Table of contents

The other guys 3

Men, friendship, women, peace, & virtue

There’s a woman cop, trying to teach men sensitivity & sentimentality. Does she expect them to go on killing & dying on the job if she succeeds? Does she understand you have to like that job to do it?

They look like overgrown kids, brandishing guns, competing for first place. This is the comic equivalent of manly single-mindedness. Unlike children, men can focus for any period of time; like children, they often lack perspective. Now, some things are themselves funny, but others, well, it’s how we see them. It is unusual to be serious about the former; & not to be serious about the latter. But that is how comedy works. Laughing at men makes them less scary – & what is less scary than children?

When Wahlberg has lost his self-confidence. Ferrell’s moral support helps him recoup. I won’t speak my mind about this, but I can offer you two ways of looking at it: this is a democracy & only democratic courage is a virtue, so the man has to come down a couple of pegs. Or he has learned he needs & can trust his partner.

The comic solution, as I suggested, turns on women. The comedic conceit is that our accountant-policeman is well beloved of several beautiful women. Perhaps this is sexual democracy. Perhaps women prefer peace to war. Manly Wahlberg despises womanly things, so how can he love women? Ferrell stands for comfortable self-preservation, which is more womanly than manly. His wife says enjoying her requires that he survives: he lives for the pleasures she offers him. It seems, beautiful men are no more attractive than ugly men.

Wahlberg instinctively rejects this: all the gentle things he learns, he despises, suspecting they make him weak. He may suspect his lack of fortune & fame is punishment for rejecting women, who seem to rule, indirectly, in a womanly way. Perhaps he shot Derek Jeter precisely because he was famous, out of jealousy.

In democracy, a college kid becomes a pimp / drug addict without knowing what hit him. Ferrell hilariously presents the life of crime innocently. This bespeaks blindness to virtue. This makes the move from incontinence to vice seamless. He fear relapsing into vice; he understands it is wrong, but he knows the temptation. Clearly, moral virtue does not guide him. Comfort hides deception, apparently. But comfort could be a better guide than morality if women offered legal pleasures to supplant faltering manliness. It is unpleasant to be moralized or shamed by old men. It is not unpleasant to be led by young women who promise sex. Public distinctions could be replaced by private pleasure. After all, Wahlberg only wanted fame because his girl abandoned him.