Let me start by saying that the title of this post is a little disingenuous – I’d never tell you how upset to be about the rape plot lines on HBO. You feel how you feel, and you get to make your own decisions about what you do and don’t watch. I do, however, find it interesting that rape’s showing up so often on TV, and I wonder whether that’s a good thing (because we’re finally talking about it) or a bad thing (because we’re slowly getting desensitized to it). I think it’s a little of both.
What’s clear is that, in our contemporary society and culture, the male body is not invisible. Although the female body continues to be more heavily regulated and controlled, particularly in terms of weight and appearance, the male body is no longer removed from similar considerations. As we continue to look more intensely and critically at the male body, we can anticipate a time when new images of masculinity become not only realized but embodied.
Naturally, we are all on these anti-heroes’ sides, despite their bad deeds. And Tony Soprano, Don Draper, and Walter White all have an antagonist: their wives. They call their husbands out on their lies, moral failings, and oppose them. Thus, they are seen as the nagging wife that everyone hates.
‘That Thing You Do!’ with its sly humor, strong performances and ultimately heartwarming romance makes for satisfying viewing. It’s a meditation on the tension between art and commerce that manages to acknowledge what can be good about temporary fame. It’s also a squeaky-clean antidote to sordid, drug-filled “Behind-the Music”-type stories, both fictional and real.
Mainly though, the movie’s release has reminded us of all the supposedly simple and universal the show portrayed so well, the things that shouldn’t be notable in today’s movies and TV, but somehow are: a platonic male-female relationship, a strong friendship between teen girls who never came to blows over looks or boys, a willingness to hold its heroine accountable for her flaws, and above all, an amazing father-daughter relationship.