Mel Gibson In What Women Want Just Learns How To Manipulate Women Really Well
When chauvinistic Nick Marshall gains the ability to read women's thoughts, he uses it for selfish purposes. First, he telepathically steals ideas from his new boss, Darcy, and ultimately gets her fired. Then, he mind-rapes Marisa Tomei's Lola into sleeping with him. But eventually, he learns to empathize with women and changes his ways. He lets Lola down easy, swallowing his pride and falsely confirming a suspicion she has that he's actually gay. Then he gets Darcy her job back, simultaneously confessing his sabotage and his feelings for her, thus winning her heart and bringing a happy end to both the movie and Mel Gibson's last days of viability as a romantic lead.
Let's look at the ending scene, with Nick's big confession to Darcy:
The fact that Helen Hunt did this whole scene without making a fart noise or jerk-off motion is Oscar-worthy in and of itself.
By this point in the movie, Nick has lost his mind-reading powers, so it's intended to be "sweet" -- how he convinces her to forgive him without that advantage. But take a closer look at his behavior. He says things to make himself seem vulnerable ("I'm the one that needs to be rescued") and deliberately draws attention to the fact that he has "accidentally" done so ("Now I'm embarrassed I told you I needed to be rescued") in order to guilt Darcy into chasing him when he finally starts to leave (a process that he drags out as long as he can). Nick may not be able to read women's minds anymore, but that's OK, because he learned how to manipulate them all the same.
And that's nothing compared to how Nick handles Lola: After Nick sleeps with her once and loses interest, Lola confronts him with a rather bizarre question -- he's gay, right? This becomes slightly less random when Nick hears Lola's thoughts during this conversation and realizes she basically "needs" him to be gay, because thanks to her shitty self-esteem, she can't handle the alternative of simply being undesirable.
And it's not like there aren't dozens of other women who would happily fuck a wealthy, attractive guy and never talk to him again the next day.
Nick could easily talk her down -- he's a smooth-talking psychic; how could he not? -- but instead, he shrugs his shoulders and goes "Ya got me! Gay as hell." The movie presents his fake sexuality as a sacrificial swallowing of pride, when he's really just taking the first offramp the conversation has to offer. The right thing to do would be to confess to her as well, placing the blame firmly on himself, not shifting it elsewhere and risking inadvertently creating some bizarre low-self-esteem subconscious homophobia conspiracy in her brain. But then that's what the internet is for, so she's probably at least found her people by now.
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For more ways you've read famous characters all wrong, check out 5 Movie Villains Who Were Completely Right The Whole Time and 9 Famous Movie Villains Who Were Right All Along.
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