Equality. The final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Earth. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to create new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before. On this joyride, Lucy and Guardians of the Galaxy were our tentpoles for the summer. And while neither will pass the Bechdel test, theirs was a strong showing for women.
Luc Besson’s Lucy , as embodied by Scarlett Johannson, is but a pawn in the delivery of a new breed of narcotics to the market. When her mind is blown (literally, as she begins to use more than the 10% of it that got her into her predicament), she goes on a quest to share her knowledge with Morgan Freeman.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy has bad people, and good people, and indifferent people who find their goodness as the layers of sarcasm are peeled away. And the good people win. By holding hands. Really. Who keeps the protagonist from falling to pieces? Gamora. The lone female of the group.
In both of these movies, it is the feminine that defeats the enemy, invariably masculine. Is this an anomaly, or a harbinger of things to come? Or, more to the point, is it merely an expression of a core truth?
In the more mundane galaxy of the bar, things are slipping in quite the opposite direction. While women increasingly open more bars (and businesses) these days, the respect allotted to them is paltry at best. And now, after years behind the bar, I am witnessing more sexism than ever from patrons. Yes, as a white male, I am in the catbird seat to receive whatever benefits this might afford me, but at what cost? Shall I idly sit by as my talented coworkers are slandered? Do I really make and shake a better drink than my female counterparts? And do I really need to advise you on which drink is the least girly, served in the least girly glassware?
With all of the above in mind, here are a few rules to live by:
- Variety is the spice of life. In food, drink, and film. Allow yourself to watch different types of movies with different types of struggles, whose protagonists are of different genders.
- There is a special ring in Dante’s hell for those whose way of ingratiating themselves with someone is to insult that person’s friends or coworkers. Never insist that one bartender is more qualified than another based on your limited perceptions. In asking for something, we are giving up control … have some faith in your institutions.
- Cocktails, at least anywhere I work, are codified recipes. We make our drinks the same with negligible difference. And if you are so un-evolved as to think that a man shakes better than a woman, your palate and intellect are far too rudimentary to detect that difference.
- “Girly” invariably means less than, weaker, sweeter. It’s meaningless and derogatory and it doesn’t speak to what I want to know the most: what you, the drinker of the drink I am to recommend, actually enjoy. It is only you telling me that you think women are weak. And if you think stemware is too girly for your manly ham hands, then your masculinity is a glass house built on a foundation of sand located in the moist swamplands of a shitty Floridian subdivision.
Perhaps it is the movies that are evolving, while the rest of us are caught in some kind of regressive eddy, cyclically returning to notions that would make Don Draper blanch. So, where to start? The first step is usually the easiest: Don’t use “girly” as an insult. That goes for women, too. Go Lucy, go Gamora!
Michael likes all things drink related. Michael likes movies. And, in an odd twist of fate, Michael loves words about movies. These three facts combine to make a perfect storm of sensibility, ability, and inebriation needed to fulfill duties at EatDrinkFilms. When not rhapsodizing about film, Michael tends the bar at Two Sisters Bar & Books in San Francisco. He teaches mixology in San Francisco and New York. And lately, he’s been trying to capture the magic of what he does in a bottle so he can spread his tasty libations across the land. Please feel free to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with all queries.