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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

watch it: “Nailing Your Wife”

Well, I say “watch it” advisedly. I’m gonna rip into it after the jump. (Yeah, I said it was gonna be all politics this week, but this one made me too mad):

Spike calls this “PG Porn,” and there’s absolutely no way in hell anyone can complain about it without tripwiring all the standard rejoinders. It’s a joke! It’s comedy! It’s supposed to be funny! It’s satire! It’s just a movie! Geez, you feminists just need to get nailed yourselves!

In case you didn’t actually watch the damn thing, the “punchline” is that instead of actually inserting his penis into her vagina in a barely veiled metaphor for the denigration of women that pretends to be all about sexy fun and is instead all about male dominance and aggression and the denial of female pleasure in favor of that of the male, the horny construction worker in the little movie shoots the sexed-up lonely housewife in the head with a nail gun. See, it’s a pun: he nailed her! The punchline is an actual punch. A fatal one.

But it’s only satire. It’s hilarious. It shows up we feminists as total fools, that’s what it does. Who in their right mind could object to this? Why, it’s downright subversive, is what it is.

Then why is my tender little fangirl heart sobbing, Why, Nathan Fillion, why?

(discovered at Mental Floss, which hates it, too)



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  • Alli

    I thought Captain Hammer’s hammer was his penis?

    Anyway, I read your review before I watched it, and you made it seem like he did it to her on purpose, which creeped me out. I feel slightly better knowing it was an accident. I guess I’m more bothered by the fact that the woman is seen as a sleazy hoe, and then gets punished for it. Granted sleazy hoes are part of porn, which is why men like it.

    I think there are worse things on Spike that degrade women more so than this. I also think we need to start looking at what the media is feeding young women right now too, not just what they’re teaching young men. There are a hundred other movies, TV shows, books (coughTWILIGHTcough), and so-called role models that give young women a really messed up view of how the world works and their role in society. Stuff directed at women that teaches them to be submissive pisses me off much more than this PG Porn.

  • Ryan

    First of all, this is a satire of porn…whether or not you think it’s a good one is your call. Also, in your review you make it sound as though she was purposely shot by Fillion’s character, which I agree would be disturbing…but is not actually the case.

  • May I put my hand up and say that I laughed? Hard?

    I can completely see why it could be considered offensive – why it could be seen as a celebration of violence against women, why using a woman’s violent death as a punchline is of entertainment value only to the twisted and puerile (and I am sure both adjectives could be applied to me.) However, given that the woman’s death arises out of the ham-fisted stupidity of her co-star, I feel that I would be more offended if I were a male porn star watching it.

    I think that it makes a nice point about PG certificate films, as in what is considered “family friendly” in terms of violence and sex; Junior is allowed to see see sanitized or unrealistic scenes of violence, but little to no sex. I don’t think it endorses the violent abuse of women, at least any more than “The Simpsons” endorses child abuse (and, yes, I do understand the idea of complicity in creating a climate where that is acceptable – I can’t speak for America, but there have been strong moves in public in Scotland to reinforce the point that the favored “wee slap” of times past is a thing of the past.)

    The boorish comments in response to objections are just those of little boys unhappy that adults want to stop their game. They add nothing to the argument. I hope that, as a woman and a supporter of rights and protections for all human beings that I have successfully made the opposing case.

  • Wow. Wait, so which part pissed you off? The “gets nailed” pun at the end? Would it have been better if they ditched the “nailing your wife” pun and just had them be interrupted by something else? The foreman comes back, they quickly compose themselves before he comes in, and she leaves with him? I suppose still that would have been funny, in a more anti-climactic (Get it? Anti-climactic!) way.

    Or is regular porn just so objectionable that even something that’s fake porn is de facto awful as well?

    I may be a man, but I consider myself a feminist as well, and I really didn’t see anything objectionable in this. I thought it was funny. You had the awful fake porno-acting at the beginning, and then the tag at the end of “movies for people who like everything about porn but the sex” is brilliant.

  • JoshDM

    I actually couldn’t tell that she hated it till the last line where she appends “too”.

    Anyway, it was a pretty amusing send-up of the genre.

  • shoop

    For me, the big laugh came when he tried to make it look like a suicide.

    Still, what if we changed the title to say, “Getting Nailed,” and the dumb guy was the victim of the fatal accident? Funnier? Not as funny? Still as offensive? None of the above?

  • Alli

    Shoop, you could go even further with that. What if the woman accidentally triggered the gun causing the man’s death? Are we getting into Adam and Eve territory. Or if the man accidentally shot himself, would the woman be blamed or would most people just say “what a stupid idiot.” Interesting. Though I’m probably thinking about this too much.

  • Anne-Kari

    I was going to comment that I hated this but I knew the kind of humor they were going for, but as sat down to type, I realize I really don’t know what they were going for. It just bothers me enormously. Nathan, Nathan…. what the hell is this?

  • MaSch

    I second the notion that this is satire about a) horrible “acting” in porn* (like “logjamming” or what it was from “The Big Lebowski”) and b) the MPAA’s ideas about what is suitable for children.

    But if you are pissed off by it because it “cutens” (is that a word?) porn and the killing of women, then I can absolutely see your point.

    *As far as I heard by others and seen in “Logjamming”, not that *I* watch any porn.

  • JoshB

    I chuckled a little. A lot of the humor value was lost by having the punchline telegraphed in the title.

    The ‘violence against women’ thing was incidental. This is the same kind of humor as in John Travolta’s “I shot Marvin in the face,” moment in Pulp Fiction. It’s all about randomness.

    This reminds me of the scene in the Simpson’s movie where Homer puts a hammer into his eye and then throttles Bart, shouting, “I’ll teach you to laugh at something that’s funny!”

  • Hdj

    Cutens is a good word to use for this Masch

  • I saw this a while ago — and while I wouldn’t call it the cleverest thing ever, I laughed!

    Maybe it’s because I’m a misogynist?

  • Pen Dragon

    Feminism and acting aside, when was the last time you saw arterial bleeding and a joke about suicide in a PG film?

  • James

    One thing to be kept in mind is that this is only the first episode in a series that is being made. The implication is that there will be various methods of interruption, including the death of the man in the scene. While it may come across as being sexist at this time, it seems like it just happens that this ending was the first one to be shown.

  • ThatTickles

    It reminds me a lot of the scene in Out Of Sight where White Boy Bob accidentally shoots himself on the staircase.

    Would that scene be more offensive if it were White Girl Bobbie?

  • Nan Boleyn

    Technically, she was getting ready to blow him when it happened. I burst out laughing! Nathan was great and come on, it’s a James Gunn project, not a Tim Gunn production.

  • MaryAnn

    The ‘violence against women’ thing was incidental.

    No, it’s the entire point of this.

  • Seriously? I mean, I love you MaryAnn, but that’s just completely insane to say that was the entire point. I didn’t enjoy watching it because I enjoy watching women get killed. I promise. And I’m really pretty sure that wasn’t why they made it, or why Nathan Fillion was in it. You’re way overreacting.

  • Ryan

    How was that in ANY way the point of this? No reasonable person could watch that and believe that this is somehow promoting violence against women.

  • MaryAnn

    I don’t think the makers of this consciously thought they were advocating violence against women. I think they thought they were satirizing it. I think if they thought about it some more, though, they might realize that that’s like satirizing, oh, racism by making a straight-up blackface minstrel show.

    So, Shrimpula and Ryan, what do you think this short is about? (Not what the makers of it think it’s about.)

  • Well I don’t have to tell you what I think it’s about, they tell you in title cards at the end. It’s movies for people who like everything about porn but the sex. That’s the joke. It’s just a classic buildup/misdirection. Hell, if anything, it’s satirizing how stupid real porn is, because there isn’t anyone who likes everything about porn except the sex. That person doesn’t exist. No one would ever watch porn for the plot and fast forward through the sex scenes. No one would ever watch porn if they were asexual.

    I don’t think it’s any deeper than that, it’s just a silly joke. Reading something about violence against women into it is just looking way too deep into this. I know that’s what you do as a film critic and all, and it can be hard to turn that off, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  • MaryAnn

    Yes, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes misogyngy — intended or not — is misogyny. :->

    If it’s just a “silly joke,” what’s the joke? That a dead woman is funny? If that’s not it, then what is the joke?

  • JoshB

    I’m curious Maryann. You insist that there is misogyny in the intent here. Yet here you have several regular male readers of your site, who come here purely out of an intellectual interest in what you, a woman, have to say.

    We’ve admitted to finding it amusing. We’ve also said that the death of the woman is incidental to the humor. Since you think the joke is inherently misogynist, what do you think that says about us finding it funny?

  • Nan Boleyn

    I’m wondering if the reaction would be as strong if Nathan had gotten nailed instead. I think it’s hysterical and can’t wait to see more! Watch a James Gunn film and allow yourself a giggle!

  • Ryan

    The joke has nothing to do with the lady getting killed, and everything to do with the lead-up to that. The fact that no sex ever takes place; only the hammy acting and incompetent dialogue. (Nathan Fillion calling the woman by the wrong named about 4 seconds after she introduced herself might have been a clue) One assumes that they had him accidentally shoot her with the nail gun because they had to find some way to end the short without the two characters having sex, which would have mooted the entire point.

    If she had killed Fillion’s character accidentally, that would have achieved the same purpose…so I guess you could ask why the woman died instead of him…but again, that would be missing the point. I assume they just couldn’t think of a way to knock him off.

    It’s just a clever little short making fun of all the parts of porn that aren’t sex. Since one COULD argue that most porn is degrading to women…I think you’re taking shots at the wrong people.

    My 2 cents.

  • If it’s just a “silly joke,” what’s the joke? That a dead woman is funny? If that’s not it, then what is the joke?

    Well I’ve already explained what the joke is a few times, I’m not going to do that again. Senses of humor are not universal, and what disgusts one person can be hysterical to another, and boring to yet a third. *shrug* C’est la vie.

    No, a dead woman is not inherently funny. But a dead woman can be funny, in the same way that a dead man can be funny. It’s all about context. And in the context of this, it wasn’t a celebration of killing off some inconsequential, stupid woman. It was just a way to unexpectedly interrupt the sex, in a way that allowed them to use their punny title. I really don’t believe the message was supposed to be, “Oh well, killing her was just as good as fucking her!”

  • MaryAnn

    It is indeed all about context. Nan Boleyn wonders whether the reaction wouldn’t be different if it were Nathan getting “nailed” instead, and the answer to that is: Of course the reaction would be different. It would be similar to the enormous difference that would result from a movie in which a white man was lynched, and one in which a black man was. These actions happen within a culture context… in this case, it’s the cultural context in which sexual violence against women is FAR more prevalent than sexual violence against men.

    One assumes that they had him accidentally shoot her with the nail gun because they had to find some way to end the short without the two characters having sex

    I don’t even know where to begin unpacking this statement. Though I will say that it doesn’t encapsulate what I’ve been trying to point out, that killing a woman is an acceptable substitute for fucking her in American pop culture.

    I’m curious Maryann. You insist that there is misogyny in the intent here. Yet here you have several regular male readers of your site, who come here purely out of an intellectual interest in what you, a woman, have to say.

    Hmm. Why does this make me think of racists who defend themselves by insisting that some of their best friends are black? :->

  • Sara

    I’m in total agreement with MaryAnn. Most porn (any and all of it) is about objectifying women, and well, most men (and women) who are into porn really don’t like women at all. They might think they do, but they don’t. At the heart of porn is such disdain for women that for so many on this post to miss this is truly puzzling. Perhaps it’s an age thing…maybe many of you are very young on here and have been desensitized to all the messages you’ve received re: porn. It’s surrounded you all your life to the point that you might think it’s all cool…and that videos like this are “funny.” Porn isn’t cool and the video isn’t funny. Unless, that is you think that women aren’t cool and that seeing them debased (in whatever form) if funny. Maybe you’ve grown up thinking that…even unconsciously. MaryAnn’s right, a satire involving the lynching of a black man…would be funny? Huh?
    How so?

  • Shadowen

    I think I’ll weigh in.

    Humor is first about the subversion of expectations. In this case, you expect them to have sex, and she ends up getting killed by a stupid accident, and in a panic he tries to make it look like she committed suicide before running off. It’s not so much the killing that is funny, but the not-fucking that’s funny. That the woman’s death is a punnish fulfillment of the title is supposed to add to the joke.

    I wasn’t particularly offended, but at the same time, it really wasn’t that funny.

  • Sara

    The point is, though, that in movies (porn or not) the woman quite often gets “nailed”…literally…for being sexually active out of the norm (ie, the marriage box, or the dating box–yeah, like–don’t even THINK about it)…often she gets killed. This is a theme in literature, too. Or she gets ostracized for sex that is out of the norm–that is not “controlled” (think The Scarlet Letter.) It pervades our movies, our literature and porn takes it to its height. Woman as bad and needing to be punished in some way…oh, even if it’s “an accident.” In this video that woman gets “nailed” before she can even do the deed. Pre-emptive attack, I guess. Nothing funny at all to me.

  • JoshB

    Why does this make me think of racists who defend themselves by insisting that some of their best friends are black?

    It reminds you of that for two reasons: One, you have a large chip perched precariously on your shoulder, and two, you see what you want to see.

    Now, to explain my actual intent with that sentence. It stands to reason that of American males, the flickfilosopher reader demo is probably among the least misogynist there is. So I’ll ask again and hopefully get a more direct answer: What do you think it says about us that we enjoyed it while denying that the amusement stemmed from violence against women?

    Do we simply have a sense of humor that, while not misogynist, is one that you don’t share? Or are we lying to you, or to ourselves, and we really just love female suffering? Or is there another way you look at it that I haven’t considered yet?

  • Sara

    JoshB,
    I know you addressed your question to MaryAnn who I hope will answer.
    I’d add, though, (and it goes with my comments right above yours) that females are “punished” for acting out of the norm (ie, for getting some on the side.) It’s truly, in movies and in literature something that is very very dangerous for women to do…because they DO get nailed. Uh…by divorce courts…by husbands who will beat them up, etc. But men, getting some on the side is normative–admirable even (certainly not something they get nailed for–it’s almost expected–and is prevalent in our movies and literature and nothing untoward happens to them.)Unless they happen to choose the wrong woman (such as Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction)–even then,the woman got killed for this, too, and by the wife, at that. Oh, and remember Looking for Mr. Goodbar (or are you all too young?)…the school teacher who picked guys up at bars…murdered. The list goes on and on.
    Way to keep women in line, you all—and to not even realize it. It’s the double standard overlaid with hate and total objectification.
    I ask again…what if a video showed a black male “accidentally” lynched. Is there ANYTHING remotely funny about that? I wish someone would answer that.

  • JoshB

    I promised myself I wouldn’t get into this with you Sara, and yet here I am…Curse my lack of willpower.

    I’d add, though,that females are “punished” for acting out of the norm

    I have not the slightest problem with women acting “outside the norm” except inasmuch as there are practical risks. I believe I said as much when we were discussing female promiscuity last time. I do have a problem with wives cheating on their husbands, but I don’t see that as misogynist since I have an equally big problem with husbands cheating on their wives.

    Way to keep women in line, you all—and to not even realize it. It’s the double standard overlaid with hate and total objectification

    Ok, so Sara thinks we love female suffering and lie to ourselves about it. You’re wrong, at least when it comes to me. I suspect the other men in this thread would say the same.

    I ask again…what if a video showed a black male “accidentally” lynched. Is there ANYTHING remotely funny about that? I wish someone would answer that.

    It’s not a lynching, but it’ll have to do. I laughed my ass off.

  • Ryan

    well said, JoshB.

  • Ryan

    Also…watch Blazing Saddles, Sara…for an answer to your final question.

  • Sara

    Point is our culture condones males acting outside the norm sexually and not females. Females are in a box…and if they act outside that box they get punished in our movies and literature usually. Prime example is featured in the video, that’s all. If it’s your thing, then I guess it’s your thing. But don’t think that you’re a feminist if you think that video is funny IMHO.

  • Ryan

    I guess my point would boil down thusly;

    If she is being punished, it’s because the guy she chose to proposition was a freaking moron…and quite frankly (and I admit having my parents divorce at age 16 may have affected this) I’m OK with either a man or a woman who cheats on their spouse being punished. Although, not by death, obviously.

    The bottom line is that the video plays on your expectations, and I feel it does it successfully. If it isn’t your cup of tea, so be it. I just don’t feel it is anti-feminist in any way.

  • For anyone who hasn’t seen it, this writer has a similar perspective.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/theresa-darklady-reed/pg-porn-says-no-to-nudity_b_133752.html

    And the brothers themselves respond here…

    (One is a little more eloquent than the other…)

    http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=58119776&blogID=440323894

  • Ryan

    The Salient points from the links:

    1. You write, “the Gunn brothers apparently consider violence against women to be not just acceptable but sexy.” First of all, the joke here is that the MPAA will give PG ratings to movies that are hyper-violent, but slap anything sexually provocative with an R rating. What’s more, there’s simply zero evidence to support your claim that we consider Aria’s death “sexy.” It is portrayed as something thoroughly UN-sexy, and your interpretation is simply inaccurate.

    2. You also write, “According to the website, the goal of the Gunn’s video segments is to provide their sex-weary but strangely porn-loving visitors with all the best parts of erotic videos without having it ‘ruined’ by ‘PEOPLE HAVING SEX.’ Heaven forfend.”

    That’s the joke of PG Porn. OF COURSE it’s not as enjoyable as actual porn. The quote from our website was ironic.

    and

    future episodes of PG PORN contain violence against men as well as women, so the misogyny claim kind of falls flat.

  • MaryAnn

    you have a large chip perched precariously on your shoulder

    Yes, JoshB, I do indeed have a large chip on my shoulder: it is my anger at how women are portrayed in pop culture, and I think the chip is entirely justified.

    What do you think it says about us that we enjoyed it while denying that the amusement stemmed from violence against women?

    I think it says that you do not understand the rage that some women will feel over this, because you are not female yourself and hence have never had any sense of this kind of thing being directed at you.

    Or are we lying to you, or to ourselves, and we really just love female suffering? Or is there another way you look at it that I haven’t considered yet?

    I am not assuming that you love female suffering, nor am I assuming that you are lying to yourself. But that doesn’t mean that you may not be understanding how harmful some depcitions of women in pop culture are.

    Ryan said:

    future episodes of PG PORN contain violence against men as well as women, so the misogyny claim kind of falls flat.

    Do you seriously believe this? That depicitions of violence against men in our pop culture have the same kind of cultural context as depictions of violence against women?

    I’m tempted to ask whether all you guys who find this funny would find it as amusing if it were a satire on, say, the endemic male rape that happens in American prisons. But of course many men already find the unsatirical reality of that funny, and the assumption that a man will be raped in prison is already the object of much “humor.”

    OF COURSE it’s not as enjoyable as actual porn.

    This assumes that the audience finds porn enjoyable.

  • Ryan

    “Do you seriously believe this? That depicitions of violence against men in our pop culture have the same kind of cultural context as depictions of violence against women?”

    I believe that in American culture, violence against men is far less taboo, as a matter of fact. Violence against women and children is generally viewed as being ‘worse.’ I don’t actually have any problem with that…guys tend to cause a lot of the violence…but yeah, I find your point invalid.

    (also: I didn’t make that statement, I was quoting the creator of the video…I just can’t figure out how to make the html codes for the quote boxes work.)

  • MBI

    You know what’s not funny? When innocent children are murdered. According to FBI statistics, an estimated 37,000 children were murdered between 1976 and 1994. Thirty. Seven. THOUSAND. Children. Try and imagine a graveyard filled with those children, try and imagine how many miles it would stretch in all directions. Not just died accidental deaths or were killed by incurable disease — no, they were intentionally slaughtered by some senseless, evil human being. People don’t often think about these things, they don’t LIKE thinking about these things, which is more than understandable. But when I lay it out like I have, I find that most people agree with me that it’s a horrifying thing to imagine.

    And with that in mind, I hope you will all share in my outrage that South Park has been allowed to stay on year after year — it officially has a longer run than Friends or Happy Days — despite being founded on jokes about killing one of its third-grade characters episode after episode. This kind of disgusting, vile humor barely qualifies as jokes, and yet thousands of people watch this kind of thing and laugh, often not thinking about what they implicitly endorse when they do. Each episode Kenny dies only to reappear without explanation the next episode. What kind of message does that send? That children can be murdered in the most brutal way without consequence? This sort of thing absolutely turns my stomach. Some of you may be fans of Trey Parker’s long-running program, but I hope that you will watch it instead in a new light and really consider what you’re promoting.

  • JoshB

    You bastards!

  • Ide Cyan

    Violence against women: who cares? Let’s talk about real issues like violence against men! Nevermind the oppression of women: won’t somebody think of the children! How dare a woman write about violence against women without finding it funny: women exist for other people, it’s a joke, we don’t hate women, we just can’t bear to let women decide what’s important! Our good intentions are what really counts, because you can’t prove what they are one way or another, especially if you’re a woman because then you can’t know what men are thinking! You’re just wrong, now let me tell you what it’s really all about (you stupid bitch)!

    Etc. etc.

  • MBI

    You know what else is not funny? CRUCIFIXION. Lord knows that history has provided us with no end of terrible tortures throughout the ages, but crucifixion really does represent humanity at its all-time worst. And one doesn’t have to look hard to see the the very public debasement of mankind in today’s modern totalitarian governmennts (as well as our own, sadly) as descended from the Romans. That’s why the ending of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” is such an unconscionable affront to humor and good taste. Real-life victims of crucifixion bled to death painfully, not whistling and singing an upbeat song. I otherwise love Monty Python, so it’s not like I’m a humorless, shrieking prude or anything — but that was over the line. A colossal error in judgment from the Pythons. Some things are just NOT FUNNY.

  • JoshB

    @Ide Cyan:

    It’s an army of strawmen! Run for your lives! Oh. Dear. God. The strawmen, are they…fusing together…into one giant…SUPERSTRAWMAN? It’s StrawZilla! We’re all gonna die!

    you can’t know what men are thinking! You’re just wrong, now let me tell you what it’s really all about

    I feel comfortable saying that I am the world’s foremost expert on what I am thinking. So in that regard I can indeed say, “You’re just wrong, now let me tell you what it’s really all about.”

  • MBI

    That’s not funny, Josh. Do you realize how many thousands of people are killed every year by 50-foot-tall straw men and other giant monsters? What’s the underlying assumption of those jokey comments? That victims of giant-monster urban destruction had it coming? That is in extraordinary poor taste, and though you don’t realize it, you’re perpetuating the horrific blame-the-victim mentality endemic in modern society’s response to tragic monster attacks. I don’t know how to make you understand how completely callow that post makes you look, but I doubt you would make those same sarcastic words to someone who actually had lost someone to a Strawzilla.

  • Ryan

    *checks watch* I stopped taking Ide Cyan seriously at 12:56pm, Monday, November the third.

    Also, MBI, I’ll have you know I once lost a roomate to a strawman. He was deeply religious though, so I guess it was inevitable.

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