Fatso is a Norwegian movie, released in 2008, about a fat, ugly man who cannot get laid. I will use the movie and its plot and characters to analyze the narcissism of the beta male – as typified by the main character, Rino, in the movie. I will also draw on Dr. Robert Glover’s book “No More Mister Nice Guy,” to understand why these sorts of males exist.
The movie opens with Rino in a grocery store. Already, we can tell he is fat, unattractive and tremendously awkward – especially with women. He clearly has a crush on the cute blond at the checkout line – but has negative game and even trips when leaving the store. Immediately, we are hit with a cartoon spiff. Rino makes and draws a series of cartoons in which his alter-ego – Captain Cock – either does things he won’t do in real life or is the scapegoat for the shame Rino feels about his sexual feelings and desires. In the initial cartoon, a bunch of cops show up and arrest him for having a hard-on. They interrogate him for watching tons of porn and visiting sex-chat sites. In a bit of foreshadowing, the cops solve his “problem” of having sexual impulses by castrating him.
Zooming back to real life, we see Rino illustrating the exact cartoon sketch he just laid out. There is a ring at the door and we see him hurrying through his house – porn on the computer screen, his living room littered with Coke bottles, beer cans and a pizza box. Then, in comes Rino’s clearly narcissistic best friend – skinny, ugly and looking like he stumbled out of a bad 1970’s porno. He comes in and immediately begins riffing about his tight game and banging asthmatic chicks. They go out to a bar and he brags about banging a 53 year-old woman.
Another important take-away from the movie is still in the first ten minutes. Rino’s dad comes in – with a kid- and is seemingly gay. Regardless, he has the air of a man who can’t understand why Rino is the way he is. He has the usual parental exhortations – why can’t you get a girlfriend? Why aren’t you ambitious? Rino’s horrible insecurities owe to this man’s influence. Still, he announces to Rino he will be getting a roommate, an attractive, young blond woman named Marlin.
She moves in and the impression of a breezy, superficial party girl is made. She is bubbly and bright towards Rino, which catches him off guard because no woman has ever treated him that way.
However, two strands in the movie appear. One, is Marlin’s increasing reliance on Rino emotionally. Rino trys to the play simp “pity me game,” which gets her to hug him, gets her to confess feelings about stuff to him and gets her to cuddle with him and all that. For the moment, the male hamster is satisfied. The second is his relationship with his narcissistic best friend. He uses Rino as little more than some pathetic guy he can boast to about banging old women, hookers and selling dope to kids. His relationship with Rino hits a climax at a house party Marlin throws, which is a mini-climax.
In the lead-up to this party, Rino tries working out. However, one more of his cartoons pops up as he falsely thinks everybody is judging him at the gym, so he runs away, never to come back. He changes his look, wearing a suit coat to the party along with styling his hair. He still looks a little shabby, but much better than before. Marlin says he looks cute and he stares into the mirror after that compliment – a little too long. Regardless, Rino at least makes some fumbling gestures at women and they are not turned-on, but neither actively dissing him.
Once again, he flees to the balcony, where Marlin consoles him telling him drunkenly to not be depressed. Rino’s friend comes in, blazing mad Rino is throwing a party with cute girls and demands to be allowed to cook a few pounds of bacon on his stove. Rino’s friend remarks to him, “Is bacon too primitive for you now?” I laughed hard at that one. However, this symbolizes what Rino is to the people in his life. To his dad, a failure and does nothing to understand Rino. To Marlin, an emotional tampon. To his best friend, a simp he can feel superior to. However, this blows up as expected.
Later on, Marlin is crying at the park and he inquires as to why. Long story short, the alpha male she was getting fucked by broke up with her. They take on one of the most beta pacts ever – she steps into celibacy, while he steps out. She decides to set him up with a date.
Rino walks into the restaurant and immediately approaches an attractive blond at the bar with no fear. It shows much fear can impede a man, as the female wasn’t swooning but was at least entertaining his advances. It isn’t his date, however, as a chubby blond calls him over.
Rino loses it. He calls her a disgusting lard ass and pours his beer in sheer beta defiance over his head. She grabs his hand in an act of empathy, but he jerks away and leaves. He flees home and begins to draw one of cartoons in which Captain Cock takes control of his sexuality and fucks hot chicks.
He meets up with his best friend and decides to go to a strip club. Rino gets turned on and decides to go with his best friend to a brothel to finally get laid. When he goes into the dirty brothel, there are several fairly good-looking women there. He has serious jitters and the matron gives him a strong drink to help him relax. He chugs it and gets more nervous, so nervous he runs all the way home in the pouring rain. He finds Marlin, crying because her alpha came by, fucked her and then told her it was over again.
He carries his fair maiden to the bedroom, where they sleep and cuddle together, with her pressing her almost naked body against his. In his sleep, he dreams of fucking her, but habits are habits and he begins stroking in his sleep. She wakes up and recoils in horror and calls him a disgusting pervert. Bad choice of words on her part because that triggers his deepest fear and he runs to the bathroom, grabs a blade and threatens to cut his dick off. She eggs him on at first, telling him he won’t do it because he is too big of a pussy. Well, he does it. We are presented with another cartoon montage where he gives up his cock and balls, much to cheering of a crowd. He gets to a hospital and is fixed up.
He comes home and Marlin is waiting for him. She comments on how sorry she is for egging him on and tells him she found his drawings and he is really good at drawing. She gives him a final exhortation – possibly the best advice he got the entire movie – and to leave the apartment. He is too trapped in his own mind there. At the end, he goes back to the market with the original girl. He buys some paints and asks her on a date – very badly. She politely declines and leaves; all the while pretending – in his mind- he has changed significantly.
What to make of this? Rino may appear to be a narcissist and he does have narcissistic qualities, as he is preoccupied with his false view of himself and ignores his true SMV. He displays nothing more than superficial changes in his life – his workout routine lasted all of one day. What he really displays is sometimes called “inverted narcissism” or, codependency.
Codependency is a common psychological issue that one develops as a child, with either a narcissistic parent or a drug-addicted parent. They are characterized as having a deep ability to understand other’s emotions, but only as so far as it relates to the given codependent’s ability to perform a particular role in a narcissist’s life.
In Fatso, Rino plays the regular simp who is psychologically used by those around him, but insofar that it allows him to act out certain roles. With his best friend, he gets to act out his failed relationship with his father, as he gets to the play the fascinated, idolizing inferior. With Malin, he plays the emotional tampon, the guy who gives her the emotional support she craves from the alpha male. With women in general, he gets to live out his fantasy of “Captain Cock” who not only saves women from the clutches of uncaring assholes, but who also gets his sexuality approved of. I noted only once did he actually fantasize about having sex – it was all about the ability to get sex in theory. That sounds like narcissism.
Understand that deep down, Rino doesn’t want his sexual desires approved of. Codependents have a superficial desire for approval, as that is what they got from their self-absorbed parents. Any real displays of approval are almost always rejected, sometimes very strongly. This is reflected in Rino’s inability to come to grips with his sexuality. He craves superficial acceptance – for example, when he asks that women out at the end, she says she is engaged and “might” take go on a date with him if she was single. It was worded so that it was a very light rejection, but still could be taken as an acceptance. That is exactly what he wants – superficial approval from women so he can live out his fantasies in his head, while simultaneously avoiding any real, substantive contact with women. The closest he got to ever touching a female was after a serious psychological shock at the brothel, having run home half-drunk and presented with a great white-knighting situation. The best he coughs up is jacking off and then trying to slice off his dick.
This is where the book “No More Mister Nice Guy” comes in. Written by Robert Glover, it is a handbook for the beginning of changing a “nice guy” or beta male. Dr. Glover does lay some serious tips to help the codependent male. Understand, the narcissist is protected by narcissistic armor – their defenses against criticism. Telling a narcissist in therapy that he or she has value is worthless because they will laugh at you. Of course they believe that, their narcissistic armor ensures that at a superficial level. In my opinion, the most insecure people are narcissists. They hide behind serious defense mechanisms that make you think they are strong. They are not. However, one of the benefits of being a codependent comes in. Codependents already blame themselves – their self-hatred is just below the surface, that is why narcissists target them so shamelessly. They know they can get them to act out the roles they need them to.
This is why codependents are receptive to therapy – accepting blame for their actions is their nature. They don’t have the serious deflection armor narcissists have. While their self-blame is shamelessly self-centered, it is the first step of solving any problem – admitting a problem. Codependents are acutely aware of their deficiencies – look at Rino. He knew he was fat, ugly and sexually repulsive. His cartoons he drew reflected that realization. Marlin, at the end, remarks that he has a level of self-awareness. She recognized and empathized with the fact Rino knew on some level he was sexually worthless to most women.
In the book, Glover lays out nice guys. He characterizes them as guys, who think if they get everything “right,” that love, lust and all that jazz would flood into their lives. He positively cites Lasch’s “Culture of Narcissism” book near the beginning, signaling he notices that many men are suffering from narcissistic parents. However, his expose of the typical nice guy could literally be channeled through Rino.
In Glover’s words, nice guys operate on two axis’: the “I’m so bad” and “I’m so nice” nice guy. The “I’m so bad” nice guy is really a guy who has been convinced of his inferiority by a parent; he abuses alcohol, drugs and others in an attempt to prove his lack of worth. In other words, he attempts to paper over his own perceived worthlessness by pretending to be bad. He really isn’t anti-social, he just acts that way to get attention. The “I’m so nice” guy is a person who believes that they really are the nicest person around. They paper over anger, fear and sexuality by pretending it doesn’t exist. After all, they are the paradigm of the goodness. Any nice guy can vacillate between these two polar opposites given the right circumstances. Rino displays the “I’m so nice” guy outwardly. When confronted with this sexual desires, porn use, etc. he flips to the other end of the spectrum – “I’m so bad,” I’m sick, depraved and a loser. When Malin confronts him with his desire for her, he runs off in a tantrum to deny himself his very manhood. A playing up of the “I’m so bad,” while emphasizing the “I’m so good” – I will rid the world of my depraved sexuality.
What causes these feelings of worthlessness? Two concepts: abandonment and shame. If you are raised by a narcissist, that person only cares about themselves. A baby would quickly realize that their needs and desires aren’t relevant. They would begin to act out in ways that would allow them to function with the paradigm of that relationship. Since narcissists need to feel superior, babies and children would most likely play the inferior to get attention.
Roberts provides a great breakdown of shame. Shame-based people are people who believe that is inherently dangerous to be who they are. It is a dichotomy that breaks down – “There must be something wrong with me because [fill in the blank],” and “I am lovable when [fill in the blank].” Analyzing Rino through this lenses, it becomes clear he was lovable as a child when he took care of female emotional needs, but he was in the wrong when he asserted himself. He was lovable when he listened to and praised a male superior, he was in the wrong when he expressed himself in a way that a female found inappropriate.
This is where Robert’s analysis of the social forces that lead to this comes in. Roberts comes down on a few forces: lack of fathers, a feminized education and feminism in general. He recognizes the lack of quality fathers impairs a male’s ability to grow into a confident man. Second, he comes out and says the early years of education isn’t about education but learning how to please the female superior (!). Third, is feminism; Roberts says that sayings like “All men are pigs” or “All men are rapists” do nothing but hurt vulnerable men; further, even sayings like “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” hurts men who were already conditioned in this female-centric to look for a woman’s approval first.
Ultimately, men like Rino really don’t have a chance. Born into a system and a world that does little to understand boys and men, men like Rino simply don’t slip through the cracks, but fall right through the massive holes society affords these men.
Regardless, men like Fatso will still be jacking off watching the flickering screen of their TV.
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