“He suffers and he’s needy, and I relate to him personally,” Mr. Apatow said in a telephone interview. Particularly in dealing with the opposite sex, Mr. Apatow said, “we both have that same feeling that we’re obsessed with women and they don’t actually like us that much.”
This quote from the New York Time's article on Jason Segel, the writer-leading man of the new movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" has a lot packed into it. I really liked Knocked Up and was a big defender of it when many of the commenters on Feministing criticized it by agreeing with Katherine Heigls' remarks that it was sexist.
I defended Knocked Up by comparing it to "In Her Shoes" and "Just Like Heaven," movies that involved high-powered women finding the man of their dreams only after realizing that they need to give up their fast-paced, demanding jobs and take it easy. In Knocked Up, on the other hand, the male lead was the one who had to change "for love." More controversially (I guess) I also thought that Leslie Mann's character in Knocked Up was a sympathetic because, in the narrative of the movie, she is justifiably (I think) angry at her life. (Everyone else seemed to think she was meant to be a shrew.)
This quote makes me think I was wrong to defend it though. "Obsessed with women" is an attitude that sounds suspiciously similar to "thinks all women are the same." Or to put it another way, it doesn't matter if Apatow is shoving all women in the dirt or putting them all on a pedestal, either attitude treats women as something other than three-dimensional people with real flaws and actual character traits.
It got me thinking back to that Feministing discussion about Heigl's character in Knocked Up, specifically about how Heigl might have been the "together one," but she also never got to be funny and about the whole abortion thing and how glossed over it was. I still liked Knocked Up, but ya gotta admit that when a character decides to have a baby with a one night stand and you come away from that (non-)scene about that decision without knowing anything more about the character or her motivations, then that character really is little more than a plot device for someone else's journey.
Apatow did better than that with Freaks and Geeks and I'm pretty sure he can do better than that on the big screen too.