Jimmy Fallon, Nicole Kidman and the Trap of Tropes
Yes, I watched the video in which Jimmy Fallon found out, 10 years too-late, that Nicole Kidman mighta kinda sorta “like LIKED” him. And it was totally adorable. Probably because it triggered in most of us the memory of that feeling. The butterflies, the anticipation, the realization that something might happen. Even better, the reminder that even though some got away, many of us found something that is wonderful beyond our initial dreams, our crushes and unrequited romances…. And life just works.
And yes, it was totally adorable to see that people who “have it all” can, and still do, get totally tongue-tied….. At its core, that’s the baseline humanity stuff that unites us all. Hopes, dreams, love, lust, fear, reward, rejection, redemption….. Good stuff. But….
I mean yes, I liked it. I was touched and amused, just like everyone else.
But I was also bothered. And the more I got away from it, the more bothered I was. Not with either one of them in specific, but with the perfect illustration of how “trapped” we all are in society’s gender-based mating rituals and mythology.
Not the human tongue-tiedness of not knowing how to speak when presented with someone who makes your loins tingle….. but the other stuff. Actually, mostly the stuff that Nicole Kidman said. (Again, she seems lovely, but I wonder if even she was aware of it.)
First, though, the way that the general public spun the story. This was retold as the story of Jimmy Fallon missing his shot at Nicole Kidman. Because she’s the pretty girl, she’s automatically a prize. Why wasn’t this the story of Nicole Kidman missing her shot at Jimmy Fallon? Our love of this video clip was such a classic example of our obsession with the “guy gets the girl” trope. In which women are prizes, and it’s extra awesome when the guy isn’t rich or athletic, because we all know guys are supposed to be rich and athletic, right? Otherwise, what are they? Dudes in humble apartments playing video games with baseball hats, I mean, what use is THAT? R-E-A-L men have fancy cars and important jobs and six-packs….
And I think that’s when I really started paying attention to what Nicole Kidman was saying…….
She sorta maybe kinda in a way had what coulda been a crush on Jimmy Fallon. And they had a mutual friend, so her friend called Fallon and created a sorta fake scenario for them to meet. (I am pretty sure we have all been on one, if not all, ends of this scenario. This is a normal as it gets.)
So they meet and, as she tells it, two things start happening. 1: She starts judging everything about him to assess whether he’s “good enough” and 2: She waits for him to make a move, even though she knows she kinda sorta maybe in a way has a little “thing” for him.
Which is where the tropes, and traps, seem so obvious to me.
Why can’t she just say “hey, let’s go have a drink?” Even Nicole Kidman waits for the guy to make the move. Why? Why doesn’t she just take responsibility for her own desires and curiosity and make the move herself?
Because, you know, women don’t do that. That’s man’s work. (Sigh, can we please get over that some day?)
Which leads right into the next thing that jumped out at me. When he didn’t make a move, her conclusion was that he must be gay. I mean, WHAT???? Because he doesn’t make a move to score (with) the pretty girl, he’s gay? Because, after all, all guys want to do is score, and they all have the same taste in what turns them on, and…..
Maybe she wasn’t his type? Maybe he wasn’t interested in dating right now, for whatever reason. Maybe he actually likes to get to know people first. Or, (like me,) actually needs to be “into” who they are as people before “that feeling” kicks in. It could be bajillions of things, none of which are “if he doesn’t make a move to fuck me he must be gay.”
Stepping aside from Nicole and Jimmy (because really, who knows and who cares….) That comment – one that we hear all the time – is so loaded with weird mythology about men. They are always looking to get laid, they are drawn just to pretty faces, they…… If they don’t want to bang the babe, they must be gay.
No. Someone NOT being attracted to you is not a sign of anything other than them not being attracted to you.
But then, she kept explaining how unimpressed she was with him and his apartment. He was wearing a baseball cap. His apartment, in her words, “wasn’t much.” He asked her if she wanted to play a video game. His cheese wasn’t good enough.
Here you have a guy who is just being himself, and wasn’t “impressive” enough by all the usual standards. Money? Fancy things? The right clothes? Whatever…. she says a bunch of times how he just wasn’t stacking up to what she expected of a guy. Maybe to her expectations of what he should be like. (We all need to run screaming from potential mates who approach us with a list of expectations for us.)
Did that not make anyone else think, “woah, way to mount that high horse.”
It all feeds in perfectly, however, to all the crap we’re taught….. Men are providers, rescuers. Their job is to present the most compelling package in order to win the pretty prize. They aren’t allowed to just be themselves. The simple act of being who they are and wanting to share it with someone isn’t enough.
And fuck, if Jimmy Fallon isn’t good enough, then….. Even if we say, “well, he was just starting out…..” that’s still just as bad. Because he hadn’t “earned” the right to be respected and desired yet. He hadn’t “earned” the woman.
Blech. For the record, I’d give my imaginary left nut to sit on a couch with Jimmy Fallon, eat his cheese and play video games. Even though the last video game I played was Adventure Island, in like 1991. Before that, I think it was Pong.
Of course, I fell in love with a man who drove a 26 year-old car, lived in a small condo and is the same height as me, so…..
I’m not mad, I promise. I’m not some screeching woman angry about everything (another awesome trope that it’d be great if we could leave behind.) But I couldn’t help but notice it. So much baggage….
On the one hand, I’m kind of comforted that even the likes of Nicole Kidman and Jimmy Fallon fall prey to it. On the other hand, if even they can’t escape it….
She can demand how many millions for a movie, but can’t ask a guy out? He can be a famous rising star, but still isn’t good enough because his apartment isn’t impressive?
Yes, it was an ADORABLE segment. One of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. And I will be no less speechless and red if Stephan Nelson ever confessed an old crush on me. (He won’t, he didn’t know I existed.) But…..
It was also sad.
Maybe the next generation will escape these traps and tropes.
Or the one after that.
Maybe the one after that.
And they’ll live happily ever after.