The first half of this two-part article will focus on comedic garbage, the second on a worthy comedic effort. Both movies I will discuss concern the important business of men planning on losing their virginity. I will say no more about Part II; you (like your virginity) will just have to wait. In the meantime, be prepared, if you weren’t already from having seen this movie years ago, to be royally pissed off.
“American Pie” came to theaters in 1999, when I was a religious conservative, my sexuality thoroughly tamed, though not by independent thought, volition, experience, consequence and gentle follow-up from older males with a vested interest in my well-being; but by coercive, death-oriented lies. Therefore, I missed the movie. I have to hand it to my former religion: At least it kept me away from this crap.
At the time, the commercials were enough to turn me off. I was able to guiltily laugh at a dirty joke back then, but only if it was funny. They couldn’t find a single, funny, dirty joke to showcase in their movie trailer; that should have been my first clue. Secondly, once the movie had hit theaters (and the minds of who knows how many impressionable teenaged males), another commercial emerged with a group of (I presume) 18-year-old young men, the one in front holding a pie against his crotch, all of them singing furtively in unison: “How sweet it is to be loved by you!” Yuk, yuk. No, make that “Yuck.” I should have remained unimpressed.
When the dark clouds of eternal punishment for penis-pleasure evaporated, however, since it didn’t cost me anything to put this movie in my Netflix queue, and knowing the story centers on four very cute young men, curiosity got the best of me. Well, look what curiosity did to the friggin’ cat, man.
There are petty reasons why this movie stinks. Eugene Levy and Jennifer Coolidge, both veterans of Christopher Guest’s marvelous mockumentaries, are underused; four average actors are overused. All four of these overused actors look like they’re about 25, but we’re supposed to believe they are still in high school. (This is nothing new for Hollywood.) The mocking of their peers, a staple of any teen movie, is weirdly subdued, never vicious or terrifying, as it would be in any other movie. The problem is, this doesn’t just reduce the anxiety of the viewer; it reduces the comedic effect. That’s actually okay with me, since I don’t find humiliation of that sort to be the least bit funny.
I could go further in explaining the myriad ways in which this movie rots – everything from the senseless gross-out jokes to the ridiculously gay-centered dialogue of a supposedly straight porno movie that one of the boys is watching at the beginning – but that’s not the point of this article. My effort here is to show you the positively insidious message that the movie sends out about straight guys, especially their sexuality.
It starts with the first sexual exchange, featuring one of the young men, who considers himself the biggest player, out on a date with a college girl (who majors in “post-modern feminist thought.” Walk away, man). He makes a minor faux-pas by jumping from small talk to a line that was probably designed to get a big laugh: “Suck me, beautiful.” I failed to see what was funny; then again, the rules where I come from are totally different when a good-looking guy says something like that. Apparently, this sophisticated “woman” needs something more, so she simply laughs at his pitiful attempt. Her loss. (Must be getting plenty of “Suck me, beautiful” at her post-modern, feminist college.)
This sets the stage for the rest of the film, and this is essentially what it is about: Women should be in charge of sexuality, sexual politics, sexual conversations, and sexual exchanges. Every single woman featured in this film takes command. If you think I’m making too big a deal about this, keep in mind that this film was so enormously successful that it spawned (no pun intended) numerous spin-offs, and it was heralded by at least one critic as some sort of victory for women’s sexuality.
A woman gives orders to one of the saps to dance and strip, which is captured on a webcam for the entire high school to watch; then, the next day, when everyone’s looking at him and laughing, the humiliation falls flat after hardly being felt at all. The message? “Just laugh it off, guy. We know what we’re doing. Your manly concerns are a trifle.”
Another woman, for some unknown reason, decides to inform the entire high school on prom night that she not only did not have sex with a young man who was bragging that they had, but that the young man in question also wets his pants, which, standing in the middle of the gym floor in his tux, he promptly does. (This is also very quickly laughed off to little effect.)
A third woman gets all upset when she overhears her boyfriend, whose penis she regularly and eagerly sucks, complain (quite mildly) that he needs to score with her sometime soon. A fourth woman likewise gets her panties in a bunch when another boy, standing next to the one she’s interested in (the player mentioned above), does a mildly sexual dance on the football field, while the player stands next to him, smiling awkwardly. Oh, the horror!
A fifth woman, a band geek no less, suddenly demonstrates the sexual prowess of a dominatrix, screaming at her hapless victim, “What’s my name? Say my name, bitch!” while she’s on top of him. This part would have been a lot funnier if it had been divorced from such a terrible premise. After all, you wouldn’t expect the mildly attractive band geek to understand how wearing more than one condom can help prevent premature ejaculation. The line quoted above would have been wonderfully hilarious, in a completely different movie.
The film goes to great lengths to downgrade a man’s sexual desires, prowess, and volition. Even the lame attempt at showing a blossoming sensitivity in the player character falls flat, like his awful singing, when he joins a choir primarily to get closer to his quarry. It never goes anywhere. It doesn’t endear you to him. He, like the other three main characters, is really only on screen to tell the teenaged males in the audience two pointless messages:
1. Get some. (They need to be told this?)
2. Make sure you treat her right, dude.
This means that the player – who has his last lacrosse game of the season on the same day as some competition where he and his prey are scheduled to sing, and sing quite poorly – has to choose between a heterosexual male-dominated activity and one usually dominated by females, gay guys, and the occasional, extraordinarily sensitive heterosexual male (most of whom manage to sing a lot better), which is the kind of straight guy he’s supposed to represent. In order to score, guess in which event he chooses to participate?
That’s right. There is not a single yielding to a single demand by a single male throughout the film, except for the sexual exchanges, and then only on the terms as pre-defined by women. It is really quite sickening. How much more meaningful, even touching, would it have been to have the chorus-singing female suddenly appear in the bleachers while her man is on the lacrosse field, and how much funnier to have the band geek girl be the only one to be a domineering, screaming, bedroom banshee?
But no. The guy who regularly gets head is put through an emotional ringer by his “girlfriend,” who demands that before she give him her “virginity” (and once you’ve touched a dick, girls, you ain’t no virgin), that he tell her he loves her. Then, as if out of some ridiculous romance novel, she informs him the next morning that their relationship will end with the summer since they’re going to different colleges. At least she’ll go off to her feminist-dominated environment secure in the knowledge that she took a young man’s heart and pride with her. Bitch.
That last bit was supposed to be the most heartfelt moment in the film, since those two characters had been together the longest, and the most frequently sexually active. However, due to her later remarks and his acquiescence, it seems to me that this film is not only misandric, but also misogynistic, and ultimately holds contempt for young adults and human sexuality in general.
These are not the sort of women with whom you ought to find yourselves in bed. These are the types of women who demand that you shave your body hair or go for one of those awful body waxes. These are the sorts of women who rankle whenever you express a simple difference of opinion. These are women who want their men fixed by the “queer eye.” (Which notion I thoroughly resent, by the way – I fucking hate shopping.) These women are darkened in their minds. They are herded into government playpens and prevented from entering adulthood, even though their bodies and brains began the process five or six years ago. Therefore, they are jaded, cynical, bored, unimpressed, and apart from their tits and cute faces, they are thoroughly unattractive.
So are the men. These guys are representative of a massive push on the part of the ruling elite that control societal interpretations of teenagers. They are what you would call “mooks.” The women are what you would call “midriffs.” Both of these terms are insulting and demeaning. So is this film.
Once again, the only exceptions I would make are the band geek’s moment of glory previously mentioned, the appearance of Jennifer Coolidge whose oeuvre includes this gem, and the inclusion of Eugene Levy’s character, the one truly bright spot in anything that this film might actually have to say.
Levy accidentally interrupts his son’s desperate sexual curiosity at least twice (most famously during the eponymous pie incident), and strangely shows himself to be a father who at least partially understands. He actually makes the effort to talk to his son about that which a great many fathers find difficult. He tries to help make sense of it, and accepts his son’s efforts for what they are. Simple as that.
What kind of a movie would we have had where Levy’s character took each of these young men under the protective wing of his wisdom, and encouraged them not to give up their virginity for some silly, arbitrary date, or just because all of their peers are bragging about it? How about ditching the prom, which is centered on the women, and taking all four boys out for a game or a fishing trip, before they all go off to college?
Because that would defeat the purpose of the movie, which is not to contribute to or improve upon the raunchy teen sex comedy or any serious discussion about burgeoning manhood, but to exploit them so that the mooks will be more easily controlled by a government upon which the women in the film are going to depend. The empire will always be more attractive to these women than the individual man, especially when he can’t find the hooks on her bra.
If this is what any woman reading this article thinks, then up yours. The way I was taunted in high school, as thankfully brief as those episodes were, and the ways in which others were taunted (to whose defense I never leapt, out of fear), are really not funny. It kills part of the mind, and I believe that this damage can be permanent. You have to ask yourself if Stephen King was saying anything about his own experiences when he had Carrie kill all of her classmates.
And I refuse to link to any part of that movie, either. Why do so many people – men and women – want to watch people die torturous deaths? You should also ask yourself why it is that the men who wrote, directed, and created “American Pie” moved so quickly off of every moment of humiliation for these young men. Did they not want to dwell on their own history of humiliation? Perhaps they should have. Then they would realize how unfunny it was. Humans don’t like to dwell on pain, however. It feels like death. Alice Miller knew this, and she didn’t care. She stood by her research no matter what. She should be a feminist icon, but they wouldn’t listen to her, either.
It’s much easier to ignore the hurt and pain, and find a scapegoat. It used to be blacks in this country; now it’s “illegal” immigrants. It used to be Jews in Germany; now it’s men, both Jew and gentile, everywhere.
This movie is almost thoroughly repulsive. Without Levy’s awkward but intelligent father, it wouldn’t be worth a damn. Straight guys made the cameras, film, lights, electrical chords, batteries, vans, trailers, paper, computers, printers, software, props, sets, landscaping, ideas, business deals, advertisements, and everything else with which this movie was made. When one of them, whom you find attractive, and with whom you would be more than willing to have sex, says, “Suck me, beautiful,” what exactly is the problem? No, you don’t owe him. Sure, you can wait for marriage. Yes, you can remain chaste if you want. Absolutely, you have the right to say, “No.” Go ahead and giggle at his audacity. However, I happen to know for certain that most heterosexual women really, really like penises. And you drove with him out into the country late at night. Why did you do that? Are you lying to yourself about your motivations?
Chances are that you are indeed coercing the truth in your own mind, and you probably don’t realize it, but that lie is killing something. This movie, for the most part, is one great big lie about straight guys. You are watching it, and it’s killing them. Every day.
B.R. Merrick writes for “Strike The Root“ and “A Voice for Men,” lives in the Northeast, is proud to be a classical music reviewer at Amazon.com and iTunes, and in spite of the poisonous nature of television, God Himself will have to pry his DVDs of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” out of his cold, dead hands, under threat of eternal damnation.