I finally saw Don Jon! I totally expected that when I saw it and came to write a blog post/review about it that I’d be singing Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s praises – how awesome his debut as a screenwriter and director was, how great the chemistry was with Scarlett Johansson, etc. In fact, I don’t actually have a lot to say about his efforts as a director or Scar-Jo’s performance (beyond the fact that I didn’t like the Boston accents – they were laughable and the locale didn’t add anything to the story). Instead, I want to focus on the ideas at the heart of the film.
If you’ve not already seen it, Don Jon is about a guy who’s obsessed with porn. When he decides to give a ‘proper’ relationship a go, he makes a move on Barbara, a young woman who just happens to be really into rom-coms. Cue discussions about expectations about sex and relationships.
I was raised on rom-coms and chick lit and at a young age (stupidly) thought the ideal was this (false) idea of a man who’ll treat you like a princess. But as I grew up I realised that the ‘perfect’ guy is actually one who’ll encourage you to be the best version of yourself, someone who you can laugh and cry with and who, rather than literally sweep you off your feet before you drive off into the sunset, plans a future with you beyond that ‘happy ever after’. The expectations that some women have about men and relationships is ridiculous and (semi-spoiler alter) is rather perfectly summed up in a scene towards the end of the film:
Barbara: I asked you to do one thing for me…
Don: Yeah. I was thinking about that when you said it before.
Barbara: Well, I said it because it’s true, that’s why.
Don: It’s not true.
Don: You didn’t only ask me for one thing. You asked for a lot, a lot of different things and then… I couldn’t do it all for you.
Barbara: Well, when a real man loves a woman, he doesn’t mind doing things for her. He’ll do anything for her.
Don: Yeah, but don’t you think that sounds a little bit one-sided?
Barbara: No, I don’t. But that’s why you like to watch those whores in those videos, because you don’t gotta do anything for them, right? Yeah, that’s one-sided also. Definitely.*
It’s about give and take. It’s about supporting each other. It’s about taking it in turns to cook dinner (or shouting for takeaways when you can’t be arsed!) and both of you taking the bins out (yeah, I need to work on that one). We don’t live in a world where the man has to have the highest salary and the woman should make sure dinner is on the table. Men shouldn’t feel pressured to shower their wives or girlfriends with expensive presents – how about women doing something nice for the men in their lives? I love that Don Jon addressed this one-sided notion and made viewers question their values when it comes to relationships. I’m not saying we should be lowering our standards. If that’s what you want from a guy, fill your boots! Just don’t expect him to be able to maintain that kind of lifestyle if you’re giving nothing back.
*Script copied from Springfield! Springfield!