What are the Socio-economic/Gendered Implications to an Intimate Proposition?
Recently in the CDPI Diversity Film Series we watched “Vicki Cristina Barcelona.” Coincidentally (or not) in my Romance, Sex, Love and Marriage (RSLM) course at SUNY Plattsburgh we are about to complete the sex theme where we also watched film clips from “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” to further accentuate/breath life into some of the assigned readings. A scene that garnered quite a bit of conversation was when Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem) approaches Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) upon their first meeting and invites them to join him on a private plane ride (with himself as pilot) to a small somewhat hidden away island for a weekend of what he describes as showing them around where they will “eat well, drink good wine, and make love.” Upon resistance from one of the women, Vicky, Juan Antonio further adds “Why not? Life is short, life is dull, life is full of pain, and this is a chance for something special.” When further challenged by Vicky to be more explicit about who exactly he is proposing could be making love, he unabashedly states “the three of us.”
Now, in the RSLM course we go places you couldn’t begin to imagine. As in most of my classes, it is about the conversation. Also, it helps having a class of approximately 45 students every class meeting who come from different walks of life, armed with different perspectives. I can’t begin to tell you how this scene was interpreted, assailed, or embraced.
Oddly enough, what didn’t come up in any of the conversations between these two very different gatherings (CDPI Diversity Film Series and RSLM class) were the socio-economic class implications to our "ways of seeing" this scene. Is it possible that the lens through which we view this scene very much reflects our socio-economic reality, with an emphasis on the economic as much as the social? Someone reared in a Judeo-Christian upbringing might easily default to those lessons and see Juan Antonio, in the context of his offer, as one step removed from the anti-Christ. However, someone who has never been propositioned in such a manner, who doesn’t have/hasn’t had the economic means to just up-and-make an impulsive, perhaps even romantic move like Juan Antonio is suggesting, might justify taking advantage of the offer by the mere fact the opportunity might not come around again. Which camp are you in? Should the young women (probably late twenties) be offended, or take Juan Antonio up on his offer? Why? Why not?
Is the response to Juan Antonio a generational thing? Would women of the ‘60s have been more apt to take advantage of the offer than women of the ‘80s, or post millennial generation. Does age become more of a factor in a woman’s ability to read a person for their authenticity and integrity?
What about Juan Antonio? How many men even have the moxie to approach one woman, let alone two, and proposition them upon first meeting for the type of weekend that Juan Antonio proposes? What are the socio-economic class implications that accompany his offer?
Ironically, there was also very little discussion about the very different ways these two best friends saw Juan Antonio’s invitation. Vicky was outright appalled while Cristina was flattered and quite interested in taking Juan Antonio up on his offer. How can two people so very different actually become best friends? What are some of the factors that contribute to that occurrence? Is their relationship an instance of diversity at its best? What are some larger lessons we could learn from the model of friendship that their relationship provides?
Oh, if you haven’t seen the clip I am talking about you can find it on you tube, the scene is actually briefly excerpted in the movie preview.