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10 Barriers to Healthy Relationships Explored in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon

A blunt film, which some have accused of being pornography, provides unexpected insight into the craft of real human connections.

by
Walter Hudson

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July 16, 2014 - 7:00 am
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Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s directorial style in his debut Don Jon proves a bit jarring. But that fits the blunt, vulgar character he plays in the lead. You have to endure Don Jon to see it for what it is. It tramps deliberately through cliché expectations before finally defying them. Along the way, it explores 10 barriers to healthy relationships encountered in real life.

10. Overvaluing Appearance

As Don Jon begins, Gordon-Levitt’s title character establishes himself as a porn-addicted philandering bachelor whose tastes prove highly superficial. He spends a lot of time at the gym maintaining his physique, and takes great pride in the appearance of his “pad.” Of course, there’s nothing wrong with nutrition, exercise, and cleanliness. It’s Jon’s motivation which deserves scrutiny.

On the prowl with his pack of like-minded friends, Jon rates women at the club on a scale of 1 to 10, basing his assessment solely on physical attributes. Upon meeting his match in the stunning Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), Jon rates her a perfect 10. It’s her sultry appearance that drives Jon to pursue her, and blinds him to the uglier aspects of her personality.

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All Comments   (12)
All Comments   (12)
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I agree #7: Bad Friends can be a factor, but disagree in this case. His friends actually seem rather supportive, and in the end are happy to hang out at a pizza place rather than a singles bar.

I'm also not sure about #8: Religious Hangups. In the context of the movie I saw his visits to confession as more of a tally, telling us how often he was having sex and how often he was using porn. As a director he was able to tell us Jon watched porn 27 times in the last week. In real like I would say more people need religious hangups. The issue with society seems to be more hypocrisy than people who just aren't comfortable with sex because of what their religion teaches.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
For proof of where society and culture are headed, look no further than demeaning of women in a major entertainment forum...Rap music. Repetitious, staccato, renditions of living, love, life and just plain "beingness" are reduced to a base denominator...a big zero.
"Twerking" and other cultural displays of enjoyment are all around anyone of We The People...coupled to this train is the caboose: "substance abuse." Voila! Both societal, cultural American cocktail is complete. Read the Bible. Ephemeral "self love" is extensively talked about throughout several passages in the NKJV. Pray. Amen. God Bless America. God shows us the true self and self worth.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Didn't finish reading this post. Rare that one hears of a movie one is interested in these days. Much more of this theme is needed. The destruction of a man by all that which is about him. At work the other day the guys were chatting about a "turd rating" web site and laughing. Why can't I connect with people anymore? Is there something wrong with me? Will read the rest after I see it. Thanks.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Very good analysis by Mr. Hudson. That is one good example of what the pill has made of our society. Separating sex from procreation has opened a Pandora's box freeing forces that no human being can control all alone. As a result families, societies, economies have been altered. No economy can thrive without population growth. That growth has its challenges but they are natural challenges. Jon and Barbara are destroyed by an age that carefully instrumented a world devoid of any love. We have wandered very far from the times of the Roman de la Rose.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I lose myself"

Translated: "I love myself".

That's it in a nutshell.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe the movie is as good as you say, but I didn't last 10 minutes watching it. Gordon-Levitt's utter contempt for his characters and their milieu ruined it. You can't tell a good or convincing story about people you yourself loathe. JGL should get himself out of the expensive Hollywood cocoon in which he's lived his entire life and actually meet some regular folks if he ever intends to make another film like this one.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I highly recommend watching this movie all the way through. It satirizes by using broad stereotypes, but underneath there's a humanity and relatability to all the main characters, even the Scarlett Johansson character because she's exactly what our culture has taught women to be or want to be. I don't see contempt for the characters and their milieu at all, but rather a movie that is genuinely and ultimately surprisingly sweet, with no-nonsense honesty about the way many of us are raised thanks to culture, tradition, etc. I think there's some of these characters in all of us, the good and the bad, whether we like it or not.

Ultimately what I took from Don Jon was its message about finding genuine human connection in our consumerist, instant-gratification culture that's enforced in everything from our entertainment to the way some of us have come to think about marriage and kids, religion, even the way some of us use our cars! It's a simple but profound and compassionate film that I think everybody should see, esp. in these times. If I'd seen it and taken it to heart when I was younger, it might've saved me from some heartbreaks of my own.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Haven't seen it yet but it kind of reminds me of a better movie from 1987, "Casual Sex" with Lea Thompson, Victoria Jackson and Andrew Dice Clay, young free-love burnouts who have all gone to a Palm Springs resort to get their respective grooves back. The Diceman plays a similar crude meatball neanderthal just out to score whom the heroine regards with utter contempt, but as the movie progresses we see deeper into his character and he just gets more loveable. At the end, a year later, he's gone home and given himself a bit of a makeover. Same guy, just with broader horizons...a bit like Seth Rogan's character in "Knocked Up."
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
' I think there's some of these characters in all of us,
the good and the bad, whether we like it or not.'

That argument is called 'moral equivalence' and it is a damn' lie.
Everybody has evil impulses, most of us resist them, and few of us
feel the urge to excuse them because everybody has them.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
"That argument is called 'moral equivalence' and it is a damn' lie."

No it isn't. He's not saying we're all that way so that makes it ok--that's moral equivalence.

He's saying we can all be better than we are, itself a refutation of the concept of moral equivalence.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
When it comes to consuming pornography,
there are a lot more folks than you think.

If COMCAST and DirecTV and Dish Network couldn't make money offering thirty different adult premium and PPV channels, they wouldn't offer them.

And YouPorn wouldn't be ranked by Alexa as the 118th most popular website in the *world*.

One thing I learned a long time ago is some of the most seemingly strait-laced, upstanding citizens can be remarkably kinky in their own personal sex lives.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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