Friday, July 05, 2019

"The 40-Year-Old Virgin": an irreverent satire that a decade later seems to have hidden "political" significance

I had done a big writeup on this comedy on my legacy “doaskdotell” site, but I thought I would recap the 2006 comedy “The 40 Year-Old Virgin” by Jude Apatow, originally from Universal (now YouTubeMovies) here.  I remember seeing this in the old AMC Courthouse in Arlington VA before it was renovated.

Steve Carell, then about 42, wrote the script for his own depilation, where he plays a nerdy 40-year-old who has never “gotten laid”, and is challenged by Trish (Catherine Keener).

The famous scene in the middle shows women waxing his chest with various strips, to where he looks like, as the script shows, a “man-o-lantern”.

In fact, this process of violating male body sanctity is shown relatively rarely on camera in film.  There are tacky YouTube videos about the topic, of course, but they are almost never shown in a “dramatic” context in gay short films.

Swimmer and bikers "do it", of course (in competitive situations).  Head shaves as fund raisers showing empathy (cancer) are common and almost expected, but so far they've never gone below the neckline.  You wonder.  In the distant past, this sort of thing could happen in college and fraternity initiations. 

It’s also a good question, why would his (Carell's) girl friend want him to look “less” virile?

The pundits used to weigh in on this.  David Skinner wrote his famous piece for the Weekly Standard “Notes on the Hairless Man” in June 1999.  This topic took a dark turn in 2001 when there were sporadic reports that the 9/11 terrorists had shaved their own bodies that morning (another Skinner article). This supposition was shown in the Discovery Channel film “The Flight that Fought Back” (about Flight 93) in 2005, directed by Bruce Goodison.

The controversy continues with Anthony Weiner’s prosecution, which wound up accidentally affecting the 2016 election, possibly being the “ball four” that walked in the winning run for Donald Trump.
It’s also true that about eight years after this comedy/satire film was a hit, the subject of incels took a dark turn (in June 2014) with the spree by Elliot Rodger. It is still viewed as a disturbing topic online.

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