Omega Male: The Film Version

Greenberg
Let it be known that on the whole, I like Noah Baumbach’s work. I think The Squid and the Whale is an amazing film mostly because it’s really jarring and really normal at the same time. But, I felt something else when I watched Greenberg. I felt mad.

This trailer presents Ben Stiller’s character as a guy who just wants to “do nothing for awhile” in his 40s. He’s unemployed, he destroys relationships, and he writes cranky letters to every company who gets on his nerves in any capacity. That’s what he does, all the time. It would be funny if I didn’t already know men who were like this.

In her piece for Salon, Jessica Grose writes “While the alpha male wants to dominate and the beta male just wants to get by, the omega male has either opted out or, if he used to try, given up.” As women, we’re usually never allowed to opt out. If you’re a 40 year old woman without kids, you’d better have a career. And if you’re a 40 year old woman without a career, you’d better have kids. Society behooves you. But for men like Greenberg, and the men in real life who choose to just stop contributing altogether, there are no real societal repercussions. Of course, I’d have to think that men of this ilk are miserable, so I take comfort in that.

Have we come to expect less from men as women become more equal? Is the omega male just a defensive response to women seizing more power?

 

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One Comment on “Omega Male: The Film Version”

  1. tinalynnjones says:

    “Have we come to expect less from men as women become more equal?” We’ve come to expect MORE from women. Men are still free to do as they please. When they act like Greenberg, it becomes a new social class, not a personality disorder that needs to be treated with medication or discussed on Dr. Phil and Oprah.

    I wonder what actor would be cast in the female version of this role? A beautiful loser, like Stiller, or just a loser? Would the female Greenberg get the young hottie, and would it be seen as a triumph rather than an ICK moment?

    “Is the omega male just a defensive response to women seizing more power?”

    I think it’s anger and aggression and depression. Criticising as a lifestyle choice. It’s white middle-class privilege – just like all those white female middle-class second-wavers who had the time, money and social standing to drop out. Still they changed things for the better.


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