Gigli, rhymes with “much maligned” if the consensus of film reviews is to serve as any kind of rhyming dictionary. Frankly, the only way I’d refer to the consensus of film reviews as any kind of dictionary would be to remove the “tionary” and then I’d look in a real dictionary and find out that to spell the word I’m thinking of correctly I would have to add a “k” as well. And that’s a lot more information than most reviews these days will ever give you. People must think I’m nuts, going against the grain more often than a dyslexic carpenter. It’s a tough job with little satisfaction, but if I get to meet Jennifer Lopez by defending her movies then so be it.
You’ll have to forgive my raving, it’s just that it seems everywhere you look Gigli is trashed. The only people willing to defend it, it seems, are trashed themselves. I spent twenty dollars purchasing my copy of Gigli from Amazon. Twenty dollars! That puts it up there as one of my most expensive single purchases. I had to get it from Amazon because I couldn’t find it at any local stores. Gigli, it seems, is dangerously close to being dropped down the memory hole.
Why, you ask? Critics will say it’s because Gigli is a bad movie, an embarrassment to its director and actors. An assault on the movie going populace. A film, simply put, that no one wants to see. I, however, have different suspicions. It is my belief that there is a conspiracy of social and economic forces directed against Gigli that have little regard for the caliber of its film making, but rather are hell bent on censoring its content. That’s right, with Gigli there is proof that of a conspiracy to keep queer retarded movies out of the common marketplace. Hollywood has long has a history of censoring films which sought to bend the limits of common decency. Well, Gigli bends these limits over a barrel and proceeds to have its way with them. And yes, I mean to be crass, because to appreciate Gigli, one must be willing to let go the social mores: to quote Blake, those mores which “bind up with briar / our joys and desires.” Gigli is both a joy and a desire, and the mission of this review is to save it from misguided critical obscurity.
To appreciate Gigli is to appreciate the vulgarity of life. Its central effects come from juxtaposing the tame with the off-color. A little deconstruction goes a long way in making my point. Let’s say Gigli could be broadly defined as a romantic comedy. But it makes problematic this very phrase. Word by word: It’s romantic, but the romance is between a lesbian and heterosexual. Taboo! It’s comedic, but its comedy is centered around making fun of a retard. Taboo! From this alone, we already see the problems Gigli intentionally sets up for itself and the audience to grapple with. Can we as viewers in the 21st century be okay with this conflicts of terms, or should we build a time machine and return to the 19th century and sit around reading books?
A basic tenet of feminist, queer, and orientalist theory, is that we define the self by the other. Man is defined in relationship to woman, queer in relationship to straight, West in relationship to East. Th
We begin with a black screen and Gigli’s voice telling us we “just never know where you might end up.” We then cut to Gigli, played by Ben Affleck, staring into the camera and continuing his speech. We tell from the background of washers that we’re in a Laundromat. A customer tries to come in, but Gigli tells him to leave.
You see, by placing Gigli (our self) against the retard we are conditioned to believe that Gigli must be smart in comparison because he is not retarded. But as this film makes abundantly clear, Gigli is in all likelihood far stupider than a retard. Only by labeling the other as such do we assume Gigli is not. This is the basic premise of the self-and-the-other in action. Gigli defines himself as not retarded because he is not a retard, he is a Gigli. Little do we know this is far wors.