The Good Place's Take On Toxic Masculinity And Problematic Men Is Hilariously Spot On

Brent Norwalk is the forking worst.

SPOILERS for The Good Place season 4 so be warned!

The Good Place has tackled a number of tough topics – such as refugees and AI – with its trademark zany philosophical zeal over the course of its run. Now it’s decided to take on a big topic that’s loomed large ever since the MeToo movement started: can problematic men doused in oodles of toxic masculinity become better people?

The basic premise for The Good Place‘s fourth (and final) season revolves around proving that humans can genuinely improve themselves morally via a grand experiment involving four unknowing humans.

One of these test subjects is Brent Norwalk, who is essentially problematic men and toxic masculinity personified. To quote Eleanor, he’s the type of dude who was “born on third base, thinks he invented the game of baseball.”

In a show where there are literal demons, Brent somehow still comes off as the literal worst.

In just two episodes (so far), Brent has shown himself to be an entitled, misogynistic white man who coasted on a wave of nepotism and thinks the sun shines out of his own ash. You know, the sort of dude who would be exposed right away by the MeToo movement.

While there are plenty of laughs to be had at Brent and his toxicity, The Good Place isn’t content and is too good to just poke fun at problematic men. Rather, he is the show’s attempt at answering the difficult question of whether a man who embodies toxic masculinity can redeem himself.

There hasn’t been a clean answer (so far) and The Good Place has used Brent as a moral development test dummy, such as attempting (and failing) to instill self-awareness or shatter his obnoxious self-regard.

But because Brent is a forking ashhole, Eleanor and Michael resorted to direct manipulation in order to get him to perform good deeds, which is nice albeit “saddled with a bad motivation.

This isn’t the end of The Good Place‘s examination into MeToo and problematic men as it’s clear that Brent will play a big part in episodes to come so perhaps there’s an answer coming down the road.

Redemption for problematic men is far more complex in the real world than it is on The Good Place and it’s been a question everyone has been wrestling with when it comes for folks who are trying to mount comebacks after being exposed as scum.

But perhaps when Brent’s journey on The Good Place is over, we’ll have some clearer idea on whether it problematic men can indeed be redeemed and whether this will help us out in the real world. If not, well, at least we had a heap of laughs along the way.

Feminists Have A Way Better Time In Bed, That's Just Science

Science once again asking life's biggest questions.

Not everyone out there is fully onboard the feminism train and that’s perfectly fine. Everyone is free to believe in what they want. But here’s a reason why anti-feminists may want to consider swapping teams: science says feminists have a hell of a lot more orgasms during sex.

According to a study published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 462 heterosexual women from the UK were surveyed about their worldviews such as political ideology, religious beliefs, sexist and gendered beliefs, as well as their sexual beliefs and history.

After compiling all the data, researchers found that those who held anti-feminist views had faked way more orgasms over their lifetime compared to feminists.

So according to science, this means Sally is a raging anti-feminist.

Now that’s not to say only anti-feminists faked orgasms as 77% of the surveyed women in the study said they faked it when in bed. Other extenuating factors such as partner’s sexual skill (which unsurprisingly led to less orgasms) concerns over infidelity (which led to a higher likelihood of faking it), time management or trying to end bad sex quickly, played a big part in whether a woman faked an orgasm.

But perhaps the most interesting finding from this very scientific study was how gender ideology and beliefs factored into the frequency of real splooshes.

The study found that women who held anti-feminist or hostile sexism views fake orgasms more frequently compared to feminists and it has nothing to do with physical capabilities, as study author Emily A. Harris explains:

“Specifically, women who think that a man needs them to orgasm in order for that man to feel satisfied are going to feel greater pressure to orgasm, and will be more likely to fake her orgasms.

“Women who hold anti-feminist attitudes don’t have anything holding them back from faking orgasm, whereas women who adopt a feminist worldview may not fake orgasm because it goes against her belief in a woman’s right to pleasure, and her right to talk about sex openly.”

As interesting as these results are, the study isn’t perfect as it only looks into the experience of heterosexual women. Harris says further research into the topic is needed, particularly for women who aren’t with male partners, as well as additional insight into questions such as how faking an orgasm makes the “faker” and their partner feel.

So for those heterosexual women who are on the feminist fence and need a nudge in one direction, science just gave you a very good – and pleasurable reason – to fall into the feminist camp.

James Franco Is Being Sued For Sexual Exploitation And The Allegations Will Make You Rage

Just another instance in a history of problematic behaviour.

The MeToo movement has been a watershed moment in Hollywood and now it’s pulled the curtain back on the problematic behaviour another famous celebrity: James Franco is getting sued for “harassment’ and “sexual exploitation.”

As reported by The New York Times, two women, Sarah Tither-Kaplan and Toni Gaal, who attended James Franco’s now-shuttered acting school, Studio 4, have filed a lawsuit against the actor alleging he and his partners “engaged in widespread inappropriate and sexually charged behavior towards female students by sexualising their power as a teacher and an employer by dangling the opportunity for roles in their projects.”

It is alleged the “often young and inexperienced” women who attended Franco’s class were often “pressured” to perform simulated sex scenes that went beyond industry standards. Ms. Tither-Kaplan says not only was she often asked to appear in nude or sex scenes, she alleges Franco removed the plastic guards that covered actresses’ vaginas while he simulated oral sex on them.

Furthermore, prospective students for the actor’s sex scene class had to film an “audition” video – so he can review later – as well as sign away the rights to the recordings. The two women claim this pattern of behaviour led to an “environment of harassment and sexual exploitation” that took place “both in and out of the class.”

We shouldn’t be too surprised that James Franco is the latest victim of the MeToo movement given his history of reported problematic behaviour and alleged sexual exploitation.

In 2018, Tither-Kaplan and four other women spoke with the The Los Angeles Times about Franco’s behaviour and their claims of sexual misconduct is broadly similar to the instances outlined by The New York Times.

This story gained considerable attention at the time and was further bolstered when Tither-Kaplan and Violet Paley, one of the four women who spoke up about the actor’s alleged misconduct to the LA Times, tweeted about Franco after he appeared at the Golden Globes wearing a “Time’s Up” pin.

Going back even further, there was a pretty dodgy incident in 2014 when Franco was caught exchanging messages with a 17-year-old girl and later admitted he was trying to pick her up.

While Franco has publicly supported women’s rights and the MeToo movement when appearing at awards shows and on talk shows, Tither-Kaplan says she hasn’t seen any effort from the actor to learn or change his perspective.

“I can’t sleep at night knowing that my coming forward, originally, did not do the work that I wanted it to do yet.

“There still has been no action, publicly, that shows me that these people know what they did is wrong and harmful and can’t been repeated.”

Representatives for James Franco have yet to respond to the allegations outlined in the lawsuit at the time of writing.


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