the contradiction that we call Jordan

General discussion about the nineteen episodes of "My So-Called Life". Note: Our episode guide can be found here.
likelife
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Post by likelife » Feb 11th 2003, 5:13 pm

i think that jordan is a bit of a mystery and may remain that way to all of us. i think BF makes the point that we all can see both possibilities in jordan. that he is a selfish jerk, AND that he is a sweet lost puppy type. we do not get the advantage of hearing his inner monologue like we do with many of the other characters. i assume this is because the show is angela-centered. SHE is discovering who jordan is as we are. by the end of the show, she still is not totally sure.

i agree, megs, that JUST because it's hard to be a man does not mean that men should be excused for being a-holes. this is how i see it: i hold men up to a high standard and i try not to excuse inappropriate behavior "just because he's a guy." however, i have learned to accept that i am going to meet a lot of guys in my life who fit some basic sucky guy stereotypes, and hopefully i will know to avoid them.

i WOULD like to point out that brian also shows some rather unpleasant behavior in this show, not just jordan. jordan has sleeping with girls as a viable option. he;s done it before. brian does not know how to initiate that with someone. i'd argue that delia is just as hurt by brian's changing his mind and TELLING her about it as angela is by jordan's sleeping with rayanne. i'm not excusing jordan, i'm just saying that people get away with treating each other terribly every day.

i went to a college with more women than men and a large population of gay men, relatively speaking. this meant that for straight guys, the dating odds were in their favor. there were lots of women, most of them beautiful and intelligent, and there was a small group of guys to date. this meant that every guy got to be a jerk if he wanted to, with few repercussions. he could have three "possibilities" to every one or two that a girl had. most of the guys i knew dated people with reckless abandon. this does not mean that they were all male sluts or that they all slept around, but that the way THEY saw their social options was completely different from how we females saw things. when i would point this out to my male friends they would get really defensive and ask how i could blame THEM for the ratio. how could i expect THEM to live up to my ridiculously high moral standard of not leading people on? furthermore, women were often looked down upon for being "too needy" if they were looking for a relationship as opposed to a casual hook-up. it made those of us who were trying to be strong independent women feel like we had to swear off sex and dating in college for fear of seeming weak minded. not all of us did, but still....

jordan is a typical example of this kind of guy, only what's working for him is that he's beautiful, not that he's got the ratio in his favor. jordan gets away with murder and does not even know it. no one ever calls him on it, or tells him that he should behave differently. i bet he's screwed girls over before and not really noticed. well, he SHOULD notice and he should change. but people have to tell him to. rayanne and angela are perhaps the first people EVER to imply that the way he handles himself socially is not always cool. i think this makes him desire angela more and respect her, but i doubt he knows how to articulate this, nor how to act accordingly.

i'd argue that kids have less and less positive role models these days. we know for a fact that jordan's dad isn't one for him. hopfully, his character will be challenged enough by people in his future that he will try to "be a man" like graham.

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Post by Megs » Feb 11th 2003, 5:40 pm

TomSpeed wrote: Sorry, I'm posting at work. I'll try to answer that question. Men are trained to act in certain ways. They aren't always the best ways to resolve situations. A man also has to balance his wants and needs with the wants and needs of others. Society places pressures on us. We are expected to act in certain ways. Are we bread winners? Do we hold doors open for women? How do you handle the awesome responsibility to raise a child to be man? The definition of being a man is constantly changing.

I'll try to expand on this subject later. I'm slammed and have a meeting. It's a good topic though.

Sorry I misread your post, Megs.
Cool, thanks. I look forward to hearing your response!
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TomSpeed
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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 11th 2003, 8:54 pm

It's definitely hard to define what "being a man" means. If you consider a hierarchy of maleness (if that's a word?), you would probably have boy, guy, man. A boy has no social or material responsibilities. He is cared for by others. He is not accountable for his actions in a conventional sense. A guy might have some responsibilities, but whether or not fulfills these responsibilities is not that important. Being a man means that one is accountable. A man is accountable to his family, his job, and his actions. He's also accountable for how his actions affect others. A man might have to do unpleasant things like go to war, swallow his pride, or give himself up in other ways for others.

One of the best lines from Say Anything has to do with this subject. Lloyd and Diane have broken up and he is talking with his female friends about trying to get back together with her. He says that he has done everything a guy can do. They tell him don't be a guy. Be a man. A guy might give up, not go for what he wants, or confront his girl friend's father. A man doesn't give up. He makes his best play. He doesn't hold back.

However, there are temptations. Yes, it might be easy to steal from your boss, cheat on your wife or girl friend, or cut corners on a big contract. However, a man doesn't do those things. He does what is right.

Plus, the roles of women and men have changed drastically. The cost of living has made it hard for a woman to stay at home to care for children. Now, I'm not saying that women shouldn't work. They really can't afford to stay home nowadays. I'm also not saying staying at home isn't work. Are women and men now equal?

I'm not really sure this answers your question about why it's hard to be a man. However, I have a story that just might shed some light on why it is difficult.

I've only dated one woman I wanted to marry. She's the one who trimmed my toenails (see another post). Anyway, one of the things I loved about her was her strength. She worked everyday. She enjoyed her time off. She could tell me what she wanted. I could tell her what I wanted. We had a lot of things in common. We were great in bed. I considered her an equal partner.

One day, we were discussing our possible future together. She had just gone through a divorce and this was our try to make a go of things after a few years apart. We started talking about finances and things. Like many people, I've overextended myself financially, but I'm getting things back under control. She said that she was surprised that we made about the same amount of money, yet she was able to save so much more than I could. She told me that it was important that the next man she marries would have to be able to support her financially. That's what she was looking for in a future husband. Now, at the time, I might have been able to support a wife and myself. I would have found a way. It would have meant sacrifices. However, here was the woman I loved and respected for her independence telling me that I couldn't cut it as her husband. All this time, I had been looking for a partner, an equal. My definition of being man was tied to that search. Now, I had been given a new definition. I was thoroughly hurt and confused.

I wonder now as I wondered then, what does it mean to be man? I haven't figured it out. But, I'm trying to be the best man I can be.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by Lindsay » Feb 12th 2003, 7:00 pm

Megs: I'm totally not offended, you and lifelike have made some great points.

It's funny, I always thought that men and women thought alike- that some guy out there was my exact, but now that I'm older I am starting to understand that that is ridiculous.

I know I shouldn't be on Jordon's side.... (I let people get away with too much), but I just really feel he is being honest. He has LOTS to learn though....


I couldn't agree with you more lifelike (intelligent girl!).

Even though Jordon messed up, I really have my doubts that Brian would treat Angela like a queen. He himself has NO IDEA how to treat people, or function normally sometimes, the boy is smart, but socially defunctional. He himself has lots to work on, and for a boyfriend, I would see him as very clingy and awkward. Perhaps Angela should stray from guys for awhile- I have and it seems much simpler that way!!!!

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SORRY

Post by Lindsay » Feb 12th 2003, 7:02 pm

Oh my....

Speaking of "intelligent" people, I seem to have worked out the quote rather nicely. Sorry everyone.

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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 13th 2003, 12:41 am

No doubt that good points have been made in this thread. For the ladies, if you don't notice your man having a hard time being a man in the true sense of the word, you have a good one. Keep him close.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by Nostradamus » Feb 14th 2003, 9:32 am

While Graham may have used the phrase "being a man" in the context of his conversation with Angela, I think perhaps the wisdom he relates is more of a universal truth of the human condition than it is gender-specific.

Throughout the series, we see how all of the characters are struggling to be independent, self-reliant, responsible, happy individuals. This basic struggle is present regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, or any other classification. Graham's statement does not lose any of it's meaning if you replace "man" with "woman", "homosexual", "virgin", "Buddhist", "American" or whatever because all of the people in any of those categories are in some way striving to simply be who they are.

The poet E.E. Cummings said it rather more succinctly:

To be nobody-but-yourself--in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else--means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.
-- Clarence Darrow

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
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Post by TomSpeed » Feb 14th 2003, 10:03 am

Nostradamus wrote:While Graham may have used the phrase "being a man" in the context of his conversation with Angela, I think perhaps the wisdom he relates is more of a universal truth of the human condition than it is gender-specific.

Throughout the series, we see how all of the characters are struggling to be independent, self-reliant, responsible, happy individuals. This basic struggle is present regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socio-economic status, or any other classification. Graham's statement does not lose any of it's meaning if you replace "man" with "woman", "homosexual", "virgin", "Buddhist", "American" or whatever because all of the people in any of those categories are in some way striving to simply be who they are.

The poet E.E. Cummings said it rather more succinctly:

To be nobody-but-yourself--in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you somebody else--means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.
I agree with you. It's hard to be human. Great post!

Plus, I love E. E. Cummings. You get an extra point for referring to him.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Nostradamus
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Post by Nostradamus » Feb 14th 2003, 10:42 am

Thanks Tom! :D

Half the time while I'm writing those philosophical posts, I can't even tell if I'm making sense! :roll: :wink:
I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.
-- Clarence Darrow

I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.
-- Mark Twain

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Megs
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Post by Megs » Feb 14th 2003, 12:34 pm

Nostradamus wrote:Thanks Tom! :D

Half the time while I'm writing those philosophical posts, I can't even tell if I'm making sense! :roll: :wink:
You made perfect sense, and it was a very thought-provoking post. I never thought of it in that way. Thank you.

And I loved the quote.
"I have all these dreams where I know exactly what to say. And you tell me, you know, that you forgive me."

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Post by likelife » Feb 14th 2003, 4:50 pm

megs, nostradamus, tomspeed --
i, too, agree with the notion that everyone out there is going through self-discovery, learning how to be themselves, and hopefully the best version of themselves.... i think that the e.e. cummings quote was a perfect choice.

i do, however, think that it's significant, at least in terms of the particular episode and the particular conversation in which the line occurs, that graham say, "being a man." self-realization and self-actualization and all of that truly does cross every barrier imaginable -- race, age, gender, socio-economics, what-have-you. but i think graham is referring to something a little more speficic. at least in his experience.

think of what is mentioned in angela's world. most of the main characters are in some ways the "others" or thought to be minorities in general society. we get to hear from voices that mainstream media and tv do not usually address, or do address, but only in terms of stereotypes and one-dimensional characters. angela is female young-adult, brian is a nerd, rayanne is the druggy/hippie/slut, rickie is the hispanic gay guy, etc. etc. even graham sort of works in this way. he is a white middle class male, but he has no job and his wife supports the family. he likes to cook and only grudingly remembers to perform the manual labor around the house.

i think graham is an interesting and important character (as are brian and jordan) because he potentially has access to a lot of privileges in society that others cannot attain as easily because of his race and age and socio-economic status. this is why the "man" part is important. graham could fulfill his role as a man in many different ways.

however, this does not mean that his life is easy, nor does it mean that he ACCEPTS the status quo. graham admires his wife for being capable and powerful. he admires his daughter for being smart and articulate and open-minded. he loves to cook and he's not ashamed that it's not necessarily a manly profession. twice in the show he is tempted by infidelity and realizes that somehow as a 40-something man, he is being presented with these opportunities that many of his peers would accept.

i guess what i am trying to say is that graham recognizes the the way society dictates and/or allows that men should be, i.e. leaders of the family, bread winners, mr. fixits, spreading their seed to the wind (the common male excuse for infidelity), unemotional, rational, etc. etc. graham wants to be a good man in that he wants to be a good person. he wants to be a good father and a good role model for his children. he wants his family to love him and he wants not to resent them for the choices he's made. what HE is trying to figure out, i think, is if he can be all of those things without feeling emasculated. can he lead a waltz without feeling domineering, but at the same time without having two left feet? can he actually put the wallpaper up successfully? these are questions graham is trying to answer and to him it has to do with his gender identity as well as his personal identity.

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Post by Guest » Jul 18th 2003, 2:29 pm

About Jordan.Does anybody else think that it's kinda out of character for him to get all posessive when he sees Angela talking with Corey(Betrayal) and then he's all like" does she like that guy I keep seeing her talking to" altough he saw her talking to him JUST once and he's like upset about it and I think he even gets drunk because of it.What do you guys think?

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Post by TomSpeed » Jul 18th 2003, 2:44 pm

I think Jordan's reaction to Angela's interest in Corey is typical male behavior. He has taken Angela for granted. It isn't until he sees her with someone else when he realizes that he wants and needs her. People usually have a greater value when someone else wants them. Jordan must now decide whether to go out on a limb and pursue Angela. Does he risk rejection? We don't really know how many times he's seen Angela and Corey together. Time is often truncated for TV. One incident might be meant to represent a dozen incidents. So, faced with the possibility of losing Angela, Jordan gets drunk. He wants to forget how he stupidly let Angela get away. I think Jordan's behavior fits a pattern. He cares about her, but he doesn't want to risk showing how he feels. He's fine with having her sit around waiting for him to approach her. And he feels badly when she decides to stop wasting time waiting for him.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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Post by cinnamongirl12 » Jul 18th 2003, 6:45 pm

One thing no ones really touched is Jordan's family life. The family unit you grow up with greatly effects how you interact with other people and often times the relationship between your parents plays into how you approach relationships. We don't know too much about jordan, but from So-Called Angels, we know that his father used to beat him and his brother up. I'm gonna guess that if Mr. Catalano hit his sons then he probably hit his wife, if Jordan's mom is still even in the picture. Even if he didn't hit the missus, he's a pretty evil guy and i can't imagine his parents having an ozzie and harriet relationship, or even the stability that Patty and Graham give Angela.
So not to be all gung-ho Jordan's innocent, cause he's not, what he did with Rayanne is unexcusable, but the fact of the matter is, is that he's only imitating what he's grown up with. He's not used to being attached to people or seeing two people fully commited, etc. Its like, no one ever taught him how to be a boyfriend/husband/significant other, so he's kind of blind to it all. Plus he's probably very insecure and doesn't want to get attached to Angela and have her hurt him, like most of the people in his life have.
I don't know, just a thought........
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Post by TomSpeed » Jul 18th 2003, 8:38 pm

Cinnamongirl12, I think your observations are right on target. It's a big thing to admit you care about someone. It's a major deal if the people who have been closest to you have treated you badly.
TomSpeed

Patty: If Rayanne's not seeing you, and we're not seeing you, who is seeing you?
Graham: And how much of you?
Angela: Dad!
Graham: Oh, I'm sorry! I asked a question about your life, didn't I? Woah, what came over me?
http://www.last.fm/user/TomSpeed/

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