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TRAINWRECK: challenging masculinity

Amy Schumer and Judd Apatow’s film TRAINWRECK, debuting in the U.K. on August 14th, provokes laughter via crude humour; one instance seeing a father explaining to his young daughters how his extra-marital affair is comparable to that of being dissatisfied with playing with only one doll over a lifetime. However, the romantic comedy also grapples with the continual battle between the sexes. Yet, I wonder whether the traditional notion of masculinity is really challenged — unlike in previous films of this type, which promoted more stereotypical and conventional masculine behaviour.

TRAINWRECK is comical and light-hearted, it is rife with the heavier issue of what it means to be masculine. But, if one were to give a simplified account of its storyline, it would be similar to the many that have preceded it. Girl does not believe in love, goes through a succession of flings, then has that eureka moment of discovering ‘The One’ shining in all his heterosexual glory.

One of the many sexual scenes of the film sees protagonist Amy receiving her desired share of oral sex from a man that remains unnamed. Though well endowed, this man is not the full package for Amy, and she refuses his request for her to return the favour by falling asleep. The man’s masculinity is undermined as he is used as nothing more than an object of sexual gratification. Yet, Amy’s assertion that she does not usually do this sort of thing — have one night stands — before entering her bedroom suggests that she is conscious of her femininity, as she defends her current behaviour to a man.

Amy undeniably has the control in her sexual encounters. Rather than the typical romantic comedy, which depicts the main woman trying to find ‘The One’ whilst going through a series of unsuccessful sexual adventures always initiated by the man, TRAINWRECK provides a different scenario. Empowered by her autonomy to be as promiscuous as she pleases, writer Amy chooses which men to take home for that extra coffee and the film doesn’t punish her for such actions. Boasting a successful career writing for magazine Snuff, life seems to be moving in no direction other than up as her glamorous boss Dianna (Tilda Swinton) offers her the chance of being promoted to co-chief editor.

As the film progresses, however, Amy — perhaps predictably — falls for sports doctor Aaron Conners and wants nobody else. Unable to fathom why she has fallen in love with him, she tries to deny her feelings, remembering her father’s mantra: ‘Monogamy isn’t realistic’. She attempts to make it, eventually, and the film closes with Amy and Aaron reuniting.

Oliver Lugg

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