Thursday, 30 August 2012

What needst thou have more covering than a man?

"Try it Edward, you'll like it."

The words of a little girl trying to entice her soon-to-be step father to eat her mother's breakfast.  The quote comes from the eighties film which, arguably, destroyed the careers of both Ted Danson and Tom Selleck in one fell swoop (for the purposes of this argument, I don't consider that Steve Guttenberg had a career to destroy at this point) : 3 Men and a Little Lady.

It's not a terribly quotable film but it does, however, contain performances from 3 beautiful and capable actresses: Sheila Hancock, Nancy Travis and the remarkable Fiona Shaw.

The film's premise entails Nancy Travis' character, Sylvia, and her young daughter Mary living with 3 men, one of whom is Mary's father. Now the fact that Sylvia ends up marrying one of these men does not detract from the fact that for the majority of the film (and in the intervening period since the first film in which Mary was a baby), this unconventional cohabitation works out incredibly well.

Sylvia is liberated.  She is able to work, as an actress, in the knowledge that there is always someone at home who loves her daughter and to care for her.  Little Mary has more male attention than the latest Call of Duty release - no inappropriate crushes on older men for her when she grows up.  The men are able to maintain their friendship with each other while assuming the responsibilities of role models and a respectful, platonic relationship with Sylvia.

The film contains a graphic rap scene (yes, they attack the genre with malice aforethought, violence and desperation), a part of which is highlighted below:

Your food-spittin', toilet-trainin' changed our song
We were situated bachelors, fathers-in-waitin'
Rather hang with you than the one he's been dating
Say, Mary, did you wash your face
Say, Mary, did you brush your teeth
Mike be nimble, Peter be quick
Jack bust a rhyme and make it slick
To little lady Mary We say please
Just close your eyes and cop some Z's 

The scene brings back frightening memories of parents and teachers trying to use rap to make things 'cool'.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were rapping. Roland Rat was rapping.  It seemed only Count Duckula and Danger Mouse had the integrity to know that it's a shit idea to take something rebellious and edgy and turn it into marshmallow.  The blade's still there and a whole generation of kids grow up with bleeding gums and the sense that when words rhyme there's a sickly moral creeping in between the lines.  To put it into context, this is what Ice T was doing at the same time.

Twenty two years down the line, experience has shown me the fictional nature of the dichotomies which my mind creates.  In my mind a film which contains a shocking, Gorgonzola rap could not also be a super-modern revelation about the myriad of possibilities for cohabitation.  In truth, there is not this or that.  It's always this and/or that.  The term mutually exclusive should be used sparingly as it relates to situations which seldom arise.  Just as two human beings who share wildly differing beliefs are also capable of sharing a burning passion, so, also, poor simplistic poetic form can coexist alongside more insightful philosophy.  

This realization is summed up exemplified in the quote "Try it Edward, you'll like it."  On first glance some things seem a bit odd.  Embrace the odd.  Eat the liver mousse.  Sit through the film entitled 'The [insert abstract noun]'.  Accompany your strange friend to a poetry event (14th September, 6pm, No 5 Cafe, Cedar Square, Blackpool).  Maybe now is not the time for agreeing to an unconventional living arrangement but who's to say where the liver mousse will take you?



Anonymous said...

If you don't try poetic form you miss out on too much. You may not want to do it all the time but now and again is A Good Thing. Don't know about liver mousse tho.

Ashley R Lister said...

If memory (and wikipedia) serve me correctly, this film was originally based on a French movie: Trois hommes et un couffin. (

The French don't do many things well but they do accommodate kinky sex better than any other country.

The French gave us the Marquis de Sade. Everything good in the bedroom (knickers, letters and kissing) is always improved with the word French in front of it.

Excellent thought provoking post that had me cringing at the memory of those rap lines.