a social one and an artistic one. Movies build on an audience's expectations (which are derived from watching hundreds of other movies) and they trust the audience to "get" the tropes from reason of familiarity. Otherwise, the impact of each trope/theme would be lessened. They need verisimilitude and audience participation to really succeed.

I'll share a fun personal anecdote - when I first started watching American movies (late in my adulthood), I didn't get the more complex ones because I had no context to supply: not that of the society and not that of millions of TV shows and movies watched in the past. And it was confusing. Two movies in particular, which I didn't enjoy at all but should have, were Casablanca and Shakespeare in Love.

Re-watching them, I get all the subtle ways in which they are delightful. But the cultural and cinematic context (which I have acquired since) was key in their proper viewing.


Um, isn't it Lou Costello who was the man-child?


Hey Bra---dott!

I've been a baaaaaaaaaad boy. Of course he was. I don't know what I was thinking. Thanks for the catch.


Just saw "The Hangover" on your recommendation on the heels of "Bruno," and both comedies were unexpectedly brilliant, although "Hangover" does slide into sentimental mush at the end, a charge that can't be leveled at "Bruno," unless you count Elton John singing an anthem on the piano while sitting on the back of a Mexican laborer as a sentimental ending.

I am quite looking forward to your thoughts on both Bruno AND Mr. Chow as a presumably secure, happy heterosexual male. (By the way, neither one offended me as a presumably secure, happy homo male, which was a nice surprise.)

tinfoil hattie

If the absence of admirable and memorable female leads is misogynistic in and of itself, almost all war movies are misogynistic. If the presence of unlikable female leads is misogynistic, then Macbeth is the most misogynistic play ever written, after King Lear.

Well, uh, DUH! And it's "misogynist," not "misogynistic."


TH, "Macbeth is the most misognynist play"? Really? Dictionary has misogynist as just a noun, with misogynistic the adjective. Why do you think Lear and Macbeth and The Sands of Iwo Jima are misogynist/misogynistic?

SFMike, Mr Chow is great because he defies explanation. Bruno was lower down on my to-see list and I was afraid I wouldn't get to it before it left the theaters. But now I'll move it up the list.


There are probably male shrews in movies and novels, but I can't think of any off the top of my head.

Addison DeWitt, the second male lead in most of Doris Day's sex comedies and pretty much everyone Clifton Webb ever played. Boy shrews don't have to pretend they're doing it for altruistic reasons.

Cleveland Bob

Wow. That was a long way down. Great post, Lance.

I just thought The Hangover was funny. That's all. I felt no need to analyze it further.

As for Bruno, I'm beginning to think that SBC is an acquired male taste like The Stooges. Women I have spoken with don't appear to find him very funny at all.


"Well, uh, DUH! And it's 'misogynist,' not 'misogynistic.'"

Tinfoil hattie, the dictionary -- or one of them, at least -- contradicts you.

Of course, dictionaries are descriptive not prescriptive, so feel free to use language however you want. Language nitpicking makes no friends, especially when so trivial, though.

Which is why I do it.

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