What's Up Doc: An Example Of The Entertainment Media Selling Bad Behavior As Acceptable
Don’t get me wrong. It’s one of my favorite movies if I just shut off my mind and go along for the rollercoaster ride. But if I turn on my mind and really think about the stuff Judy Maxwell does and the movie tries to pass off as romantic and cute, it makes me squirm mentally.
Let’s talk about what Judy Maxwell does. She sees a cute guy and basically starts stalking him when he goes to buy a bottle of aspirin. She starts calling him by a name she decides she likes better than his own and tells the store clerk he’s her husband and tries to trick him into buying her an expensive radio. Once she discovers the guy has a girlfriend, she starts victimizing the girlfriend and she continues to stalk the guy. She steals the girlfriend’s identity and attends the dinner that the man and his girlfriend came there to attend. She makes sure she gets there early to establish herself as Eunice Burns so when he arrives he’s placed in the awkward position of calling her out as an imposter or going along with her masquerade. When the head of the foundation he’s there to meet is charmed by the imposter he goes along with the masquerade. Then she breaks and enters into his room and makes sure to be naked in his bathtub when he returns. When he’s talking on the phone to his girlfriend she talks loud so Eunice will know she’s in the room with him and suspect the worst. Even when she seemingly manages to seduce the poor schmuck she’s still not done sandbagging his girlfriend. She calls Eunice up and sends her to a different address that puts her life in danger. Then a big chase through the streets of San Francisco ensues where she steals more stuff and peoples lives are put in danger and vast amounts of property gets damaged. And in the end does she suffer any punishment for everything she’s done? No, she gets rewarded by getting the guy.
When you take into consideration all that Judy Maxwell did without the film selling it as cute and romantic, is she any different that Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction? The difference is in the way the other characters perceive both these women. In Fatal Attraction Alex’s actions are considered unacceptable, but in What’s Up Doc? they’re considered acceptable.
A lot of it is the way the other woman, so to speak, is betrayed. In WUD Eunice is perceived to be a nag with a shrill voice. In comparison, Judy seems to be a better choice and almost like she’s actually rescuing Howard from Eunice who will make his life miserable if he should actually go through with marrying her. So anything Judy does is fair game. Yet, aside from nagging Howard to go and buy a bottle of aspirin for his headache, what really bad thing did Eunice do? Nothing really, but she gets plenty done to her.
She comes to the party she’s supposed to attend with her future husband and told she isn’t who she says she is. Then when she goes in without her name badge, Howard is too much of a coward to out the imposter and Eunice gets dragged away as the imposter. She gets cheated on, if that scene on the piano is anything to go by. Then she gets sent to the wrong address that puts her life in danger. The final insult is when she says the men threatened to molest her, Judge Maxwell declares that’s unbelievable, basically saying she’s too unattractive for a man to want to molest. And Eunice’s only crime is she was standing in the way of what Judy Maxwell wanted.
Bottom line, Judy Maxwell is a character that when she wants something, she’ll do whatever she has to do to get it. She’ll lie, cheat and steal. She has no respect for anyone else. She had no respect for the fact Howard was taken and not available to her. Imagine if we all went around doing what Judy Maxwell did? Actually, the whole frantic chase through the streets of San Francisco is an example of what happens when several people try to do what Judy Maxwell does; take what they want. As a result people’s lives were in danger and their property got stolen and destroyed. In short, the result is utter chaos.
Unfortunately, characters like Judy Maxwell are the norm more often than not these days in Hollywood. They’re not really heroic characters but get cast in the role of hero or heroine. They help to blur the line between what’s right and what’s wrong; between what’s acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. And, unfortunately, the things we are exposed to help to form our base of morality and what we consider to be right and wrong.
If you see some of the stuff some of these shippers online are shipping you get evidence of the general moral decay in society. When impressionable minds are exposed to entertainment media that is telling them it’s moral to be immoral what kind of ethics is that building in their minds? What sort of lists of things that are acceptable and unacceptable is it giving them?
Some shippers want to see siblings in a romantic relationship. We’re not talking about two people who are not blood-related raised as siblings. We’re talking about full-blooded siblings. In short, they’re basically saying they find incest romantic. And while it’s just a show on television, how is just thinking something like that affecting how you think? What you think is acceptable in society. There’s supposed to be a line between anything sexual happening between a father and daughter, a mother and son or two brothers or a brother and sister; but when you start shipping incest you’re erasing that line. You’re saying you find incest acceptable and even romantic.
It’s the same when you ship a couple where the guy tried to murder the girl. You’re basically saying an abusive relationship is romantic. What happens if you get involved in a real relationship yourself where the guy is beating you up, but he loves you? If you think it’s the height of romance for some guy to try and kill the object of his affection, why wouldn’t you apply that to your own life and think your boyfriend is just showing you how much he loves you by knocking you around and giving you a black eye? If you see it on a TV show and find an abusive relationship romantic, how can you not apply those same beliefs and values to your own life and your own relationships?
The entertainment media is so prevalent in our lives what with television and the Internet. We’re exposed to it pretty much every day of our lives. It can’t help but start to affect the way we think and to alter and warp our own belief systems. If we see everyone around us stealing and it being accepted as the norm, how long before you start to think stealing isn’t so bad, and start stealing yourself? It’s like peer pressure to get you to drink or use drugs. It takes a very strong person to stand up for what they believe in opposed to just caving in and being like everyone else.
I really think the entertainment media has a responsibility to start putting out entertainment that reinforces society’s moral values. It’s time to stop glamorizing bad behavior and selling it as acceptable if the person doing the bad stuff really feels bad while they do it or feels bad about it, afterwards. Of course, going back to WUD, Judy Maxwell never felt a moment of regret for any of the bad things she did. Her actions were made acceptable by the other characters acting like what she was doing was no big deal and by getting the guy in the end.