• Stamos & Freud

Country Clubs Get A Bad Rap

Ever pay a large sum of money to be told what you can and can’t do? No, I’m not talking about hiring a dominatrix to flick your nipples. Think khaki pants, collared shirts, and classy living. You guessed it, today’s post is about country clubs. Fear not, this not a post about trashing these institutions. In fact, I’m defending them. (If my potato famine ancestors could see me now).

Country clubs get a bad rap and since I can no longer “Thank Obama” for all my problems, I will join the masses with blaming the media. Specifically it is how these institutions have been villainized. Sure, according to Gold Digest, the average annual cost is just over 6k a year. It’s your money, use it when you need it. (Thanks J.G. Wentworth). It isn't just about the money though, it's the stereotypes that follow that under review. Here goes my attempt at an objective look at how negatively pop-culture has depicted country club culture. (I win at alliteration)

First, let’s acknowledge the superficial humor behind the name.

Here is country:

Here is club:

Together they make...

Despite the anomaly that is this compound word, let’s unpack the contrast. There is nothing "country" about these 18 holed havens. The stereotype is a khaki filled snuggle fest by the upper echelon of white society. Again, not a belief or statement, but an objective analysis that begs one question. Why do country clubs seem whiter than a snowman in Mitt Romney’s Book of Morman backyard on Christmas Day?

It’s easy, Hollywood is double dipping. Let’s take a look at some of the most inflammatory illustrations brought to you by La La Land.

Dirty Dancing:

Sure this is more than a country club, but it represents the same ideals. The films presents a contrast of beliefs, values, and identity. At no point do you root for anything affiliated with Kellerman’s. This is by design. The filmmakers want you to cheer for Johnny Castle and his Swayze-filled swagger. Not the fun-size nephew who is hoping to woo Baby. Then you got Richie, the limp dicked mother trucker. The story attacks the classism contrast. This hammered home in the final scene.

Damn that Swayze is a stallion. I’ll forever be jealous of his finger stroking Jennifer Grey’s armpit. Woo baby.

The point is, the film paints a black and white approach to socioeconomics. One side is ignorant truffle snorting peckerheads. The other side is a rugged and rowdy crew, with hearts of gold, who let their inner inhibitions fly. Don’t worry, they have depth too. The result is giving the audience only one side to cheer for. You guess it, it’s not the side that sing’s about Kellerman’s.

Happy Gilmore:

For this example we are blending together golf and country club culture. Since much of the decorum and facilities are the same, it seemed like a fair entry into this list. Not only that, but it continues the same pattern of contrasting two types of people. In this case, the rowdy hockey fans and the high-falutin classy group.

This Sandler classic is probably his most iconic role. He’s an everyman with a temper thrown into a sophisticated game of patience and self-control. Well played writers.

The Goonies:

Alright, this one is too easy to explain. A group of townies are about to lose their homes to some David Foster looking mofo’s. The kids in this community end up going on an iconic adventure. The older brother of the group is mostly interested in a girl. She is also being pursued by another guy. This other guy is Troy. He’s a red convertible driving, letterman jacket wearing, trust-fund bully. It would appear that those are the dimensions you need to make an 80’s jerk complete. Not to mention, his first scene on camera is in said letterman jacket and convertible while also wearing an all white visor that has his country club’s name on it. They laid it on thick.

Oh yeah, they make him pervy too. Later in the film he is the victim to a plumbing accident that occurs at the country club to which he cries into the camera…. “Daddy!”

The Karate Kid:

Did we think I’d leave this one out? If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I have a whole love letter dedicated to this movie. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please click here. A poor kid from Jersey, pursues karate and the local babe. Tale as old as time.

This is another iconic film that features the juxtaposition of the “haves” and “have nots.” We know how this story ends. While the country club scene is brief, it successfully reiterates the collision course of two different high school experiences. One featuring wealth and stability with the other being the working-class hodge-podge of experiences.

It’s no wonder that the average person resents the hell out of these institutions. Hollywood has made it awfully clear that we ought to. Granted, films about people who can afford country clubs and the finer things in life are rarely ones that appeal to the masses. The fish-out-of-water story arch delivers a rewarding message for the casual movie-goer. The list above consists of generationally iconic films that use the “us” or “them” message. This reinforces our thesis.

While this list only consists of three films, the actual filmography of trashing country clubs is much longer. It could also include films like Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Beverly Hills Cop; nearly every Nicholas Sparks story is predicated on the same economic contrast. If television is involved the examples are endless. The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and even Family Ties have episodes dedicated to this.. Interesting that many of our titles revolve around the 1980s.

Hollywood has no chill when it comes to dumping on this community. In retrospect, it’s comedic with how awful a picture is painted. Objectively, these places commonly have extensive fees and contracts that can be hard to get out of. Alienation and exclusionary practices are a byproduct of anything with a monetary requirement or threshold. The same could be said for American Express.

At the end of the sweaty night, we all want to be Swayze.

But we can’t all be him. Some of us need to be the crotchety dad. Some of us are Baby sitting in the corner. Dammit, some of us are the mom, thinking she's down with the dirty.

A good way to see what side you fall on this meaningless analysis is saying yes to any of the following questions:

  1. Do you side with Billy Zane in Titanic?

  2. Do you trust Pat Sajak?

All things aside, do you believe Hollywood poorly represents these institutions? If so comment below.

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