Eat, Pray, Expendables: The weekend Sly & Julia came out to play
Their ads are inescapable and demand, almost by virtue of their ubiquity alone, an opinion. Eat Pray Love was based on a book, making it slightly more snooty by comparison, while The Expendables was not. In fact, that film is more than likely based on the following exchange between John Rambo and Co Bao from 1985’s Rambo: First Blood Part II.
“Uhh, I’m expendable.”
Expendable? What mean expendable?
“It’s like….if someone invites you to a party and you don’t show up…it doesn’t really matter.”
For me, what ties these films so inexorably together is the tres distant shores of consciousness each occupy. One is completely for men, the other is totally for women even as both work very hard to give life to the respective choices each gender are routinely asked to make.
Eat Pray Love features a protagonist so painfully unfulfilled in the life she leads that only a divorce and an epic, year-long vacation of self-discovery through Italy, India and Indonesia can make her whole again. She eats, she prays and she loves, eventually meeting some rich dude who somehow makes life all fun again - proving anew that time spent focused directly on self is all anyone truly needs to ensure core happiness and blissful contentment.
The Expendables is about a wagon-load of now-affordable eighties action stars united for the first time to blow sh*t up. Okay, that’s not entirely true. It’s also about a group of men starting out to do something for themselves who recognize it’s more important when you do it for someone else.
Obviously, guys are expected to pack Expendables showings for little reason other than to properly venerate the existence of their testicles, while women’s attendance is virtually commanded by the seal of approval granted by good queen Oprah’s lavish praise of the source material. Who will win? Who will lose? Will each sex abandon the other only to meet hence for a re-invigorated battle of the sexes? I’m all a tingle.
Now, not having seen either film, or even bothered to read the book summarily adapted, I am nonetheless perfectly comfortable weighing in on the cultural impact these two films represent. This is due solely to the sheer volume of uninformed content already available on the internet. Whether it’s the length of time Charlie Sheen spends in rehab or the immigration debate in Arizona, opinions need little by way of facts to slow them down. That said, I may be an ignorant boob but even far outside the theatre I can still hear what these films are saying loud and clear.
One film praises the dumping of life’s inconveniences while the other is the brutal acceptance of them. One is about running away and pretending life never happened while the other is about sucking it up and making do with what you’ve got. What kind of nation is built on a mentality that shrieks “flee” every time we hit a rough patch? Is life all about you or maybe someone else too? It might seem ridiculous to call Stallone’s latest contribution to film history high art but the ideals that man is selling at least lead to some form of community standard or recognition of a universal responsibility (read balls) in modern man. The other film is simply weakness personified. Standing up and facing what’s in your way is what good men - and women - were meant to do. Waking up and deciding your prissy poon life is so unfulfilling that you have to split all the assets and roam the world for a year like a bum with a credit card is infantile. It’s not what adults do. It’s what spoiled brats do and it makes me sick to think that there are gonna be legions of folks claiming Eat Pray Love as some kind of beacon-lodestone for feminist salvation. It isn’t. If anything, Sly and the boys have a hell of a lot more to offer humanity’s collective – however gory or insanely violent it may be.
Looking in the mirror I may not see everything I thought a man ought to be but when it comes to making plans for the weekend to come I can tell you where I won’t be. I won’t be whining about the mistakes I’ve made or wishing I had enough “personal strength” to chuck ‘em all aside so I can take a holiday from reality. I’ll be down in the ditches working to make that which isn’t so great a wee bit better. And if I get any free time from doing that I might even go see The Expendables, but only if my wife says it’s okay first.