Dude Rules: A Response

Glenn Whipp of the L.A. Times wrote a fascinating piece a few days ago titled “Dude rules: leaping into buddydom,” which explores Judd Apatow’s legacy of films, as well as films that imitate the ever-popular prepubescent man garbage that continues to dominate the box office. Whipp lists seven rules on how to nurture on-screen guy bonds, and I offer my response to these rules, highlighted in red below. It’s a good idea to take a look at Whipp’s original article to get the full context of what we’re dealing with.
Rule #1

Sharing fun, challenging and intellectually engaging activities can strengthen friendships.

The point is: Male friendships need not solely revolve around sports and beer. In fact, in today’s movie world, those guys are the losers to be mocked and avoided.
The Real Point is: Male friendships need not solely revolve around sports and beer. In fact, in today’s movie world, male friendships can revolve around exploiting women (the boys’ Flesh of the Stars website in Knocked Up) and living out their 30s and 40s as man-children, sometimes with their mothers (Will Ferrell in Wedding Crashers), while often jobless and perpetually stoned.

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Rule #2
Friends are optimists, not naysayers.

The point is: No one likes to be around negative energy. If the dude doesn’t like Bob Marley, tell him “peace out” and move on.
The Real Point is: Friends are optimists, not naysayers, especially when it comes to getting you laid. Without Kumar, Harold wouldn’t have hooked up with Maria. Without Harold, Kumar wouldn’t have hooked up with Vanessa. Without the sage advice from the gang at SmartTech, Andy would now be a 44-year-old virgin. Without a little prodding, Carl (Jim Carrey) would still be a single guy, watching movies alone in his apartment (Yes Man). If the dude doesn’t help you score, tell him “peace out” and move on.

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Rule #3
Friends carry each other.
The Real Point is: This rule can often be applied when your friend’s adolescent shenanigans go just a little too far. In Old School, when Frank (Will Ferrell) destroys his marriage by acting like a 12-year-old, his friends warmly accept him as their fellow fraternity brother. In The 40-Year-Old Virgin, when Andy (Steve Carell) is too freaked out to hook up with the girl he went home with, the token crazy-sex-whore (Elizabeth Banks), Cal (Seth Rogen) does the right thing and steps in to take care of it.
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Rule #4
Friends accept friends for how they are. Even when alerting the authorities might be the more prudent call.

The point is: If your friends are 40 years old and still living at home (“Step Brothers”), don’t try to change them. Buy them a case of Fruit Roll-Ups instead. If your buddy is a heavily medicated mall cop looking to join the police force (Seth Rogen’s upcoming “Observe and Report”), you pat him on the head and hand him some pepper spray. And if your wingman gets a fake ID with the name McLovin on it — well, you can tell him he’s an idiot — but then you ask him to go score some beer.
The Real Point is: If your friends are 40 years old and still living at home, that’s totally acceptable. If your friends are 40 years old and still living at home, that’s totally hilarious. It’s funny when Will Ferrell’s character in Wedding Crashers screams, “Ma! The meatloaf!” after saying goodbye to a woman he lied to (at a funeral, no less) in order to get in her pants. In fact, why not just say “fuck it” and live out your 40s in a fraternity, with an entire group of man-children, complete with blow-up dolls, underage girls, and bikini-clad mud wrestlers (Old School).

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Rule #5

Friends make an effort to stay in touch.

The point is: You don’t wait for buddies to call you. You pick up the phone. Or better: Just show up on their doorstep.
The Real Point is: You don’t wait for buddies to call you. You call them, so you can avoid your wife and kids to hang out with 19-year-old girls all day (Wedding Crashers). You call them, so you can lock them in a room and force them to watch pornography (The 40-Year-Old Virgin) as a way to educate them on what it’s like to score. In fact, why not just show up on their doorstep to lend them your very own giant box of porn. Knowing your friend’s at home, jerking it to your homemade mixed-porn-tape, Boner Jams ’03, surely qualifies as staying in touch.

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Rule #6
Friends remain equally loyal in good times and bad.
The Real Point is: Friends will very loyally do anything to get you laid, including enduring a “midnight rape” by the hilarious token psycho female (Wedding Crashers), accidentally setting you up with a transsexual (The 40-Year-Old Virgin), which leaves room for the always-hilarious and requisite gay jokes, and giving you amazing, hard-earned advice on how to spot the most vulnerable drunk girl to take home (The 40-Year-Old Virgin).

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Rule #7
Friends know it’s OK to say, “I love you.” But they don’t have to, you know, talk about it at length.

The point is: These days in movies, male friendship means never having to say anything more than “I love you, man.”
The Real Point is: These days in movies, male friendship means never having to say anything more than “I love you, man” as long as it’s a way to prove that you’re secure in your masculinity. Of course, you’ve probably spent most of the movie bonding over hot chicks, and ways to go about screwing hot chicks, and fetishizing lesbians (who are most certainly always hot and making out for your pleasure only), and fantasizing about the MILF, and standing around with various nude-for-no-reason background women who you probably never speak to, and throwing in a few gay jokes here and there. Congratulations! By that point, I’d say you’ve proven your straightness to the audience enough to risk just a little hetero-bro-love.
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09200575390394666074 Amber L

    I very much want to like the deconstruction of masculinity in some of these films, but the constant seems to remain that manhood is defined by exploitation of women. Much like Craig Brewer’s inability to address gender with the same level of smarts he discusses race, Apatow can’t seem to take masculinity beyond misogyny.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00409939666259829335 kb

    Apatow is the ideological mouthpiece for living a life of perpetual adolescence, indeed. Sometimes I feel like the root of the problems that plague the U.S. is a lack of maturity (I imagine all of the subprime mortgage lenders were Apatow acolytes). We need to grow up, and growing up means making adult movies. If you want to make a movie about male fantasy, you make Vertigo. Right?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17745691711567675960 Stephanie R

    I was telling Amber earlier that I’ve been watching Freaks and Geeks (an Apatow TV show from back in the day), and I basically love it. The main difference between the TV show and all of his recent crap-films is that the characters in Freaks and Geeks are actually all in high school; the characters in his movies are just written like they’re in high school.