The Invisible Man

SCENE: A suburban family room. MOTHER and FATHER are anxiously looking at their SON, who’s watching…TV.

MOTHER: It’s all he’s watching lately. .

FATHER: What is it?

MOTHER: He’s binging Band of Brothers

FATHER: Again? This is like the third time.

MOTHER: And before that, it was 13 Hours. And then Taken.

FATHER: I caught him watching Die Hard the other day.

MOTHER: He has the scene of him rescuing his wife from being pulled out the window with Hans Gruber as his social media avatar.

FATHER: God. I wonder what’s going on with him?

So I started binge watching “The Flight Attendant” last night.

Pros: it’s really well written. That’s nothing to sneeze at. I’ve been terribly disappointed by the writing in a lot of things I’ve seen lately (I’m looking at you, Love Life, whose laziness completely wasted Anna Kendrick).

The writers toss out a completely un-subtle “Crime and Punishment“ reference in the first couple minutes, and then go on to deliver on it throughout everything I’ve seen so far (#StuffEnglishMajorsLike). And Kaley Cuoco makes a completely believable protagonist.

Bonus pro: it’s got Rosie Perez, who may be the most underrated actress of her generation (although she’s just a tad underutilized in the first couple episodes).

It’s not Dial M for Murder, much less Gaslight, but it ain’t bad.

Speaking of that Ingrid Bergman / Charles Boyer classic…

Cons: These aren’t all in re Flight Attendant alone – far from it.

Hollywood writers seemed to have gotten together and signed a weird, junior high quality pact amongst themselves: “For decades, we wrote women as one dimensional caricatures; madonnas, whores, bimbos and housewives. Let’s pack a century of retribution into a couple of years worth of television and movies.“

Apparently, women can be protagonists, or nuanced, complex characters, or turbocharged badasses, for good or evil – or at least not incompetent caricatures.  That’s a good thing.

On the other hand, rules for men of these days seem to be boiled down to:

  • Gay besties
  • stock black, Asian, Latino or Semitic guys
  • The villain (usually an older white guy, usually played with all the subtlety of a mustache-twisting melodrama villain, although occasionally a white woman)
    – The love interest – who is usually safely ethnically ambiguous.
  • pathetic, beaten down sacks
  • Buffoons, tools, frat bros (apparently all white anglo-saxon protestant males get lacrosse scholarships. I didn’t know that), frat bros that have grown up to be buffoons and tools, cliché rednecks and every kind of cad ever offered up by central casting.. Almost inevitably white, although I guess it’s a sign of evolution the screen writers are showing the occasional less than bright/moral/ethical black male character.
  • Part of a married couple – usually as a hapless schlub whose league his spouse is waaay out of, but with plenty of dysfunctional, abusive cads thrown in. (Same sex couples apparently are immune to most serious dysfunction in Hollywood. Who knew?)

Patronizing? I think so.

Virtue signaling? Sure.

 Lazy? Completely.


FATHER: Junior? Why are you watching all these…

MOTHER: …movies and TV shows?

SON: Because it’s fun, for a change, for the first time in my life, to see people like I am, or plan to become, not portrayed as idiots, buffoons, fools, blackguards and expendable simps?

MOTHER: (sotto voce, to FATHER). Do. you think we should call a therapist?

6 thoughts on “The Invisible Man

  1. A good manuscript is a submitted manuscript. A great manuscript is a published manuscript. A perfect manuscript is neither.

  2. You’re in real danger of becoming a curmudgeon, Mitch.

    I suspect it’s because you grew up watching Leave it to Beaver, which mindwashed you to believe that most of the people in Jamestown were White, married, law-abiding, church-going citizens who loved their spouses, their kids and their country, families in which Dad worked and Mom made the home and kids knew their place. Talk about White Privilege!

    Finally, after decades of exclusionary propaganda, Hollywood is broadcasting a more fair, balanced, nuanced representation of what life in America should look like, if only gays and feminists ran the world. Just wait, a few more years of teaching youngsters how awful America is, and they’ll be ready to tear down the old hateful structure of society to implement the national socialist utopia.

  3. Thinking back about all the old movies I’ve watched, I can’t think of very many where (a) the movie stood the test of time and (b) either sex was portrayed in a one dimensional way.. Maybe secular moviemakers are starting to take lessons from Kirk Cameron and the God’s Not Dead series now?

  4. The word “virtue” comes from the Latin root, vir, which means manliness, usually in a heroic context. A virtuous man, then, is one who displays admirable masculine qualities; a virtuous person could still be interpreted in light of masculine “virtues”, which might be triggering to soy-boi virtue signalers.

    There are movies, both newer and older, that still portray positive masculinity, though they are harder to find. I compiled a series of such movies in order to teach an ongoing class to young teen males about manliness in a culture that seemed to relegate male role models to either Homer Simpson or a Pro Wrassler. “Spartacus” is a great example, with many illustrative scenes and quotes, including when his Roman captors expected Spartacus to ravage the woman Virinia for their entertainment because they viewed him as nothing more than an instinctive beast, but he displays a nobler character. Spartacus, of course, sets an inspiring example throughout the movie, culminating in many men saying, “I am Spartacus”; essentially choosing death in order to stand with their leader. It resonated in the culture at the time, with “I am Spartacus” becoming a popular phrase for a time.

    There’s no more virtuous example, however, than Atticus Finch, voted as the #1 film hero of all time in the AFI rankings. Atticus was a quiet, humble, and principled man who could not be shaken from doing what he considered right. It’s no wonder Atticus is so admired. It was also no surprise that a dying and possibly addled Harper Lee was pushed into releasing a sequel that she had sat on for decades, one that portrayed a much more flawed version of the man – a version that many influencers applauded. The Culture couldn’t truly abide a “good” man who, even if fictional, stood in silent conviction of their own failings.

    In the class I taught I hoped to inspire a new generation who would say, “I am Atticus.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.