Jonelle and guest Chelsea Lynn discuss Made of Honor (2008), covering toxic masculinity; the "men and women can't be friends" myth; and the distinct possibility that this movie is about two serial killers.
Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/romcomkilljoys)
Jonelle and guest Chelsea Lynn discuss Made of Honor (2008), covering toxic masculinity; the "men and women can't be friends" myth; and the distinct possibility that this movie is about two serial killers.
Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/romcomkilljoys)
chick flicks, romantic comedies. Raam comes, You love them, you hate them and I'm here to eviscerates them. This is the wrong calm killjoys podcast. I'm your host, General Walker. I'm a writer
and researcher who studies gender theory, ideology and representations of both in popular culture. I've gathered together my favorite pop culture literate friends to take your favorite romcom way too seriously in order to understand why we love to hate these movies and
what they're trying to tell us about love, relationships and marriage. Now let's get on with some feminist joy killing everybody. Uh, this week on the show, we have the illustrious Chelsea Lynn Chelsea. Could you introduce yourself?
Um, Jen? L and I are old friends, and I recently completed a master's degree in women peace and security. So I did gender as a whole career thing. So I'm really excited to get into this film because it is a mess.
Yeah, I have to say that watching this particular film, uh, it gave me pause and I was thinking to myself, Why did I start doing this project? I really, really do not enjoy Rahm coms, but that's just gonna make this conversation even better.
I really had fond memories for this film because I was a huge Grey's Anatomy fan back in the day, and I think this was actually before Kevin McKidd came on the show. But it was like I remember this so fondly because of Patrick Dempsey and Kevin McKidd. But rewatching, it was just Wolf. It was not great.
Let's do it. All right, so the film in question is made of honor, and that's made spelled M a D E, which is an assertion that we can debate over the course of this episode. It was made in the year of our Lord 2008. And let's see here I'm gonna read quick synopsis of it at him. Always shy of commitment. Tom, played by Patrick Dempsey, lives as a serial dater. Hannah Michelle Moynahan, his best friend, has wanted to marry and now has found Mr Right Justus. Tom realizes he really loves Hannah. When she asks him to be in her bridal party, Tom seizes the opportunity to prevent the nuptials and woo her himself. Mmm. While ostensibly, this is what the film is about. But Chelsea, what is this movie really about?
Well, first off what
called home shy. I don't think we call him shy. Um, but secondly, I think this movie is about how society must enforce rigid generals at all costs at all times and punish those who deviate and especially men who deviate from strict adherence to masculinity. So, yeah, I just think this movie really has a lot to say about, um what kind of gender performative ity is allowed, What kind of sexuality is allowed, who gets punished for it and why?
Oh, Chelsea, could you explain for our listeners what you mean by gender performative ity?
Um, I'm not sure I can do this as eloquently as you could, but it's about how, um, how people are conditioned to both and have it and demonstrate behaviors and appearance, um, that are assigned to specific gender. So you're performing masculinity specifically in this film. It's all about how, um, it's all about sexual prowess and how you can't be seen as feminine. Um, you you can't be seen as deviating away from a very specific masculinity or also seen as weak or less than your peers. Um, and I think this is repeatedly demonstrated by how often, Um, Tom is feminized and, um, kind of like, made fun of for being the maid of honor. Um, like the fact that he's asked, What what dress size are you, Tom? Or were how everybody assumes he's gay for performing this like a roll of friendship for Hannah. So, yeah, Tom gets punished a lot in this film, um, for deviating away from his assigned gender role. But he also inhabit inhabited a lot in the way that he treats women. So this movie is pretty confused, but also, um, doesn't like people straying away from their assigned boxes,
right? I couldn't agree more. And in fact, I think one really great illustration of this is the very first scene of the movie. So let's talk through that I wrote in my notes. The first note that I wrote down was Monica Lewinsky and Hillary Clinton jokes that women are in on
I am in hell. I remembered this and I hated it immediately, especially because I think, um, a lot of work has been has been done, and because this movie came out in 2008 which was a big year for Hillary Clinton, and I think a lot of our reflection on that has just shown how much. Like, you know, Bill Clinton really abused his power in that relationship, and Monica Lewinsky was castigated and demonized for decades, and she really didn't deserve it. But, hey, let's make fun of her again,
right? And for those of you who haven't seen the film, it begins with a flashback to Tom and Hannah's college days, which is how they met. This is the meat cute question mark of their relationship, where Tom is kind of casually strolling through a party dressed as Bill Clinton, and he keeps running into various Monica Lewinsky's um, and he meets Hannah by stumbling into the bedroom. We presume of a conquest of his that is dressed like Monica Lewinsky. And he gets into bed with Hannah, who is not participating in this party for some reason and is, in fact asleep. It is not aged well, in the, uh, in the time of hashtag me, too.
I mean, at the very worst. It suggests that Tom is down with date rape and at the very best is suggests that he's willing to sleep with a girl who is way too drunk to consent. So not a great look for Tom.
Not agree. Look for Tom and I, and they were actually a few lines in this scene that I think you're worth noting. Hannah describes Tom as a person who has the reputation of Quote, a senior who prays on freshmen and then, um, after Tom and Hannah have their first sort of meet cute conversation, where they declare that neither one of them is interested in having sex with the other. This is, of course, a lie, Tom says. That was incredible. Almost like having sex without the crying.
Not cool, Tom. Not
cool, No, great. Although I do love that Hannah, in order to defend herself in this scene, after which she becomes friends with this person who essentially assaulted her fascinating commentary, used a perfume like a Calvin Klein perfume, as a mace like her not as a mace but as maize. Which, um, I feel like has its own sort of layer of analysis. That she's using perfume is a wayto to push away Tom.
I actually you know what? I think that, um, she uses her femininity a lot too well. I'm not sure what I want to go with this. But I think that Hanna does use her feminine to be a lot in kind of, um in policing her boundary with Tom. And she does use that. Actually, there's a scene later in the movie that I want to talk about, but she does use femininity a lot, thio to kind of push it him and pushes his boundaries. So I think that the Calvin Klein or Eternity by Calvin Klein is, ah, kind of a good first indicator of this.
Well, why don't we go there? Let's talk about the senior interested in talking about. We can start with femininity here and then move on to the masculinity because, boy, oh boy, do we have a basketball scene for you listeners. But let's start with femininity.
So the thing on the CNN thinking about in particular is, um, when Hannah is taking Tom shopping for her trousseau and um drags him into the lingerie section when Thomas obviously uncomfortable because at this point in the film, he's realised that he's attracted to her and wants to be with her, not just sexually, but also emotionally, um and hand is essentially forcing him through this scene where she's she's playing on his attraction by modeling lingerie for him. Um, and I just don't know. This kind of goes into a larger question, for I don't know who this movie is for, but the fact that, um, Michelle Monaghan is kind of paraded around in this lingerie and, um, when she's dragging him into model of this lingerie for him, ma, uh, Hannah literally says, Let's put your whoring to good use. So she's making Tom uncomfortable. She's obviously playing a profanity as a weapon, and she's slut, shaming him at the same time. So that actually goes into one of my least favorite parts of the entire film.
Which is what
I really don't like this part of the film, because I think that, um, that it's both putting Michelle Monaghan on display for someone. Um, and it's also using her, using her feminine wiles to make Tom uncomfortable, um, and just generate the situation that I don't think anybody needs.
I think that you're making a really good point, and it's something that you and I sort of jokingly went back and forth about as we were watching this movie. But I. I actually think that that's true, that there's kind of two potential threads with Ah Hanna's femininity in this film. It's either that she's sort of this unassuming, mild, cool girl who consort of Hang with Tom's rampant misogyny and rejection of all things feminine and women Lee. Or she's like a raging sociopath who has been playing a ridiculously long con. I really I just want that to be true so much. In which case there's sort of this interesting thing going on here that if we really wanted to get super academic about it, we could suggest that there's kind of two audiences for this movie. Maybe if there's the people who are coming into it to see, like a very standard romcom and then for other freaks like us, Um, you come in for these subversive, aggressive femininity that has just runs circles around this unassuming, sexually rapacious man.
I definitely agree with your assessment of Hannah as the quote unquote cool girl. Um, kind of thinking back Thio the, um, the big speech in, um,
gone girl. Yep, that's ah, Gillian Flynn.
Yes. Um, I think that is especially in the way that, um, she fulfills the emotional intimacy that Tom doesn't realizes he needs. Um, and I think that their friendship is actually propping up. Um, I think that her their friendship facilitates and perpetuates the way he treats his sexual conquests. If he didn't have this this core of emotional intimacy and friendship with Hannah, then I think that he would have come to a reckoning in his life way earlier. Um, so she's kind of allowing by being by going to the flea markets and by, you know, eating dim sum and going to the bakery every Sunday. She's fulfilling this emotional need that he doesn't recognize he has, and this allows him to treat women like crap in every other aspect of his life.
And that's all beautifully summed up to and how we learn very early on in the film that Hannah has been Tom's date to six of his father's weddings, which feels like the perfect encapsulation of her sort of providing this sort of emotional intimacy that we're presuming a wife type figure would provide whether or not that's true. That's kind of part of the ideology of it. And then, of course, that's also sort of part of his assumption that he would never want to get married because he has this terrible sort of male figure looming over him to prove that marriage is a scam.
I my entire my question there. This whole film is who hurt Tom like who? What happened to him? That he just has this completely skewed, um attitude and and view towards women. And it's obviously his father and that they know his dad has gone through six divorces and admits that, um, that he screwed up when he, you know, did something to Tom's mom. Um, and then she died. So that's obviously trauma that needs a lot of therapy to unpack. So Tom should have just gone to therapy.
That's a great answer to that question. And I think another suitable answer to the question. Who hurt Tom is, Ah, toxic masculinity. So let's pivot and talk about masculinity in this film, and specifically, I want to talk to you about a scene sort of towards the middle of the film, where Tom and his gang of boys, the requisite gang of boys in a wrong cone, play basketball with Hannah's extremely Scottish like almost offensively Scottish Beyonce
I would also like to point out that this is just one of many basketball scenes in a romcom. So, yeah, again, who is this movie for? But we can't have male bonding without sports.
There must be sports. And interestingly enough, with what I found really interesting about this basketball scene is not only do the character sort of go in thinking like, well, call in. Hannah's fiance is Scottish, and therefore he will not best us at our masculinity contest I e. Um, basketball, because he doesn't know how to play. But then, of course, he dunks on all of them and then, to add insult to injury, supposedly, as the film puts it, they all go into the shower together. And lo and behold, what do they find?
That man has mad cow disease?
Yes, he has mad cow disease. A a strong contender for worst line in the film. It was pretty. It was pretty rough. That is Ah, for anyone confused at home. That is how they describe their shocking revelation that Colin has a very large remember right. It's sort of fascinating that even though in a lot of American wrong calms the, uh the European or otherwise sort of like other character tends to be feminized. In this case, he's actually representing, like everything about ideal masculinity, which is kind of curious. It almost sort of plays into, Like you said, this running thing where Tom is consistently getting his masculinity undermined,
I I really struggle. I really I love Call it. I'm sorry. I love I love Kevin McKidd um you know, again harkening back to my Grey's Anatomy Fangirl days. I love Kevin McKidd, but this character is Justin amalgamation of every shallow, materialistic quality that a woman could possibly want. This man is not a character. He is a laundry list of, um of fantasies E So I think he's just perfectly engineered to threaten Tom. Um, I think that, um, Colin is just engineered to poke it. Every single insecurity that a man might have. Um, you know, he's wealthy. He's well, well hung. He's ah, do. He's, you know, he's got a the cool profession. He mixed whiskey, you know, and he's captured and he rescued. Ah, hang on horseback. So he's just a laundry list of, um, as I said, a laundry list of fantasy is
Yeah, all of those, um, sort of romance novel Lee characteristics that Colin has made me really think about. Something that the film might be putting forward is a theory, which is that, as you said, I mean, Hannah doesn't really have a relationship with calling as much Osias sort of this like fantasy wish fulfillment. So there's there almost as weird thing going on where Call In sort of represents the sweeping romantic gestures that air counterbalanced by Tom's like sleeping around. So I kept it wondering like, Is this film saying that romantic gestures of the sleeping around for women question mark.
Girls don't want emotional availability. Girls want to be rescued on horseback
by men they don't know you never seen before their lives. But also that it serves is this sort of thing that I think at one time Tom in the film calls Hannah a love slut. Or and I love you slut. So there's almost a suggestion that, like if his failing is sleeping around, her failing is that she is far too much into love and his unsexy jewel question mark.
That's really interesting going back to the the loans racing. I really question whether Hannah has been ignorant of this attraction the whole time and whether she was trying to revoke that, so that that's actually a really good point to the fact that maybe she's trying Thio kind of reverse the sterility that he's imposed on her and trying to break out of the women as emotional menos sexual kind of box that Thomas put her in in the movies. Put
her in right. I would. Really. I really wish that there was, like, a bizarro world version of this film where they had pursued that. Like, for example, the scene with the sex toy chest at Hammas Um, wedding shower was one of my favorite scenes.
I feel sorry for the poorer visual effects artist that had to see G I glow in the dark, um, effects to the thunder beads in every single scene that they appeared in afterwards. Like, you know, some poor artists had toe hand color. Let
Chelsea real talk every time I sell Grandma with the anal bead necklace, I kept thinking that's a badass accessory like no lie. She looked amazing.
Yeah, I also love how they totally sterilizes the Derby's rather than like that goes up in orifice, right? And
it was such a funny scene, the way Tom reacted to it, too, because this was something that the sort of conniving other brides maid played by busy Phillips played on him is that she told him that this woman who was gonna show up was gonna read their tarot cards or what have you? And she showed up with a bunch of sex toys from which he was very embarrassed and Hannah was humiliated. But you started wondered, like why? If Tom is look sort of representative for sexuality out of control, why he's not invested in these sex toys? And of course, I guess that's because they also threatened his masculinity, phalluses everywhere.
But also, at this point, he has fully embraced his role as maid of honor and is trying to kind of morph like he's kind of accepted that he is subject hating himself to femininity so I could see him trying to back away from this perception of him as a sexual like a sexual being and like a traditional, um, womanizer and like a man more in order to kind of, um in order to earn a rule as a viable romantic partner for Hannah. So at this point, I think he is really trying to distance sells distance himself from sexuality. Also, I want to say that this movie does not deserve busy Phillips. She's amazing and totally undervalued in this movie.
Well, I think, actually, this leaves us really nicely. Thio A big question. A big, major sort of romcom question that this film is asking, which is Ken. Men and women ever really be friends.
This movie certainly says no. This movie says that, Ah, if you play the long game, the your female friend will eventually become a romantic object. And you've won her after, you know, 10 years of friendship. And I think that this also plays to a really negative stereotype of, um, masculine relationships is the idea that, um, masculine friendships have to be so sterile and, um, emotionally unavailable. And I think you see this a lot with Tom's friends. How they they also really police each other's masculinity, um, and push each other away in really kind of over ways. So it's saying that male friendships are very sterile, and you can only find if you find emotional intimacy with a female friend and she will eventually become a love interest. And I think that this has become a problematic, um, just problematic trend in society and something that's perpetuated a lot through pop culture. Like this movie.
Yeah, I couldn't agree more. And with regards to that sort of sterile on emotional male friendship, peace, there was a really interesting scene where all of the guy, friends and Tom are putting together what I presume are like bridesmaid's gift boxes or what have you and one of the guys get so offended by the whole thing as a sort of threat, his masculinity, that he's storming out and he says, One of my favorite lines I've ever heard, which was quote I can feel my sperm dying inside of me. I'm going to a strip club to eat some meat
and then I'm gonna get into a fight.
And it was just outrageous. So it's a moment of the film being aware of sort of how hyper masculine and bizarre that is. But it's also leaning into the validity of that response, in a way. Thio
Yeah, it never challenges that character on his views. It never says that. Whoa, This is toxic. This is really, really problematic It I mean, I think that it actually validates toxic masculinity in Tom's behavior that he eventually wins Hannah in the ends. So I don't think that this movie, this movie sometimes touches on and hints to the fact that its views on masculinity maybe toxic unproblematic, but it never challenges them or backs away from them. Right.
It leans into one of the classic toxic masculinity, narratives and wrong calms, which I call the Steal the bride and or go and get our girl theory, which is that it doesn't matter how a woman feels about you. If you show up at a major event in her life and tell her like you're the one and I love you. Come be with me. She will be persuaded by that gesture alone.
Yeah, discourse. The the dramatic moment, big gestures all that really matters rather than the day to day and the showing up and putting in the work. I think that dramatic gestures are their staple of rahm gums. But I also think that they're overrated. And I think that people rely on them if they rely on them own real life than they're undervaluing the day to day work that goes into romance and love and actual relationships. So I think that Romcom is kind of helped perpetuate that because they're they're entertaining. But
I think it's ironic that the climactic moment of this film is the steal the bride trope. Because in real life, what might have been better is for Tom to have just been a really great maid of honor to Hannah, right? And showed her in those small gestures of care and like intimacy that like I care about you. I am the person who's gonna care about you day to day today, which is a direction that this film could have taken. But that doesn't Yeah, there's something about that that just doesn't give us the same romantic satisfaction. It's not fun to watch.
Tom never learns his lesson. The thing that I really wanted from this movie was for him to have a Nen citing incident separate from Hannah leaving and going on a work trip. I wanted him to have an independent realization that he needed He needed something from his relationships. He needed that friendship. He needed that partnership that he really gets from Hannah, but the second she's gone, that's when he realizes that something's missing from his relationships and he gets it immediately. He never learns a lesson, and it kind of fits into the idea that their relationship is true love like it's not. It's not something he could have built with any of his partners. It's something that he specifically had with Hannah, and it's it's unique because of her. Rather than this is something that I could have pursued in any of my relationships.
That's true. But I found it interesting throughout that they never really addressed this question of Tom being sexually attracted to Hannah because I kept thinking, Well, if they've been friends for whatever it is like 10 years, how is it that they've never once had sex? Does that seem strange?
Yeah, in every scene, like, I have never danced with a platonic friend cheek to cheek of, you know, they were always holding hands, or I will put the kiss each other on the mouth. I'm like, Yeah, you are definitely attracted to each other and not admitting it.
Yeah, there's I think if there's anything positive to be taken away from this film. It's that that kind of lesson that like if you really love someone, say it, just say it. Why? Why run from it? Yeah, don't wait for it. An Irish setter, a dog on the side of the road to tell you to go get that girl.
First off, it was a border collie and second wth E. Only redeeming thing about Tom is that is obsessed with dogs. Everything else about him, he is a trash fire. He's a heinous person. His love for dogs is the only thing that I found remotely attractive for him. Actually that and his hair. But that's it.
I I think there's a lot of treats about, although I will say, if we stick with our theory that Hannah is like an absolute megalomaniacal like genius and she's been playing this long con on him for 10 years, then they're both signed. That kind of like serial killers, like she's this like Hannibal Lecter type. And he's like Son of Sam, talking to dogs, you know, So, like, there is a match made in heaven here. It's very dark, but it's true.
I have a hypothesis that at the very end. When he's riding the horse to the church in the horse, launches him into the church doors. I think he died. I think that the last five minutes in the movie, that's like the final seconds before his brain dies. So this is just imagined, liken imagined, happy ending before he goes into
a coma. Wow. So this is like a Jacob's ladder. Dark, gritty romcom. I am so here for it
like this. Take a lot better than they just got married at the end.
Yeah, that that really works for me. So I think we can agree that this film is poison. Yes. Oh, God. So as we do on the show, uh, what are antidotes for this poison? What can we offer to people to rid them of all of the bad toxic masculinity and strange serial killer vibes of this film?
Well, I actually have two recommendations. Um, the first deals with toxic masculinity and the second deals with serial killers. So ah, I would recommend sex education on Netflix. It the second season just premiered a couple weeks ago, and it's one of my absolute favorite shows of the last couple of years precisely because it, um engages with subverts and confronts toxic masculinity. In a lot of ways, you see, you see a lot of violent character Ari. See characters who are engaging in violent, toxic masculinity actively, um, actively working to de escalate their violent tendencies and try and have a healthy relationship with their sexuality and their masculinity. And you also see other characters confront, um, confront Father figures in particular, to get the emotional needs. Their emotional needs met in a variety of ways. So I love sex education, and I think that it has a lot of really cool things to say about masculinity. My second recommendation for anybody looking for a product with Grey's Anatomy alumni. Um, don't watch this movie watch Killing Eve, because Sandra oh is a goddess in human form and its again one of the best TV shows I've ever seen. So don't watch this for McDreamy. Watch Sandra Oh, and Killing Eve Instead.
My recommendation is the film My Best Friend's Wedding, which has a startlingly similar concept to this film, stars Julia Roberts as a woman who is in love with her best friend. They have never disgusted, but then he becomes engaged to the beautiful young Cameron Diaz, and she becomes hell bent on getting him back. What I love about this movie is an antidote for maid of Honor is that it's a reversal in terms of gender, right? You have the woman who's pursuing the man who's embracing domesticity, and her ending is not the fairy tale ending. And I think that that there's something really powerful about that in the sense that that film is trying to say, Hey, sometimes a friend is just a friend and that's valuable of beautiful in this own way. And maybe you shouldn't get hung up on people who have never made the extra move to really have an intimate relationship with you, because if they haven't at this point, it's probably not there. There's something just really emotionally honest about that. And I also just love a good Julia Roberts movie. What can I say? Chelsea, Thank you for watching this awful movie again.
It will never do it again.
Me neither friends, but at least we did it together
remembered. It's so family, and I think that I was counting on Patrick Dempsey to carry through with his natural charm and it just wasn't
there. No, not even with that hair. It still does. Thank you for listening to the Romcom Killjoys podcast. The show was produced by ELISA Bertrand being General Walker Are these eyes lady slut Hitchhike love by the band A giant dog on the song you're listening to Now it's a cover one of my favorites, baby Love by Colin Likeness You could follow the show on Instagram and Facebook at Romcom Kill Joyce. Don't forget Don't let anyone kill your joy. Not me, not a romcom, Not anyone. See you next time.