“My mind is telling me that you are a great guy… but my chemistry is telling me that you’re a loser.”

To what will or must you react?

In Louie C.K.’s television program Louie, the episode “Bully” features an exchange between two males in the presence of a female, which acts as a messy examination of the mixed expectations that men and women have of men.  While Louie is on a first date, he gets into an exchange with a high school bully.  The bully threatens Louie physically and says that unless Louie asks politely he will hurt him badly.  Eventually, Louie submits and the bully leaves.  The following dialogue shows how this affects the relationship between Louie and his date:

LOUIE: You didn’t really want me to fight that guy did you?

WOMAN: No, no.  You did the right thing, of course…

LOUIE: Hey, look I’m getting this weird feeling like you’re looking down on me for what just happened.

WOMAN: I would never want a guy to fight, of course, it’s so stupid, I’d be pissed if you did…being violent is just the dumbest thing ever, and who cares what you had to say to get the guy off your back…But…I mean if I’m being totally honest, that was a turnoff, I’m sorry I can’t help it, I don’t know…its like a primitive thing or something, I mean you see this guy just totally debase himself, just to be safe, it’s a turnoff.

LOUIE: You know I’ve got to criticize you a little bit for that, cuz that’s why there’s wars and stuff you know, women like you that choose stupid strong people over the weak and the gentle.

WOMAN: Look, okay, I’m a grown woman, and my mind is telling me that you are a great guy… but my chemistry is telling me that you’re a loser.

The scene seems to make the simple point that today a man is expected to restrain himself, in observance of civilized nonviolence.  And yet, when such a man is challenged by violent dominance, the only recourse is submission.  Such a submission absolutely compromises the past definition of masculinity’s associations with protection, physical power, and dominance.  While Louie’s point is simple, its underlying origins are highly complicated.  It seems to focus to a question of natural masculinity versus civilized masculinity.  Let us assume that in nature, a man had to be strong.  And that now, he must be smart/civilized.  While we like to think a man can be both, the scene makes the point that sometimes the latter undermines the former.  So what should Louie do in this situation?  How does the modern man preserve both his natural and civilized masculinity in the face of uncivilized challenge?  Can we ever reach a point where sexual attraction is not based at least partly on “chemistry” (one’s “natural” sexual attraction requisites)?  And what if the Date was being bullied?  What would be expected of her as a feminine woman?

The clip is only available on Netflix at around 6:00: http://movies.netflix.com/WiPlayer?movieid=70179977&trkid=2361637&t=Louie#MovieId=70179977&EpisodeMovieId=70153453

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One Response to “My mind is telling me that you are a great guy… but my chemistry is telling me that you’re a loser.”

  1. victoriag8 says:

    This example got me thinking about all the contradicting expectations that individuals in society have. My girl friends always comment on how they want to find a guy who “seems like a bad boy,” but is secretly “really nice.” Similarly to Louie’s date they want to find someone who encompasses two opposing qualities. I find this to be true for many individuals looking for a partner. For heterosexual males, there is often a desire for a woman to fit the “standards of beauty,” (even if it takes hours or surgery) with the opposing expectation that is easy, natural, and expected of everyone. This relates to Killing Us Softly 4, the video we recently watched in class. Jean Kilbourne discusses the impossibility of fulfilling the standards set by society for women and men. Women need to be thin and overtly sexual in order to be attractive to an extent that very few women can healthily or naturally obtain. This example in Louie illustrates how these impossible ideals are a two-way street. The idea that these specific qualities (such as thinness or toughness) are needed due to a “natural” attraction is a frightening idea because it will be much harder to overcome them, then if it was merely a social construction. If it is engrained in our genetics, will we as a society ever be able to move away from harsh judgments and expectations of those we are attracted to? Kilbourne’s video also brought up the desire for physical power and dominance from men, as seen in Louie. I found it shocking that recent advertisements have been incorporating women in compromising positions with a looming or violent male figure. This appears to promote domestic violence and make it a norm, as there are numerous amounts of advertisements with messages like these. If our social media and our “chemistry” are working together to enforce these beauty/sexual attraction ideals, is there any hope for an escape?

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