Mrs. Robinson Got a Bum Rap

Perhaps I’m just the wrong generation, but I’ve never really “gotten” The Graduate. So Mrs. Robinson was a little horny - is that so wrong? Maybe if her husband had paid her some attention instead of playing golf all the time, none of that would have happened. And Benjamin strikes me as a total brat. He doesn’t really care about Elaine, he’s just using her to make a point; his obsession seems mighty shallow. I didn’t blame Mr. Roper for kicking him out.

Mrs. Robinson needed to go to AA, Benjamin needed a job (what was he doing just hanging around the pool all summer?), and Elaine should have joined the Peace Corps & gotten away from all those fools.

I’ve had that “wrong generation” feeling myself when watching The Graduate. I know that for people of my parents’ age this was some sort of big “young people rock, old people suck!” thing, but Mrs. Robinson seems like the most interesting and sympathetic character in the movie to me. She was stuck with a life (and marriage) she’d never wanted, just because she got pregnant and girls at that time didn’t have a lot of options. When the Benjamin/Mrs. Robinson affair ends midway through the movie and the Benjamin/Elaine romance starts to pick up…well…I get bored. Mrs. Robinson is awesome. Elaine is just this nice girl who’s pretty enough but doesn’t have a whole lot of personality. And really Ben, stalking her and breaking up her wedding? That’s not young love, that’s being a freaking psycho. In the end, all this crazy behavior does nothing more than land Ben the very girl his parents always hoped he’d end up with. Way to rebel, dude.

Mrs. Robinson was the real rebel. She was the only person in the movie who was doing anything to shake up their dull upperclass suburban lives. I like to think that after the events of the film, when her divorce to Mr. Robinson comes through, she goes back to school, gets her art degree, and runs off to New York to work at a hip gallery or something.

One generation’s extremism is the next generation’s conservatism, or however that adage goes.

I’m trying to think about a recent movie that had the same stunning cultural impact, and I’m blanking. The Graduate was a huge slap across the face for the entire country. It’s not an exaggeration to say that it changed movies forever.

And if things have changed so much since, then why is there a national hubbub about Demi Moore dating Ashton Kutcher?

Maybe because almost every guy in the country thinks it should be him with Demi, not Ashton?

Otherwise I agree. It’s silly and what difference does it make if she’s older?

One subtle difference. He spent the previous summer f*cking her mother. Certainly an unorthodox introduction to the family.

fessie and lamia, you understand the movie perfectly. That is exactly what Mike Nichols wanted to get across. It was never meant to be a love story.

I’d argue that that’s the point – the movie skewers Ben and Elaine at least as much as their parents’ generation, though more subtly. The last scene on the back of the bus, where they’re looking at each other with increasingly befuddled expressions, is a masterpiece of irony.

For what it’s worth, when I’ve taught this film in my freshman English class, about half of the students tend to give it a straight “young people rock” reading and about half think the satire cuts two ways. I’m not sure it’s so much a generational thing as a matter of what you’re looking for.

Man, you people make me feel so old sometimes.

Expano is right. The movie had a tremendous impact. And here’s a few things you whippersnappers have overlooked.

Benjamin was an anti-hero, still a relatively new concept in mainstream movies at the time.

Benjamin was pretty much the first young person movie lead to be shown going through depression.

Mrs. Robinson didn’t grow up in a time when women didn’t have options – she was living in a time when they still didn’t. She may have been the most interesting character in the movie, but she was the villain. Villains are often the most interesting characters.

Sure, Ben wound up with the girl his parents wanted, but Elaine got pushed into a wedding with the boy her parents wanted. Way to shake up that dull, suburban life, Mrs. R.

What in the movie could possibly lead anyone to believe Mrs. Robinson went off to New York to work in a hip gallery. She stayed in California, lived off her husband’s alimony, drank too much, and continued to frolic with young men when she got bored.

Benjamin, however, did go into plastics. Some things were just meant to be.