I wanted to share with you all a new piece I have up on the The Atlantic‘s website today about the mixed gender messages in Don Jon and Thanks for Sharing, which I reviewed for the Washington City Paper last week. Here’s an excerpt:
The story of a lothario who comes to understand the errors of his womanizing ways is certainly not new. Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Warren Beatty, and Matthew McConaughey have famously tackled such characters in the past. These films typically frame the problem as man’s eternal inability to commit, but Don Jon and Thank You for Sharing apply a more critical gaze to their subject by depicting the objectification of females as an actual addiction—a dangerous, even crippling psychological and societal ill. It’s similar to how previous films have depicted alcoholism; one character in Sharing ruins his career over his addiction (he gets caught filming up his boss’s skirt with a secret camera), while Don Jon’s biggest obstacle to a healthy relationship seems to be his friends and family who enable his lascivious ways. Putting these taboos into such familiar forms—with elements of the rom-com and the addiction drama—is a smart move because it makes the characters easier to relate to and the legitimacy of their condition as an actual addiction harder to dismiss.