Love Stinks

Love Stinks is a nasty little film but, it might seem, something of a
curiosity among recent Hollywood products in being entirely oriented toward the
masculine point of view—or at least
what people accustomed to the courtship rituals of late-20th century America
will regard as such. For in truth, however revolting the male habit of regarding
the females who interest him as disposable once they have served their sexual
purpose, women’s desire to be more
like men has fostered and encouraged it. Back in the days when men at least had
to pretend to respect women and treat them as human creatures worthy of
consideration apart from their appeal to the rough and clamorous masculine
appetite, a movie like this one could hardly have been made.

The story concerns a television producer called Seth Winnick (French Stewart)
who meets Chelsea Turner (Bridgette Wilson), a stunning young woman with
marriage on her mind at the wedding of a friend. For some reason, Chelsea
decides that the obviously slimy Seth is just what she has been looking for in a
husband and succeeds in inveigling herself into his bed and, in no time at all,
into his home as live-in partner. Beyond this point, however, Seth is unwilling
to go, and Chelsea is forced (or so we are asked to believe) to get tough with
him in the pursuit of the ring and the long-term commitment which she
inexplicably supposes her services to Seth should entitle her to—the
witch! “What are you saying?” he asks. “Marry me or it’s over?” Surely she
couldn’t be so unreasonable as that!

Here is where credulity breaks down. For this movie is exactly like its hero
and many another male low-life in not knowing that it is a low-life. In fact,
both think of themselves as devilishly attractive if not irresistible. But for
anyone with a juster appraisal than Seth’s of
Seth’s attractiveness, it beggars
belief that a woman with the sort of life chances likely to be available to
someone who looks like Chelsea would demean herself in the way that she does in
order to induce a jerk like Seth to marry her. Men who expect to be able to
enjoy no-fault sex with beautiful women, who then proceed to treat the liaison
as casually as they do, may be horrified as well as amused by what they see in a
movie like this, and of course they will cheer when Seth is allowed to take a
cruel revenge on his erstwhile lover.

O tempora! O mores! Those less inclined than I to brood over the
question of where our late-century sexual freedom might be taking us may well
find parts of this very unpleasant little movie funny. When Chelsea hits Seth
with a palimony suit, he says to his lawyer: “Hundreds of thousands it will
cost? Just to get rid of my girlfriend? Can’t I just kill her and get off? This
is L.A..” But, ever the optimist, I persist in thinking that even in our
degenerate age most men of feeling and all but the most hard-line feminists will
be revolted at this celebration of male caddishness.

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