Game in St. Elmo’s Fire, part 3 (Emilio Estevez storyline)
Previous posts in this series:
St. Elmo’s Fire: the cast
Game in St. Elmo’s Fire, part 1 (the alphas)
Game in St. Elmo’s Fire, part 2 (the betas and oneitis)
A long summary of the storyline
In the opening scene of the movie, the group of friends is at the hospital because alpha bad-boy Rob Lowe crashed plain-Jane Mare Winningham’s car while driving drunk. Emilio Estevez sees Andie McDowell who is a medical student/intern at the hospital and is smitten by her. While he’s wearing a dorky waiter’s outfit which makes him look like a beta loser.
Later that evening after getting back to the apartment he shares with Andrew McCarthy, he proclaims his love for her since the first time he saw her when he was a freshman and she was a senior. McCarthy says “What are you talking about? You only took her to one movie.” Estevez then has the great line:
There are several quintessential moments in a man’s life. Losing his virginity, getting married, becoming a father, and having the right girl smile at you.
Maybe the first three are quintessential; the last one sounds like a beta-male thing. But I love the use of the word “quintessential.” Was Joel Schumacher aware that he was directing the quintessential 80s movie?
Apparently Estevez is able to obtain a lunch date with MacDowell because in the next scene in this storyline we see him showing up at an expensive more than two hours before his date so he can select the perfect table. When the maitre d’ explains that the prefect table is only for a party of four, Estevez says he will pay double.
It seems like a very beta thing to attach so much importance to one date. Estevez is heavily afflicted by the horrible disease of oneitis, and he is doing stupid things because of it.
MacDowell arrives late. Estevez reminds her that they saw Annie Hall on their previous date four years ago. MacDowell doesn’t remember she thought they saw a Mel Brooks movie. The date was obviously much less of a deal for MacDowell than it was for Estevez.
I thought it was pretty profound that Annie Hall was mentioned. A few days ago I wrote that Annie Hall was perhaps the quintessential 70s movie, and here we have the quintessential 80s movie referring back to the quintessential 70s movie.
Then the maitre d’ comes back to the table with a cordless phone and tells MacDowell that she has a phone call. Now when was the last time you saw that happen at a restaurant? It was an era before mobile phones. Their date is over before they even order any food, because she has to go back to the hospital.
Estevez then decides that he’s going to drop out of law school and go to medical school instead, in order to impress MacDowell. Now we see Estevez’s doing really stupid things. Not that going to medical school is inherently stupid, but dropping out of law school in order to increase his chance of getting that one particular girl from 0.000001% to 0.000002% is a stupid thing to do.
In the next scene, Estevez has turned into a stalker. He is sitting on his bicycle in front of MacDowell’s garage. It starts to rain just as she drives out of the garage, driving a red Volkswagen Golf GTI Mk1 convertible (back when imported cars were still somewhat exotic and not yet driven by proles). His loser transportation is contrasted to her much fancier transportation.
She arrives at a house where two men wearing red jackets come out, one parks her car, and the other holds an umbrella over her head and escorts her in. She’s going to a much fancier and more expensive party than Estevez, we assume, has ever attended. Soaking wet now, Estevez peers in through a window and sees all the expensively dressed party guests milling around, and some tall blonde guy kisses Andie MacDowell on the cheek.
Estevez storms into the party, and it’s filmed from his point of view so you can feel what it’s like for everyone at the party to be staring at you. MacDowell says “Kirby? How are you?” He responds, “I’m obsessed, thank you very much.” He sure is. It’s hilarious. In real life, MacDowell would probably call the police, and some of the waiters would kick him out. But in the movie, she takes him back to her apartment.
This leads to another hilarious moment where Estevez picks up her pillow and furtively looks and then breathes in deeply. Andie MacDowell’s roommate spots him doing that and gives him a long and really evil stare to let him know that she thinks he’s a weirdo. Estevez is a creepy pervert in addition to being a stalker!
Estevez then decides that in order to impress MacDowell, he needs to be rich, or at least to present the appearance of being rich. So he drops out of medical school to get a job working for “Mr. Kim” a shifty but “famous Korean entrepreneur” who despite his alleged business acumen seems to be very bad at hiring reliable help. Pretending to be suddenly financially successful, he invites MacDowell to a party at Mr. Kim’s house. Of course, she doesn’t show up.
After being unsuccessful at reaching MacDowell by phone, he goes to her house enraged and acts like a crazy man.
Kirby: Where the hell is Dale?
Dale’s Roommate: She went skiing.
Kirby: Whatdyamean? Where?
Dale’s Roomate: Why should I tell you?
Kirby: Because I’m not responsible for what I’ll do to you if you don’t.
Instead of calling the police, she apparently gives Kirby the address of the ski cabin, because in the next scene with Estevez we see him arriving at the cabin where MacDowell is spending the weekend with her doctor boyfriend. (See my previous post about the sweaters they are wearing the next morning.)
Once again, instead of calling the, ore getting into a fistfight with MacDowell’s boyfriend, they invite him to spend the night in their living room on account of his car being stuck in the snow. I guess the boyfriend see’s Estevez as so much lower on the totem pole, he has nothing to fear from his sexual competition and thus can show him mercy.
Before sending Estevez home the next morning, the boyfriend says he will get the camera to take a picture. While the boyfriend goes back inside to get the camera, Estevez forcefully kisses MacDowell. To a great crescendo of background theme music. This would be characterized as a sexual assault today. But MacDowell, instead of getting pissed and yelling at him, is shown to enjoy the kiss. Because he is suddenly more forceful, she is attracted to his alpha maleness. And the kiss is so awesome for Estevez that becomes giddily happy and is cured of his oneitis (perhaps because he feels alpha now, and oneitis only afflicts betas).
In the final cut of this storyline, Estevez is shown driving home with his fist in the air celebrating the kiss.
What do we make of this storyline?
This part of the storyline should come with a warning that reads “Professional actors, don’t try this at home.” Estevez clearly does a lot of things that would be considered illegal and men have wound up in jail for stuff like that.
The storyline is obviously added for comic relief. Parts of it are definitely funny. And it ties this movie to a lot of previous 80s sex comedies aimed at horny young men. My favorite was Revenge of the Nerds, a movie in which the nerds install hidden video cameras in the hot girls sorority house, and enjoy a great peep show. And the main nerd has sex with a hot sorority girl by impersonating her jock fraternity boyfriend. When she discovers the ruse, instead of screaming and calling the police, and the nerd going to prison for rape, she is pleased to discover how good the nerd is at sex.
However, the concept that a beta-male gets oneitis, which then causes him to do a lot of things he shouldn’t do, is not at all unrealistic. It happens all the time in the real world. Stalking is common enough. It is said that one in six women in the United States have been victims of stalking at one time in their lives. Even if that number is somewhat exaggerated, stalking is still a common enough occurrence. This movie shows us that the men who engage in this activity are not necessarily nameless faceless creepy weirdos who should never have been born. Estevez is a decent guy who is simply unsuccessful with women, and can’t handle his emotions when he gets oneitis. Roissy would say that if only Estevez had been taught about “game,” his life would have been turned around for the better. He wouldn’t have dropped out of law school and he wouldn’t have committed a bunch of crimes that could have led to serious legal action against him.
Few real-world women would tolerate Estevez’s creepy stalking behavior the way MacDowell does in the movie. Her attitude towards Kirby is like the one a woman might have for a young child who misbehaves. There is a slight annoyance, but also amusement, and the situation is dealt with patiently and with affection and goodwill for the misbehaving child. Oneitis has been called a disease by “game” writers, and MacDowell plays a medical intern, so maybe she sees Estevez as a patient who is sick through no fault of his own, and thus someone to be pitied rather than hated.
Despite the fact that Estevez doesn’t suffer the worst case consequence from his misbehavior, I think the storyline still demonstrates the bad outcomes from oneitis. It’s obvious that MacDowell has no interest in Estevez, and we can also see his mental state. Add on top of that the reminder that Estevez could have been convicted of various crimes, this storyline is a stark reminder to beta-males that onetitis is really bad and they should not succumb to it.