Eh. I had a bunch of thoughts that I was trying to mash into a post, and I’m just too tired. Okay, just one: it’s been Bond Week, or Bond Month, or the Year of Bond, or something like that on AMC. They’ve been showing James Bond movies just about every day it seems for ages now. I turn them on every once in a while and watch bits of them — I can’t really concentrate on one from beginning to end these days. My mother and I used to just love the Bond films. Not for the handsome, studly creature that is Bond, James Bond — which was either Sean Connery or Roger Moore, we liked them both (didn’t care much for the one with James Lazenby, though — he was sort of a non-entity to us, and we hated the ending of the movie) — but for all the hilariously over-the-top gadgets. A particular favorite were the cars with all the things (machine guns, the ability to fly or go under water or whatever). Perhaps as women we shouldn’t have liked such movies, because the early ones at least were all so sexist. There’s James shooing away a massage girl when he wants to talk to a fellow operative with “Run along now — man talk” and a smack on the ass, there he is callously using some (evil spy) dame as a bullet catcher (”Will you take care of my date? She’s just dead.”), and there he is turning his charms on yet another female who of course, falls like a ton of bricks. But instead we were traitors to our sisters, no doubt, and loved every minute of the films, and other similar adventure films. I don’t remember watching very many romantic dramas or any of the other stuff women were and are supposed to glom onto; except for a period (when she was staying at home instead of working) where she got into the soaps, she didn’t seem to really care for any of that sort of movie. I’m not sure why; maybe she just had gotten into the habit of watching more “masculine” fare because of my father. But I don’t really think that’s true — my father preferred Westerns and historical dramas about the Civil War. My mother and I liked adventures, mysteries, and spy stories. (We all liked comedies, but I was the only one who really got into old Japanese monster movies and old horror films like The Thing That Wouldn’t Die.)
Of course those genres are mainly male fantasies. Many feminist critics complain that the continued popularity of such movies is indicative of the continuing hold sexism and sexual oppression of women by men has on society, but I think the reason these stories are so popular is less diabolical than that. I think that male fantasies (not counting the pornographic ones, if you are wondering) are so popular is that for all their simplicity, brutality, and crassness, they are simply more exciting and fun than female fantasies. Think about it: what are the “traditional” (for want of a better word) subjects that form the plots of most standard female-aimed stories and films? Fear, victimization, sickness, abandonment, more sickness, loneliness, lack of love, more sickness, insanity (sickness that still gives the character a chance to thrash about), emotional disturbance, children (see sickness, insanity), contests not of strength or valor but of who can endure suffering more nobly and uncomplainingly, caddish men and the women they beat, romantic disturbance (see emotional disturbance, sickness), guilt, depression… that at least is the impression I’ve gotten whenever I’ve tried to watch a romantic film (last night they had Brief Encounter on, and all I could think of was “Get on that train, you idiot — in Africa you’ll finally be free of this selfish, moony female”) or one of those Threatened Woman sagas on the Lifetime channel (I’ve never been able to last more than five minutes, and each time I feel totally fucked in the head, as if I’d od’ed on Benadryl). Then there are the soaps. But let’s not go there.
I don’t know where I’m going with this. Except I just wanted to note that male fantasies just seem to be a bit more fun than female ones, though thanks to a number of well-intentioned yet IMHO ultimately counter-intuitive social directives you’ll have to go into the classic movie bin if you want to get an action film without the required long, stop-the-action-dead scene of guilty self-reflection/flashback from the hero, and more and more action-adventure films have had to have a female “warrior woman” character shoehorned into it to keep off the PC crowd (c.f. the ersatz Arwen character in the otherwise fine Lord of the Rings films — which still did not get the film off the hook: it was lambasted by many a femme-critte as a male “boys adventure movie” romp which wouldn’t let girls in the treehouse).