Flicked Off: "The Hangover"

Flicked OffAn average babyI saw The Hangover among its target demo. This was in Murray Hill, last night, a Sunday, and it was 9 p.m. and that stadium was sold out. I was older by at least a decade than everyone there, and I am not exaggerating. What struck me the most were their clothes. The men, in particular, seemed not even dressed, in their baggy, below-the-knee silvery gym clothing, and synthetic t-shirts and cheap flip-flops from China. These were clothes that were worn without any intention; these were the clothes they wore when they did not have to wear clothes. They were ugly and thoughtless. These are what the men wear when they are not wearing blue button-down shirts, which they are wearing today in their offices, for those who are not sitting at home, watching their button-down shirts droop and grow dusty.

Watching all these young people in line reminded me of something in Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. In that enormous scifi book, the young narrator, who has lived cloistered for much of his life, finally ventures into the outside world, which looks in many ways like our real world here. He finds that with the social structure of the capitalist working world, where people are divorced from the fruits of their endeavors and labor, it’s not so much that they suffer economically, or suffer intellectually, though these of course can happen, but that they suffer due to lack of “story.”

How much story do you get to have in your tamed life, when you are doing the opposite of hunting buffalo on the plains, say, when you are sitting in an office for eight hours a day, with no interest or input in the corporate super-structures whose machinations control your working life?

And so movies like The Hangover, which is about four men having an outlandish adventure, just seem so obviously constructed to give people with little narrative in their lives some huge outsize narrative. Nothing this exciting will ever happen to the audience.


The movie opens with scenery of a wedding being assembled. There are white flowers. “So pretty,” said the girl behind me.

There is a shot of a wedding dress. “So pretty,” said the girl behind me.

Later in the film, there appears a very young baby. “So cuuuute,” said the girl behind me.

Who was that girl? I could not bear to look behind me. She was clearly either unbelievably stupid, or so deep in thrall to her uterus, that, either way, I wonder how she can put on shoes in the morning. Except she needs the shoes to find the man, to have the wedding, to have that baby, that baby that is just so cute, which actually really has nothing to do with the movie, and in fact the baby was not that cute.

It was just a baby. It was a generic white baby. It was mostly a joke prop baby, and I laughed when the men in the movie abused the baby.

There are a number of other things that are important about this movie-such as that bearded chunky weirdo comedian Zack Galifianakis is really amazingly weird and funny in it, and that there is an arch-villain who is the most delightful mash-up of stereotypes, so much so that it actually frightened and/or confused this audience, I think. It was really beyond. But mostly I am thinking about that girl, and what she is doing now, and whose advertising account she is working on, or what yoga class she is taking, or whose baby she is about to steal.