By Kyle | August 10, 2009
I like Ross Douthat, particularly his movie reviews, but he and I are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to his sort of faith-based reading of pop culture. Today he offers a column about how Judd Apatow’s movies are deeply moral and conservative. One hero retained his virginity until age 40 (a condition that was mocked as utterly ludicrous, though also pathetic, and was not in any way shown to be a wise idea). I am a bit stunned by this sentence:
“No movie makes the idea of saving (and saving, and saving) your virginity look as enviable as “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”
Wow. This character is emotionally, developmentally, almost physically crippled by retaining his virginity. Can there be anyone else who views “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” as making the case that putting off sex is the way to happiness?
Douthat also notes that Apatow made a movie about a woman who accidentally got pregnant yet kept her baby. But that was only because the movie would have been over in five minutes (and not a comedy) if she got an abortion. The movie didn’t make a pro-life argument; it simply hurried by the decision to keep the baby because that was the path to comedy richness. I think Douthat’s social conservatism is overwhelming his sense of what makes a movie.
[Spoiler alert} As for “Funny People,” how conservative is it? It’s in part about a woman who, after a vigorous extramarital bonking (that the movie never hints is immoral or wrong) and a couple of warm conversations, decides to dump her entire family for a rich and famous guy. She reverses this decision not because of morality but because she starts to notice that the rich and famous guy is a jerk who will be a lousy father. In other words, it’s not her sense of duty or fidelity or obligation that informs her decision. She acts selfishly (writ large; of course a parent’s selfishness includes his or her kids) all the way.