Game in St. Elmo’s Fire, part 1 (the alphas)
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Someone like Roissy would be better at this, but I think I picked up enough of the “game” terminology to write this analysis. The language of “game” is extremely useful for understanding this movie, and explains why the movie was so hard to understand in the 1980s, because “game” language didn’t exist back then. “Game” is a child of the internet which didn’t exist in the 1980s.
In the typical romantic comedy, the male suitor successfully wins the female by using beta-male tactics, thus creating a whole genre of entertainment based on a methodology that’s bad advice for most men. St. Elmo’s Fire, way ahead of its time, presents a more realistic “red-pill” viewpoint.
Among the four males in the movie, there are two alphas, Rob Lowe and Judd Nelson, and two betas, Andrew McCarthy and Emilio Estevez.
It’s notable that Judd Nelson is the one who dunks Rob Lowe’s head in the toilet in this early scene. An alpha can do that to another alpha, but a beta could never do that to an alpha.
Digressing for a moment, I find this scene disgusting rather than funny as it was intended to be. But the scene also allows us to make an 80s observation: This maneuver wouldn’t have worked today with environmentally-conscious low-gallon-per-flush toilets. Back in the 1980s, toilet bowls were filled up with a lot more water.
Rob Lowe and Judd Nelson represent two different types of alphas. Rob Lowe is the bad-boy musician. There’s not much more I need to say about that. Game experts like Roissy have written reams about women’s sexual attraction to the bad-boy alpha.
In the scene above, Rob Lowe is working his bad-boy alpha magic on this cute girl with wonderful 80s hair at St. Elmo’s Bar.
(She also appears to be wearing a Swatch, and although they are still around today their peak popularity was in the 80s when they were first introduced to the market. And there’s also a Lowenbrau beer bottle, a brand that has disappeared from the United States but was heavily marketed back in the 1980s. 1984 Lowenbrau commercial. After much internet research, I’ve identified the other two bottles as San Miguel Dark Beer, a brand from the Philippines that I’ve never heard of before. The inclusion of that brand may have to do with the fact that it’s popular with sailors from the Pacific region, and the bar is named after St. Elmo, the patron saint of sailors.)
The attempted pickup happens right after Rob Lowe gets off the phone (a payphone in a phone booth at the back of the bar which you can see at the left of the vidcap, and not an iPhone because this was the 1980s before cell phones existed) with his wife. We assume he would have been successful in picking up the girl and having casual adulterous sex with her if Judd Nelson had not pulled him away and then dunked his head in the toilet bowl.
Judd Nelson represents a different kind of alpha. He’s serious about his career, dresses in expensive business clothing, and has an air of imperious arrogance, which can work with girls who may see it as an extreme form of self-confidence. Even though he’s not actually making much money in his career, it’s his demeanor that works with the girls and not money. Many people might describe his character as a jerk or even an asshole, but the movie is realistically telling us that many women like that in men when it’s presented the right way.
In the scene above, after Nelson comes home from work with a present for Ally Sheedy, a sexy red nightgown (how awkward for Andrew McCarthy who is secretly in love with Sheedy), he regales beta nice-guy McCarthy with a tale of sexual conquest while Sheedy is trying on the nightgown:
I innocently go downtown to buy the nightgown and this amazingly leggy blonde salesgirl offers to model it for me. So we wind up doing it standing up in the dressing room in front of a three-way mirror.
Do you know the kind of guy who is always bragging about his sexual conquests? I know someone like that. I find it profoundly annoying.
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These reviews are taking me a long time. I had hoped to be able to write a lot more about this topic.