The Downside Of Movie Theaters

AROUN THE RIM COUNTRY

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At Sawmill Crossing, the walls rise before our very eyes. And a banner adorning the old Wal-Mart proclaims the coming of the Rim Country Mall.

This time, it would seem, it is really going to happen. The movie theater is about to return to the Rim country.

Before the conga lines start blocking traffic on the Beeline, I'd like to suggest that movie theaters may not be such a great thing for us Rimaroos. I say that for one reason, and one reason only: chick flicks.

Chick flicks are, of course, those movies in which "feelings matter more than the successful attainment of a goal," according to NYU film professor Toby Miller.

For a movie to be considered a chick flick, it must have one or more of the following attributes, says journalist Bob Ivry in The (Hackensack, N.J.) Record:

Terminal Illness: Somebody is dying, often "mom or an apple-cheeked daughter." Sometimes, as in "Titanic," it's the entire male gender.

Failed Romance: A love story has to have those heart-rending moments, right guys?

Wistful disappointment: See above. See also "Ghost."

Family focus: Motherhood, baseball, and apple pie. You guessed it: scratch the baseball.

Women against the world: In which women bond, unite, and, all too often, get even with guys.

A Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion or Elton John song: Does anybody else remember the Elton John of "Yellow Brick Road" days?

Based on these criteria, Ivry's top ten chick flicks of all time are: "The Way We Were," "Waiting to Exhale," "Sleepless in Seattle," "Beaches," "Four Weddings and a Funeral," "Steel Magnolias," "Little Women," "Thelma & Louise," "Ghost," and number one, "Terms of Endearment."

Others with a four hanky (or is that "hanky panky") rating that made a strong run at the top 10 include "Titanic," "The Horse Whisperer," "The Piano," and "The Bridges of Madison County."

Now why, you are probably asking, should we be so concerned about chick flicks invading the Rim country? After all, we guys can just stay home doing manly things like watching sports on TV, peering hopelessly under the hoods of cars, and spitting a lot. Who cares if women want to waste a perfectly good afternoon or evening crying?

That's the way I felt until I overheard two Rim country women raving about the movie "Gladiator." When I asked why females would even be interested in such a manly movie, one made a comment about how sexy Russell Crowe is. Then they exchanged knowing glances.

I didn't think much more about it until a recent story by Gregg Zoroya in USA Today pointed out that women have come up with a "new slate of 'mythical' male heroes."

"This is not the 'Hasta la vista, baby' brand of action tough guy" nor the "the Tom Hanks variety of sensitive, nurturing male," Zoroya points out. This is a "confident and capable if reluctant fighter, battling whatever elements or evils keep him from a principled goal."

The movie characters that women admire most these days, he adds, have "a keen sense of responsibility to country, family, a simpler way of life, or some higher purpose for which personal sacrifice is a dead certainty."

According to Carleton University Professor Waller Newell, author of "What Is a Man? 3,000 years of Wisdom on the Art of Manly Virtue," "For the last 20, 30 years, we've been telling men that you can either be a wimp or a beast." Today, he adds, "those are both unsatisfactory alternatives."

The Russell Crowe character in "Gladiator" is what today's women want. As Newell puts it, "He's strong. He's reliable. He's absolutely devoted to his family. He's brave. But he's also decent and modest."

So you see why I'm thinking this movie theater onslaught may not be the best thing that could happen to the Rim country? The longer we can keep this new perfect male at bay by making women trek to the Valley to see movies like "Gladiator," the better off male Rimaroos are going to be.

The way I see it, just living at this high altitude is pressure enough. The last thing guys need is an impossibly high standard to live up to. And what exactly do they mean by "personal sacrifice" anyway?

The more you ponder it all, the more you start to understand why men once chose to just go down with the ship.

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