Can the good Sikh doctor help a troubled boy and his jerk father, played by Gerard Butler, or is it all a Sikh joke? Gerard Butler plays a jerk recruiter / father, Dane Jensen, in "A Family Man," a movie written by a former recruiter himself, Bill Dubuque.
It's doubtful that Dubuque is as thoughtless as Dane Jensen, the man Butler plays. But it is possible that Dubuque has met some recruiters like Jensen, or worked with many of them. Dubuque poses quite often with his wife at nearly all movie premieres, including The Accountant (another of his writing credits), so it would seem that he does not play the unreformed Dane Jensen in real life.
In this case, Butler plays a busy, amoral recruiting executive at a firm with an end justifies the means ethic. That means he has little time for his wife or family, unless it means sexual favors for him.
“A am a headhunter. I am the purest form of salesman alive. I sail the American dream. I make money out of thin air, smoke. I stand on the shoulders of giants. The hardest of hardened salesmen. Bible salesmen. (Unintelligible). We are a wolf pack of commission sales jockeys - working 70 hours a week without a net. The repo man and a grocery store. This job is a desk, a phone, a chair, and your ass.”
Here is the IMDB description of the movie:
“A headhunter whose life revolves around closing deals in a survival-of-the-fittest boiler room, battles his top rival for control of their job placement company -- his dream of owning the company clashing with the needs of his family.”
As usual, this is an incomplete and inaccurate description of the movie, and is probably the one promoted by the studio.
The movie plot is consistent with this theme: married men are often portrayed as unfeeling, uncaring, self-centered jerks. Stay at home Moms make the decision to stay at home with their children because they don't have any other choices and have no marketable skills. They don't become stay at home Moms because it's more important to the husband and wife for one person, in most cases the mother, to spend more time with their children than at an office. As well, the Christian religion is typically portrayed as one taken up by people who are not smart. It's okay for the doctor trying to heal a sick child to be a follower of any kind of any religion, so long as they are not Christian. The doctor could be Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, or Muslim, so long as it's not a Christ follower.
This movie is true to form in most of these requirements. As though they don't know the difference, many movie reviewers, TV writers, often pander to people making movies, including actors, producers, script-writers.
A Sikh turban-wearing doctor is portrayed as the reasonable religious man, because Dane Jensen doesn't have any religion or just believes in himself. Here is a conversation between Jensen's sick son and the doctor:
Dr. Sing, the Sikh.
Ryan in the hospital bed: Your hat, why do you wear it.
Dr. Sing: My turban represents my constant devotion to my religion.
Ryan: What do Sikhs believe?
Dr. Sing: "It’s my experience that all religions are some version of what comes around goes around. We believe in the dignity of everyone regardless of race, age, man, woman. A devout Sikh will protect all life, the poor and the weak. Ryan, if I could take your sickness on myself and away from you I would." He takes Ryan's hand and kisses it.
This is a bizarre description of religions - that they all believe in Karma? If that's the case, Ryan could be paying for the transgressions of other people. There is no reason to hope at all. Why try to make him better? The God of the Bible orders things, created the world, allowed his Son to die on a cross. That's not what comes around goes around. That's one man taking the punishment that we deserve so evil does not come around and hit us in the face. That's real compassion, and real caring.
Sikhs still have a caste system that keeps people groups separated. It's the land of the untouchables. In the state of Punjab, the Sikhs have engineered a great caste system that is designed to keep people apart based on their heritage. Sikhs are prejudiced against certain castes, lower castes from birth to the grave, from the time they are born to when they die. In India, many Sikhs believe in the dignity of every person, so long as they stay in their caste.
We actually see some of this in Jensen. He treats people differently depending on what they can do for him. There are more than a dozen examples of careless, rude, mean behavior by Jensen in the movie. Here are just a few: he insults his daughter's hair; it's messy and he tells her so; he compares his son to a Willy Wonka chocolate eating kid because of his stomach; he yells at a receptionist; he labels prospects as closet atheists and NASCAR devotees; he lies about a prospect being a sex offender, claiming to be the FBI, just so he can make a sale.
And Elise Jensen gets treated the same as Dale Jensen treats his prospects. Elise Jensen's son Ryan, can't do anything for the class because he's sick, so the teacher uses his desk for storage. Elise complains about stuff piled on his desk when she visits Ryan's class because he missed school.
Elise: Keep your shit off my son’s desk.
She has a point. Why would a teacher use her son's desk as storage space for the class, and give permission to other students to dump things on it? It's a thoughtless action on the teacher's part. It sends the message that the student is forgotten by the teacher and the class. But it also sends the message that stay at home Moms don't deserve common courtesy or respect. The teacher does, because she is working, earning a salary.
Jensen is under pressure from Willem Dafoe, who plays his boss, Ed Blackridge. Blackridge's favorite insults are num nuts and fuck nuts.: Because Jensen is feeling the pressure of his job, from Blackridge, he takes it out on his wife, Elise, (played by Gretchen Mol) and her family - during Thanksgiving, when they are gathered around the table. She complains about him taking a call from Blackridge during the meal. What boss would call during Thanksgiving meal? What husband would take it during Thanksgiving meal?
"You (Elise) don’t want me to work so hard, fine. After dinner we’ll put together your resume together. and you go get a job. Elise Jensen: 10 years experience as a stay at home mom; skilled in potty training, play dates and Pinterest. They’re just going to snap you up. Maybe you’ll go down to St. Cecelia’s (Ryan's hospital?) and see if they can buy that doctor Mom bullshit and put you on the payroll. (Missed dialogue). Or the clothes you wear, or the 10 grand loan we gave your brother two years ago that he seems to have forgotten about. Elise look how lucky we are. We don’t ever have to tell the kids there’s no Santa because as long as I can magically continue to pull the mortgage out of my ass. I’m Santa fucking Clause 365 days a year. I lost the month, I took October and lost November."
Her response: "I’m sorry that you think I’m taking you for granted. I know you work hard for us. The job I could I find is not what you (or your boss) would consider worthwhile. My skills are not what you would consider marketable. But I know how to prioritize."
He's lucky he got off with just that. Most wives wouldn't be having sex with him for at least a month.
In the end, Jensen has a dramatic turn around. But in all, it's a sad representation of married men and stay at home Moms.
© 2018 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
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