Molly Lambert is my new internet hero, and she’s kinda blown up — in my corner of the internet, at least — after her amazing essay on How To Be A Woman In Any Boys’ Club at the really, really good This Recording (no seriously, there is great work on there by lots of different authors, like this bit of #realtalk on Audrey Hepburn). Anyway, I started following her on Twitter, and she’s has been making some observations about culture and gender and masculinity and race and constructs and whatnot.
These caught my eye yesterday:
So my first inclination, of course, was to defend Lloyd Dobler because, duh, Say Anything. I love Lloyd Dobler! Everyone loves Lloyd Dobler. Well, everyone except for Ione Skye’s tax-evading father, but he’s evil!
Then she wrote this:
And Molly Lambert, Internet Hero, is correct. It seems romantic that he’s so taken with Ione Skye, a girl who is smart, beautiful, and has something of an internal life (though it is kind of focused around her father’s expectations), at first. But he does so many assholish things! Like: Stalking the girl who’s broken up with him (come on, this would be gross in real life, you guys), and planning his entire life around her, and pressuring her with his own expectations when she’s clearly under a lot of stress.
Yet I remain sympathetic to Lloyd because the assholish things he does seem to come from his discomfort with a masculinity construct. Bear with me.
At 18, Lloyd is the only “man” in his family, with his parents out of the picture, and his sister’s husband gone. He’s physically a big, strong guy. Yet, he doesn’t think he can stand the grind of a traditional job, he’s not smart enough (or doesn’t think he is) to go to college, and he does something weird like kickboxing because it’s the only thing he enjoys. The cult of masculinity — and to an extent, I suppose, white maleness — he’s adhered to have failed to give Lloyd the support or boost he “deserves.” He’s floundering because he doesn’t know how to reconcile desire for that support with the fact that he simultaneously resents it. So he grabs onto Ione Skye, absolutely sure he won’t sink her. And he’s sure of that, I concede, because he is kind of an asshole.
There’s no explanation for Charlie Sheen, though you should read this excellent op-ed by Anna Holmes on the disposable women in his life.