Thursday, November 19, 2009

My dislike of bathroom signs and QUICK NOTES: HAROLD & MAUDE

Alright, so I've got some beef with traditional, man/woman bathroom signs and I've been chewing on it for a while and after a slightly uncomfortable incident at a rest stop fifteen minutes north of SF, I thought I'd vent. Because hell, I love to vent.

My reasons for hating traditional man/woman bathroom signs:

1. First off, man/woman is a passe terms these days people. There's a lot of variance happening in well, the minds and bodies of a lot of folk the world over. Throwing up a sign that handily divides bathrooms between those with penises and those with a vagina makes a bold statement that the only people using these bathrooms are those who are men with penises or women with a vagina. That gender and genitalia are so easily paired in these days of transgender is egregious. In all ways we are a speedily evolving culture and I think the frontline push in many ways is a more gender neutral way of looking at things. A way of assessing people not by who they fuck or what they have hanging in their shorts, but by who they are and how they live their lives. A sign on every bathroom door that declares one can or cannot enter based on the junk, or lack thereof, between their legs stodgily rebukes that forward momentum, and I for one think it needs to change a bit.

2. Bathroom signs annoy me because they create a subconscious fear that I can't use one or the other. I hate walking up to a pair of bathrooms adorned with male/female signs, finding the male bathroom closed, and not feeling comfortable entering in to the ladies' bathroom because, well, it's marked only for women. For those who've never ventured in to the dangerous reaches of the opposing sex's lavatory I'll tell you this: aside from a trough or a few stalls, it's all the same, a bunch of places to seat your toosh and let the good times roll. It is ridiculous that an unused bathroom sits next to one with a line, and just because I have a peiner, means I can't pop in. Why can't we all just get along? Understandably there is a few cultural (nee gender) norms that make it seemingly uncomfortable to pinch one off in the presence of the opposite sex, but we can get over this people. We can exist in a world where bathrooms are bathrooms regardless of if you sit or stand to take a pee. C'mon!

And that's what I got. Maybe I should start a petition or something. Who's with me?

The Movie: Harold & Maude
The Director:
Hal Ashby (Being There, Shampoo)

The Experience: I've been meaning to watch this movie for ages. Hal Ashby is a bit of a legend from the 1970s and my ex-girlfriend claimed this was her favorite movie. Almost in a rebellious, "oh yeah" sort of way I avoided ever watching this film. But, Alex was curious after reading the book, and I thought, "Probably time to get over myself."

Something Interesting: Ruth Gordon, the fine actress who plays Maude, never actually drives the hearse in the car, as she never actually learned to drive. The whole rig is being towed each and every time.

Quick Notes:

1. What a Maude!

My goodness, Ruth Gordon might be the sexiest octogenarian I've ever seen. I mean it isn't that I find Gordon attractive in a physical way (or maybe I do, it takes a while for the brain to get used to the idea of being aroused by a woman 50 years its senior) there's just something about her character and the vulnerability she shows in the role that had me one eyebrowed up for the majority of the film. It's an incredible feat, by both Hal Ashby and Gordon, that they managed to make it totally viable that a strange, young man like Harold (Bud Cort) would fall in love with this woman so much older than him. She's a fox, through and through.

2. Bud Cort, super creepy?

Before doing a bit more research on this film, I found myself watching Cort's performance and thinking that this strange, pasty-faced, drug-voiced child couldn't be the result of actual acting. No, rather that Bud Cort himself was actually this strange. A kid you'd find burning ants, or flashing school children, and not be terribly surprised. Indeed, I've never watched another film starring Bud Cort (is there any?) but I imagined this to be him in real life. A little research in the can and it seems that Cort was a bit more proactive in his pursuit of a career and this starring role was not exactly a fluke. Rather, he listed Robert Altman (bless his soul) as a mentor and I've read stories that paint him as a bit of a filmic diva (such as the one where he wanted Greta Garbo to play Maude...). Nonetheless, this is an all-encompassing performance and I'm shocked that it doesn't spill over in to his real life.

3. God bless the 1970s.

Be it this film or any of the other ground-breaking bits of narrative that flowed like honey in the 1970s, it was a fan-fucking-tastic time to be a filmmaker operating within a studio. What other time period would let you play the love affair between an 80 year old and a 20 year old so straight? If this film was made this year, it'd star the Wayan Brothers and there'd be jokes about wrinkly vaginas and dick cobwebs. Thank you 1970s, if you were more corporeal I'd hug the shit out of you.

Final Thoughts: Rightly a classic. I'm going to start watching Hal Ashby's other films right now. I mean not RIGHT now, but soon enough.

Friday: 500 Days of Summer


Mark said...

Bathroom signs got you riled up? Meh, that's a tough rant to join. While I agree with with the notion of forward progress and acceptance of all shapes, sizes, etc., I'm not sure yelling at bathroom signs is really worth your worry. But, if they piss you off that much, I will punch one right in the junk (or lack thereof) next time we're together.

David said...

I was thinking we watched this in NZ but then I remembered we actually watched kramer vs. kramer. What the hell.

wescoat said...

"Dick cobwebs?" That is comic GOLD. I'm stealing it.