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The dudebro is typically generalised as a homophobic, misogynist male who lifts. It becomes an interesting experience, therefore, to see Don Jon, a film which blatantly stereotypes and objectifies this contestable category of humans in return. Played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (this is also his directing debut), Don Jon’s life revolves around his bros, his job at a nightclub, picking up girls with his bros in the same nightclub, the ruthless car he aggressively drives to church on Sunday where he absolves all his sins, and his addiction to porn, which sex with Scarlett Johansson can’t even break. It is somewhat extreme but maybe also horrifyingly realistic.
The jointly owned chin-up bar, the protein powder and the rating of women is all too familiar. Can even relate to the excruciating and controlling behaviour of Scarlett Johansson who plays the hot girlfriend. Gordon-Levitt creates very deliberate cues for the audience to reflectively consider how these attitudes manifest themselves in real-life environments. For example, ‘play hard to get’ is suggested as a strategy to girls too often. No wonder guys think “girls are crazy”. After being presented with such an explicit representation of our tendencies (even if jovial), seeing a movie like The Expendables 3 becomes an even more uncomfortable experience when it’s difficult to tell if the dudebro behaviour is ironic. The only girl who makes an appearance in the movie wears exceedingly tight outfits and says nothing other than “men” in a despairing tone as she literally shoves a knife into a ‘manly’ fighter’s chest.
Commenting on the dudebro culture and its pressures is difficult when your knowledge is only as extensive as your experiences with people observed around you. And especially when you don’t actually know any girl who finds veins popping out of male forearms attractive (which is puzzlingly assumed by all guys questioned about this phenomenon). The implied social commentary is, however, revealing, because, as Don Jon discovers, and The Expendables hints at, even the dudebros need to be treated with sensitivity.