Mar 4, 2014

Caddyshack: Masculine Women and Feminine Men

Danny gawks at Lacey, while his girlfriend gags
I saw Caddyshack (1980) during the summer after my sophomore year in college, shortly after I got back from my disastrous move to Omaha. It didn't make any sense to me then, and it doesn't now.  It seems to be several movies crammed into one.

1.  A snooty, easily riled judge (Ted Knight) runs the snooty Bushwood Country Club, where he butts heads with goldenboy golfer Ty (Chevy Chase) and boorish millionaire Czervik (Rodney Dangerfield).

2. There's some mild social critique: the club is restricted, no African-Americans or Jews.

3, The judge has boorish grandchildren and a niece, Lacey Underall, who sleeps with everyone she can find.

4. There's some class competition between the club snobs and the salt-of-the-earth caddies, who get to use the country club pool for 15 minutes once a year.  Somebody drops a candy bar in the pool.

5. The main caddy, Danny (Michael O'Keefe), butts heads with the more muscular Tony (Scott Colomby of One Day at a Time), sleeps with Lacey, has a pregnancy scare with his girlfriend, and wins a Caddy Scholarship so he can go to college.

6. Carl Spackler (Bill Murray) is a sleazy groundskeeper who keeps making visual penis gags (e.g., a water hose between his legs), and spends the movie fighting an animatronic gopher.  At the end of the movie, he blows up the golf course, and everybody dances.

Tony becomes Lacey's latest conquest

So is this absurdist comedy, nerd comedy, gross-out comedy, social satire, or what?

There are three things I'm sure of.

1. There are no gay slurs.

Most 1980s teen comedies have the characters spouting off against "fags" every five minutes, but there are no gay slurs at all. There are even a few minor gay references, as when Czernik is asked if he wants a driver (golf club) and quips "No, he's not my type.", or when Tony jumps up and down trying to spy on Danny and Lacey's tryst.

2. There is significant beefcake, if you like guys who are skinny and androgynous. Shirtless scenes, swimming pool scenes, underwear scenes while preparing for sex.

3. Androgyny is the rule.

Tony, the "hunk," is only mildly muscular, and Danny is downright skinny.  They both have big hair and pretty, androgynous faces.

Lacey is portrayed as the epitome of feminine beauty, so attractive that when she enters a room, every man's jaw drops.  However, she differs considerably from the 1980s "big everything" ideal of Lonnie Anderson and Dolly Parton, with short hair, a skinny frame, and breasts smaller than Tony's pecs.

Danny's "plain" girlfriend is likewise short-haired and small-framed.

Ty wants to be a human being
Tony has a little brother, Joey, who caddies with him.  But in a pivotal scene, the baseball cap comes off, and the boy turns out to be a girl.

Do feminine men sleeping with masculine women add up to gay symbolism?

Maybe the point is: gender should be irrelevant.  Be with whoever you want. As Ty said, "Let's pretend we're really human beings" (not masculine and feminine stereotypes).

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