BetteBack September 15, 1996: One Man Fears For His Life After Screening Of “First Wive’s Club’

Santa Ana Orange County Register
September 15, 1996
Barry Koltnow


Gentlemen, start your whining. Believe me, you’ll have plenty to whine about once “The First Wives Club” opens Friday at a theater near you.

This is not the cute comedy it is being portrayed as in the media. Do not be fooled by the commercials. Do not be fooled by the billboards.

Do not be fooled by Goldie Hawn‘s innocent-sounding giggle. She and Bette Midler and Diane Keaton are co-conspirators in this crime (against men) of the century.

“The First Wives Club” is a dangerous movie. It poses a danger to every man, living or dead. Well, particularly the living. Life
for us will never be the same after this movie comes out.

If you thought things were bad after “Fatal Attraction” and “Waiting to Exhale,” just wait.

“The First Wives Club” is a revenge movie. It is revenge for every guy who ran out on his wife after a long marriage and found happiness in the arms of a younger woman.

In this case, Goldie, Bette and Diane have met a similar fate.

They all married the biggest jerks in the world – who all seem to have no trouble attracting beautiful young women – and the rest of us are going to pay for it.

After they finish mourning their marriages, they decide to get even. I have no problem with that. They’re entitled to get even.

My problem is with the depiction of the men in this movie. It’s not good.

Now, I can handle being portrayed as stupid. I can handle inept. I can handle insensitive and inconsiderate. I have no choice but to handle it because that’s how men are portrayed on television. It’s a wonder we can get both shoes tied on the same day.

That’s the price of watching television; I get to see my people ridiculed and held up as lovable bumblers. If we were organized, we’d protest or something.

But the movies are another matter. I put my foot down at being portrayed as the SCUM OF THE EARTH. They actually expect us to pay money to see ourselves dragged through the gutter.

We get to see ourselves beaten, broken and battered, and we still have to pay five bucks for popcorn. I can be beaten, broken and battered at home, and it won’t cost me anything.

The standard response to this type of whining, of course, is that women have been portrayed badly for years in Hollywood and that this is merely their turn.

What’s the matter? You got something against playing hookers and nuns?

I don’t think this is the same thing. This is mean-spirited. This is unfair. This could lead to a lot of sleepless nights. I finally got over that “Basic Instinct” paranoia, and now I’ve got to start worrying again.

This movie cannot be good for relationships. First, we find out that we’re from Mars and they’re from Venus, and now we’ve got to worry about them plotting their revenge. We’ve got enough on our minds, what with trying to walk and chew gum at the same time.

But maybe I’ve exaggerated the threat. Maybe I’m giving this movie too much credit. Maybe women aren’t going to take this movie that seriously.

That’s what I was thinking as I left a screening of “The First Wives Club” a couple of weeks ago. Watching the movie had made me nervous. Specifically, listening to the howls of delight from women in the audience. But then I began to reconsider. I started to chuckle. I turned to a woman standing next to me and said, “Pretty silly movie, huh?”

“No, I thought it was great,” she said with a firmness usually associated with convenience store clerks.

“Well, didn’t you think it was a little unrealistic, particularly in its portrayal of the men?” I asked.

“Unrealistic?” she responded, her face still aglow from laughter.

“As far as I’m concerned, it was a documentary.”

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