Different Lies

I was watching part of the movie True Lies earlier, looking for a scene that I liked. Found the scene, but what was striking about the movie is how different its tone felt and how distant its cultural cues were from our own assumptions and certitudes.

The most noticeable difference was the constant and casual blatant misogyny. That’s rarely seen nowadays and that absence is a huge improvement. I mean, a main character actually says in the movie, “Women: can’t live with ’em. Can’t kill ’em” as a laugh line. Not only is that idiotic, it was clich├ęd even in 1994 — it was thus bad writing and misogynistic.

However, on the brighter side, it was taken as an absolute given that the fourteen-year-old female character (Eliza Dushku, I’d forgotten she was even in the film) in the movie should have a life of her own and not be helicopter-parented into mute obedience — that she should be able to go places and do things without adult supervision or even adult knowledge. That is extremely different than now. Also, sex is discussed more openly and obviously without the pervasive sense of shame and vague judgemental disgust that even modern liberals now seem to coat any discussion of this topic in.

Also, people had more normal relationships as portrayed in the workplace, without constant worry about offense and surveillance (thus, no self-surveillance).

True Lies was released in 1994, right in the transition period from the more freewheeling times of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and though you can see the signs of this approaching prudishness and cloistered closed-mindedness, because it was made by people mostly of the earlier era it doesn’t really impinge that much.

But oh lord, the misogyny. It makes a lot of the film nearly unwatchable.