A very Gamma movie

Have you ever been so beta, that you hover handed cardboard

The other day I wrote up a post about Kingsman, possibly the best movie released in at least the last six months (and maybe even better than American Sniper), and one of the absolute best movies that I've ever seen. That movie delivers home truths about the masculine virtues and their indispensable importance in a society that is increasingly sick and weak and losing its way. It is an important movie in many ways, not least because it presents manliness, masculinity, and the values of a gentleman in a very positive (and extremely funny) manner, which is something that Hollywood films simply don't do anymore. Films like Kingsman are few and far between nowadays, and when something that is as brilliantly conceived and as well-executed as this is released to the public, it is worthy of note and respect.

Recently I had the "opportunity", if you want to call it that, to revisit a movie that is, in almost every way, the antithesis of Kingsman, and found the experience to be... illuminating, to say the least.

The film in question is A Million Ways to Die in the West, the personal vanity project produced by, directed by, and starring one Seth MacFarlane, the sometimes funny, often irritating, and always snarky creator of such cultural touchstones as Family Guy and Ted.

The man is undeniably talented- he is a gifted musician, voice actor, screen actor, writer, producer, and director. And if you looked at the trailers for his latest movie project, you would be forgiven for thinking that the movie is worth watching because of its side-splitting jokes and sarcastically entertaining storyline:





Unfortunately, this is one of those movies where all of the best and funniest jokes are told in the trailers themselves.

The first time I watched it, I found myself wondering how it was that a movie with such promise was let down so badly in its execution. Then, when Vox Day published his recent series of posts about Gamma males over at Alpha Game Plan, I suddenly realised exactly why this movie was such a letdown. It sucked because this movie embodies virtually every single trait of the Gamma male.

Snarky, witty loser of a protagonist? Check.

Protagonist has a cute girlfriend that he loses because she thinks he's a bit weedy? Check.

Protagonist desperately tries to win girlfriend back by showing her how he disarms his opponents with effortless snarky wit? Check.

Really hot woman finds her way into protagonist's life and begins to fall for him because of his innate intellectual superiority over his peers? Check.

Alpha male antagonist arrives and quickly threatens protagonist's life, property, and love with the most dire of consequences? Check.

Protagonist wins out over antagonist through particularly devious application of vastly superior intellect? Check, check, and triple bloody check.

At every turn, this movie panders to the delusional self-image that Gamma males have about themselves. In order to mask their deep and fundamental insecurities about themselves, they give themselves implausible and heroic personas in their own imaginations. Because of their issues with self-image and power, and their relative lack of physical attributes, they place great emphasis on their own estimations of their wit and personality.

All of this is done in order to seek out the approval of others, which Gamma crave above all other things. They do so because their own neuroses prevent them from standing up for themselves- deep down, they don't even particularly like themselves, which is why they create all of these strange facades within their own minds to compensate for their own shortcomings.

Once you realise that Seth MacFarlane essentially created a movie by, for, and about Gamma males, the mystery about why it sucked donkey's balls evaporates instantly. (Try sleeping tonight with that image running through your head.) Suddenly, everything about the movie makes a great deal of sense- from the forced jokes, to the utterly unfunny physical comedy, to the painfully stupid dialogue, to the completely historically inaccurate depiction of 19th-Century Western society as loutish, violent, and dangerous.

And once you start comparing this movie with truly great works of cinematic art like Kingsman, you realise what it is that Hollywood has become. It is no coincidence that the latter film was not made in America by Americans, even though it was distributed by 20th Century Fox (which, incidentally, is ultimately owned by a Brit). 

Kingsman, over-the-top though it might be in its graphic depictions of (utterly hilarious) violence, never once gives you the impression that it was created within the mind of a snarky, self-obsessed twerp who is seriously high on himself and his own perceived talents, and secretly longs desperately for society's approval and reacts with rage and righteous fury whenever someone has the temerity to question his skills or competence.

And Kingsman never tries to force its comedy down your throat- it shows, it doesn't tell.

Bottom line: if you want to know what makes a great movie that you can easily watch with your son in order to show him role models to aspire towards, do one of two things:
  1. Watch Kingsman
  2. Watch any movie that is the exact opposite of A Million Ways to Die in the West (like, say, Unforgiven or A Fistful of Dollars)

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