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Incredible Shrinking Man - question

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leno...@yahoo.com

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Dec 30, 2012, 10:58:52 PM12/30/12
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I seem to remember a critic's writing that the movie was a metaphor for the shrinking role of the American male in an increasingly mechanised world. Or something like that.

Does anyone know who said that?

Lenona.

Mack A. Damia

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Dec 30, 2012, 11:05:40 PM12/30/12
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On Sun, 30 Dec 2012 19:58:52 -0800 (PST), leno...@yahoo.com wrote:

> the shrinking role of the American male in an increasingly mechanised world

I thought it was cold water.

--


Tom

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Dec 31, 2012, 12:35:22 AM12/31/12
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trotsky

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Dec 31, 2012, 6:36:38 AM12/31/12
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Do women know about shrinkage?

Mack A. Damia

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Dec 31, 2012, 8:08:37 AM12/31/12
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Knowledge is feeling.

--


edju

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Dec 31, 2012, 11:10:22 PM12/31/12
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"I don't know how you guys walk around with those things."

RichA

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Dec 31, 2012, 11:34:54 PM12/31/12
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It was about a guy who gets irradiated and starts to shrink down. He
gets to fight with a spider, etc. Metaphors are for critics who need
to fill column space.

gtr

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Jan 1, 2013, 2:50:40 AM1/1/13
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I wonder myself...

Mack A. Damia

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Jan 1, 2013, 2:56:27 AM1/1/13
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I strap mine to my ankle.

--


leno...@yahoo.com

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Jan 6, 2013, 4:01:03 PM1/6/13
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Well, it seems I should have read Richard Matheson's book ("The Shrinking Man") instead. (BTW, I think I first heard of the ideas I mentioned above some years ago.)

From 2012:

https://www.worldswithoutend.com/novel_review.asp?ID=2026

"......Carey is not always particularly sympathetic, although you have to admit he is facing extraordinary challenges. But when he is difficult to his wife, family, media, and the doctors eager to study his condition, he is fighting for his dignity as a human being -- and more specifically as an American male of the 1950's. That last angle must stand out more strongly now that when the book was written, but the scenes where he confronts a drunken pedophile who mistakes him for a young teen, or mindlessly vicious, 1950's-style juvenile delinquents are painful reading. Even more excruciating is Matheson's chronicle of Carey's deteriorating relationship with his wife....."


http://www.metafilter.com/99211/Writemare-at-20000-feet

"I don't remember why I watched Omega Man a few years ago, but it inspired me to read I Am Legend. Which made me realize Matheson existed, so I also read The Incredible Shrinking Man. Wow, what a misogynistic novel that is. It seems to pretty clearly be about the shrinking role/power of men in a world where women are getting the rights they were missing for so long. The protagonist really hates women. (There's also a pretty creepy chapter involving a lost little boy, IIRC, which brings a whole new level into it.)"

posted by DU at 7:07 PM on January 4, 2011


And Susan Faludi hinted at a metaphor for the "middle-class white American male" in her 1999 tome, "Stiffed."

Also see pages 134-135 in the 2005 book "Manhood and American Political Culture in the Cold War."
http://books.google.com/books?id=IREMhOPMEtoC&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=%22incredible+shrinking+man%22+%22american+male%22&source=bl&ots=VBgU51uOjN&sig=5IxBwLwrVkcgIFOB5KrUfWDoY0s&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22incredible%20shrinking%20man%22%20%22american%20male%22&f=false

And from 2010, here's a review of the play "The Return of the Incredible Shrinking Man." (I take it that it premiered near Carmel, CA, but I'm not sure.)
http://www.pcnr.com/news/2010-02-17/The_Arts/Incredible_Shrinking_Man_Premieres_at_Depot_Theatr.html


BTW, I also stumbled on the article below, from March. (I haven't read it yet, so while the general ideas look familiar, I don't know if it's more sympathetic to men or women.) There are more than 100 comments.

http://www.phillymag.com/articles/the-sorry-lives-and-confusing-times-of-today-s-young-men/

Excerpt:

"....Gender identity, sociologists say, is developed oppositionally. If boys see girls behaving in a certain way—working hard and excelling in school—they define masculinity in opposite terms: A real man doesn’t work hard at school or get good grades. The more that women try to set an example of responsible adult behavior, the more the guys shout along with the band Deer Tick: 'We’re full-grown men but we act like kids!'...."

I.e., boys supposedly can't stand to compete with girls who actually compete to win in school instead of playing dumb to attract boys, the way they used to. So the boys drop out, more or less.


Lenona.

gtr

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Jan 6, 2013, 4:15:49 PM1/6/13
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On 2013-01-06 21:01:03 +0000, leno...@yahoo.com said:

> I.e., boys supposedly can't stand to compete with girls who actually
> compete to win in school instead of playing dumb to attract boys, the
> way they used to. So the boys drop out, more or less.

It's so much easier to understand boys and girls when you realize they
all adhere to a single mindset and set of mores.

madar...@gmail.com

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Jan 7, 2013, 10:10:57 AM1/7/13
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When I was in 6th Grade, I worked harder at excelling when the girl I liked praised me for being so smart. Of course, it would take a few years for me to learn that good grades didn't get girls.

SLGreg

unread,
Jan 7, 2013, 1:32:02 PM1/7/13
to
<madar...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Sunday, January 6, 2013 4:01:03 PM UTC-5, leno...@yahoo.com wrote:
>> On Monday, December 31, 2012 11:34:54 PM UTC-5, RichA wrote:
>>
>>> On Dec 30, 10:58 pm, lenona...@yahoo.com wrote:
>>
>>>
>>
>>>> I seem to remember a critic's writing that the movie was a metaphor
>>>> for the shrinking role of the American male in an increasingly
>>>> mechanised world. Or something like that.
>>
>>>
>>
>>>>
>>
>>>
>>
>>>> Does anyone know who said that?
>>
>>>
>>
>>>>
>>
>>>
>>
>>>> Lenona.
>>
>>>
>>
>>>
>>
>>>
>>
>>> It was about a guy who gets irradiated and starts to shrink down. He
>>
>>>
>>
>>> gets to fight with a spider, etc. Metaphors are for critics who need
>>
>>>
>>
>>> to fill column space.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Well, it seems I should have read Richard Matheson's book ("The
>> Shrinking Man") instead. (BTW, I think I first heard of the ideas I
>> mentioned above some years ago.)
>>
>>
>>
>> From 2012:
>>
>>
>>
>> https://www.worldswithoutend.com/novel_review.asp?ID 26
>>
>>
>>
>> "......Carey is not always particularly sympathetic, although you have
>> to admit he is facing extraordinary challenges. But when he is difficult
>> to his wife, family, media, and the doctors eager to study his
>> condition, he is fighting for his dignity as a human being -- and more
>> specifically as an American male of the 1950's. That last angle must
>> stand out more strongly now that when the book was written, but the
>> scenes where he confronts a drunken pedophile who mistakes him for a
>> young teen, or mindlessly vicious, 1950's-style juvenile delinquents are
>> painful reading. Even more excruciating is Matheson's chronicle of
>> Carey's deteriorating relationship with his wife....."
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> http://www.metafilter.com/99211/Writemare-at-20000-feet
>>
>>
>>
>> "I don't remember why I watched Omega Man a few years ago, but it
>> inspired me to read I Am Legend. Which made me realize Matheson existed,
>> so I also read The Incredible Shrinking Man. Wow, what a misogynistic
>> novel that is. It seems to pretty clearly be about the shrinking
>> role/power of men in a world where women are getting the rights they
>> were missing for so long. The protagonist really hates women. (There's
>> also a pretty creepy chapter involving a lost little boy, IIRC, which
>> brings a whole new level into it.)"
>>
>>
>>
>> posted by DU at 7:07 PM on January 4, 2011
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> And Susan Faludi hinted at a metaphor for the "middle-class white
>> American male" in her 1999 tome, "Stiffed."
>>
>>
>>
>> Also see pages 134-135 in the 2005 book "Manhood and American Political
>> Culture in the Cold War."
>>
>> http://books.google.com/books?id=IREMhOPMEtoC&pg=PA135&lpg=PA135&dq=%22incredible+shrinking+man%22+%22american+male%22&source=bl&ots=VBgU51uOjN&sig=5IxBwLwrVkcgIFOB5KrUfWDoY0s&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22incredible%20shrinking%20man%22%20%22american%20male%22&fúlse
>>
>>
>>
>> And from 2010, here's a review of the play "The Return of the Incredible
>> Shrinking Man." (I take it that it premiered near Carmel, CA, but I'm not sure.)
>>
>> http://www.pcnr.com/news/2010-02-17/The_Arts/Incredible_Shrinking_Man_Premieres_at_Depot_Theatr.html
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> BTW, I also stumbled on the article below, from March. (I haven't read
>> it yet, so while the general ideas look familiar, I don't know if it's
>> more sympathetic to men or women.) There are more than 100 comments.
>>
>>
>>
>> http://www.phillymag.com/articles/the-sorry-lives-and-confusing-times-of-today-s-young-men/
>>
>>
>>
>> Excerpt:
>>
>>
>>
>> "....Gender identity, sociologists say, is developed oppositionally. If
>> boys see girls behaving in a certain way working hard and excelling in
>> school they define masculinity in opposite terms: A real man doesn t
>> work hard at school or get good grades. The more that women try to set
>> an example of responsible adult behavior, the more the guys shout along
>> with the band Deer Tick: 'We re full-grown men but we act like kids!'...."
>>
>>
>>
>> I.e., boys supposedly can't stand to compete with girls who actually
>> compete to win in school instead of playing dumb to attract boys, the
>> way they used to. So the boys drop out, more or less.
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Lenona.
>
> When I was in 6th Grade, I worked harder at excelling when the girl I
> liked praised me for being so smart. Of course, it would take a few
> years for me to learn that good grades didn't get girls.

Men respond more favorably to recognition of their accomplishments; women
their identities. It's a Mars/Venus thing...and one of the secrets to
unlocking the universe.
--
greg

leno...@yahoo.com

unread,
Jan 10, 2013, 5:30:31 PM1/10/13
to

> Well, it seems I should have read Richard Matheson's book ("The Shrinking Man") instead. (BTW, I think I first heard of the ideas I mentioned above some years ago.)

I can't seem to find any really old professional reviews of the book, but here's something older than everything else I listed (from Wikipedia: note that the book it cites is from 1996 - I don't know if it's a direct quotation from that book or not):

"Carey's notion of masculinity is based on his notion of man's superiority over women, and he fears losing his privileges along with his height.[1] He sees himself becoming something other, a child or feminine, such as in the scene with the child molester in the car, or beaten-up by the local roughs.[1] He compensates by lusting after the baby sitter, but this backfires when he is caught and shamed, leading to a deeper blow to his ego.[1] He fears becoming an object of desire by others, such as in his fears of becoming a media spectacle.[1] 'He fears losing his superiority and significance as a man, and becoming subordinate to others power and authority.'[1] The novel turns on his ability to overcome these fears, characterized by attempting to find food, kill the spider and escape the basement, and in the process achieve a new normality beyond his former straight-jacketed white middle class suburban role as family man.[1]"


1. Mark Jancovich. Rational fears: American horror in the 1950s, Manchester University Press ND, 1996. Pg. 158-63

About Jancovich's book:

"This re-assessment of 1950s American horror films relates them to the cultural debates of the period and to other examples of the horror genre: novels and comics. Through close analysis of a wide range of films such as 'I Was a Teenage Werewolf' and 'Creature of the Black Lagoon' Mark Jancovich argues that horror films of the 1950s developed a critique of conservatism, conformity, mass society and masculinity. In addition, he claims that while many critics have seen contemporary horror as the product of a 'break' with that of the 1950s, most of the key elements within recent horror films and novels were actually established during this time."

And:

"Horror film is an increasingly visible topic of research, as demonstrated by these two books, which attempt to balance textual analysis and historical inquiry with different degrees of success. Jancovich (Horror, Trafalgar Square, 1994) targets the 1950s in his scholarly treatment of titles like The Thing from Another World, The Day the Earth Stood Still, It Came from Outer Space, and Creature from the Black Lagoon. Refuting the usual interpretation that such films display Cold War paranoia, he shows how American 1950s horror cinema offered a critique of consumer culture, masculinity, and scientific rationality. His insightful reassessment links 1950s horror cinema to novels and comics and concludes with a section on how films of the period established conventions and themes that would be revisited by Hollywood during the Reagan years. A good addition for most film collections. Senn's filmography of 1930s horror cinema is simultaneously less scholarly than Jancovich and more dubious in its final effect. Golden Horrors contains entries for 46 films, with each entry divided into sections on memorable moments, assets, liabilities, reviews, and production notes. Synopses occupy too much space, and Senn's evaluations comprise a bland mix of fannish enthusiasm and low-level film analysis. His samples from contemporary reviews are illuminating but too often limited to Variety and the New York Times. His production notes are always informative, however. Additional depth would be welcome, especially in one of the appendixes, which supplies more than 50 pages in minuscule type of borderline horrors, rare films, and foreign titles. While Senn (Fantastic Cinema, McFarland, 1992) undoubtedly knows his topic, it is doubtful that the publisher packaged his knowledge in a manner that will benefit any library."

And while you're at it, check out "Seeing Is Believing: How Hollywood Taught Us to Stop Worrying and Love the Fifties" by Peter Biskind. Very intelligent. There are at least three editions - the one I have has a cover that shows Michael Landon about to bite what's-her-name.

http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Believing-Hollywood-Worrying-Fifties/dp/0805065636/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357856745&sr=1-1&keywords=seeing+is+believing+biskind

However, it does not mention "The Incredible Shrinking Man."

Lenona.

Lenona

unread,
Feb 2, 2024, 4:41:53 PMFeb 2
to
I don't remember doing a search for "metaphor" before, but anyway...

https://www.academymuseum.org/en/programs/detail/the-incredible-shrinking-man-0185991e-8aa4-2000-0aaa-77e791fe1d90

OK, so it's from last year.

Quote:

"After a radioactive fog descends upon a couple while boating, Scott Carey (Grant Williams) starts to notice he’s getting smaller. When medical experts confirm he is shrinking, his life is upended as he adjusts to his miniscule new reality. Using state-of-the-art special effects and maintaining the terror of Richard Matheson’s 1956 novel, this science fiction classic uses the metaphor of diminished size to analyze the decreasing influence of masculinity in 1950s American society..."

And, more importantly:

https://durnmoosemovies.wordpress.com/2013/04/09/when-science-and-philosophy-both-go-awry-the-incredible-shrinking-man-1957/


April 9, 2013 ~ Michael Laws

"In talking about the 1957 version of The Incredible Shrinking Man, which I recently had a chance to give a big-screen revisit thanks to its inclusion as part of Universal’s 100 Anniversary re-release celebration, Richard Matheson, who not only wrote the novel that it’s based on but adapted (along with Richard Alan Simmons) the novel for the screen, has said 'My original story was a metaphor for how man’s place in the world was diminishing. That still holds today, where all these advancements that are going to save us will be our undoing.' Perhaps that explains the reasoning behind the seemingly somewhat out of nowhere soliloquy at the end of the movie, but it also points out why, in the end, that last bit of voice-over just didn’t work for me."

(The rest of the essay is loaded with spoilers.)

And:

https://scifist.net/2023/08/20/the-incredible-shrinking-man/

This is about the movie and gender roles.

I also stumbled on this - it's from a religious website (but there's no reference to the movie):

https://www.thetrumpet.com/10305-the-incredible-shrinking-man

Quote:

...It’s a proven, demonstrable aftereffect: In areas where they compete, women’s success tends to discourage men. You can attribute this to chauvinism, sexist indoctrination or whatever you would like, but it is real, and it is powerful. “What happens when women outperform men?” asked Sandy Hingston in Philadelphia Magazine. “Men withdraw from the field” (March 2012). Once they see that women are providing for themselves, they lose interest in taking over that job.

“Gender identity, sociologists say, is developed oppositionally,” Hingston wrote. “If boys see girls behaving in a certain way—working hard and excelling in school—they define masculinity in opposite terms: A real man doesn’t work hard at school or get good grades.”

This effect is apparent throughout the workforce. As women enter a profession, men lose interest in it. As Rosin details in her book, men are abandoning more and more jobs while women rush in to fill the void. Women’s options for employment keep expanding as men surrender them.

The upshot of all this, Rosin says, is “the emergence of an American matriarchy, where the younger men especially are unmoored,and closer than at any other time in history to being obsolete—at least by most traditional measures of social utility. And the women are left picking up the pieces.”...




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