Poorly Made Satire Will Always Pit Men and Women Against Each Other

Editor's note: We asked two of our pundits, one male and one female, to respond to the popular video "THE FLIP SIDE (BAR)," in which in an alternate reality, the gender roles of a night out are reversed. Men drink raspberry kamikazes and women dance on men. Watch the video below and read both responses.

THE FLIP SIDE (BAR) covers the average Friday or Saturday night on the prowl. However, in this other dimension, we are taken through scenes where women make crass remarks about men’s bodies and men are innocently just “trying to have a good time with [their] friends.” The video ends with a man doing the walk of shame, after leaving a woman in bed donning a slightly triumphant smile. While THE FLIP SIDE (BAR) has its moments, these simplistic caricatures of men and women trapped in the gender binary show a limited understanding of our conditioned gender roles, reminding us once again that Youtube will not mend the arbitrary rift between the sexes.

Let’s face it, we can identify with at least one person in this video: the needy one, the opportunist, the slapper. As we hop through various scenes, we were either witness to or committed these atrocities. Therefore, we chuckle as THE FLIP SIDE (BAR) bounces from character to character, since “it’s so true.” Until the point somewhere around the 2:30 mark of the video when the painfully obvious heteronormativity men and women experience daily becomes plain depressing to watch.

What the writers are actually saying in this video is that men and women maneuver through this world in only two ways. We can trace this back to childhood. The adult versions of ourselves are informed by the messages that were pounded into us as children. You are also familiar with these basic messages: If you’re a girl, you like dresses and it’s okay to cry; if you’re a boy, you like pants and crying is not allowed. There is no room for anything in between, and studies show that children who veer from these expectations are likelier to be abused. In THE FLIP SIDE (BAR) we are not watching subversive commentary on gender roles, we are watching the same messages wearing different outfits.

Where THE FLIP SIDE (BAR) fails for me is that the situation between men and women will not improve simply because we’ve depicted these heteronormative interactions. There is a larger context at play and remains unaddressed, which includes the years of conditioning and socialization that developed these gender roles. These are the root causes of these sloppy bar situations. I will not entirely fault the writers, since satirical comedy is an exquisite beast. The main reason satire fails is when it is executed without a clear analysis. This is unfortunate since it is one of the most effective tools to expose our vices and stupidity. In evaluating THE FLIP SIDE, does it use satire well? No. Am I offended by this video? No. As a human being, do I find this a bit boring? Yes. Trite? Absolutely.

The familiar scenes in THE FLIP SIDE become a mortifying glimpse into what we already know about ourselves, and what society expects of us. When we laugh at this video, we unknowingly laugh at our present condition. We are laughing at the fact that we see ourselves as a generation of male sexual opportunists and female basketcases who lack some serious home training. Instead of reinforcing these negative and heteronormative ideas via Youtube, let’s trade in poorly made viral videos for those that actually make meaningful critiques and analysis of our culture. And while I’d usually be the first to point out how there is no diversity in the depictions in this video, I will make the strong assumption that people of color and LGBTQs will gladly sit this one out.

Girls, share your own reaction to the video and discuss gender stereotypes when going out as a millennial.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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Hanalei Somar

Hanalei is the New York City coordinator for BAYAN USA, a founder of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment (FiRE NYC, a GABRIELA USA organization), and a Steering Committee member of the May 1st Coalition for Immigrant Rights. She is a community organizer, writer, performer, and multi-media artist. Hanalei is also a member of the artist collectives everydayarmada and k-k, and has been awarded residencies and opportunities with Project Rowhouses, The Laundromat Project, and the Asian Womens Giving Circle.

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