Holding Court by Joseph Lorusso, 48 X 58 inches, $16,000
This morning one of my art newsletters offered the perfect illustration for this post, but I don’t know how to move it to my blog and might be breaking copyright if I do. So if you want to see it, go to the above url and look for a painting called “Holding Court” It’s a couple of gents in a bar, one advising the other. (Sorry I can't link until I update my OS.)
But actually my post is a movie review. Well, no, it’s a blog review. The three elements, painting, movie and blog, converge in a kind of Jane Austen for dudes. That is, intrigue, sex and marriage (maybe) in the context of a very specific kind of upper class, urban, professional life.
The Rawness (he’s from Brooklyn) is one of my fav blogs, though I’m totally outside the proper demographic and couldn’t use the advice if I wanted to, but the whole idea of it is “game,” how to be alpha enough to score well in the minuet between the sexes. Earlier he had a series about how to be an alpha male -- or sometimes he uses the label “renaissance man” -- and how to improve if you’re a beta (though that’s sometimes better to be, depending upon circumstances) and how to simply survive if you’re a dreaded omega-category male (loser). What makes it so much fun is that he lines out the rules as though he were a high school gym coach. (He’s in his early thirties and married, working in Manhattan maybe.)
This week he’s been teaching technique for specific situations. (Truth in advertising: I’m a total dunderhead at dating, relating, or any kind of sports, which is part of the reason I’m so fascinated.) The website is TheRawness.com. (I’ll try to link, but it’s so simple, you could just remember it. He’s going to provide 31 rules for the month. Here are the first eleven. He expands on them at length:
1. When initially establishing eye contact with other people, especially an attractive woman, always make them break eye contact first.
2. When doing prolonged, intense eye contact, even if you have done everything right and awakened sexual interest in the girl, after two such instances your stock will start to plummet each additional time you maintain eye contact without actually making a move.
3. Approach Groups of Women Alone
4. Don’t Get Tunnel Vision. Remember the Whole Group.
5. Always Aim to Talk Less Than Your Target.
6. Your Woman Can Never, Ever, Truly Be Your Best Friend or Closest Confidante. I repeat: Your Woman Can Never, Ever, Truly Be Your Best Friend or Closest Confidante. What women need from their men on a primal level is security, guidance, decision making and firm but benevolent leadership. And you can’t accomplish all that while turning her into your best friend and confidant.
7. On a primal level, a woman would rather share a high status man with others than have a beta or omega male all to herself
8. Tell, Don’t Ask. Always use commands and demands, not questions and requests.
9. If the woman you desire offers you something, graciously accept it.
10. Aim for Charisma: Not Charm. Understand the difference. Charm is when you make people like you. Charisma is when you make people want you to like them. Charisma is the much more powerful of the two.
11. Do Not Talk Ex-Boyfriends
These strike me as excellent plot tips for a film or book -- “Jane Austen” for modern males -- but only in certain contexts. I’m not sure all this stuff would work in Valier or even in Great Falls in an Air Force bar.
The movie I was thinking about is one of Woody Allen’s little puppet shows, “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” which is not about one woman with three names, but three women who represent, well, if Austen were writing this, they might be Dependable, Romantic and Raw Emotion. In other words, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson and Penelope Cruz. The Woody Allen part is, of course, Javier Bardem. Type-casting. Arnold Schwartzenegger was busy at the time.
The Javier character has already established in many previous movies that he’s an Alpha. (Is that a portable bolt-gun in your pocket?) But he’s totally charming and has an infinite capacity to make love to women. (Actually, I was more attracted to the father’s character, but then I’m 70.) He’s a successful artist (painter in the abstract expressionist mode) which is sort of the same thing as landed aristocracy in some circles. He is the very opposite of the aloof Austen alpha men. The plot gimmick of an injury is food poisoning. The rest is just snapshots of how the rules listed by The Rawness might work out among those with lots of time, money, and good looks.
Unlike Austen’s people, who live in a web of rules that is quite inescapable, the problem here is how to find any boundaries at all in a world where marriage means little and promiscuity is an unknown concept, especially for men.
The “most controversial,” and therefore the most interesting rule so far is number six: that a man can never be a woman’s best friend and confidante. “What women need from their men on a primal level is security, guidance, decision making and firm but benevolent leadership. And you can’t accomplish all that while turning her into your best friend and confidant.” This is why I like the movie Papa best. I call number six the “papa rule.” I’m even more interested that “Rawness” got this rule from a minister, because it applies even more intensely to the relationship between ministers and their congregation. The minister can NOT be the best friend and confidante of ANYONE, male or female, in the congregation. Because the minister must provide “security, guidance, decision making and firm but benevolent leadership.” “Papa,” you know, is a synonym for Pope. This rule is the only legitimate reason for hierarchy, even in a military context where it overlaps with other reasons.
But if the “papa” (the male in a het relationship) is less than an alpha in terms of both skill and virtue, he is doomed. Goodbye Woody. Goodbye Benedict. So far so good, Javier.