BAILEY THE DOOMERTARIAN™ 💋’s review published on Letterboxd:
For the record: because this movie is still being discussed, and I think it's best to restore some sanity to modern film dialogue despite not being too fond of this movie, I believe Everybody Wants Some and the filmmakers shouldn't be so quickly labeled "sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic", whatever buzzword the radical critics come up with now. At least not without some discussion first.
Calling the film sexist, by definition, implies there's a malice towards a supposed lesser sex, which Everybody Wants Some, the filmmakers and cast never make the case for. There's no power position hierarchy between the sexes in the film. The guys roll around in mud fights just as much as the girls do. Both girls and guys play the initiator, hitting up one another at rowdy cowboy clubs. Those same couples later in the night riding down flights of stairs together in ecstatic mutual laughter. There's no endorsement of rape, rape culture or overt sexual harassment (at least from what I recall), as every shenanigan happens between consenting and aroused young adults of both sexes. The characters' lack of respectability the entire point of the film. If you're trying to find complete purity in the unsupervised college sex playground, that's just a dead on arrival quest, darling. Neglecting the purpose and worth of sexual exploration that Linklater set out to show. Meeting mixed matched personalities and egos you find attractive and delving in those free urges, whether they are ultimately right and will lead to something more, or just plain wrong and should go on no longer than the token 30 seconds. These relationships, long or brief, good or bad, were never forced upon anybody. These were the choices of the aroused, with their actions completely allowed thanks to Westernised freedom and culture second wave feminists fought for. That respected, classical liberal feminists such as Christina Hoff Sommers are calling to hold onto. Linklater expressing this love and nostalgia for American values and culture through the guy perspective he lived. A lens he feels appropriate to use, but not make the case for it as surperior. The other complaint I hear was the lack of punishment for these people's actions and urges, which I believe would have been completely unneeded. There was never going to a castration in this film for flirtation, and I think Linklater handles these characters' fates well. Characters with gross only objectifying sexual urges are either met with rejection and laughter for being the "stooopid looosars" they are, or hook up with partners that are just as dumb, careless and objectifying. Very few sweethearts and gentlemen roam the college world of Everybody Wants Some, and Linklater uses them as the conflict free comedic punchlines they are, rather than a straight, serious "Boogie Nights" indictment of them.
When it comes to engaging the other sex through flirtation, and using that subject of flirtationship and courtship for comedy, they are not inherently sexist themes. Lazy writing? Maybe, you could argue that, but not hateful towards either party. Viewing sex- the act of desire, and releasing one's tension with a partner -is also not inherently sexist. This kind of thinking begs the question: What's wrong with wanting sex? Sex to many people in this world is a gorgeous thing. Earning its reputation as a beautiful, freeing experience we can have as a free society. A luxury that many others societies, even today, can't experience. When did treating that act with scorn become the norm? When did we declare people and characters who engage in that sex scene "problematic" and "sexist" so casually? That just doesn't seem right to me. It's regressive and reactionary. It sends us back decades to the Victorian era of authoritarian sexual purity. This time recreated by the regressive SWJ side of the spectrum I just can't endorse. Covering our bodies up and shaming anyone who dares reveal their body for another. Negating the lighter side of exploration and free sexuality Linklater was trying to show. Our characters Jake and Bethany, while the latter sadly less developed than she should have been, and neither of them all that pure, our symbols of exploration turning into a possible genuine connection. The kind that lasts a lot longer than one evening or some "kiss and tell" story for the future. I think there's something hopeful in that, amidst the playground of debauchery we see here.
Everybody Wants Some is a very libido driven film, and told mostly from the male gaze, following college students who love baseball and want the authentic college sexual experience that was never allowed in High School. A perspective that, rightfully, to whatever extent, will make you comfortable and empathetic, or uncomfortable and stand offish. There's a role we must take on when we enter a hang-out-movie, just like we do approaching real life friend groups: the role of The Outsider. We define that outsider role with what we bring to it. That may be an asexuality, disinterested in the sex culture and separating yourself, both from this group and movie. It may be a comfortable anysexuality and an appreciation for unsupervised mischief and lite indulgence. A moderate sideliner who'd be drinking beer and simply laughing at the events as they transpire. Your enjoyment depends on what you bring to that role, consciously and genuinely. Understandably, this movie, and films like it, can be viewed as simple, lazy, low tier Linklater schlock. Which is fine, personal taste is key to this, and I believe it's tailored to a very specific type of crowd. The casual sex loving college crowd, and those who simply want to indulge in that just through a film.
On that note, I believe we should reserve dropping our S-Hammers here. There's no hate war between the genders in the film, and if this kind of college sex culture offends you, that's perfectly fine. I just can't defend you if you say your offense came from sexist grounds shown in the movie, which I believe is evidently unfounded. The characters all just want to fuck (I mean, it is called Everybody Wants Some, and they do. Mutually and consensually) and you're welcome to gag at the sight accordingly.
On the issue of tokenism, possible racism, transphobia, homophobia, general leftist buzzwords: As a bisexual member of the community I don't recall any evidence of the homophobia. There's some good homoerotic shots of male bodies that has the potential to get woman man and people in between interested, but I am more than willing to be proven wrong on any prejudice someone can prove that I just can't see. It should be considered the film takes place in a Red State Texas period in time that was still evolving progressively. I'm sure on some off chance you may find some comment that's not politically correct among a quick piece of banter, but I fail to see where this is condemningly prejudice, phobic or racist that it needs to be brought up considering this is in context. I have read Sally's comments, particularly on white privilege (unintentionally) influencing these character's action and mindsets, as well as the lack of representation for transgender and non-binary Tumblr genders, and while that's her argument and can't take it away from her, I don't entirely agree with her spin on them. If this film were more along the lines of say a comedic drama or a condemnation of non political correct culture in a time it could slide in a little, maybe I'd be more open to more representation, however in context I highly doubt the very legitimate transgenderism movement had it's chance to move down south. With non-binary obviously being a fade of the 2015 variety that would be inappropriate. I believe Everybody Wants Some isn't a celebration of white privilege, though I will listen to and challenge that argument, but rather it's about American cultural privilege. A love for the land where you have a fine access to liquor- where most countries find drinking conduct abhorrent -and open sexual engagement is accepted. Whether you're Caucasian American, African America, Male or Female, it's a celebration of what makes laid back America, and all it's fun liberties under sensible law, the best America.
Would I have liked more black characters? Yes. That would have helped representation more, and would give this movie more legs to stand on.. The way Linklater uses Dale, however, is never through the stereotype of his race, delivered with malice or inept intent to exploit some forced backstory. He uses him for the content of his mutual fun college conduct as an American. To say his character is not as legitimately authentic as the rest because apparently blacks aren't individuals who can have similar upbringing and experiences to their white counterparts, for my money, the wrong eye to be looking at this film.
It's Everybody wants some, and when you're in 1980s America, why shouldn't you, no matter who you are in this society, want some?