"A single dragonfly can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day." luv u dragonflies
I heard stories this week about dung beetles and cuttlefish. Both made me think about the typical stories we hear in the media about evolved human mating strategies. First, the stories:
Story #1 :The Dung Beetle
A story on Quirks and Quarks discussed the mating strategies of the dung beetle. The picture above is of a male beetle; only the males have those giant horns. He uses it to defend the entrance to a tiny burrow in which he keeps a female. He’ll violently fight off other dung beetles who try to get access to the burrow.
So far this sounds like the typical story of competitive mating that we hear all the time about all kinds of animals, right?
There’s a twist: while only male dung beetles have horns, not all males have horns. Some are completely hornless. But if horns help you win the fight, how is hornlessness being passed down genetically?
Well, it turns out that when a big ol’ horned male is fighting with some other big ol’ horned male, little hornless males sneak into burrows and mate with the females. They get discovered and booted out, of course, and the horned male will re-mate with the female with the hopes of displacing his sperm.
Those little hornless males have giant testicles, way gianter than the horned males. While the horned males are putting all of their energy into growing horns, the hornless males are making sperm. So, even though they have limited access to females, they get as much mileage out of their access as they can.
The result: two distinct types of male dung beetles with two distinct mating strategies.
Story #2: The Giant Australian Cuttlefish
The Naked Scientists podcast featured a story about Giant Australian Cuttlefish. During mating season the male cuttlefish, much larger than the females, collect “harems” and spend their time mating and defending access. Other males try to “muscle in,” but the bigger cuttlefish “throws his weight around” to scare him off. The biggest cuttlefish wins.
So far this sounds like the typical story of competitive mating that we hear all the time about all kinds of animals, right?
Well, according The Naked Scientists story, researchers have discovered an alternative mating strategy. Small males, who are far too small to compete with large males, will pretend to be female, sneak into the defended territory, mate, and leave.
How do they do this? They change their color pattern and rearrange their tentacles in a more typical female arrangement (they didn’t specify what this was) and, well, pass. The large male thinks he’s another female. In the video below, the cuttlefish uses his ability to change the pattern on his body. He simultaneously displays a male pattern to the female and a female pattern to the large male on the other side.
So, can the crossdressing cuttlefish and dodge-y dung beetle tell us anything about evolved human mating strategies?
But I do think it tells us something about how we should think about evolution and the reproduction of genes. If you listen to the media cover evolutionary psychological explanations of human mating, you only hear one story about the strategies that males use to try to get sex. That story sounds a lot like the one told about the horned beetle and the large male cuttlefish.
But these species have demonstrated that there need not be only one mating strategy. In these cases, there are at least two. So, why in Darwin’s name would we assume that human beings, in all of their beautiful and incredible complexity, would only have one? Perhaps we see a diversity in types of human males (different body shapes and sizes, different intellectual gifts, etc) because there are many different ways to attract females. Maybe females see something valuable in many different kinds of males! Maybe not all females are the same!
Let’s set aside the stereotypes about men and women that media reporting on evolutionary psychology tends to reproduce and, instead, consider the possibility that human mating is at least as complex as that of dung beetles and cuttlefish.
Originally posted in 2010.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
We always getting flyers from here
This is what many of my times in Japan were like
U can get these at Bread Top
looks good but busy
Signaling white supremacy.
On the heels of the Republican national convention, the notorious KKK leader David Duke announced his campaign for the Louisiana Senate. On his social media pages, he released a campaign poster featuring a young white woman with blonde hair and blue eyes wearing a gray tank top decorated with American flag imagery. She is beautiful and young, exuding innocence. Atop the image the text reads “fight for Western civilization” and included David Duke’s website and logo. It does not appear that she consented to being on the poster.
When I came upon the image, I was immediately reminded of pro-Nazi propaganda that I had seen in a museum in Germany, especially those depicting “Hitler youth.” Many of those posters featured fresh white faces, looking healthy and clean, in stark contrast to the distorted, darkened, bloated, and snarling faces of the targets of the Nazi regime.
It’s different era, but the implied message of Duke’s poster is the same — the nationalist message alongside the idealized figure — so it wasn’t difficult to find a Nazi propaganda poster that drew the comparison. I tweeted it out like this:
— Lisa Wade, PhD (@lisawade) July 23, 2016
Given that David Duke is an avowed racist running on a platform to save “Western” civilization, it didn’t seem like that much of a stretch.
Provoking racist backlash.
I hashtagged it with #davidduke and #americafirst, so I can’t say I didn’t invite it, but the backlash was greater than any I have ever received. The day after the tweet, I easily got one tweet per minute, on average.
What I found fascinating was the range of responses. I was told I looked just like her — beautiful, blue-eyed, and white — was asked if I hated myself, accused of being a race traitor, and invited to join the movement against “white genocide.” I was also told that I was just jealous: comparatively hideous thanks to my age and weight. Trolls took shots at sociology, intellectuals, and my own intelligence. I was asked if I was Jewish, accused of being so, and told to put my head in an oven. I was sent false statistics about black crime. I was also, oddly, accused of being a Nazi myself. Others, like Kate Harding, Philip Cohen, and even Leslie Jones, were roped in.
Here is a sampling (super trigger warning for all kinds of hatefulness):
It’s not news that twitter is full of trolls. It’s not news that there are proud white supremacists and neo-nazis in America. It’s not news that women online get told they’re ugly or fat on the reg. It’s not news that I’m a (proud) cat lady either, for what it’s worth. But I think transparency is our best bet to get people to acknowledge the ongoing racism, antisemitism, sexism, and anti-intellectualism in our society. So, there you have it.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
You can buy them at Woolies NQN!
One basic tenet of computer security is this: If you can’t vouch for a networked thing’s physical security, you cannot also vouch for its cybersecurity. That’s because in most cases, networked things really aren’t designed to foil a skilled and determined attacker who can physically connect his own devices. So you can imagine my shock and horror seeing a Cisco switch and wireless antenna sitting exposed atop of an ATM out in front of a bustling grocery store in my hometown of Northern Virginia.
I’ve long warned readers to avoid stand-alone ATMs in favor of wall-mounted and/or bank-operated ATMs. In many cases, thieves who can access the networking cables of an ATM are hooking up their own sniffing devices to grab cash machine card data flowing across the ATM network in plain text.
But I’ve never before seen a setup quite this braindead. Take a look:
An ATM in front of a grocery store in Northern Virginia.
Now let’s have a closer look at the back of this machine to see what we’re dealing with:
Need to get online in a jiffy? No problem, this ATM has plenty of network jacks for you to plug into. What could go wrong?
Daniel Battisto, the longtime KrebsOnSecurity reader who alerted me to this disaster waiting to happen, summed up my thoughts on it pretty well in an email.
“I’d like to assume, for the sake of sanity, that the admin who created this setup knows that Cisco security is broken relatively simple once physical access is gained,” said Battisto, a physical and IT security professional. “I’d also like to assume that all unused interfaces are shutdown, and port-security has been configured on the interfaces in use. I’d also like to assume that the admin established a good console login.”
While it’s impossible to test the security of this setup without tampering with the devices, “considering that this was left like this in the front vestibule of a grocery store with no cameras around AND the console cable still attached, my above assumptions are likely invalid,” Battisto observed.
“In my experience, IT departments often overlook basic security practices, and double down on the oversight by not implementing proper physical security controls (you’d be surprised, maybe, at the number of server rooms that I’ve been in that had the keys to all of the racks taped to the outside of the doors),” he said.
If something doesn’t look right about an ATM, don’t use it and move on to the next one. It’s not worth the hassle and risk associated with having your checking account emptied of cash. Also, it’s best to favor ATMs that are installed inside of a building or wall as opposed to free-standing machines, which may be more vulnerable to tampering.
If you liked this piece, check out my entire series on skimming devices, All About Skimmers.
"To be proud and protective of one’s country sounds like something good" not really
In his speech last week accepting the Republican nomination for President, Donald Trump said (my emphasis):
…our plan will put America First. Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo. As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America First, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with respect.
Donald Trump’s insistence that we put “America First” hardly sounds harmful or irrational on its face. To be proud and protective of one’s country sounds like something good, even inevitable. Americans are, after all, Americans. Who else would we put first?
But nationalism — a passionate investment in one’s country over and above others — is neither good nor neutral. Here are some reasons why it’s dangerous:
A nationalist is one who thinks solely, or mainly, in terms of competitive prestige… his thoughts always turn on victories, defeats, triumphs and humiliations.
He’s talking about inner cities as “them”
He talked about the laid-off workers ruined by trade deals as “you”
— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) July 22, 2016
To glorify itself, nationalism generally resorts to suppositions, exaggerations, fallacious reasonings, scorn and inadmissible self-praise, and worst of all, it engages in the distortion of history, model-making and fable-writing. Historical facts are twisted to imaginary myths as it fears historical and social realism.
When Americans say “America is the greatest country on earth,” that’s nationalism. When other countries are framed as competitors instead of allies and potential allies, that’s nationalism. When people say “America first,” expressing a willfulness to cause pain and suffering to citizens of other countries if it is good for America, that’s nationalism. And that’s dangerous. It’s committing to one’s country’s preeminence and doing whatever it takes, however immoral, unlawful, or destructive, to further that goal.
.Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Just down the road but I don't think I want to eat any of this stuff
We often think that religion helps to build a strong society, in part because it gives people a shared set of beliefs that fosters trust. When you know what your neighbors think about right and wrong, it is easier to assume they are trustworthy people. The problem is that this logic focuses on trustworthy individuals, while social scientists often think about the relationship between religion and trust in terms of social structure and context.
New research from David Olson and Miao Li (using data from the World Values survey) examines the trust levels of 77,405 individuals from 69 countries collected between 1999 and 2010. The authors’ analysis focuses on a simple survey question about whether respondents felt they could, in general, trust other people. The authors were especially interested in how religiosity at the national level affected this trust, measuring it in two ways: the percentage of the population that regularly attended religious services and the level of religious diversity in the nation.
These two measures of religious strength and diversity in the social context brought out a surprising pattern. Nations with high religious diversity and high religious attendance had respondents who were significantly less likely to say they could generally trust other people. Conversely, nations with high religious diversity, but relatively low levels of participation, had respondents who were more likely to say they could generally trust other people.
One possible explanation for these two findings is that it is harder to navigate competing claims about truth and moral authority in a society when the stakes are high and everyone cares a lot about the answers, but also much easier to learn to trust others when living in a diverse society where the stakes for that difference are low. The most important lesson from this work, however, may be that the positive effects we usually attribute to cultural systems like religion are not guaranteed; things can turn out quite differently depending on the way religion is embedded in social context.
Evan Stewart is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota studying political culture. He is also a member of The Society Pages’ graduate student board. There, he writes for the blog Discoveries, where this post originally appeared. You can follow him on Twitter.
'so too may some of the Stark children be the product of a similar relationship. The way Ned Stark looked at his sister as she was dying in childbirth was a bit on the creepy side.' I thought this too! This post contains spoilers!
by DICK CHENEY
Game of Thrones
creators David Benioff & D.B. Weiss
It was a show that barely got a second season order, so constrained by budgetary limitations that in early seasons Jon Snow's direwolf Ghost was portrayed by a toy poodle from Tom's River, New Jersey named Lady Sunstein.
All the direwolves are gone now, and all the Lannister children as well. They were all the product of an ill union between brother and sister - and, it is intimated, so too may some of the Stark children be the product of a similar relationship. The way Ned Stark looked at his sister as she was dying in childbirth was a bit on the creepy side. Maybe we find out later, in the vast books of the Citadel, that Rhaeger was impotent.
There was something a bit trite about these climactic scenes as they finally arrived. The first twenty minutes of this show was brilliant and probably should have been in last week's episode. It was amazing how Cersei sort of gave up on her son and left his bay windows open for a deadly fall. I was so happy that I would never be forced to watch Natalie Dormer or Jonathan Pryce act again that I almost cried.
Grandma Tyrell's indignation at this state of affairs seemed rather forced. I don't really understand why the Golden Girls need to be affliated with Daenerys, since she seems destined to enter into a love relationship with her nephew Jon Snow. On the other hand, the absolute insane amount of people that have been killed off means that the remaining characters are necessarily inhabiting a larger role.
The worst part of the finale was undoubtedly the turgid scene between Daenerys and Tyrion. What kind of woman throws out a perfectly good terrible actor and replaces him with a much shorter terrible actor? Tyrion as a character would have a lot more relevance if he exhibited any emotion at all. Like, what is even the point of this mutual appreciation party? Cersei may not have liked him very much, but didn't he already get his revenge?
The power struggle in the North is a nice wrinkle, but a couple things. The Onion Knight was absolutely fine with Melisandre for like a year, but suddenly he's accusing her of being a murderer? He's been acting like they were best friends the entire season. Also, I'm pretty sure the little girl was going to die from greyscale any day. Melisandre could have plausibly used that in her defense. I guess it's time for her to meet up with the Brotherhood without Banners. She could finally bring Catelyn Stark back from the dead.
So many people were and are still caught up in thinking that Arya Stark never left that little shit room in Braavos, and the Waif is now Arya Stark. I guess it's possible, although why she would go and eat all of Walder Frey's children I truly don't know. I felt like that probably could have used an episode in itself. Arya should have infiltrated the camp and shown all her skills. This way it just seems like she teleported to her destination and the kill has so much less effect.
Cersei Lannister should be a tremendous villain, but I'm sort of failing to see where she went wrong in any of this. Bran saw her fucking Jaime in Winterfell. She took mercy on the boy and never killed him. She returned to Westeros. Her husband was a dangerous alcoholic so she got rid of him, but in the nicest possible way. She did kill Ned Stark, but in her defense, he was very nosy and anyway I doubt she could have stopped it from happening. The Golden Girls killed her daughter and the Tyrells killed Joffrey. So exactly how did she lose the moral high ground in any of this? This entire season she's been nothing but trod upon by a group of religious fanatics who stole her remaining son.
I honestly don't know why he even bothered finishing the series of books. It feels like we are so close to end of things that the rest of Game of Thrones will just approximate the feel of this episode. The finale was just a big epilogue, a Where Are They Now? for a group of people that have already experienced all the tragedy they will ever know. How do you punish the punisher, or torture the tortured? There was a finality to everything, a sense that we could watch these shifting alliances forever, until we decide ourselves to leave well enough alone.
Dick Cheney is the senior contributor to This Recording. He will return to his reviews when the remake of Lost hits ABC in the year 2026, or when Game of Thrones returns, whichever occurs first I guess.
I think I still earn my wage increases when I am on maternity leave. Phew.
A new interactive from the Center for American Progress helps you calculate how much you will lose if you exit the workforce to care for a family member — and the answers are depressing.
Take me for example: I’m 23 and earn $38,000 a year. If I take off one year of work at the age of 28 to care for a child or an aging parent, the cost of that decision will be $131,000. That’s because, in addition to the wages lost during that period, individuals who take time out of the workforce also miss out on the wage increases they would have earned had they remained, which in turn reduces their retirement savings and social security benefits.
These costs disproportionately fall on women, who often shoulder the bulk of caregiving responsibilities whether they want to or not. Pew Research Center data shows that 39 percent of surveyed mothers have taken a significant amount of time off to care for a family member, as opposed to 29 percent of fathers. This disparity may be linked to societal expectations around caregiving; one Pew survey found that 80 percent of respondents believed that young women with children should work part-time or drop out of the labor force; by contrast, 70 percent of these respondents believed that men with young children should work full-time.
These discriminatory attitudes stand in the way of more egalitarian caregiving arrangements and can discourage men from trying to balance the scale. For example, if I were a man, I would actually lose $30,000 more than a woman, according to the interactive. As the concept of a stay-at-home dad remains heavily stigmatized (only 4 percent of the Pew survey respondents saw it as ideal), men who have gaps in their resume due to caregiving are strongly discriminated against when they try to return to the workforce.
And so, rather than taking an absolute position about what is best for everyone, we should work to reduce the penalties associated with caregiving.
For some people, that will mean making child care more affordable. Right now the Center for American Progress notes that the average cost to have two children in a child care center is nearly $18,000 annually. As a result, many low-and-moderate income families are caught in a bind where they have to either accept that much of their earnings will be eaten up by child care expenses or stop work and take a huge hit to their current/future earnings.
But, we can’t stop at child care or elder care. Focusing solely on labor force participation obscures the very real ways that people contribute essential care work that isn’t compensated for within capitalism. One way of accounting for this in the context of retirement would be through enacting a Social Security caregivers credit. At present, the labor of individuals who exit the workforce to provide uncompensated care for a family member is not valued for Social Security purposes. A caregivers credit would ensure that care work is valued when calculating future Social Security benefits.
A more comprehensive solution to compensating care work would be to enact a Universal Basic Income (UBI), a policy where individuals receive an unconditional sum on a regular basis. As Judith Shulevitz has written in the New York Times, enacting a UBI would be a way to more appropriately account for labor that mothers and other caregivers currently provide for free.
We have all benefited from the care work of others, compensated or not. It’s time that our public policies accord that labor the respect and visibility it deserves.
Header image by Kainaz Amaria via NPR
by ETHAN PETERSON
creators Ryan Griffen, Michael Miller & Jon Bell
Watching Cleverman on SundanceTV this week I was reminded of how completely America has erased its indigenous people from contemporary culture. In Australia, a different state of affairs exists. Aboriginal people are always at the edge of Australian culture, but their mature concepts and themes have a deep influence on how Australians define themselves as the people.
Koen West (Hunter Page-Lochard) has integrated himself completely into this people. He runs a bar with a friend and fucks the guy's girlfriend in the back between serving pints. On the side he makes money relocating Hairies (a native species divergent from humans with immense strength and speed) to secret housing and then reporting their whereabouts to the government, who persecute them out of fear.
Every single character in Cleverman has this potential for evil, and while it would be farfetched to say this is an Australian characteristic, it reflects a basic guilt for the essential crimes against the aboriginal people that the United States pretends to have resolved through casinos and lenient tax situations.
Koen becomes a cleverman in the show's pilot, which among other things gives him the power to see individual's futures through touch, as well as almost unlimited healing. This gift from his uncle alters the fabric of who he is, and gives him a new perspective on his shitty, drug and sex-fueled life.
His primary antagonists on Cleverman carry most of the action, and they are what make the show so much fun to watch. The first is Jarrod Slade (Iain Glen), a media executive much closer than Ser Jorah Mormont to Glen's natural strengths of steely resolve and an unclear sense of what is moral in the world. His wife Charlotte (Frances O'Connor) looks to have barely aged in the nearly two decades since she starred as Fanny Price in Mansfield Park.
The casting of the two as a couple with vague sympathies towards aboriginal people and Hairies makes the de facto Australian point of view. Cleverman features a somewhat light commentary on how we view the various problems of immigration and cultural minorities with different beliefs. Cleary and Slade's waterfront home is a metaphor for how their literal positioning of privilege keeps them apart from the realities of such debates, and the protection of their wealth seems a tad bit convenient for this fractured milieu.
The other antagonist is Koen's brother, the wonderfully certain and slightly demonic Waruu (Rob Collins, in a breakout role). Collins has a young daughter and a wife he cheats on with a white woman. Besides his infidelity, his only crime is that he is not the cleverman he expected to become when his uncle died. The concept of a character who is ruined by being denied one thing - when he has everything else - is kind of Oedipal. In any case, it is somewhat unusual in serial television.
The weakest part of Cleverman is the plight of a family of Hairies who Koen betrayed. Their incarceration by a bunch of vindictive and malevolent prison guards is the only part of the show without shades of grey. It seems too grim an indictment on the Australian people that they would allow torture and murder of any species. Observing these creatures of transparently applied makeup is hard enough without seeing them shocked and bled.
While British shows have found an easier time appealing to American audiences, a more difficult accent, lower production values and a less similar environment have slowed the inroads of the up-and-coming Australian film and television industry. Cleverman hurdles these difficulties through impressive production values, a variety of gorgeous locations and Ser Jorah Mormont and his wife. Initially the political messages seem a little abstruse, but that can be solved over time.
Despite small missteps, Cleverman's blend of horror and near-future science fiction gives the series an exciting base. The show is noticeably short on action so far, but that energy seems to have gone into showing us all the angles of its conflicted, embattled characters. Cleverman is the only show of recent note that gives me the feeling that actual life conveys at moments – of a difficult slog dotted by brief moments of incandescent beauty and love.
Ethan Peterson is the senior contributor to This Recording.
She weirdly talks about using a proper knife to eat her french toast. Also the best thing in Japan is the drinks der.
Ooh I wanna go here
by ALEX CARNEVALE
The Nice Guys
dir. Shane Black
I started to ask myself: who would I be if I didn't live in a world that hated women? I've been unable to come up with a satisfactory answer, but I did realize I've long been mourning this version of myself that never existed. - Jessica Valenti
Earlier this year an employee was fired at Nintendo of America after a group of misogynist messageboard posters targeted her as a perpetrator in the heady crime of making changes to an American release of a Japanese game. (She wasn't responsible for those alterations, not that it matters.) They started "researching" her past and decided to shame her for various opinions she held in her dissertation about the prosecution of sex crimes. Nintendo responded by digging further into the woman's life, uncovering a job she performed in order to supplement the measly income and health insurance she made working for the company. They fired her for this moonlighting, even though it was explicitly allowed in her contract. It was nothing more than an excuse to side with trolls over a talented member of their own company.
The women-haters who brought this all about seem like the real villains of this story. But there are worse ones: men (and sometimes women) who buy into harassment and support the atmosphere it generates. These good-intentioned people — how often we hear them say they love women — have a distinct point where they completely capitulate to pressure of any kind. They are comfortable with the concept of women as long as the women in question are simultaneously making them comfortable. Enter the nice guys.
It is perhaps natural that fathers today want to protect their daughters more than ever. Star of The Nice Guys Holland March (Ryan Gosling) does not particularly subscribe to this point of view. After the death of his wife, he is raising his daughter Holly (Australian actress Angourie Rice) on the wages of a private eye. During her summer off from school, Holly tries to aid her helpless pop on a case where he attempts to determine the whereabouts of a pornographic actress named Amelia (Margaret Qualley).
Holly is almost shot, murdered with a knife, run over by a car and abducted throughout Shane Black's The Nice Guys. At the end of it you would be hard pressed to say that Holland is any kind of a good parent, but you have to give him credit for allowing his daughter to be her own person, albeit a miniaturized version of himself. "I hate you," she tells her dad during one particularly feisty moment, but the rest of the time she is simply upset whenever she is not included in the excitement of his job.
The rest of the women in The Nice Guys are either evil beasts doing the bidding of men, or whores. Judith Kutner (Kim Basinger) appears halfway through the film as a cold-blooded concerned mother. In The Nice Guys, Basinger portrays the head of the Justice Department, a lawyer working for the car manufacturers in order to ensure they are not penalized for defying environmental regulations. She hires the nice guys to find her daughter; instead her daughter is murdered and she does not even get a refund.
The joke Black is making is that there are no nice guys. Exhibit A: the closest Black has ever come to writing an effective woman character is a thirteen-year-old virtually identical to Nancy Drew. Still, you have to give him points for effort. Unlike the producers of the new Ghostbusters, he knows his own limitations.
A particularly wretched article appeared in The New York Times recently, announcing that anyone who thought Paul Feig was less than a complete genius (for his patronizing character of a ghettoized black woman?) is a person who clearly hates women.
Paul Feig is another "nice guy," only he isn't very nice and he can't write women for shit either. I guess some credit goes to him for making an action film with an all-woman cast. The fact that is a cynical cash-in on fan nostalgia and the movie looks completely tone-deaf and unfunny, not to mention borderline racist, is besides the point. This particular beacon of feminism is a man drawing a huge paycheck for making a group of talented women the focal point for a hate campaign while he lurks in the shadows.
Feig's last movie was quite financially successful as well. It spent a solid two hours making fat jokes about Melissa McCarthy — but hey, since she was the star, it was a progressive piece of revolutionary feminism. Actually, Spy was mean-spirited and awful, and anyone involved in its production should be pretty ashamed of the Chuck Lorre-esque bigotry the movie espoused. It may have somehow escaped the notice of those determined to justify everything that this nice guy does, but women have — gasp! — been starring as the lead draws in feature films long before Paul Feig was born.
Maybe it is as Jessica Valenti says in her new memoir, and the whole world hates women. This does not mean, prima facie, that this was always so. Women did rule nations, empires. They accomplished a lot before The Nice Guys ever came onto the scene. Given the title Shane Black gives to his movie, you would have thought there was some larger point at work here about men's relationship to women. Instead The Nice Guys becomes turgidly boring after an entertaining first hour, subsisting mostly on Black's back-and-forth banter. The basic overall message of the film is how difficult it is being a good person.
Russell Crowe has no chemistry with Gosling for some reason, which is how The Nice Guys falls apart. The two men have very little in common besides their occupation and their status as bachelors. Despite the insanely long running time of The Nice Guys, neither ever even meets or approaches a woman in a sexual way. It is as if Black believes that treating a woman as a romantic equal is ultimately too much like objectifying her as a sexual object. Except for very young girls who might be their daughters, Gosling and Crowe's characters are deeply uncomfortable with the idea of adult women.
One scene near the end of the film is particularly disturbing in that regard. Gosling and Crowe wait in the lobby of a courthouse after testifying in front of a grand jury about the machinations of Kim Basinger's corrupt lawyer. She goes over to sit by them and explain her actions and sadness at her daughter Amelia's death. Strangely, the two men cannot even bring themselves to look at her face, that of a grieving mother. Instead Gosling speaks in German, comparing this powerful fallen, woman to Adolf Hitler.
Whether or not there is an active misogyny behind this filmmaking, I don't really know or care. It used to be that Hollywood was where society took steps forward; now film is purely a reactionary medium. Even contrived, white savior stories like Mississippi Burning and Schindler's List did the important work of showing why human beings deserved to be treated as equals. The Nice Guys barely believes that women exist as anything other than children. This horrendous state of affairs really stands out when a B-tier remake of a soulless franchise that was never really much to begin with, directed by a man, becomes a rallying cry. Women actually do make films — it's not just the nice guys.
Alex Carnevale is the editor of This Recording.