Fatal Attraction and the Stamina of the “Rabbit Boiler,” Dating Culture’s Most Toxic Stereotype

Michael Douglas’ Dan ultimately finds himself with his life and family (barring a fluffy pet) intact. And as the erotic thriller progressed through the 1990s, Douglas would star in other problematic examples of the genre, which positioned powerful, independent women as a threat, including Basic Instinct (1992), in which he played a detective coveting an enigmatic novelist. and serial killer played by Sharon Stone, and Disclosure (1994) starring Demi Moore. Longworth describes the latter as “a boss sexually harassing her male subordinate as part of a scheme to cover up her own professional incompetence. So you get both ways in terms of panicking. To express the fear of the strong woman at work and satisfy people who think that women in positions of power over men must be incompetent and probably did something despicable to get there.

But outside of Douglas’ work, the “bunny boiler” figure has become even more absurd as culture and its cinema have done ridiculous mental gymnastics to make men the victims of women. The 90s saw the media portray Monica Lewinsky and Anita Hill as the obsessively manipulative seductresses of a President, Bill Clinton, and a Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, respectively. And Longworth’s current series of You Must Remember This, Erotic ’90s, will discuss movies like Poison Ivy (1992) and The Crush (1993) where grown men face “bunny boilers” who are 16 and 14 respectively. . “I have several episodes that I do on what I call ’90s Lolita’ which was a huge trend,” she says with a sigh. For Longworth, while Fatal Attraction’s treatment of Alex left much to be desired, she was at least a 36-year-old adult – whereas, she says, subsequent 90s films suggested that “if you’re a teenager sexy, if you have the power to excite a grown man, you should be treated like a grown woman.”

While this particularly noxious variety of Fatal Attraction spinoff may have been a short-lived fad, the larger “rabbit boiler” concept has endured and had a pernicious effect on future generations of women. “I also work in the field of domestic violence, and the ‘crazy ex’ is a very powerful tool in grooming a new victim,” says Conroy. “Saying, ‘oh, you know, I have this really difficult ex-partner. She’s crazy. She lies all the time.’ You see it all the time with multiple attackers.”

A disappointing remake

For those who come to the post-#Metoo Paramount adaptation thinking that having it developed and directed by women would mean a fresh take on the “crazy ex”, and that this time Alex wouldn’t be such a “rabbit boiler”…well, there’s bad news. If anything, from the episodes I’ve seen, Caplan’s Alex is less sympathetic and more manic than his predecessor – while Jackson’s Dan is sweeter, more endearing and ultimately portrayed as even more of a victim of the schemes. crafty women as the embodiment of Douglas. As for that bunny? Showrunner Alex Cunningham has confirmed that although a bunny will appear, there will be no bunny murders at any point in the new series, although it does serve as a nod to that infamous scene.

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