What’s in a last name?
Last week, I wrote about how the ending of Hot Tub Time Machine creeped me out. This week, I’ll write about why the ending pisses me off – and it has nothing with time travel paradoxes. Rather, it has everything to do with the misogynistic notion that everything is better because of how one guy’s last name changed.
A trend in movies lately is to explore the emasculation of men in modern society. In Hot Tub Time Machine, this emasculation is shown in several ways but none more heinous than the fact that Craig Robinson’s character (Nick) has a hyphenated last name!!
Full disclosure here: I don’t have a hyphenated last name. Neither my wife or I liked the sound of Wick-Stolpestad (or Stolpestad-Wick). My wife also took my last name, which was her choice. I was quite comfortable with whatever choice she made regarding her last name. When I told her she could keep her last name if she wanted to, she responded “are you kidding? I’ll lose six letters!”
Now, why is it her choice and not mine? Well, because it’s her name. I made my choice – which was “I like my name and want to keep it.” When we got married, she made her choice based on what she wanted. That’s the way it ought to be.
So why, then should anyone be embarrassed by taking a hyphenated name? It would seem like that was his choice because he loved his bride-to-be. Except the film makes it pretty clear it wasn’t his choice. Instead, it shows that he’s been forced by his wife to make a series of decisions he hates.
And – here’s the thing – there is never the slightest suggestion that it is his own damn fault. If he didn’t want a hyphenated name, he could have said “hey honey, I don’t like the way that sounds. How about we both keep our own last names?’
Or something equally respectful. Instead, he went with something he found embarrassing.
But why the hell should he think it’s embarrassing? Lots of people are doing it. It’s a decent compromise decision when both members of a marrying couple want to keep their last names. It isn’t like the woman in a relationship owes her husband a name change.
Anyone who believes that is living in the same world that expects my wife to refer to herself as “Mrs. Timothy Wick.” She doesn’t just lose her last name in that equation, her identity is completely enveloped my mine.
So rather than be embarrassed by the choice he made, he ought to be proud of it. When his friends start telling him how lame it is, he should tell them to fuck off because he loves his wife and he was happy to make that decision regarding their shared life together.
He doesn’t, though. Because the decision wasn’t his and it wasn’t a sign of love. It was a sign of surrender.
So flash to the end of the movie. Nick is back in the future and he is living the dream life as a record producer. His wife comes in and we discover that his last name is no longer hyphenated!
He gets a look of pleasure on his face that is very nearly orgasmic. We just know that the sex is going to be better. His penis has been restored to its proper length and, apparently because of this name change, he has been empowered to pursue the career path he’d always wanted to pursue.
Oh yeah, did I mention the fact he was miserable was primarily based on the fact that his wife nagged him into abandoning the career he loved? I forgot that? My bad.
You know, because women are like that. They are constantly forcing their men to make career choices that will make them unhappy. Their men are powerless. Because sex. Or something. I don’t really know.
Basically, we discover that the only reason Nick was miserable is because he couldn’t control his woman. As soon as he travelled back in time, however, he figured out how to control his woman and he got his last name back.
Way to go, man! Knock back a brewskie!
The problem doesn’t lie with Hot Tub Time Machine. It isn’t the only movie selling the idea that when a woman is the controlling partner in a relationship, that relationship is broken (see: Ed Helms in The Hangover or the ending of Die Hard).
The problem lies in the fact that a guy being the controlling partner is masculine and a woman being the controlling partner is a bitch. What we ought to suggest as that when you look at a relationship as a partnership, neither partner should be in control.
Unless Hans Gruber is involved. Then I would have to say that the male in the relationship should be ceded control at least for a couple of hours. That’s just common sense.