Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivienne Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind’
The great thing about Clark Gable is that he is not ridiculously handsome and good-looking, which gives hope for us ordinary guys out there. Gable had big ears and false teeth and was originally rejected by one of the studios because he looked ‘like a monkey’. What Gable had though was charisma – personality. A number of his movies in the mid to late thirties and early forties are worth watching, but this is his most famous role. In real life he was a man’s man and attractive to women and despite being married, he did not remain monogamous. His wife knew that for her to insist on his remaining exclusively faithful to her would be to lose him. So, Gable is interesting for a number of reasons.
Here is a scene between Gable as the roguish Rhett Butler and Leigh as the feisty Scarlett O’Hara in ‘Gone with the Wind’. I strongly recommend Margaret Mitchell’s book to all you males out there. The dynamic between different types of males and females is explored very well and there are many lessons that males can learn. Gone with the wind is set in the period of the American Civil War in the 1860’s. It is by no means merely a piece of women’s romantic fiction.
In this clip, Gable’s character has just returned from Paris and he has bought Leigh’s character the gift of a bonnet – the very latest in chic Paris fashion. Gable adopts a Parent orientation to Leigh’s female Child orientation. Gable’s character is passionate, mature, devilish and worldly-wise. He is what many today would call a ‘bad boy’. Leigh’s character is feisty, fiery, full of energy and so on. She is the little princess who every man wants to be with.
Taking into account the fact that this is a period drama, Gable’s character is well dressed and his hair is neat and appropriate for his age. His self-presentation is immaculate. As with many desirable characters in fiction, Gable’s character is wealthy. He is a self-made man, successful in his business schemes.
His Parental orientation is indicated both by what he says and his tone of voice. He is knowledgeable about the latest women’s fashions – Leigh’s character is not so well up on fashion as she thinks she is. Gable’s character is not slow or shy in giving his opinions. In Parental tones, Gable starts to lecture her on what is wrong with the way she is dressed. Catching a glimpse of her underwear, he basically tells her that her undergarments are out of fashion, thus introducing a more intimate level of conversation. Leigh, in Child orientation, falls for it and excitedly starts to inquire what the latest fashions in underwear are, but then she catches herself – she does not want to be beholden to a man so she attempts to adopt a Parent orientation – though she is more like a precocious, bossy Child – and in ‘superior’ tones she criticizes Gable and disapprovingly says that he should not know about such things as women’s underwear.
Gable’s character stays in Parent orientation and criticizes her in return: ‘You little hypocrite! You don’t mind me knowing about them (underwear), just talking about them!’ Thus her attempt to criticize him is immediately countered and put down but it is diffused with laughter and humour. The humour has the effect of showing that her criticism rolls off him like water off a duck’s back and gives the sense that he indulges her attempt at criticism and finds such tactics amusing – like watching a child at play. She is being taken away from Parent orientation back to Child by him.
At the failure of this ploy, Leigh’s character then changes tactics. ‘I can’t go on accepting these gifts – though you are awfully kind.’ Now she attempts to soothe his male vanity by praising him in telling him how kind he is. [The male vanity trap] Once again, Gable’s character dismisses this praise immediately. He not only puts himself down so that he cannot be knocked off any pedestal that she tries to put him on, but he also declares his more intimate intentions quite openly: ‘I am not kind, I am just tempting you. I never give anything without expecting something in return and I always get paid.’ Gable’s character remains in control of the situation – he knows what he is doing and why. He is buying her gifts in order to tempt her into a relationship with him. These ‘gifts’ are not free – he expects payment. Here, he is setting the boundaries of the relationship, setting out the nature of what he expects from her.
Leigh responds by suggesting what the payment might be. ‘I am not going to marry you just because you have bought a bonnet.’ Gable’s character remains in Parent orientation. It is he who will decide what the payment will be – she will not define it. She dangles the idea of marriage as a reward, dangling it as bait, but then immediately withdraws it. A weak man might leap at this suggestion by the most desirable female in the South – ‘Marry me? Would you?’ Make no mistake, Gable’s character wants her, but to leap at the bait of her suggestion is a weak ploy placing him at a disadvantage and making him beholden to her. Her suggestion of marriage is also an example of female Child Vanity. She is saying ‘You will have to buy me more things than this if you want to marry me – I am worth it!’ So rather, Gable’s character rejects her suggestion immediately and puts down her vanity: ‘Don’t flatter yourself – I am not the marrying kind’.
In response, Leigh’s character suggests another, lesser reward – a kiss. ‘Well, I won’t kiss you for it either.’ She is still trying to define the payment for the bonnet and she wants him to kiss her, so of course, using female logic, she says the opposite. Gable turns to her with his Parental smile and a quip on the tip of his tongue and then his passion for her almost gets the better of him. He wants to kiss her too and for a moment he almost does. His facial expression changes to one of manly, lustful desire and he takes hold of her. She closes her eyes and half smiles in anticipation of the kiss – and victory. But he sees the trap and returns to Parent orientation immediately. Yes, he wants to kiss her, but it will be on his terms, not hers. He will not be trapped into it.
Her behaviour in seeking to entrap him into a kiss is unacceptable So he pulls back.[Withdrawal sanction] ‘No, I don’t think I will kiss you – though you need kissing and badly….’ He then gives her a Parental lecture on how she needs kissing and kissing often by someone who knows how and that this is what is wrong with her. Note that he has also withdrawn his sense of humour. He is like a father telling off a naughty child.
She makes an attempt to soothe his vanity again. [The male vanity trap] ‘I suppose that you are the man to do it!’ Once again, Gable’s character does not fall for the trap and so he does not boast of his own ability. He does not deny his virility either but rather leaves an air of sexual mystery: ‘I might be. If the right moment ever came.’
Seeing that her [Childish] ploys have failed, Leigh’s character falls back to insulting Gable as she turns away and calls him conceited and a black-hearted varmint and wonders why she bothered to see him. [Child tantrum]
The Parental smile returns to Gable’s face. ‘I’ll tell you why you see me. Because I am the only man under under 60 and older than 16 who knows how to show you a good time!’ Once again, Gable’s character is in command and suggesting an edgy excitement. Devilish men are often accused of being arrogant and conceited. In many ways, they are neither. What they do possess is an attitude of self-determination. They know their own mind and they stick to it. They are pro-active and set their own agenda. When the female fails to distract him or fails to swerve him from his course, when her ploys and wiles fail, they call him arrogant. When a man respects himself, they call him conceited. The secret for the male is to have self-respect but not to openly boast about their sexual prowess, skills, knowledge or abilities. To do so, is to fall into the male vanity trap.
Things to learn:
Pay strict attention to self-presentation and clothes
You have an advantage if you are wealthy and/or successful at business
Be aware of women’s fashions such that you can give a woman advice on clothes – subtle talk of underwear, if the situation naturally warrants it, suggests intimacy or sex
Stay in Parental orientation with a female who is in Child orientation
Female criticism can be offset by humour, smiles, laughter and so on
Female criticism can be offset by adopting a superior [Parent] orientation
Never accept praise from a female: [The male vanity trap] Puncture the balloon of your own ego and vanity.
Your gifts to her are not free – tell her that you expect payment and you always get it
You define what the payment is – not her.
You define the boundaries of your relationship – what is acceptable and what is not
Your greatest strength is your ability to withdraw – to withdraw your presence, your humour, your kisses, your gifts, your texts, whatever. Unacceptable female behaviour always incurs a withdrawal sanction.
Be passionate and edgy