September 10th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

CANBERRA OBSERVED: The Telstra sale and economic ideology

EDITORIAL: Telstra: a better way forward . . .

SPECIAL FEATURE: The human cost of sexual exploitation (Part 1)

BIOETHICS: Review of cloning and embryo research laws

ECONOMICS: What future for globalism?

PRIMARY INDUSTRY: Pork farmers under attack on two fronts

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Revolting students / Precondition for education / Drugs and Asia / Swallow insult / Waldheimer's disease / Warning shadows

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: China frustrates Taiwan's bid to play bigger role

TAIWAN: Fostering democracies on the Pacific Rim

VIETNAM: Remembering the battle of Long Tan

CINEMA: Romantic comedy 'Wedding Crashers' lauds boys behaving badly

Competition Policy killing cane-farmers (letter)

Cornelia Rau not Australian (letter)

Elephant in the room (letter)

Profits for the people (letter)

Rights deprivation syndrome (letter)

BOOKS: The Criminalization of Christianity, by Janet L. Folger


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Romantic comedy 'Wedding Crashers' lauds boys behaving badly

by Len Phillips

News Weekly, September 10, 2005
Len Phillips reviews Wedding Crashers.

I went along to the Wedding Crashers because it had been given a rave review in News Weekly's sister publication in the United States, the National Review.

A return to family values and a paeon to marriage were its hallmarks, all bundled up in a film that would perhaps appeal to teenage boys more than adults. But the message, or so we were advised, showed that cinema values were heading in the right direction.

I can only say things have come to a pretty pass when films such as this appeal to conservatives. Here is the story. You be the judge.

The plot opens with two lads in their early 30s mediating a property division between a divorcing couple. It has come down to who will get the frequent flyer points and it might as well be diamond mines given how bitterly the issues are being fought.

Resolution is only brought about by the mediators reminding the warring couple of a time gone by when they had been young and in love.

In a brief cloud of sentimental remembrance, the frequent flyer points are divided and the two are able to go their separate ways. The problem is not you, one of our mediators says to them, but with the institution of marriage.

All right. A bit of dramatic irony. The story is about to show us just how wrong they are.

The movie then swings into its main plot development. Our two mediators have a hobby which is to crash weddings and seduce the bridesmaids.

Wedding season is at its height and we have a tableau of our two young lads falling into one bed after another with different girls with whom they presumably have a series of one night stands, since no girl ever seems to have even so much as had a date on a second occasion. Maybe they did, but that would seem to ruin the sport.

We now take ourselves off to the wedding at which the two daughters of the American Secretary of Commerce are bridesmaids. One daughter, an absolute oddball, is seduced almost immediately and her Romeo cannot wait to abandon ship.

The other daughter, cooler, darker, more demure, already has a boyfriend so will be a bit harder to pin down. However, her lad has also instantly fallen in love.

The plot next ensures that both fellows end up following the sisters to their palatial parental home. One is desperate to find a way to split the dark sister from her boyfriend. The other is equally desperate to get as far away as he possibly can.

Guess what? They all end up happily married. The one who marries the oddball sister (and she definitely is strange) has found her zaniness to his taste and is now fully in love. The one who marries the more conventional sister has had to overcome one obstacle after another, but love, once again, has conquered all.

But now let me come to discuss the film's supreme dishonesty. What National Review liked was that it showed that when a boy is ready to marry, everything turns and he suddenly gets serious and, like Prince Hal, casts off youthful excess and takes on the responsibilities of adult life.

Fine. But the pivotal moment comes when the darker sister is told the chap who has been chasing her has, as his hobby, the seduction of bridesmaids. "Is this true?" she asks. It is, he confesses. And with that she turns away in bitter disappointment.

This is all well and good except I couldn't help remembering all of the other bridesmaids he had tilled his way through on the way to this moment. Suppose he wasn't actually in love and that all of it was nothing more than just a trick to get her into bed. All right, not this time.

But how about all of the other times? How about the feelings of all of the other young women along the way who had been the subject of an all points assault and then never seen again. How about all of them?

Decadent times

To me it didn't feel like the romantic comedy it was supposed to be. If the message National Review seems to find acceptable is that every girl can be had and abandoned after a single encounter, and that's all right until the girl of one's dreams finally arrives, then we do indeed live in decadent times.

The one true moment for me occurred when the dark sister believed she had merely been used. Well, that is what happened to all of the others, and the bitterness of boy-girl relations will not repair unless attitudes that say such behaviour is perfectly fine are also repaired.

Until then, boys are advised by movies such as this to continue to gather their rosebuds as they may.

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