Don Jon – What I learnt from the opening credits of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial debut

Can I just say that I think that the first two minutes of this movie are a pure stroke of genius? The names of the cast of the movie roll by frame-after-frame, interspersed with visuals of, well there is no other way to put it, scantily dressed women. Wearing next to nothing, these women smile beatifically, pout, roll their hips and dance to music, but the point to be noted is that, there is not a single naked man in sight.

   While the women are all different and may stay on the screen for not more than six or seven seconds, the manner in which they are present can be explored, layer by layer. Beautiful, exotic looking, nubile young girls with long, fit bodies – you are struck by the amount of skin on display. The clothes when you see them (rarely), remind you vaguely of candy wrappers, brightly coloured and entirely flimsy, easy to tear away. The women somewhat seem like candy themselves, all instant sweetness and sugar, primed for consumption and agents of instant gratification.

Even more stupefying is the expression on their faces- sultry and eager to please. I am fairly certain that no woman has looked quite so desperate even if she was trying to impress or seduce a man. But these women look vaguely like dolls in motion, all big fluttering eyelashes and painted smiles. Also, they seem turned on for the weirdest of reasons, like swimming, also naked for similarly confounding excuses. Why would someone be naked when an arrow pierces through her chest? Or when she announces the next round in the wrestling match? Or gives the weather forecast? What has nudity got to do with any of these things?

Men, it seems, never have to strip down so much when they want to impress the opposite sex. In fact, the layers seem to pile on as the guys get sexier: shirt, over-shirt, suit jacket or blazer, overcoat. Age, also, remains merely a number in their cases. Apparently, the salt and pepper look is perfectly alright for them whereas it’s some kind of debilitating poison which leaves a woman’s sex appeal in shambles. Case in point, the one man in the opening credits who is conspicuously visible is the talk show host, and while being presentable and being liked by the public is in his job description, he is dressed in a suit. The guest who comes on the show, however, wears a red dress tighter than skin and thin as paper.

The movements of these women further add to my discomfort – they seem to bounce a lot. One woman, who looks like a disc jockey, is vibrating on the spot like a motor pump. I’m not trying to be funny; they genuinely move a lot more than the average woman. Apparently, no man can be impressed until you jump and down as if riding a pogo stick and waggle your hips like an eager dog.

The flurry of these images gives you a whiplash, but the lesson humbles us. In a world populated by people, one half of humanity is slowly being turned into objects for the other half’s sexual gratification, moral consequences be damned. These plastic, dumb, juvenile girls are a poor mirror of women the world over, and this generation of voyeur gentlemen would be well-advised not to confuse fantasy with the real world.

It takes two to do the horizontal tango and ‘Don Jon’ leaves you with this exact parting thought.


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