When I started at a new, private school in fourth grade after my family moved to another state I inadvertently stepped across a hidden gender divide and temporarily alienated the other girls in my class, which was only one of many reasons I never ended up being accepted socially at that school. We had a music class where we sang songs from a songbook and then played the recorder. Once in a while Mrs. Brown would let us vote on what song to sing. After everyone called out song titles she said the vote would be between Yellow Submarine and Happiness (from You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown.) As a diehard Beatles fan, and not knowing anything about the social landscape I duly voted for Yellow Submarine. Lo and behold, it turns out there was a longstanding battle between the boys, who voted unanimously for Yellow Submarine, and the girls, who did the same for Happiness. I was the odd one out and tiebreaker who threw the vote to the boys. Oops. I say this because this is one of countless interests, traits, and preferences I have expressed over the years that other people have labeled ‘male’ for me. Of course, there are loads of other things I love that are considered ‘feminine.’
This kerfuffle over There Will Be Blood is funny to me because I have been wanting to see the movie for years, and it’s only by chance that I haven’t managed it yet. There is no boyfriend or man pushing me to see this film. Rather, perhaps because I have been struggling for the last ten years to build my own businesses and investments in order to achieve financial independence, the stories of entrepreneurs and magnates and robber barons have a particular fascination for me. I identify with the ancient warrior who had to go into the jungle and fight dragons and other threats for years before he could emerge powerful and with a fortune to establish himself. I often think of Ben Franklin as a role model because he spent decades building his pewter business to the level that he could retire on so that he would be financially free to devote himself to public service. I am looking for that moment for myself.
On top of that, I’m a huge Daniel Day-Lewis fan and have seen most of his other films. Lastly, I love the quotation, “I drink your milkshake,” and despite not having seen the film yet, I often think of it and smile.
Until I read this I hadn’t realized that TWBB was such a touchstone for a certain swath of masculinity or that it was the kind of film men try to drag their unwilling girlfriends to see. On a stereotypical level it sounds like the male counterpart to The Notebook, a film I am sure I would loathe, but which supposedly has universal female appeal, and one which women are in the habit of forcing their boyfriends to watch.