I live a few thousand miles away from my mother, so a few years ago there would have been no way for her to know what I was watching if I didn’t want to tell her. Recently, however, I’ve been sharing my Netflix queue with her. It’s a nice experience on some level, because it gives us fodder for stuff to talk about; it’s simpler to recommend things to her and it’s easier to keep track of where we are if we’re both watching the same show. But it also means that I have to be self conscious if I watch something crass like Sex Drive because it’s going to show up in my recently watched queue.
I was pretty worn down from a long day at work last Monday, so when it was movie time I wanted to watch a comedy. I saw Sex Drive in my queue and thought that it would be worth a try. In the first five minutes Cyclops from the X-Men movies calls his younger brother a fag and I was like: well, this is going to on my recently watched list until I watch 50 more movies. Hooray!
The best definition I’ve ever heard of comedy is “benign transgression” – meaning that it’s wrong, but it’s not too wrong. A pun is the wrong word, but it’s not so wrong that it’s a nonsequitir. Slapstick is laughing at an accident that’s not so serious that it becomes traumatic. Well, this movie is a throwback sex comedy about a young teen who is struggling to lose his virginity, and those types of movies have historically leaned harder on “transgression” than on “benign.” And for someone like me – a straight white male – that’s not necessarily a problem. I mean, I have a heart, so I’ll get upset if something feels mean, but my threshold for a movie like this a lot higher than it would be for, say, my mom. As an old school feminist, she’s just not going to have any patience for the sort of movie where a woman is just a prize that the male hero wins at the end of the movie.
But the truth is that at the end of the day, despite all the stereotypes and implicit sexism and whatnot, I did enjoy most of this movie. It was the right movie at the right time for me, a goofy stress reliever with plenty of things I enjoy, like dick jokes and shots of naked breasts. It might not have been enlightened, but it’s heart wasn’t cruel, and that was good enough for me.
I would call Sex Drive a guilty pleasure except people have really been pushing against using that phrase lately; they think you should just own up to liking something if you like it, and not worry about whether liking it makes you a cool person. So instead of using that out of vogue expression I might call this movie a conflicted pleasure, because my worry about it is not that I’m uncool for having liked this movie, but that I’m maybe slightly immoral for liking something that a lot of people would see as a good example of broad cultural problems.
But that said, I’m not going to sell out the fact that I personally enjoyed this movie. I mean, I might be a wet blanket, but I’m not made out of stone when quality dick jokes are being thrown around.
Winner: Who’s asking?