In the Company of Men Dec 9, 2016 17:38:33 GMT -5
Post by StevePulaski on Dec 9, 2016 17:38:33 GMT -5
In the Company of Men (1997)
Directed by: Neil LaBute
Directed by: Neil LaBute
Matt Malloy and Aaron Eckhart in In the Company of Men.
Though In the Company of Men is logically classified as a black comedy, it could reasonably pass as a horror-show, even scarier than the drudgery we saw on display in Office Space, another comedy with a focus on the corporate world. Here's a film that paints the perfect picture of how rampant and prevalent misogyny is, not only in the workplace, in American culture, where it's deeply embedded.
Though In the Company of Men predates the internet in a ubiquitous, modern sense, one can easily see how relevant it is to the idea of "trolling" and "men's rights activist" who only seem to operate when it comes to silencing the concerns and grievances of feminists. The story concerns Chad (Aaron Eckhart in his first major film role) and Howard (Matt Malloy), two middle-level coworkers at an office conglomerate embittered by bad experiences with women. Chad's girlfriend just left him not too long ago and Howard's lack of romantic and dating success leaves him frustrated with the female gender, all be it in a much more humble manner than Chad.
Nonetheless, Chad gets Howard on-board with a plan to try and embarrass Christine (Stacy Edwards), a new secretary who is deaf and reads lips in order to understand her peers. Chad tells Howard that both of them should try and pretend as if they're romantically interested in Christine, taking her out to dinner, spending time with her, each at separate times obviously, until they inform her that their attraction to her was phony and leave her hurt and confused. The two start small, with casual conversations in their offices that eventually lead to more formal dinners and dates that give her the impression that's she desired by both men. Chad asserts a more dominant role in his relationship with her, while Howard is far more reserved, passively going along with the plan until he begins to develop true feelings for her.
Chad and Howard's hatred for women is inspired not only by experiences that soured in the past, but by their contempt for women beginning to become a more prominent force in white-collar America, particularly their nameless and vague company. When Chad laments about how women are entering positions of power, he feels emasculated, covering up this feeling by cracking a joke to Howard. "You know what the difference between a "g-spot" and a golf-ball is?," he asks Howard. "I'll spend twenty minutes looking for a golf-ball."
In the Company of Men is a frightening indictment of corporate America and malehood in general, and how the second a woman usurps a man in title, rank, or performance, a male claims it's due to her performing sexual favors or some added level of nepotism rather than any kind of prowess on her behalf. I'm willing to bet most men - even myself - have had that nudging thought at one time in our lives, and while maybe not even more than half of them carried out something as sinister as Chad and Howard, a great many of them have, or at least have sub-consciously, believe such behavior is okay. In that sense, this is also a pitiful indictment of how relationships and courtship are of little value to people anymore; rather than two individuals are looking for commitment in a long-term or marital sense, it's two people using one another until the process is too daunting or inconvenient.
Aaron Eckhart gives a terrifying performance here, so much so that you can't take your eyes off of him when he goes off on a tirade filled with misogynistic language and the bitterness of a sexually frustrated man quickly approaching middle-age. His character represents the most distasteful tendencies in the modern alpha-male, while Matt Malloy's more restrained performance of Howard is also very commendable as well. While Howard's character might not make you as sick to your stomach as Chad, understand that he's a character that's fairly malicious himself. Someone who, regardless of inherent passivity or not, follows these dangerous alpha-males, who tantalize them with language that blames, objectifies, and demeans women to the point where these quiet souls become the same vocal parties you desperately (and thanklessly) try to silence in the workplace and on the internet.
Meanwhile, Stacy Edwards does very solid work here too, despite playing a character that's one big victim who never really gets to show herself as a more realized character. But while Christine admittedly gets corrupted and played throughout the entire film in the worst possible way, make no mistake in your final judgment about who is also ultimately scarred, as well.
In the Company of Men helps validate my long-held theory about how men and women operate in the modern day. Young women of the current and millennial generation have been raised by mothers and peers who have largely helped them break down barriers and empower them to rightfully believe they can tackle anything that their male counterparts can. Meanwhile, men have been a bit more passive in the sense that they see women "invade" their personal, formerly all-male workplaces - where they used to be able to converse with fellow oppressors in the way Chad so frequently does to Howard, in the open - and now must change their tone, speaking-patterns, and everything in-between in order to accommodate the opposite sex. As a result, while women rise to power, men sit back and are dethroned, and take out their stresses on Facebook posts or watercooler conversations when they should be faxing papers and successfully managing their time.
And it's also much easier to fight change in conversation than it is to embrace as it as a step to the idea of "equality," whatever that is and whether or not it's even achievable.
This is the kind of film that lingers in your mind long after you see it; the one that deserves to be discussed and debated in more than just basic discussions. However, perhaps the sole flaw with In the Company of Men is those who need to see it and are the ones profiled in this film will shrug at the film's portrayal of alpha-males and male supremacy and proudly excuse themselves from the equation. After all, not all men, of course not.
Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Matt Malloy, and Stacy Edwards. Directed by: Neil LaBute.