breaking bad, fight club, rick and morty, clockwork orange, and the catcher in the rye are all arguably good things – but if a man says they are his FAVORITE book/movie/tv show? RUN.
Can someone explain this to me?
They’re all works that are examinations of compelling but deeply flawed (usually narcissistic and violent) men. People rightly like all these works because they are good, but the implication of the original post is that if a guy says they are his favorite work, he is probably misunderstanding the point of the work and instead idolizing the male protagonist and is unable to recognize their flaws.
Basically, ask why they like it. If they like it because they think it’s well-written and made, you’re probably good. But if they want to be like Walter White, or Tyler Durden, or Rick Sanchez, or Alex DeLarge, or Holden Caulfield: yeah, RUN.
Finally I can reblog this post.
I always find Catcher In The Rye and Holden Caulfield to be odd members of this list. Walter White, Tyler Durden, Rick Sanchez, and Alex DeLarge are all literal murderers, as well as variously rapists, cult leaders, pushers of hard drugs, and so on. Holden Caulfield is a depressed teenager who at his worst throws a punch at a peer and fantasizes about killing a pimp who just beat him up. He’s a bit of a disaster, and I can see why admiring him could indicate childishness, but he still seems very different from the others on this list, who are at best Byronic and at worst intensely evil.
(Also, yeah, what weedle-testaburger said. There are better and worse reasons for liking each of these works.)
I think the common thread that runs through all of these that catches Holden is actually the reason why I am skeptical of men who list these as media favorites: they are all, to some extent, misunderstood outcast genius figures who are smarter than their society.
I’ve watched a lot of bad movies, but a favorite subgenre of bad film is the Misunderstood Outcast Genius Vindication Fantasy. To name two recent cases, The Book of Henry and Bickford Schmeckler’s Cool Ideas. There is a fantasy that men have, about men who might be assholes but goshdarn they are right. Their failure to obey society’s rules bespeaks not social failure but an inability or unwillingness to play a rigged game designed for lesser players. They have novel social theories, and surprisingly often will have a totalizing Theory of Everything that explains the whole world to them in a single pithy phrase. And that phrase will usually be something edgy, unexpected, and a little antisocial. It’s always “Nothing can ever be truly, fully understood. Not even the most simple idea. Not even this” (to lift Bickford’s) and never “only geology and kindness move mountains.”
Every protagonist on OP’s list, to a man, participates in that fantasy. In fact, unless we’re just talking about men who idolize murderers because they’re murderers, I suspect that the Outcast Genius thing is probably the shared attraction.
…there is a person I kind of want to tag here, but I really don’t want to drag her in to read “see, your love for Holden Caulfield because you are obviously mentally ill too proves you are bad.”
Feminist critics always seem to overlook that the misunderstood, socially awkward genius trope nicely fits the experiences of a lot of neurodivergent people. It allows them to see themselves as human beings who can contribute to the world even when everyone around them keeps trying to convince them of their worthlessness.
While I don’t identify with any of the above characters, I *do* identify with that trope. Moreover, there are female characters who fit under it as well, many of whom Tumblr likes: Belle and Anne Shirley, to name two. Men do not have a monopoly on being socially awkward, misunderstood, rebellious creative geniuses.
In fact, I think misogyny only creeps in when men who feel misunderstood believe women don’t go through the same thing and can’t identify with the same trope. Those are the guys I would avoid.
THIS. “Having a power fantasy means you’re already powerful and probably want to hurt people” is just…such a bafflingly backwards take.
Well that matches perfectly with OP, doesn’t it?
“These people are broken and you shouldn’t love them.”
It’s not what you would call kind, or decent, but it makes perfect sense. Though, as a broken person, it also hurts to read.