Unisex MultiplexrnWlien Felix Met Oscarrnby J.O.TaternHow could I possibly know as much as I do about popularrnentertainmeut? I mean, I almost neer go to the moviesrnanymore. The big multiplexes annoy me with the stink of theirrnsprays, their even more vexing segmentation of the audience,rnand their usurious popcorn prices. At home, I have no Hnic forrntelevision, being completely devoted to religious meditation, arcanernstudies, and my hobby, organic chemistrv’. But lef s face it,rnthe worst thing about movies and television today is what yournsee. “Entertainment” palls wlien there is so little pleasure to bernfound. And the imagination is not stimulated by an awarenessrnof the manipidations of the entertainment industr)-.rnOne of the creepier experiences of actually seeing what is goingrnon, though, is the realization that the prcsentaHon of humanit)’rnitself is more than a bit lacking. “Men,” for example,rnseem to be beer-swilling louts who wear Hawaiian shirts.rn”Women” appear to be anorexic teenage models who are exploringrntheir sexualit)-. Where is some norm of reference orrnground of actuality? Maybe the point is that there is none.rnLooking at the whole male/female situation now makes }ournwonder. All the little chippies that the powers put in front of usrnat the muldplex and on the cable leave me cold, perhaps becausernI do not want to look at any navel display unless I am thernonly one who gets to see it. Over 30 years of sexual revolution,rnradical feminism, ethnic trucnience, homosexual agit]3rop, andrnall the rest of it have resulted in the present confusion, a situationrnin which von cannot even expect to see a good movie.rnThere are a lot of reasons why that is so, and diere are excephons,rnand there is as well the distorting complexit)’ of readingrnthe dialectic of histor’ through illusory commercial arhvorksrnJ.O. Tate /’s a professor of English at Dowling College on longrnIsland.rnthat are themselves bodi the cause and the result of what arernnow called “changing gender roles.” The “gender blender” isrnwhy, in movies today, we so often see males hugging and cryingrnand saving things like, “I love you, man.”rnI can remember when a “weepie” was a woman’s movie, arnhandkerchief flick. And by the wav, some of the old women’srnmovies were so good that anyone could enjoy them, and did.rnToday, a woman’s movie is something like Thelma & lx>uisern(1991), which would have been a lot better in black and white,rnmade in the early 50’s, widi maybe Dan Duryea and StephenrnMacNally instead of Susan Sarandon and Geena Da’is, andrnthe rape stuff by the evil men left out. So Callie Kliouri won anrnOscar for ftie lousy screenplay. Go figure.rnAs a chick flick, Thelma & lj)uise was a road movie, and itrnwas a buddy movie. There was a niche, at least, for the eoncephon.rnBut still, it was a feminized, possibly lesbian version, completernwith Liehestodt, of a sinister male phenomenon, and Irnmean the buddy movie, not ftie road movie or ftie usual crimernstory.rnThe budd}’ movie is a problem, and a revealing one. I do notrnwant to blame everv’thing, or even anything, on Neil Simon,rnwho wrote The Odd Couple. That comedy had its own point.rnBut the ceaseless replication has contained a subliminal message.rnI think that there have been so many buddy movies because,rnafter the sexual revolution and the collapse of conventionrnin the 60’s, the usual sentimental melodrama of love and recognitionrnof the other self could hardly be told in terms of male andrnfemale, and for two reasons. One is that the story of male andrnfemale entanglement has essentially required from unimaginativernmoviemakers and audiences a pornographic representation,rncomplete with female orgasm. Love cannot be representedrnwithout graphic display of same. Therefore, the differencern16/CHRONICLESrnrnrn