漫画 Act Like I Have The Power

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模倣子 Pick-Up Artists

I recall the film The Pickup Artist with Molly Ringwald and a pre-rehab Robert Downey Jr. When I look at the credits, I seem to recall that Dennis Hopper played a "mentor" to Downey's character. 


This recalls the them of The Wedding Crashers in which the wedding-crashing duo return to seek counsel from their mentor (Will Ferrell) who had "graduated" to crashing funerals in order to encounter women at their most vulnerable so as to seduce them.

Owen Wilson (one of the crashers) then realizes that Ferrell has gone beyond some line of disgusting manipulation and that he himself may have already done so, and decides not to give up on the love interest he encountered at the beginning of the movie (Rachel McAdams) while crashing the wedding of her family member. Ironically, his fellow crasher, Vince Vaughan, has been reverse-crashed and seduced by McAdams' younger sister played by a sexually aggressive (and manipulative) Isla Fisher. Vaughan, initially terrified, eventually falls for Fisher and the two decide to wed, notwithstanding the deception which brought them together, and which indeed still poses an obstacle to Wilson and McAdams (the main romantic storyline).

The crashers violate their own (and Ferrell's) Prime Directive, i.e., get in and get out fast, against Vaughan's fervent protests at the time, by the way, and both wind up smitten. Hopper in The Pickup Artist lays out similar rules of (non-)engagement, which Downey similarly violates, with similar results, i.e., long-term loving commitment.


What are the memes that emerge from these (and countless other) stories? "Bounding" is somehow reprehensible....because it's deceptive? There's no treatment of the idea that "lovin' 'em and leavin' 'em" may also including "...leavin' 'em with a baby." Why is this omitted? Even MAD Magazine has taken on this particular, and particularly cruel leitmotif.  The Pickup Artist and The Wedding Crashers don't go there (as I recall).

One telling point is how Fisher manipulates Vaughan with the threat that she will take his attempts to leave her (not continue to be her sexual plaything) as his having tried to deceive her (and her father/family) for the sole purpose of seducing her into sex. In other words, she threatens to play the dishonored virgin card, so to speak, when the truth is more that both she and Vaughan know they are playing at the same game.

This has ACA relevance since sport-fucking-gone-wrong (SFGW) leads into the comedic desert of woman left with baby, abortion (with or without knowledge of family), or two people raising a child they don't want. In order to paper over this, find an oasis in this frightful wilderness, we conclude that men aren't really committed to being pick-up artists (and women certainly aren't, God forbid), and the conservative message is that all such ostensibly manipulative hook-ups ineluctably lead to True Love, so even if Rachel McAdams or Isla Fisher or Molly Ringwald got knocked up during the emotionally and physically sweaty wrestling match of the film, it's all good since she can walk down the aisle before walking into that particular minefield with her unlikely beau. In other words, we are still all spared having to even think about the ugly fallout of SFGW.

Again, what memes are we left with?

We want sex to be consequence-free...or do we? We want women to have the same freedom that men supposedly do...but do we really? In these films, we see, jokingly but there is always truth in jest, of how men are terrified of being picked up themselves (Vaughan and Fisher). What can this mean? One inequality is that women can be left with a baby and men cannot. But men may be legally attached as a result of a baby, and this tradition is very old (even before there were shotguns available to enforce "shotgun weddings"). Again, we avoid this memeplex in these and other stories -- it's part of a larger, grittier memetic collection.

I can't get away from making a contrast with Japan. Instead of birth-control pills, which Japanese women don't take because it messes with their hormones, condoms and computer-enhanced rhythm method, c.f., Our Bodies, Ourselves, are preferred. Tampons and their invasive insertion process are also not used, in favor of napkins. Do women and men hook up all the time, casually? Well, they must, otherwise the hundreds of "love hotels" in Tokyo would make no hourly business, and they are obviously thriving. Abortions are readily available and not argued about. Who knows how prevalent they actually are? It's treated as a woman's business.

Japanese pick-up artist? I may have to think about that one.

As with all things memetic, if you see a lot of discussion and fuss around a thing, then it's probably fake, i.e,, the hub-bub may be about all there is.

Maybe the memetic landscape has been edited. In Japan, women are still women. They bleed, they have fertile times, they have infertile times, sometimes they get pregnant when they want to, and sometimes when they don't. They sometimes like to have sex with men. They have little pocket computers with thermometers to tell them when they're fertile, they have very advanced napkins (most advanced in the world, I should think) to absorb their menses, doctors are ready to perform abortions, and there are women's clinics 産婦人科 on every other street corner to provide for their fertility needs. This sounds about right, since half of people are women, so half the street corners having a women's clinic. Men have no such special needs, so the other half of the street corners have other random stuff. (I'm only slightly exaggerating -- my impression was that if one wasn't in sight, you could usually lean around a corner or walk a block in any direction and get in sight of a San-Fu-Jin-Ka). Oh, don't let's forget 生理日 or menstruation days that Japanese women can take off sick every month.

It seems like American cities are lucky to have one such clinic. Our city, for one.

But what about American women? It's post-1970s, when the Pick-Up Industry supposedly got going, when The Pill (note the capitalization) was developed for widespread use, so women are expected to be like men, i.e., able to have sex at any time, without concern for getting pregnant, or needing to use a condom. American women are also expected to use tampons, which keep their menstruations inside, bottled up, so they don't bother anybody (else).

Why don't American women have fertility computers, like on their smart phones, now that we have those, and a Bluetooth thermometer, which could even hang off her ear lobe and track her temperature automatically when she wakes up? It's like we've gotten rid of the "women have fertile times" with "women can have sex whenever," and replaced "women menstruate" with "meh..."

We don't like to think about disease. It's like condoms are a last resort in America. Ideally you don't want to have to use them, you want to have some other kind of birth control that can allow things to be all spontaneous and natural.

Japanese women use condoms when they are fertile (which they know) and don't want get pregnant when having sex. Oh, by the way, condoms also prevent disease, so when a Japanese woman insists on a condom, is she concerned about pregnancy, disease, both, or even none of the above? This is a memetic/semiotic scenario.

An American woman, on the other hand, who insists on a condom cannot avoid being the target of certain wheedling along the lines of "I thought you were on The Pill" "what do you mean you're not sure The Pill is going to work?" "don't you trust that I'm healthy?" "aren't you healthy?" and so on and so forth.

In other words, in Japan (and elsewhere), the condom is not a (semiotic) sign, whereas it is in America.

By a similar token, menstruation is a sign in Japan, but not in America. Women can call in sick to work, with a special sick day, for menstruation. In principle one day a month, but in practice more. Americans, by contrast, are expected not to menstruate, somehow. It's not a sign, so it's somehow always "on," and American women are discredited as a result. A Japanese woman might never have to suffer put-downs on the suggestion acting oddly because she's menstruating, since she would've taken time off for it. It would be an absurd suggestion. Whereas Americans are always susceptible for this, since they're never supposed to menstruate, but everybody knows they do.

It may be true that the original, natural women's memetic system, under which Japanese women and others still operate, has been overthrown for American women by The Pill, the tampon, etc., and more importantly the concomitant memes. Ironically, the menstruation sick day (sei-ri-bi) and the tampon may have been appeared around the same time, i.e., the 1930s. Women's bodies and their natural cycles, rather than being covered over, denied, and hidden in Japan, have been affirmed and acknowledged, even institutionalized in the form of personal fertility computers, advanced napkins and condoms, special menstruation sick days, and prevalent specialized clinics (oh, and child care). In America, in the film Presumed Innocent, Harrison Ford's character mused, "we never seemed to have to worry about that" when his court case came to a point as to whether he and his deceased mistress used a condom. It's difficult to imagine a Japanese man being similarly unclear on such a point.

Women don't have to think about being women any less either way. With Japanese updated memes, women continue to be women, men continue to know this, and they have a little technological help. Americans, however, are somehow expected to no longer be women, and the only technological help they get is stuff that helps to prop up the new memes, without necessarily making women's lives easier, certainly if all the newfangled gizmos and chemistry and social expectations don't work perfectly every time.