Monday, May 12, 2014

Unhung Hero (2013): Let Me (Not) Show You My Weakness

Unhung Hero (2013)
dir: Brian Spitz

Fuck Morgan Spurlock.

He has nothing, whatsoever, to do with this documentary except that his style is the obvious inspiration for it. Morgan Spurlock, director of Supersize Me, was the new documentary darling of yesteryear, who inserted himself into the documentary process to make a movie that just wasn't about the topic at hand, but also about the documentarian. In a way, it became a flashy show that advertised Morgan Spurlock while also tackling its own topic.

Unhung Hero follows the same formula as Morgan Spurlock to create a documentary that supposedly explores the self-worth men attach to their size of their penis. In the end, though, it's really all about the star of Unhung Hero, Patrick Moote.

Patrick Moote tells us that his story began when he proposed to his girlfriend at a basketball game, and was rejected on their version of kisscam, which became a viral internet sensation and even made it onto news programs. What nobody knew, supposedly, was that his ex-girlfriend had rejected him because he has a small unit. As a result, Patrick goes on a quest to find out if his unit is actually small, and the various ways that one can grow their own unit.

There is a major absence at the heart of Unhung Hero. Patrick's penis. Without knowing the actual size of the penis, we're left to imagine whether or not he has a tiny little todger, or just a merely below average penis. He has scenes where he's confronting ex-girlfriends who all tell him it's rather small, and a scene with a urologist who tells him, behind closed doors, that he has "a handful" of penis. And, Patrick, dejectedly, says that it's the equivalent of a girl having an A-cup.

Which, in case you didn't notice, doesn't just admit his own insecurities but also, casually, puts body issues back on women. Because, an A-cup is bad, right? Apparently, Patrick doesn't think about the body issues he puts on women, but completely cares about the insecurities he has about his own penis.

The journey he leads us on becomes a travelogue of cock. There are penis pumps, penis pills, we go to sex shops and sex salesmen. We meet Annie Sprinkle (OMG! I LOVE ANNIE SPRINKLE!), who basically is like "I didn't get a PhD to tell this guy he's got a big enough dick." He goes off to Asia to explore their ways of growing their penis, which ranges from the normal to the strange. There's even one scene that is hugely creepy, which is when he goes to film a not-so-hidden camera scene in a Korean spa. Which, gross.

The end result of "accept what you have" is such a shallow and facile statement that the rest of the movie gets thrown into a backwash. Patrick gets a girlfriend (one whom he had suspiciously met twice previously in the making of the film), and it starts feeling really fake and forced. And, he never EVER shows his penis, which is one more final bit of insecurity he still retains.

If you're going to make a movie about your own insecurities about your penis size, you better be prepared to show it at least once so we know where your baseline is. Having your penis as the unseen MacGuffin not only cheapens the film, it throws the whole movie into doubt. How much is staged and scripted? How much is real? How much about your insecurity is fake and how much is real?

Dan Savage, who appears towards the end of the film, starts to get into the most interesting topic, though the movie never explores it. The exploitation of the human body and how it sets up expectations that people cannot live up to. Savage calls it the pornification of the American culture, in respect to the male penis. There's a whole section of the movie missing about how the commercialization of sexuality sets up people to have idealized partners, and how they lead to body issues in both men and women. But, instead, Patrick spends time wandering around penis parks.

Unhung Hero is the most vacant of films. Moote treats the subject with a very specific eye, and one which is completely Western and foreign. He's meant to act as a sort of cipher for the audience, but he doesn't listen to anybody (several times, he's told that he can compensate in other ways), and he approaches his Asian travels with a Western OMG perspective rather than something of curiosity and potentially respect. It is a semi-posed documentary that blurs fact and fiction as if that's something new and challenging but is really just annoying and full of itself. Much like Moote and Spurlock. Fuck them both.

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