Friday, December 27, 2013

5 Reasons Why Don Jon is NOT a Chick or Dick Flick

Don Jon (the American spin off to the infamous Italian womanizing character, Don Juan) will give any viewer the false impression of a chick or a dick flick. For firsts, it has Joseph Gordon Lewitt (500 Days of Summer) and Scarlett Johansson (He's Just Not That Into You) on the lead that would make anyone gush about how cute as a button they make for a pair. On the record, 500 Days of Summer was a romantic comedy unlike any other, so folks can surely expect more substance from Lewitt. Secondly, it's a movie about a guy who has an apparent porn addiction that might give the impression of it being a 'guy movie'. While it is hard to say how much is too much for porn, save this character can't go a day without it inspite of an active sex life.

So how come it is neither? Here's why I think this movie makes the right mainstream cut while making an important cultural point.

1. Don Jon doesn't debase porn and leave it at that

I've seen a lot of movies either taking the higher moral ground about pornography or condoning it as, pretty much, a rite of passage that, well...continues on. This movie is critical about it but specifically for how it objectifies women (As the protagonist crosses a checklist of ass, boobs and blowjobs), how it lacks soul and creates unrealistic expectations in our mind. It also gets us a lot closer to the average male mind when Don says, porn is better than sex because of the lack of inhibition that women display apart from just how perfectly sculpted they are.

However, it also pokes fun at girlfriends like Johansson who believe that only sick people watch porn and breaks the myth that regular women don't watch porn. SPOILET ALERT but in one scene, the character of Julianna Moore comes up to Don Jon to share something more aesthetically crafted from her dirty collection, which he takes much offense to.

2. Don Jon is a satire on romantic comedies

Clearly, his character isn't the only who has an addiction or a problem of unrealistic expectation. His girlfriend dopes on movies that show bonny looking couples who fall in love in the most dire or unusual of circumstances, where the guy gives up everything to be with the girl he loves. "Don't you think it's a little one sided?", he asks her and she brushes it off with no inkling that porn and romcoms could be more similar in constructing the 'perfect' caricatures of a man or woman.

3. Don Jon is a serious movie on human connection, not what gets flouted as love.

Thanks to what sells that feeds off and into our fantasies and the apparent heteronormative convention of society, Don Jon challenges safe structures that society accepts on the surface, never once glancing into the real underlying and largely repressed emotions. It's easy to dismiss his inability towards any real connection because of his porn addiction but a closer examination of his family and religious values and practices hints a much stronger influence. A family happy enough for him to bring a tight assed white girl and a church that absolves him of all his sins with x number of 'Hail Mary' prayers with no real question or concern for his actions or feelings will maketh a very mechanical man out of anyone.

4. Don Jon is, most surprisingly, a very feminist movie

A very miniscule minority of men today can offer the male perspective and without a feminist witch hunt agenda, criticize women's behaviour patterns on theories based out of 'Women from Venus'. Feminism doesn't favour one gender over another but aims to equate critcism and reflection for all, including the queer community. Mills and Boons has pretty much been porn for women for ages now and this movie is a very polite wake up call. It tells men that you can be all beefed up and smooth with women and yet never make a real connection while it would take care of your progeny and social status. It tells women to adjust expectations that the ideal man isn't a dog you play fetch with.

5. Joseph Gordon Lewitt

Move over Ryan Gosling fandom and the much-too-conceited James Franco. JGL is no new kid in the block but this bloke is making us weak in the knees and our thinking minds sharper with every instalment of his. It might seem to many like the child artist has finally grown up but much like Leonardo Di Caprio, JGL has always been a mature actor, wise and crafty in the roles he has played. Who else could give this kind of depth to the role of an average jock who cares about 5 things only - his car, gym, family, women and church.

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