Friday, July 06, 2007

Bull Durham: Why We Love This Movie

The past couple of nights I have been watching Bull Durham. This is the movie from 1988 with Kevin Costner playing an aging catcher in the minor leagues. This is a movie that appears to be about baseball and life in the minor leagues, the travails and hopes and desperate desires of men who want to play ball for a living. It is seemingly a men’s movie with all the swearing and ass slapping and drinking and baseball lore. But no, this is really THE all time best chick flick.

Yes, we’d love to bed Kevin Costner from the first moment he arrives in the locker room wearing his navy blazer, rumpled white shirt and the khakis that are the perfect shade of tan with a hint of olive. He’s a manly man who in the first 20 minutes gives the fabulous, if too artful, monologue about his beliefs which includes, “I believe in the cock, the pussy,, the small of a woman’s back…that the novels of Susan Sontag are self-indulgent, overrated crap", and which ends with his belief in “long, slow, deep, soft wet kisses that last three days”.


But there is a scene later that truly outs women viewers and fans for what they truly want.
“Do you want to dance?” Sarandon asks Costner, sitting in the kitchen late at night. He says yes, but surprises her by not dancing but instead he sweeps all the food and dishes off the kitchen table onto the floor and spins Sarandon onto that now empty table and they go at it rolling and clutching.

Oh, that is it: We want a man to want us that much; we want a man who wants to make love a second time so much that he goes for it in the kitchen and on the table. We do want that kind of passion in our lives. But, there is something else in this scene. I realized later that what we truly desire most—which is hidden in this romantic scene is not what Costner does, but what Sarandon does NOT do. As all of her dishes and leftover food hit and crash on the floor Sarandon allows herself to be swept onto that table instead of diving for a broom, or a cloth or saying to her lover, “Hold on just a second, I’ll clean this up and then meet you in the bedroom.”

No, she is in the moment and desires this man and this sex more than she desires a clean floor or neat kitchen. She wants the rapture of this man and his body even with cereal and milk oozing everywhere under the fridge and cabinets, and she is not saying, “Oh dear God that was my mother’s china bowl.” Nope, she’s on that table fucking her brains out.

Oh, to be that kind of woman and that kind of lover. We assume the power is in the man, that to be taken that way would free us. But what we see in Bull Durham is a woman who CAN be taken. She is not a woman thinking, “When did we last wash these sheets?” while a man is dutifully going down on her. Oh we do wish and wish for a partner with sweet abandon but Sarandon in Bull Durham shows us a woman who can abandon herself.

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