Friday, May 2, 2014

The Hitcher (2007) or The Top Five Ways To Get Your Boyfriend Killed

The stakes are high for couples in horror movies, and men seem to get the worst of the dismemberment. The Hitcher begins when Jim picks up Grace from college for a road trip. The goal of the trip is to introduce Jim to Grace's friends. What is alluded to early on is that Jim meeting Grace's friends is a kind of vetting process where Jim is put on the relational auction block to be inspected and prodded for merit. In other words, the dude has win over girlfriend’s friends or the relationship will be socially crippled. Of course, as we know, Jim and Grace do not reach their destination, but are put through a series of trials which test and ultimately break their relationship and Jim in two.

1. You Commit Too Early. When the Hitcher arrives Grace is reading an article in a woman’s magazine entitled “Love and Lust: Relationship SOS – Rate your boyfriend.” Three of the questions are on screen. From right to left they are:
1. How often does he bring you flowers?
3. If I disagree with something he is saying, he: A. Listens to what I have to say and respond with consideration B. Doesn't initially hear me, but always comes around to hearing my point of view. B. Gets angry and storms out (the rest of the question is off screen)
5. In bed, my boyfriend is; A. On fire and (cut off) B. Adventurous (cut off) C. Only Out for himself (Cut off)
On the very bottom of the page the top half the scoring sheet says that mostly A’s are husband material. The scene then cuts to Grace looking adoringly at Jim, as if she concluded that he scored high on the test. Let’s take a serious saw to this. Why would some survey created by someone who is not a sociologist provoke emotional sway? Why does she feel that qualifying Jim via a measurement scale that is not sound or valid? Why does she need external verification thought this survey and her friends in order to justify to herself the continued romantic involvement with Jim. I argue that she is using her friends and this magazine in order to avoid committing to Jim out of her own freedom.

Lacan argues that there is no sexual relationship. What he means is not that people do not have sex, of course they do. Lacan’s argument deeper and more pervasive. He argues that our subjectivity is not just based on language, but exists on the side of language. Yes language exists in a sense, but it is not reality. Language is something we lay upon reality in order to conceive it. The genders of man and woman are only cognitively maps which we push upon reality so that it is convenient for communication with a cultural set of meanings. If man and woman are labels, and the only relationship that exists between words is fictitious. Which is why Lacan argues that ‘language is structured like fiction.’

What does this mean for Grace? The difficulty here is that Grace is not in a state in which she can transcend the relationship that does not exist. You may say this sentence is a contradiction in terms, and I would agree with you. But, love is fundamentally a contradiction. We deny our biology, we deny other opportunities, and we deny our freedom in order to love. Grace’s infatuation demonstrate the necessary insanity required to maintain her relationship Jim.
In this punctually of pure horror she thinks; she is reduced to pure thought: the moment we abstain  from the confrontation with the “alien,” the moment we recoil from this stain of horror and retreat to the haven of our “being,” at some decentered place “it” begins to think. Slavoj Zizek – Tarrying With The Negative (p. 62.
In this moment as Grace is overcommitting to feelings transferred to her by the magazine article about idyllic boyfriends, the hitcher arrives off in the distance. As if to remind the viewer that there is a minimal of terror in watching a woman emotionally overextend herself over some dude. The key scene that establishes the horror that the hitcher represents is when Jim comments on his wedding ring. It is as if The Hitcher represents the elephant in the room. The terror and doubt that should be commonplace when making relational commitments. One must be able to commit to the insanity and convince someone to come with you.

2. You Lie About Your Priorities. The second time The Hitcher intervenes is after the family in the car pass them on the road. Jim and Grace are making goo-goo eyes at each other and the camera passes along a car with a man and a woman and their two kids. For good measure the bumper sticker on the car reads “just saves.” Grace then turns to Jim and asks
Grace: Do you ever think about having kids?
Jim: (he moves in his seat as if uncomfortable then shakes his head right and left) Yeah.. sometimes, I guess eventually
Grace (roles her eyes then the camera pans up to see bumper sticker on car which reads: Honk if you love Jesus)
And Boom! The Hitcher appears behind a giant stuff frog. The scene calls attention again to the divide between Grace and Jim. The Hitcher is the piece between Jim and Grace that does not smoothly fit in their relationship. His lie about marriage reflects their lie about commitment.

3. You Fail to share power. The third time The Hitcher intervenes is when Jim asks Grace to have the gun that she acquired at the police station. There is no reason for this, Jim doesn’t have anything to shoot at. Holding the gun was a power play on his part in order to gain control. Suddenly a car is tossed off a cliff near them and they run off.

4. You Fail To Support Your Partner. The fourth time The Hitcher intervenes is when Grace holds a cop at gun point and Jim discourages her by saying “you don’t need to do this.” Grace then order Jim to take the cop's gun. At this point the power dynamic becomes balance. The subtext here is Grace’s desire to be seen as an equal power in their relationship. First Jim takes away her power, then when she has the power he disagrees with the action she takes when she is in power. Grace on the other hand, wants a boyfriend who will commit to the crime of their relationship as fully as she is willing to be.

5. You Don’t Cuddle Post-Coital.
The last time that The Hitcher intervenes in Jim and Grace's relationship is immediately after they knock dirties. In order to clean up they take a shower together. Standing all romantic and cute together Jim suddenly gets the idea that he needs to make a phone call to his family. Jim wanders off, and Grace slips into bed. Suddenly The Hitcher is copping a feel. Realizing that something is wrong, Grace jumps out of the bed. Boom they fight, and eventually ends up in the scene where Jim is a damsel in distress chained between two semi-trucks.

On the motel TV the movie The Birds were playing. I wondered what The Hitcher and The Birds had in common, until I realized what Zizek said about the dude’s mother in The Birds. She arrived into the couple’s relationship in the same way The Birds arrived in it in order bring to light the subtext in the couple’s relationship. I'd argue that The Hitcher is a spiritual remake of The Birds.

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