HORRIBLE BOSSES: Just Red-Band It! (Post 2 of 2)

Since this is a Red Band, age-gated trailer (however porous such a barrier proves in reality, the impulse is nonetheless instructive), obscene language and mature sexual subject matters are emphasized and explicit. Jennifer Anniston, the sexually rapacious dentist, appears in bra and panties, eating suggestively. The button concerns Day’s misguided attempt to hire a specialist in “wet work,” who turns out to be gay escort servicing clients with a urine fetish. Sudeikis’ desire for the former and his friends disgust for the latter rehearses the presumed reaction of the target audience.

Other Red Band content includes various permutations of the F word, a few “bitches,” and a preponderance of names for the male member (dick, dong, penis), which is, I suppose, to be expected in a male buddy film where the protagonists have been symbolically castrated by their employers, male or females. But unlike the case with many other Red Band trailers, “mature” or “obscene” dialogue (Kevin Spacey tells Jason Bateman that he’s his “bitch,” aka, his passive penetratee; Jennifer Anniston asserts her dominance by demanding Dale’s “dong;” Colin Farrell calls Jason Sudeikis “dickwad,” indicating the power differential that obtains.) is neither gratuitous or tangential: it is, in fact, the very marker of their victimization, exhibit A) in their case for revenge.

The dynamic of the film, where the men make common cause over their ill treatment and decide to assert themselves by killing the bosses is a classic reaction formation: our hapless heroes are desperate to assert their turgidity and potency in the face of overwhelming evidence of its absence. In Horrible Bosses, abused men find their “balls” (their mojo, their dignity, their swagger) in sharing their woes and coming together to redress their grievances. Ultimately, they “fuck” (or fuck over) their tormentors, achieving release from their bondage and satisfaction of their own, deeply-sublimated and long frustrated will to dominate. No wonder the trailer–and the movie it heralds, are rhetorically obsessed with the male member.

About Frederick Greene

Entertainment Copywriter & Visiting Assistant Professor, UCLA Dept. of Theater, Film & Television. I teach a graduate seminar in new movie marketing, which focuses on the history, contemporary practice and likely future of a/v advertising for motion picture entertainment.
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