'The Contender' set me on fire. Now it's a cringe factory.

I have been working in journalism since I left college. I know the work doesn’t age well – that there is a direct one-on-one exchange ab...


I have been working in journalism since I left college. I know the work doesn’t age well – that there is a direct one-on-one exchange about the relevance of an article when it is published how much you are not going to brag about having it. written years later – with lines you wrote just for humor and questions about someone’s past, body or addictions that you didn’t have the sense to realize were out of reach. Or even if they weren’t technically, that you should have avoided them all the same out of decency. I wrote articles where I thought I was on the right side of the story and it often took seeing them in print, or revisiting them years later, to realize how horrible my views were.

But that’s not my main point here; my main point is that I watched “The Contender” in 2000, at the age of 24, thinking that if a direct response to the sexism of the moment could land in theaters, that we had achieved cutting edge progress in regarding feminism. .

But what am I applauding? What was this movie really about? Was this the way women are received in the world? Or was it about not being allowed to ask Bill Clinton about his sex life? Wait, was that a pro-Clinton movie at the end?

And yet he was progress – at the time, at least. Hearing Hanson say that there were questions you couldn’t ask her, that her life was personal to her, that the world had no right to judge her for that was something I didn’t. had never seen before. It left me tottering with the possibility. But I didn’t know that one day I wouldn’t be able to tell if his micro-attacks were intentional. I had no idea that one day I would read my own work and realize that the stories I had presented as examples of how the world goes would be offensive in themselves. The point is, if you live long enough, even the most progressive idea will be anachronistic, and you will be the jerk who once started it. We call it all kinds of bad stuff today, but it’s actually called progress.

At the time, I never imagined that there was more progress to be made. I arrived here in 2021, now finding “The Contender” adorably, offensively retro, and wondering if what I consider subversively progressive now will look out of date 20 years from now. I wondered what I would think of this movie if I was younger and had to watch it. I would see how there were no non-white characters or a sense of intersectionality; I would watch the central character – the one in the movie poster – do nothing and say almost the same for an hour and a half and turn him off.

It turns out that progress is not something to be achieved; its most robust presentation is the understanding that you will never reach it. No, it is the understanding that you will never reach it and that you cannot predict why from the moment you stand. In this way, “The Contender” is the essence of progress. So are my stupid old magazine profiles; So is this essay, probably. This is progress. It’s the ability to look at what you loved 20 years ago and view it with disgust.

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Newsrust - US Top News: 'The Contender' set me on fire. Now it's a cringe factory.
'The Contender' set me on fire. Now it's a cringe factory.
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