This post is about Manhattan the Woody Allen movie. It's Woody Allen's greatest movie, and it's such a big topic that I could never do it justice in a single blog post. So maybe one day I'll finish writing about it.
The movie begins in Elaine's, a famous restaurant in New York which was also mentioned in the Billy Joel song "Big Shot." Isaac (Woody Allen) is at dinner with his girlfriend Tracy (Mariel Hemmingway) and his friend Yale and his wife Emily. Tracy shyly excuses herself from the table, which gives Isaac the opportunity to explain the premise of the movie.
ISAAC: She's 17. I'm 42 and she's 17. I'm older than her father. Do you believe that? I'm dating a girl wherein I can beat up her father. That's the first time that phenomenon ever occurred in my life.
It should be noted that Woody allen is really 43 when this movie is filmed and not 42. It's Woody Allen's vanity that he thinks he can pass for 42.
The first thing you think of when you hear about Tracy's age is statutory rape! But the age of consent in New York is 17 and not 18. So Isaac isn't violating any laws. He's just incredibly lucky that a beautiful high school student would actually be interested in him, a whiny middle-aged omega male. Well, at least he looks like someone who would be an omega male in real life, but in the movie Isaac is somehow an alpha male who has two girlfriends at the same time: Tracy, who's 25 (or 26) years his junior, and Mary (Diane Keaton) who's 10 years his junior (based on their real life ages). Mary's not a high school student, but I think that someone like Woody Allen in the real world would be pretty lucky to have an attractive 33-year-old girlfriend.
Despite this portrayal of a sexual relationship between a middle aged man and a high school girl, Woody Allen somehow he escapes the vitriol directed at other older men, such as Rick Rosner, who sleep with high school aged girls. (And it's not even known for a fact that Rick had sex with any high school girls, but that hasn't stopped some commenters from being very angry at him.)
I also profess befuddlement over the the second part of Isaac's line. That he could beat up Tracy's father. Of course he's referring to an innocent time of early childhood when being older than someone meant you could probably beat them up. But still, not only is it out of place here, I keep thinking that not only couldn't Woody beat up Tracy's father, he couldn't beat up Tracy. I'm not just saying that to be cute. Mariel Hemmingway is taller than Woody Allen and looks pretty athletic--she played an olympic athlete three years later in the movie Personal Best. If they got into a fight, I really think that Woody would lose. This fact makes their relationship even more unlikely. As Bridget stated, women want a man to make them feel small. Are there really any tall athletic high school girls who dream about shorter whiny self-deprecating neurotic but intellectual and witty middle aged men?
Oh well, let's skip ahead a few minutes. Yale is home with his wife Emily.
EMILY: Yale? You ever thought any more about having kids?
YALE [whiny, but not quite as whiny as Woody Allen]: Oh god. Kids. Listen, I've gotta get this O'Neill book finished, it's never gonna get done. I've gotta get the money together to get this magazine started. Kids. [audible sigh]
EMILY: Well we always talk about getting a place in Connecticut. You could do it there.
YALE [still whiny]: Connecticut. I can't go to Connecticut. It's not practical. My stuff's here. [laugh] It [inaudible] here. It's just the wrong time. What about Isaac? We can't abandon him. You know he can't function anywhere other than New York, you know that.
For some reason, the thought of someone who can't function anywhere other than New York is hilarious. I'm not sure why, but it is.
The rest of the scene is the opening scene of the movie Idiocracy. Idiocracy is the movie about how an average man finds himself five hundred years in the future and he is now the smartest man on the planet because none of the smart people had any children. My favorite blogger, Steve Sailer, seems to think Mike Judge is brilliant for portraying the scene at the beginning of Idiocracy showing a smart couple who put off having children. But it's not really brilliant at all, Mike Judge stole the scene from Manhattan. The original scene from Manhattan is far better because (1) the line at the end is funny and there was absolutely nothing funny about Idiocracy; and (2) Woody Allen isn't trying to make any politically incorrect point about dysgenic breeding, he's just trying to accurately portray an intelligent and neurotic Manhattan couple. The fact that it demonstrates the birthrate gap between the intelligent and the unintelligent is entirely accidental.
This exchange between Yale and Emily also brings up the theme of children in the city. Emily thinks that maybe, if they moved to Connecticut, Yale would want to have a baby. Does city living discourage people from having children? Is that why people have more children in the red states?
Woody Allen (as Isaac) on Jewish mothers:
Years ago I wrote a story about my mother called "The Castrating Zionist."
Mary (Diane Keaton) bragging about her attractiveness:
I could go to bed with the entire faculty of MIT if I wanted to.
Does any woman really want to go to bed with the entire faculty of MIT? Does the faculty of MIT know about this?
Tracy to Isaac:
Let's do it some strange way that you've always wanted to do it but no one wanted to do it with you.
Isn't it every middle aged man's dream to have a 17 year old girl say that to him? But Isaac's stupid response will have to be left to the subject of a future post.