The Hitcher (2007) : Another Minority ! Yeaaaaah (1400 Words)
Several days ago I made an entry about the Hitcher (1986) in which I complained that it was yet another movie with a metaphor for repressed homosexuality… although it was absolutely relevant at the time when the U.S.A. hated homosexual men so much that they had invented a special virus to kill them. (Edit: I'm only being provocative here, it's not my serious opinion about the topic).
The Hitcher (2007) shut my mouth pretty good as the movie is about a very beautiful girl who meets a dead end with her beloved boyfriend because he is a simple guy who treats her on an equal foot and not like a trophee/sex object etc…
We’re thus talking about the most overlooked minority of patriarchal society: the heterosexual guy who doesn’t want to dominate, treats people well and doesn’t spend his life trying with all his soul to look MANLY.
I mean, I think there still were concentration camps in which that kind of men were executed back in 2007. I can’t remember. Or was it the year they started killing the guys who were still virgins at university ? No, this is in 1999 when they released American Pie to promote male virgins shaming. (edit: my god, what had I eaten when I wrote this article ? I saw American Pie again since I wrote it and I actually think it could very well tell the story of four men who are going to seriously harm themselves in order to avoid remaining virgins).
Anyway… moving on.
Jim and Grace are going to the spring break (the Gates of hell). It’s not said in plain words but she doesn’t want to go (Wakes up late, wants to pee out of nervousness before they leave the city).
She knows that her friends are going to subtly bully Jim for not being good enough for her. In the car, she reads one of those fascist magazines with a “rate your boyfriend” quizz.
Because she is not a vain bitch who dates a “normal” guy just to show how unvain she is and constantly remind him how unworthy he is, Grace doesn’t want to go. She simply wishes they would stay together and spend time together.
Appears the hitcher. He here is not homosexuality like in the first one, but on the contrary, simple alpha manliness. He is what Jim is going to wish he were and what society would expect Grace to desire of him because she is such a 10/10 (Aaah, the wonderful fascist concept of reducing people to numbers).
The problem is thus now going to be that Jim can’t seem to find the strength to accept that he is enough for Grace… that her physical appearance isn’t that important even if the society they live in brainwashes people into believing so. Talking about brainwashed piece of nothing, the clerk at the gaz station is going to deliver a beautiful piece of propaganda to Jim, about how his girlfriend is hot and how he got to get her, is it the car, because obviously it’s not a loser like him etc… that’s how it works in a subtly fascist environment you cannot make a move without getting scolded, not by the authority but by one of your pairs, if you dare step out of the line.
As a consequence of this little talk, the conformist-manliness-hitcher reappears and this time, Jim accepts him in the car. Grace is pushed to the back seat and reduced to listen to her MP3.
Things go wrong pretty quickly and the hitcher threatens to kill Grace if Jim doesn’t pronounce the words “I want to die.” Thanks to some efficient team work, they manage to push him out of the car. This first confrontation is the simple statement that no, they don’t want to split up simply because Jim is not going to correspond to the expectations of Grace’s friends.
Then, there’s the family car, just like in the first film. The homosexual guy had to abandon the idea of having children if he was to accept his homosexuality. Here, Grace asks Jim if he will want to have children one day and his answer is far from convincing. Why ? Because the guy lives in a society which wants him dead, he cannot want to raise kids in accordance with his feelings and suffer as much as he did. And thus, the family dies.
Actually, there’s something obviously metaphorical in the way the parents die but I can’t exactly understand it. I’m talking about Grace driving with the dead woman besides her and Jim trying to maintain the husband alive although he is stabbed in the heart.
Slowly, Jim feels more and more guilty about everything that’s happening (he is the one who took the hitcher) and get to think that Grace doesn’t like him anymore because his niceness got them in a catastrophic situation, when what Grace is annoyed about is that he did not trust her when she told him the guy was too strange and he did not understand that she valued the time they were going to spend together on their own in the car.
So, slowly, Jim is going to value masculinity more and more and try to overcompensate for his unmanliness. And Grace is going to lose him to this chimera.
When eventually they find themselves locked into a hotel room, they take a shower together. After all they’ve been through, it should be logical for them to stay together and make some “we’re still alive” love. But Jim leaves Grace alone to find a phone, his last words being "I’m sorry I got us into this.” He is still whipping himself with what he is.
Grace lies on the bed, the hitcher joins her and starts touching her, of course she thinks it’s Jim and is quite aroused. That’s what she wanted from him, not to have him go fetch a phone when they’re having a shower because he is ashamed of being attracted to her and feels unworthy.
John Ryder's crazy rampage is accompanied with Nine Inch Nails famous song Closer. "I wanna fuck you like an animal." This is addressed to Grace. Is she more attracted to the bad-ass manly killer or to her whiny boyfriend ?
Since the beginning of the film it’s been ambiguous whether Grace was attracted to John Ryder (conformist manliness) and was going to betray Jim the wuss at some point or not.
When she finds her boyfriend attached to a lorry and a truck, ready to be torn apart, the scene is similar but different to the one in the first Hitcher.
In the movie of 1986, the boy’s sexuality is oriented towards the killer following a non-conformist urge that the killer wants him to take the responsibility for. And although he loves the girl who is attached, they will never be compatible sexually because of the boy’s non-conformity.
In the remake, Grace’s sexuality is oriented towards the hitcher too, but only because Jim is deprived of any self-confidence by the social environment he lives in. If Jim was not constantly reminded of his worthlessness, he would feel worthy of Grace and they would be sexually compatible. Grace cannot abandon her sexuality for Jim, it would be absurd; sexuality being used as the core of the individual. She cannot give up on who she is for him. So Grace’s libido is made conformist by the order that which is represented by the cops threatening her to shoot if she kills the hitcher.
In both movies, the cops want to see the attached victim cut in two.
And finally, when Grace catches up the killer, their last exchange underlines the difference there is between the two versions of the film.
Here, John Ryder says: “Feels good doesn’t it ?”
And Grace answers: “I don’t feel a thing.”
In the first movie, the boy is actually satisfied sexually by his affair with John Ryder whereas here, Grace is destroyed by the death of her boyfriend and it doesn’t mean shit whether she was more attracted to one guy or the other, her libido is now dead. She just wishes society would have left Jim alone.
So yeah, both movies are pretty good B-movies. To me they are perfect examples of nice little movies, not too ambituous, not exactly great or memorable but which have something to say and do their jobs very honourably.
And I think, it’s not a coincidence that both should have a subversive unpopular discourse for their time because you won’t see anything defending your average sensitive nice guy in a Marvel piece of crap (Edit: I'm too harsh. marvel movies are fine). Low budget movies are also low budget because they know their discourse might leave people indifferent or annoy them, so you cannot risk too much money on them.