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June 13, 2023
Ruined with Alison Leiby and Halle Kiefer

In This Episode

Halle and Alison talk AirBnB preferences while dissecting all of the guys in Men. Plus, in honor of Pride, Halle sits down with Bi Friend of the Pod Dave Schilling to talk men, Men, their break up, and both of them coming out.







[theme music]: If scary movies give you dread, keep you up late night in bed. Here’s a podcast that will help you ease your mind. We’ll explain the plot real nicely. Then we’ll talk about what’s frightening so you never have to have a spooky time. It’s Ruined. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, hello. Welcome to Ruined. I’m Halle. 


Alison Leiby: I’m Alison. 


Halle Kiefer: And this is a podcast where we ruin a horror movie just for you. 


Alison Leiby: Just for all of you. Halle, how are you doing? 


Halle Kiefer: I’m doing okay. I’m sort of. I have a little patch of grass next to my apartment. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And between me and a fence, and I’ve become consumed with trying to plant something back there. 


Alison Leiby: Hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: But I know nothing about anything, so I’m. I literally just Googling. Growing plant—


Alison Leiby: Plants? 


Halle Kiefer: I because it’s like it’s a very shaded area. I don’t know if the soil is any good. Like if you were to just. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Plant something to eat. Sort of I’m starting at square one, but I feel like there are plenty of people who do know this. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: I just need to start that conversation— 


Alison Leiby: Our producer Sabrina can definitely walk you through this. As a gardening expert, I will say like, do you like mint? 


Halle Kiefer: I love mint. 


Alison Leiby: I mint grows like a weed. 


Halle Kiefer: Ooh okay. 


Alison Leiby: So I have a big pot of mint out on my terrace. 


Halle Kiefer: See—


Alison Leiby: And I barely deal with it. And it’s just there. And I just snip some off whenever I want it. And it smells nice out there. And also allegedly is a mosquito repellent. So.


Halle Kiefer: Ooh, okay. See, just by bringing it up. I already have so much more information, so I really appreciate that. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Look at this. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. I don’t know. You know, we don’t really ask each other about a horror, but I do. I guess there is room for nice things. 


Alison Leiby: Indecision, indecision is a horror [laughs] not knowing what to do is horrific. [laughs] 


Halle Kiefer: Do you have anything horrible, horrifying happening in your life, Alison?


Alison Leiby: Not horrifying, but I am getting served a lot of, we’re back to TikTok, like ear cleaning content. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, my God, what is going on with that? 


Alison Leiby: And it is disgusting. But I’m like, I am interested. 


Halle Kiefer: What is the way we’re supposed to be cleaning our ears because we’re not suppose to—


Alison Leiby: Not Q-tips. 


Halle Kiefer: We know this. 


Alison Leiby: It’s not Q-tips. 


Halle Kiefer: And yet. 


Alison Leiby: Well, I remember once I felt like there was a lot of wax my ears and I talked to a friend and he was like, I went to urgent care and they, like, flushed it. And this huge piece came out and it felt so much better. And I was like, okay, maybe I’ll go try and do that. And they were like, I got to urgent care. They like, looked at my ears. They were like, there’s no wax in your ears. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Oh okay. 


Alison Leiby: And I was like, oh, I mean, good. But I don’t know. 


Halle Kiefer: I guess we could do that at home. 


Alison Leiby: This was years ago. There are like kind of like things where it’s like kind of a tub you put like up against under your ear and you just flush with water. 


Halle Kiefer: Something about that is so. 


Alison Leiby: It’s disgusting. 


Halle Kiefer: It just makes my skin crawl I don’t know what that is. 


Alison Leiby: Seeing what that was inside is gross. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah. It’s very pimple popper. It’s very—


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It is natural, but it feels unnatural because you’re seeing something you don’t normally see. We kind of talked about this week, like seeing a photo of a cervix for the first time. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, yes. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m like, I know this is normal. I’m not used to seeing it out in the wild. [both speaking] Yeah, I just. Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. So I’m. It’s getting served to me in a way where I’m like, it’s making me, you know,. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: You see something enough. You suddenly become interested in it. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: And I’m like, is this because I’m like, does TikTok know that my ears are waxy? Like, should I go do something about it? I don’t know. I don’t know if they’re—


Halle Kiefer: Well, TikTok knew I was queer before I did, so. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. So it probably has some insight into earwax.


Halle Kiefer: Alison I think, I think you have an insane amount of earwax and TikTok is trying desperately to tell you. 


Alison Leiby: All I want to do is jam Q-Tip in there. God, that feel so good. 


Halle Kiefer: But then I guess it just pushes it down further. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah and like and like pushes it to the side. So it like, is. 


Halle Kiefer: Why don’t we know how to do this? I feel like this is something that people think about every day. It’s like there should be we should have a clear answer. 


Alison Leiby: I saw one girl talking about a tool she has that looks like a Q-Tip, but it’s like an empty metal spiral. And by like turning it, it kind of instead of like pushing the wax out, it brings it in and then you just kind of clean out the spiral. If that makes sense.


Halle Kiefer: Oh, okay. I guess so. I just imagine it would immediately go through my eardrum. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, it sounds I think it’s designed to be safe, but again, it feels like not something I should be left to do. [laughter] It feels like a doctor should be stepping in. But we’ll see. I don’t know. That’s horrific. But also I can’t stop thinking about it, which isn’t that the definition of something horrible? [laughs] Horrible. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, speaking of that segue, and it’s like horrifying, we, of course, are talking every week about Crooked’s Fuck Bans: Leave Queer Kids Alone campaign, which we are. They launched this month for Pride but is going to be going throughout the year. And the idea is that, you know, this is no surprise to you. We talk about this constantly on the podcast. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Queer and trans people are under attack and specifically queer and trans young people and their families in Texas, in Florida, in all of these red states. And, you know, it’s horrifying. So, Vote Save America, which is sort of the political action arm of Crooked has launched a site for donations and for you to become involved. And you can go to that right now at 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: If you donate they want to raise $50,000 over the course of the month. I feel confident we will do that and more and your money will go to places like the Transgender Law Center, The Trans Justice Funding Project, Project, and the Trans Youth Equality Foundation. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. The people who oppose trans health care and trans existence are a very small minority, but they are vocal. And I think it’s important that even though we all are fully in support of trans and queer youth and adults, we need to def— Like completely obliterate that sound. We need to make sure that we are louder and we are giving more and proving just how common and accepted and loved queer and trans people are in this country. 


Halle Kiefer: When everyone in the nation is being inundated with negative propaganda about trans people and queer people. It is our job to be talking positively and creating positive images. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And discussing to push back because there are a lot of people who are who are just hearing the negative side, who are just hearing these insane, disgusting lies about trans and queer people. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So whatever you’re listening, whatever your field is, whatever your study is, and if you’re queer or trans or both, we’re, our souls are with you, we love you. And obviously, again, I have said before, I am an optimist, despite all reality. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But here here’s one of the things that we are doing, which of course is talking about it and of course donating money to go to different organizations. And you can go and donate yourself and learn more at And if you don’t do it now, we’re going to bring it up again. You know what I mean [both speaking] we’re going to bring it up next week baby. 


Alison Leiby: Always. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah so we are continuing our Pride month scheduling now this is not a movie that I think you would necessarily think go in Pride Month but there is something I had this conversation with a friend recently, a straight friend and not that recently, but within the last couple months where basically she said, well, like, did you know it’s some college they’re doing a straight studies or a heterosexual studies focus. And I was like, well, yeah, that’s that’s kind of what gay studies and like queer studies is. It’s that’s the inverse, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: A lot of queer studies is about how queerness operates when you have a straight a heterosexual—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —framework. And she’s just like, yeah, but they’re studying straightness. I was like, oh, it’s the same thing, but you have to sort of reframe it, if that makes sense. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yeah, yeah, it does. 


Halle Kiefer: So I wanted to, I wanted to do a movie that seems so extremely straight, but is also extremely confusing about what it’s trying to say. 


Alison Leiby: Okay interesting. 


Halle Kiefer: And I read some reviews and people have different opinions. I at the time did not love this movie. There’s a lot in it. I we’re going to get into it. The other reason I wanted to pick this is because this is one of the last movies I saw with my my former fiancé, Dave at the time, Boyfriend of the Pod, that ex-boyfriend now Bi Friend of the Pod. And this was sort of like an interesting movie to see in this sort of, again, liminal space. 


Alison Leiby: Yes.


Halle Kiefer: Where I was realizing it was queer. I was just about to tell him. And the two movies we saw were Crimes of the Future, which we did back in April. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. Go listen to that episode. 


Halle Kiefer: And the movie that we’re and the second movie was the movie we’re doing this week, which is Alex Garland’s, Men. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Now, have you heard of this movie? 


Alison Leiby: Remember we almost did this for a live show. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: And then you changed your mind after seeing it, I think. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it is. Well, we’re going to get into it. Unfortunately Alison, I’m going to ask you at the end, what do you think this movie was trying to say? 


Alison Leiby: Oh God, I won’t know. 


Halle Kiefer: I, well [laughter] we’re you’re going to have to come up with something. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: But before we do, we always like to have Alison react to the trailer? Alison, what do you think of the trailer for the film Men? 


Alison Leiby: I mean, the trailer is scary. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Terrifying.


Alison Leiby: Like, I think like any time you’re like, a person who is alone in a place, and then there are other people that seem to all know each other and people kind of are showing up. And you’re unclear of what everybody’s motivations, motivations are. Like, that’s a very scary scenario to be in. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Now, is everyone in this movie played by the actress who plays the lead? 


Halle Kiefer: So yeah, so Jessie Buckley plays the protagonist. She is a a widowed woman. She’s traveling to the countryside in Britain. And then pretty much every every other man except for one is played by the same actor. Rory Kinnear. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, okay. Oh, it’s not okay. So it’s not her. Because at first I was like, is it her? And then I was like, how do they make this? [laughs] 


Halle Kiefer: Well and there are definitely like Rory Kinnear’s in a bunch of different costumes, wigs. He is also CGIed onto a child’s body. So you can be forgiven. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: For having like, that weird, uncanny, like whose faces is that supposed to be?


Alison Leiby: He and her also both have kind of like, like a wider face and like wider set eyes. Very British, but like, there are enough, like physical similarities where I’m like, is that her dressed as a man? 


Halle Kiefer: No, I completely get that. But no, it is played by one gentlemen. 


Alison Leiby: Okay so it’s another guy. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. And it is not commented upon in the movie. So that is simply for us. We are experiencing all these men as being played by the same person. I mean, I’m assuming Jessie Buckley’s character is also in some way experiencing as all the same person. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But it’s not like she eventually says, oh my God, it’s that same guy. She never calls it out. Was there anything in the trailer that stood out to you is like a particularly scary moment or like a like, uh oh. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, obviously like somebody following her out of the woods, Like, very scary moment and like kind of knowing a little bit of her story when that we get teased like is a very scary thing but like when she bites into that apple and I. Believe that, I guess like the Airbnb host or like whoever this guy is. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm yes. 


Alison Leiby: Is like, don’t do that. And then it’s like, I’m just kidding. Forbidden fruit lol. Like, it’s just such an unsettling moment that it to me, that was very chilling. 


Halle Kiefer: We also like to take a baseline scary to see where Alison is at. Alison how scared do you find the concept of Men? 


Alison Leiby: Very. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. And what about them? What about them do you think is scary? 


Alison Leiby: I think like, I mean, well obviously, like just like the physical power that men have over women is just objectively like something that we deal with and are constantly taught to be afraid of, as you know, because men use that strength often against women and other people. I think it’s like there is something of like men feel very conspiratorial to me in a way that—


Halle Kiefer: Interesting. 


Alison Leiby: Even though women are the ones who are always like considered or like fem people in general, gay people like gay men, I think like, like gossipy and like, you know, chatting, a little secret, like hanging out over here. I mean, there’s something where it’s like, I just feel like all men, like, lowkey know each other— [laughs] 


Halle Kiefer: That’s really fascinating.


Alison Leiby: When I think about, like the comedy community, you know, as I was coming up and just feeling like even these guys that don’t know each other are in a club with each other that I’m not a part of. And like that expressed itself in like different ways. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Like in this industry. But I think like in general there is kind of a, an unspoken bond that men have that doesn’t you know, it does exist for women in a different way, but like it’s scarier in, when you can notice it in men. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I think there’s definitely something I look back at like all the ways that I sort of edited myself in those comedy spaces to be more acceptable. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Specifically to white, straight. 


Alison Leiby: Straight white men. 


Halle Kiefer: Cis men who of course, were the people who had sort of any power. And it was always like the fallacy of standup. 


Alison Leiby: Outnumbered you, like. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, 100% like and then like how, you know, I think even like if you were to, like, dress more feminine, how immediately you received more attention not that the attention was inherently good or bad, it was just sort of like you were so much more noticeable. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And I think there’s a lot this movie is sort of exploring that. But I also, we’ll talk about this again, think to me, as someone who’s enjoying it, frankly, there’s a lot of good things are coming from the gender revolution that we’re in right now. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I think the transness sort of complicates a lot of this, as does queerness in a way that makes me hopeful. 


Alison Leiby: Yes 100%. 


Halle Kiefer: But I think this movie is exploring what you’re saying, where there is this like you, you enter these spaces being like, aright, is this going to be normal or is this going to be all these guys—


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: —know each other and they’re going to treat me like this other that I have to be aware of, and then it’s on me, as you know, as a woman to sort of navigate that which happens constantly. So I think it is both. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And also there’s other stuff in this, um, like I don’t know what the point of this is, so we’ll talk about that. 


Alison Leiby: I look forward to that confusion. 


Halle Kiefer: And so would you like to before we get started, would you like to guess the twist in the movie, Men? 


[voice over]: Guess the twist. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. So we know from the like in the trailer, she explains that her husband died by suicide by jumping off their balcony. And that’s why she’s kind of in this new place. I’m going to guess the guy who follows her out of the woods actually murdered her husband. 


Halle Kiefer: Ooh okay. 


Alison Leiby: By pushing him off the balcony, somehow. 


Halle Kiefer: Great. 


Halle Kiefer: And that all of these men are in on that. Okay, great. 


Alison Leiby: To get her to this place to possibly just kill her. 


Halle Kiefer: So let us begin ruining Men. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, let’s [laughs] ruin men.


Halle Kiefer: Honestly, the poor bastards ruin themselves. I’ll be honest. 


Alison Leiby: That’s very true. 


Halle Kiefer: So we open on Harper. She is. We’re constantly coming back to the day. The day of her husband’s death. And it’s. We’re seeing her in their apartment. It’s at sunset. So everything has this sort of red glow. She’s stunned. She’s looking through the open patio under the balcony door, bloody nose, and sort of robotically goes forward to shut the door. And as she does, she locks eyes with her husband, James, as he plummets from the balcony above. 


Alison Leiby: So chilling. 


Halle Kiefer: And he they both look and they both look shocked. So, you know, that means Alison? Road trip. I’m also going to flag now because this is a conversation that Dave and I have and this is like going to be a conversation we have at the end is James, her husband is Black. He is the only Black person in this movie. He is the only man played by someone other than Rory Kinnear. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Why? That was decision was made. We as a conversation we’ll have at the end. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know if there is a very satisfying [laughs] answer if you ask me. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But we see Harper. She drives up to this gorgeous little country house. She’s Airbnbed it for two whole weeks. You know, she just wants to get out of the city, reset. Relax. She’s in a little town called Cotson, Herefordshire.


Alison Leiby: Very British. 


Halle Kiefer: And she pulls up. And there’s like, a beautiful, like, manicured lawn in front, and she picks an apple off the tree as we see in the trailer. She knocks on the door and we see the owner Geoffrey. And I’m sorry, it’s Geoffrey. It’s just spelled Geoffrey. The owner Geoffrey opens the door and he is like very classically goofy British like jokey. And he has her come in. He’s like, oh, the house is over 500 years old. Shakespeare. Marlowe and Shakespeare, you hear him trying to joke. And he says to her, oh, well, you must have baggage. And and Harper says, excuse me? He says, oh, in the car, you must have bags. I can get them. 


Alison Leiby: Mm. Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: So there’s gonna be a lot of those moments where she says, what did you say? Is this, what? A normal thing. I said a normal thing. 


Alison Leiby: Yes, right. 


Halle Kiefer: I certainly didn’t say anything alluding to your husband’s demise. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: So he goes out to get that. We see him drop the bags on the ground. He’s sort of fumbling around. It is a stunning home. Like, we have like huge like glass doors in the back leading to this garden. And then beyond it, it’s a field and and a forest. It’s there’s fruit trees. And as we saw in the trailer, we see he sees her half eaten apple, he says, is that from the tree? She says, I just took it off. He says no, no, forbidden fruit. Mustn’t eat. And so she thinks, oh my God, I’m so sorry. He goes, I’m just kidding. Eat as many as you like. Make chutney. Okay. So there’s a lot of. Is he joking? Is he mad? Sort of like playing with that. 


Alison Leiby: And like a man saying forbidden fruit to a woman who ate an apple. Like there’s all—


Halle Kiefer: Oh absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: —of that symbolism. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And I want to be honest, just to keep this in mind, the name of the movie is Men. 


Alison Leiby: Yep. 


Halle Kiefer: So when we get into it, it’s like we are we’re calling— 


Alison Leiby: We’re doing it. 


Halle Kiefer: —as we see it, right? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So he shows her around. The TV reception gets bad when it rains. He’s like a sorry, we’re we’re kind of out here in the middle of nowhere. He has giant, beautiful, giant tub. But he said just one thing, ladies. Be careful what you flush. Okay, septic tank and all, and she’s like, okay, no problem. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And he shows her the master bedroom. Stunning, gorgeous. And he says, in the distance is the spire of the church. And he said, There’s a great pub, a ten minute walk from here, ten minute walk there, 30 minute walk back. Am I right? She says, okay, dude, sounds good. 


Alison Leiby: [laughs] Too involved. Like this is a nightmare Airbnb host. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. And she’s like, get out of here. Get out of here. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t want to meet the host of an Airbnb. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I want to show up and have keys in the lock box and never hear from you. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: And he clearly, like, wants to know about her life. And be like also, you know, he gives her the keys, and says honestly, you don’t even need it. Like people don’t even lock their doors out here. And she’s like, I will be doing that—


Alison Leiby: I’ll be locking my door.


Halle Kiefer: And he says, well, how is your hubby going to be joining you? And she says, excuse me? He’s like, oh, it’s Mrs. Marlowe, you put Mrs. Marlowe. I just assumed. And she says, no, he he’s not in the picture. I haven’t changed the missus or the Marlowe yet. And he goes, oh, again, like, oh my God, a divorced woman. I’m so sorry. That’s horrifying and disgusting. I’ll be on my way. So he leaves and she FaceTime’s her friends Riley and starts to show around. But is like, I’ll give you a full tour later. And she says, he kind of Geoffrey, the Airbnb guy, kind of asked about James, and I wrote Mrs. when I filled out the the form. I don’t know why I did that. It just sort of happened. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But I know this is going to be happening a lot and Riley starts to interject and she’s like, no, I know. I have to get used to it. I let him think that James and I are divorced, you know, I didn’t really want to get into it with him. And Riley’s like, I wasn’t going to say that. I was actually gonna say, did you know that elephants are the only animals that can’t jump. So they kind of have like a fun like, back and forth. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Meanwhile, Harper goes to unpack and she cuts to James falling face. And again, we cut to him. He’s falling outside the window and we see her scream behind the patio door silently. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And again. Then she’s back in the current day. She’s sobbing. You know, she keeps going back to that day over and over again. And we see what started that his death. Well, not started obviously, this is an ongoing abusive relationship they were in. Harper has told James that she wants a divorce and he’s like, we made vows in a church. You’re not just divorcing me. You are throwing everything away. She’s like, I cannot live like this. This is we do not have a functional relationship. And he says, If you leave me, I will kill myself. 


[clip of Paapa Essiedu]: Now, I am sorry. You have to live with my death on your conscience. But it’s the truth. 


Halle Kiefer: And she says, You can’t do that. You cannot manipulate me. He’s like, it’s not manipulation. It’s not a threat. It’s the truth. I will kill myself. And she’s like, this is why we have to get divorced. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I can’t live like this. You can’t say that to me. You can’t hold that over my head if I’m not happy. Like so. But again, it’s like it’s already so dysfunctional that he is immediately going to. I’m going to kill myself. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Which, unfortunately, is kind of a common thing that abusive people do. 


Alison Leiby: Absolutely. 


Halle Kiefer: Because, of course, you’re terrified like you do. You love this person. 


Alison Leiby: That’s kind of the ultimate threat. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. Because it’s like, well, it puts it on you. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah exactly. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s saying it will be your fault. You will be blamed. You will be carried. This will haunt you, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Rather than I would be the person doing it. I have I have control over my actions. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s putting it again on this abuse victim. So back again, Harper is trying to enjoy her Airbnb keeps cutting to this day, obviously wiping her eyes. It didn’t say how long it’s been, but I can only imagine it’s only been like a couple of months or something since this happened. And it’s certainly not been more than a year. And she puts on her coat and she’s going to take a stroll. She locked the door behind her. We see her walking Alison, in the fucking countryside. It is that vivid, like shamrock, neon green of Spring. 


Alison Leiby: So nice. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s so pretty. And she, like, runs in a tree when there’s, like, a spring shower and she’s smiling. And again, she’s enjoying nature, taking refuge in nature. But of course, nature also holds a threat. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: And is that nature, human nature? I guess we’ll get into it. 


Alison Leiby: Probab— We’ll see. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: And to me, I’m the kind of person where I’m like, I want a movie to punch me in the fucking face with what it’s about. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, yep, me too. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, that’s where I’m at. 


Alison Leiby: Spell it out. 


Halle Kiefer: So I’m just like, okay, all right, we’re enjoying it. And she comes to a long railroad tunnel. So obviously a railroad ran through here it’s one of those big, long tunnels. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: But there’s no track anymore. 


Alison Leiby: Anymore. Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And she comes and she starts. She yells like, ah, she yells. And she. You could hear it echo. And she starts to, like, build a song with herself in the echo. So the tunnel’s so long. And so she’s kind of like singing, you know, like the song repeats and she’s like, laughing. It’s like, it’s so satisfying. Alison, she starts to walk down the tunnel and you could see the the far end. But she hasn’t really been looking at the far end. 


Alison Leiby: No, that it’s I don’t care—


Halle Kiefer: Alison. 


Alison Leiby: —if you see the far end, if you can’t see every single thing that’s in that tunnel, I’m not going in it. 


Halle Kiefer: She sees at the end of the tunnel, there’s a man sitting on the ground and it’s not like a place that a person would just be sitting. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re sitting essentially in the middle of the pathway. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. No. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s this person. It’s obviously a man stands up and stares at her and he’s standing bad. He’s got that bad stand. 


Alison Leiby: What’s a bad stand? 


Halle Kiefer: Kind of just like a little bit. 


Alison Leiby: Creaky and yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: A little bit off kilter, like one shoulder up. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t like it. 


Halle Kiefer: One knee down. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t like it. 


Halle Kiefer: And like, something a little unhuman. And we hear this screech like a crow. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: Again, a bird sound. 


Alison Leiby: A lot of birds. 


Halle Kiefer: So many birds he, we hear a screech. Alison. The man starts sprinting at Harper. 


Alison Leiby: Going from a bad stand to a sprint. 


Halle Kiefer: A dead fucking sprint. 


Alison Leiby: You don’t want to see it.


Halle Kiefer: Alison what would you do at this point of the film? 


[voice over]: What would you do? 


Alison Leiby: I mean, I’d sprint the other way. 


Halle Kiefer: I would piss and shit my pants. 


Alison Leiby: Well, yeah, yeah, yeah. [both speaking]


Halle Kiefer: Both, because I wouldn’t be able to stop myself. And then also because it would maybe lighten the load. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And I would I in this situation, I would be wearing big enough pants. I could just poop down the leg, I suppose. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, a loose pants. So it’s kind of just a tunnel of it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, exactly. Like most of the pants I wear. 


Alison Leiby: [laughs] Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: How. How much you think an average shit weighs? Like, how much do you think? Like a pound. 


Alison Leiby: Like a pound yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s insane, why did I say that? A pound? I’m googling this. 


Alison Leiby: It’s. It’s so hard to know. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, cause what is an average. How do you take an average of something like that. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I think like, I mean, there are people who, like, weigh themselves before and after they go to the bathroom. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know about that. 


Alison Leiby: I’ve never done that. So I don’t have any kind of context for what amount we’re talking about. All right. I googled—


Alison Leiby: I think it also depends. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. If you’ve had a big meal if you’re, how would you—


Alison Leiby: A little backed up. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So I googled how much does an average shit weigh and it says around one fourth— 


Alison Leiby: Does it specify human? 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, I didn’t do I didn’t specify that, but I think it’s giving me human. 


Alison Leiby: Okay, okay.


Halle Kiefer: How much—


Alison Leiby: Google knows you’re looking for human shit information. 


Halle Kiefer: I mean, it’s the one thing it does still knows as it fucking falls apart. So it’s either it’s around one fourth of a pound up to one pound. Okay. 


Alison Leiby: All right. 


Halle Kiefer: And then the first question people also ask, the first question is, why do they gain 2 pounds after pooping? 


Alison Leiby: [laughs] Well, that person, what did that say? 


Halle Kiefer: It’s this is from so I don’t know. [laughs] 


Alison Leiby: Is that like the Mayo Clinic? Like. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, exactly. But it’s actually for mayo, they just treat your illnesses with mayo. Yeah. They don’t even answer the question. So I don’t know.


Alison Leiby: Cause who could? Yeah. Go see a doctor. 


Halle Kiefer: So that was my first what would you do? 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m gonna have a second one. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Because that to me is that that’s early but I’m leaving. I. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: If I see that I am getting in my, I’m running to my car driving away from this fucking town. 


Alison Leiby: If I can make it back to the house, I’m getting my keys, I’m getting in the car, I’m leaving my stuff, I am driving away. I am not paying for this Airbnb. 


Halle Kiefer: Fuck that. 


Alison Leiby: And I am going back to civilization. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 




Halle Kiefer: So she, of course, does immediately start running so thank God. 


Alison Leiby: Thank God. 


Halle Kiefer: And we keep seeing like single dandelion seeds float by, dandelion seeds as a sort of a a motif throughout the film. She runs and she ends up running into another tunnel, but this one is bricked up with a door in it. She hears behind her the birds scream again and decides, fuck this. And she starts climbing the sheer side of the hill. So she’s like clinging to the hill, which is smart because like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Hopefully that’ll also take this person a minute to get up the hill. 


Alison Leiby: You would think. But the full sprint. 


Halle Kiefer: This person is motivated. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: She walks back, she’s in a clearing, she walks past. There’s these sort of abandoned houses that have fallen in disrepair, and she stops to look at them, which I think is too early to stop. And she hears a twig snap behind her. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. See, no. 


Halle Kiefer: She runs to the fence, she hops over and then is walking across this big, broad, empty field, gets all the way across it, and then turns to take a photo of the houses, I guess. Alison, when she puts her phone down, she sees, is standing in front of one of the house, one of the houses is a totally nude, lightly green colored man with his dick out. Totally nude.


Alison Leiby: What does lightly green colored mean?


Halle Kiefer: It looks like he’s covered in moss or a lot of pollen like his skin isn’t green. It looks like—


Alison Leiby: He rolled around in it? 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. It looks like he rolled around in a field and it stained him green. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: But he still looks like a human man. Now, Alison, in this situation, what would you do? 


[voice over]: What would you do?


Alison Leiby: If he comes near me I’m kicking him in the junk. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. You got to be willing to fight this motherfucker. 


Alison Leiby: Cause I think you could really do a little. You could. You could slow him down pretty seriously by doing that. He’s got nothing on, so. And then running more. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Running away.


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: Pooping again and running away. [laughs] 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, we cut to James’s dead body. And I think I will say I definitely took this movie harder as a white woman dating a Black man. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: I there’s no way that this scene wasn’t going to be upsetting. 


Alison Leiby: No it’s extra layers of—


Halle Kiefer: But I do feel like, yeah, it just hit me really wrong. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see her as she walks out of her building and we see James’s body. It’s brutal. I also think, again, this is a Alex Garland is British. This is a British film in America, seeing a Black man’s dead body. Like, I’m sorry. Like. 


Alison Leiby: It’s v— Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m sure there are films, including horror films where you could depict that and it would be make sense and be done with a level of craft. This did not feel like that to me, you know? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So we see his body. He has fallen on top of a spiked fence. A spiked iron fence, Alison. So we see one of the spikes has gone through his left palm, and it’s sort of like holding him up. And his head has been bashed against the fence, and his right ankle is sort of snapped into a 90 degree angle, and he’s bleeding out everywhere. 


Alison Leiby: Cool. 


Halle Kiefer: So again, Harper has gotten back to the house safely. Alison she saw this nude green man. What does she do? She gets into the fucking bathtub—


Alison Leiby: I mean, if every there has been a worse time to take a bath. What are we doing? What are we doing? 


Halle Kiefer: That motherfucker could be outside the house. I’d at least be calling people, I’d be freaking out, I’d call Geoffrey. 


Alison Leiby: Is that the same guy as the other guy? 


Halle Kiefer: Right exactly. Did that guy chase you—


Alison Leiby: There could be two of them. 


Halle Kiefer: —and then take, I didn’t even think about that. You’re absolutely right. 


Alison Leiby: I assumed this was two different guys. 


Halle Kiefer: They could be buddies, Alison. 


Alison Leiby: They’re probably working together. 


Halle Kiefer: Of course. And I did say this before, the green man, and we haven’t seen him up close. But, you, we, know, it is also played by Rory Kinnear. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: So she texts Riley the photo. Riley just replies back. OMG. If you sent me that photo, Alison said I would at least call you back and be like, bitch, get out of there. What are you doing? 


Alison Leiby: I would want to make sure that you’re on the other end of that phone call. 


Halle Kiefer: Like go to the Marriott where at least there’s other people there. Right, Exactly. For all you know, this guy got a hold of your phone. 


Alison Leiby: And is like, lol, look at me. 


Halle Kiefer: Lol. Your friend’s dead. 


Alison Leiby: I’m green. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: She goes to sleep in the morning. We see Harper, Harper brushing her teeth and sort of just starts to play the piano in like a long sleeve dress, which is to me a wild thing. When you’re in an Airbnb for two weeks I am wearing sweatpants. I’m not putting on an outfit or whatever. 


Alison Leiby: It’s robe time, baby. 


Halle Kiefer: We see. And when she’s playing, we do see. It’s like, gorgeous out. Like we see the lights and like, the clouds move over. It’s like the virgin countryside we see like lavender fields, lily pads. Beautiful. She stops playing and she cuts herself a grapefruit, and she has to do some work. So she puts her back to the garden doors and puts her Air Pods in and makes a work call, Alison. You know, the second she gets on the work hall, the nude green man is walking through the back garden. 


Alison Leiby: She is making every wrong decision, like. 


Halle Kiefer: Every second of this movie is her—


Alison Leiby: Getting in the bath, putting on headphones, having your back to the wide open space where you saw 1 to 2 men who tried to follow you.


Halle Kiefer: Like at least one of them was nude. 


Alison Leiby: And green. 


Halle Kiefer: She makes a call. They’re like, I. She’s like, I don’t know. The margins don’t look good. You know, one of those business calls, you have margins. 


Alison Leiby: Margins, sure. 


Halle Kiefer: And so, of course, she goes up to the kitchen and every time she gets up, like he’s slightly out of view. So she turns the door right as he passes around the side of the house. Riley calls and says, okay, give me that tour of the house you promised me. And so after the work call and Riley, she walks Riley through on FaceTime. We see the green man watching Harper through the window. Finally, Harper gets to the living room, and then she finally sees the nude green man who’s now taking an apple off the tree. He’s also Alison all scratched up, I’m assuming, because he’s nude. 


Alison Leiby: Right. It’s like you’re walking through brush. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, what did she say to her friend who’s on the phone? She says, I’ll call you back and hangs up. Why? Keep her on the phone? 


Alison Leiby: I don’t want to say that whatever happens to her, she deserves. 


Halle Kiefer: No. 


Alison Leiby: But she is making all of the choices where it’s like, inevitably things are going to happen to you if this is what you’re doing in this scenario. 


Halle Kiefer: And I also think and again, like I’m not saying horror movies are hard to write, but at a certain point it’s like it’s less interesting, it’s less engaging. If she’s not if we’re ahead of her, if we’re thinking of things she’s not thinking of. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s not as fun. It’s kind of like a little. 


Alison Leiby: Right. Like if we have a little more information, that’s one thing. But like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: We all have the same amount of information at this point. And no one would do any of those things. 


Halle Kiefer: 100%. 


Alison Leiby: Unless they wanted to get scared, hurt or die. 


Halle Kiefer: Luckily, she at least does the right thing and calls 999, which apparently is 911 over there. I didn’t know that. 


Alison Leiby: That’s fun. 


Halle Kiefer: And calls the police. Alison. She realizes that the front door is open ajar. Another thing neither of us would ever do. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: She runs to lock it only for the green man to stick his hand through the mail slot and try to grab her. And she screams on the phone. And the operator, thankfully, says the police are on their way. Harper in this moment has a flashback to her arguing with James that day that he died and he overturns the bedside table and she’s texting Riley. He’s really scaring me this time. This is obviously it’s very this has happened before. You know, he blows up. 


Alison Leiby: Um, really quick. I forget if this if you had said that’s how long after his death is she at this Airbnb? 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know. I think it’s a couple of months. It doesn’t say. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: It seems it’s not weeks, but it’s definitely two over a year. So I think we’re to think he died. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. Within a year.


Halle Kiefer: They had the funeral. He’s maybe it’s like a month or two. She’s getting out of town. So it’s still very raw, right? Obviously, it would be, but it’s not like it’s been five years or something like that. So in her memory, she, James walks in and grabs her phone to look at her texts to Riley. And he’s like, you’re trying to make yourself look like the fucking victim, but you’re the one scaring me with the way you’re acting. So what did you say to your that bitch friend of yours? Unlock your phone. Harper refuses, and James punches her in the face, knocking her to the ground, bloodying her nose again to have the only Black character in a movie be a Black man— 


Alison Leiby: Be a violent abuser.


Halle Kiefer: —beating a white woman in a domestic violence situation. To me, this feels. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t like it. 


Halle Kiefer: This does, and like, I’m not saying like America. Obviously we are a racist country and I’m not saying that we don’t do this. There is something British. Where British. There’s like quote unquote “colorblind casting.” And that’s what this feels like to me, where it’s like. 


Alison Leiby: Totally. 


Halle Kiefer: We want to have a person of color, but we already cast the two white leads, so we’re just going to make it a Black man without considering how this—


Alison Leiby: The optics, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —looks or feels. And then I also like, is he the only other man because he’s Black? So visually, we’re to know he’s not being played by the same actor, which would be even stupider. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So I don’t know, watching this. I’m like, I don’t know, man. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t like it. 


Halle Kiefer: Like Alison, if you’re going to call it men, but you’re not going to explore Black men. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: Like, it’s like it’s like the Black man is a villain and you’re not going to talk about race other than this depiction. I don’t know. It just seems like you shouldn’t have done that. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Like you just weren’t up to the task. Any who, back to the current day, the police who are played by a woman, so it’s a different actress. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And then Rory Kinnear is playing the male cop. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: They arrest the green man. They put like a jacket over him. He doesn’t resist the Rory Kinnear male cop puts the green man in the cruiser. The female police officer sits with Harper and Harper’s like, I’m afraid he followed me home yesterday from the woods. Like that motherfucker followed. I’m afraid he’s, like, stalking me now. And the cop says. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. It’s like, I completely understand why you’d be concerned. I think he’s harmless. He’s looks like he’s sleeping rough. It didn’t seem like he really understood where he was. We’re thinking maybe he’s mentally ill or whatever. We’re going to take him down the station. I’m so sorry about that. But I do think he’s harmless. Which comforts, I guess, maybe hearing it from another woman. It comforts Harper, right? 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And so as they leave, she calls Riley, and Riley says, I’m going to come up there and stay with you. Harper refuses. She’s like, no, I’m going to stay here. It’ll be fine. And she says, what are you trying to prove? 


Alison Leiby: Right? Why not? And also, if you just want to be, like, really alone, like, go to a hotel where other were there are safe—


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. 


Alison Leiby: Like, go somewhere where it’s like, at least there’s people around. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: That. Like, you could go be alone, but like, people are aware that you’re alone and are aware of the surroundings. And I don’t know. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And Riley was like, this isn’t about being weak. Harper is like, no, it’s not. So I think she’s doing this like, prove something. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But to who? And also not at this point. 


Alison Leiby: What? 


Halle Kiefer: You know. But you know, she she’s there for two weeks. So the next day she’s wandering around. She goes to the old church, which is gorgeous. And we see on the baptismal font is a sort of an odd man’s face made of leaves. And this is a. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: Actual folk character in the British Isles. His name is the Green Man. So you can imagine where we’re going from here. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. Got it. 


Halle Kiefer: And he is primarily interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, representing the cycle of new growth that occurs every spring. So to me, the Green Man is sort of like the male version of Mother Nature. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And I think we’re there’s something about like regeneration. How many like the fact there are so many Rory Kinnear’s, things repeating and nature, Mother Nature is sort of like this, this concept of like the maternal, like positive things of nature. And the Green Man is like the ravening drive of nature is sort of what I took on the back of this is a as the baptismal font is a female symbol, is a  Sheela na gig, which I know because there’s a PJ Harvey song called Sheela na gig if you are a nineties, baby. 


Alison Leiby: Yep. 


Halle Kiefer: And it is a carving of a woman and it’s found all around Europe of a woman holding her vulva open. So it’s like a little humanoid with just holding its vagina open. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And they’re not exactly sure what this means. It’s obviously like pre-Christian. The Christians were not going to let you get away with this. I’ll tell you what. 


Alison Leiby: No, no, no. 


Halle Kiefer: And they were place over doors and windows, of course, credit Wikipedia, presumably to protect these openings. So I guess the vagina is opening, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Through worlds where we’re having an open vagina and they’re used to ward off evil death and demons. So they are sort of like positive little creatures holding their pussies open to the benefit of humanity. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: But again, it is sort of, I think, calling to mind to like these fundamental pre-Christian ideas of like a man and a woman and what that means. Right. And that’s what is sort of playing at. It’s like these man and woman as these intractable un, roles that are unchangeable. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And the fact that they’re in what appears to be a Catholic church, or at least an Episcopalian church. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Begs the question, what are these gals doing in here, what are these little guys doing in here?


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: So she goes in there and of course, while she’s she’s in the church, she has a flashback and it’s we pick up right after James punched her in the face, she says, what was that, James? Your plan to win me back? And James tries to apologize, of course, but she leaps up and she’s screaming and pummeling him and shoves him out of the apartment. So it’s like her getting hit was like, this is this is a line again. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: You cannot uncrossed this. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And she tells him, save your fucking apologies. I don’t care if you fucking kill yourself. It doesn’t make any difference to me because you’re never seeing me again. So it’s like this was her. This is what—


Alison Leiby: The last. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: The last straw. And she shoves them, and literally there’s blood on her hands from her nose and smears the blood on the door as she shoves them into the hallway. Back in church, Harper is screaming and sobbing at this memory, which I again, I can only imagine how fucking devastating this would be. Like this whole fucking day. Of course, you’d revisit it a million times. 


Alison Leiby: Of course. 


Halle Kiefer: At the sound of her screaming. The vicar walks in. He’s course played by Rory Kinnear. And he’s sort of like about is about to talk to her and he doesn’t. It was sort of a red light flash over the S Sheela na gig, and we see Harper and herself on that day also in red. So I think we’re trying to compare like her this her innate femaleness, the role of the female. She walks outside and we find a child with a mask of a blond lady is sitting outside. 


Alison Leiby: Oh yes, that’s in the trailer. I didn’t love it. 


Halle Kiefer: No and he takes off the mask. It’s Rory Kinnear who is CGI de-aged onto a boy. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And he says, do you want to play a game? Hide and seek. You hide and I’ll seek. She says, oh, I don’t think I could do that. The vicar comes over and shoes the boy away. He says, go home, and the boy says, fuck off and when he turns to leave he mumbles, stupid bitch. So Harper’s having a tough time with this whole estate vacation. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: This whole holiday. The vicar comes over and says, hey, I saw you in the church. You seemed really upset. Do you want to talk about it? You seem tormented. She’s like, I don’t know if I’d be tormented. I supposed I feel. And the vicar says, vicar says, haunted. She says, yes, that’s. That’s the word. I’m haunted. So they sit on a bench, and I think Harper’s open to some religious counseling. And she tells the vicar about that day. And she says after their fight.


[clip of Jessie Buckley]: He pushed his way upstairs, went to their balcony, tried to climb down to our, but he he slipped, or let himself go. 


Halle Kiefer: But when he fell, we locked eyes. But I don’t even know that’s possible because I was inside and he was outside and the sun was setting. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: So it’s like, I don’t even know in my mind it’s like—


Alison Leiby: If you can see. Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So that’s what she’s stuck on. It’s like, did we actually make eye contact? Like was that a real final moment or was he just seeing the reflection and couldn’t see that I was inside screaming? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And so you understand why that kind of thing you get stuck on, obviously. And the vicar says—


Alison Leiby: I don’t know how you would ever stop thinking about it. 


Halle Kiefer: No. The vicar says, let me just say I understand. And he puts his hand on her upper thigh. 


Alison Leiby: Men. 


Halle Kiefer: Maybe knee. Upper thigh, too high. If your hands are on the upper thigh [both speaking] you’ve gone too high. 


Alison Leiby: Especially if you’re a vicar. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, exactly. He says. You know, I can only imagine you’re feeling a tremendous amount of guilt. You know, you ask yourself, what if, if only, what if I did something differently? And she’s like, I do think that I think about it all the time. And the vicar says, you must wonder, I mean, why you drove him to it. And she’s taken aback. She says I didn’t drive him to it. I didn’t know he was going to do that. Like, I would never have wanted that to happen. He says well. After he struck you, did you give him a chance to apologize? Men strike women sometime. It’s not nice, but it’s not a capital offense, you know? And Harper’s like, what are you talking about? And he says, look, do you want things to, do you want me to talk about things like, they’re easier? Do you want to talk to you about things that are like, because they’re true? So it’s like, listen, this is just the reality. It’s possible. Had you given your husband a chance to apologize, he might still be alive. Harper, to her credit, says fuck you and storms off. But as you can imagine, he, she feels worse about the whole thing than ever. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: And as she goes, the vicar slowly puts on Chapstick and then puts his hand where Harper was sitting to feel the warmth of her ass. Still on the bench. 


Alison Leiby: Ew. 


Halle Kiefer: Out in the woods, we see a deer carcass rot. 


Alison Leiby: Oh. 


Halle Kiefer: So we haven’t seen to servant in a minute. 


Alison Leiby: It’s been a minute since we’ve seen a servant. Nice to have one back in the mix. 


Halle Kiefer: And again, an avatar of nature, its eyes have rotted out. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see dandelion seed fall into its eye crevice. And also again we see the Sheela na gig and we see the Green Man, their faces again. When we cut back, the deer has decayed and is riddled with maggots. 


Alison Leiby: Yuck. 


Halle Kiefer: We also see the green man alone in, I guess, the tunnel. He’s, like, alone in a stone tunnel. I think he lives in the woods and he’s reaching up and is covered in all these cuts. And he takes a leaf. He sort of jams it into one of the cuts. Like he’s sort of building a green man face for himself. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: That night Harper’s like, I need a fucking drink after this shit. 


Alison Leiby: I mean, who wouldn’t? 


Halle Kiefer: And walks the ten minutes to the pubs, Geoffrey’s there and everyone in the pub. It’s all men. They’re all played by Rory Kinnear. And Geoffrey’s there. He’s working on a crossword puzzle. He’s like, oh, my God, everyone, my tenant is here. Please let me buy you a drink. She has a vodka soda she’s fighting him to pay for. He’s like I am paying for it. Your money’s no good here, okay? 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And the police officer comes in and she didn’t tell Geoffrey about the nude green man right but the police officer was like, oh, yeah. I mean, I was going to call you Geoffrey. This nude guy was walking around dick out. Can you believe it? Geoffrey said, oh, my God, I’m so sorry. I had no idea like, what happened? And—


Alison Leiby: I would tell him. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: I would tell him because, like, not that there is any good answer that he might have, but if he was like, down the road, there is a man. Maybe he suffers from some mental illness. Every once in a while he’s nude outside. It’s like if there could be an explanation that would maybe be like, oh, okay, I’m glad I cleared that with you. So I know it’s something not to be afraid of in the way that I was when there’s no information about him. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I completely agree. And also, like, it’s Airbnb you’re allowed to complain about whatever you want. You’re, you can complain about the towels. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re so dry. Or guess what? You complain about the nude man who was following you out of the woods. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, was hanging around.


Halle Kiefer: But Harper said it was fine. I think I maybe overreacted, but the point is, the cops have them now, so it’s totally fine. The cop says, yeah, well, except we had to release him about an hour ago. Harper says, what do you mean, release him? And he’s like, well, to be honest, we didn’t have much to charge him with. Like he was nude. And you get fined for that but like he didn’t do anything. 


Alison Leiby: Right can’t keep him. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. So we gave us some clothes. We sent him packing, told him to fucking scram. And again, she’s like, he followed me out of the woods and tried to get in the house. And the cop says, right. So if you see him again, just let him, let us know. Totally blowing off her concern. Harper storms out and starts to walk home alone at night in front of her. She hears that bird scream that we heard that first time, when she was running out of the tunnel. When she turns around, we see like, just an excellent shot. There’s a bend in the road. It’s sort of a low brick wall. And she could see in the streetlight the shadow of someone standing right around the curve of the road. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And they’re backlit, so she knows there’s someone there. So she turns and she keeps walking forward. We see the green man sort of duck out from behind a tree following her. 


Alison Leiby: So that’s not the green man? 


Halle Kiefer: No. 


Alison Leiby: Okay, great. Well not great, but. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: When she gets home, yeah. She calls Riley, and Riley has sort of, like, basically it’s like, girl, you are not giving up. You are a girl boss. You are not going to give up your Airbnb. You paid too much. Like, she’s just like, you have to stay there because I’m going to come up there. I’ll be there in 3 hours and we see that naked weirdo. I’ll take that fucking ax and cut his dick off and he can choke on it. 


Alison Leiby: Well, she sounds great. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. But also tell her to leave. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah. This is not the time for, like, hashtag girl boss  feminism. Like, this isn’t like. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Do it on your own hot bitch. It’s like, no, no. Take yourself out of dangerous situations at every turn.


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And Harper says what ax? And Alison, she turns and there’s an ax in the fireplace that Riley can see behind her. And Riley asks the address. Of course, when she goes to tell Riley the address, the phone drops out. And when the phone drops out, she sees the glitching screaming mouth of a man. For a second. And then her phone has died.


Alison Leiby: Like on her screen?


Halle Kiefer: On her screen. Riley texts her and says just send your location. She does. Riley replies in all caps, I already know where you are, you stupid bitch. And then outside, Alison the lights flicker and they come back on. And standing in the yard is the cop from earlier, Alison. 


Alison Leiby: The man? 


Halle Kiefer: The man, the Rory Kinnear, the man. Alison who will survive this film? 


[voice over]: Who will survive? 


Alison Leiby: I don’t think our protagonist is making it out of this. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay, great. 


Alison Leiby: And I think all of the other men will survive. 


Halle Kiefer: All right, great. 


Alison Leiby: I think friend is dead. 


Halle Kiefer: I think. I think you’re right to feel this way. We’ll see what happens. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. I’m excited to be very wrong and confused by the end of this, I’m sure. 


Halle Kiefer: Alison. She opens the door and goes outside and tries to confront the cop. What the fuck? The lights go out when they come back on. He has disappeared and a torrent of apples are all falling from the apple tree. 


Alison Leiby: Oh, come on. 


Halle Kiefer: She hears screaming. And then one of the men, also played by Rory Kinnear from the pub, runs up to her through the lawn, and she barely gets inside and pushes the door close and locks it. She goes to the kitchen, grabs a knife. Suddenly, in the kitchen, a window. 


Alison Leiby: Finally some thought. 


Halle Kiefer: Exactly. A window fucking shatters. She’s thinking they’re inside. 


Alison Leiby: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: There’s a bang on the door and she screams, I have a fucking knife. Geoffrey opens the door with his key and says, what’s happening? And she’s like, there’s someone breaking in. They just broke the window. When Geoffrey looks at the kitchen, it’s not a man. It’s a crow. A crow has gone straight through the window. 


Alison Leiby: I don’t know what’s worse. 


Halle Kiefer: And it has a broken neck. Alison.


Alison Leiby: Ay.


Halle Kiefer: But it’s still alive. So Geoffrey says. Oh, I’m sorry. You have to see this. And he just snaps the bird’s neck to kill it. 


Alison Leiby: Aw. 


Halle Kiefer: Harper’s like I saw the cop outside. I saw the pub guy. And Geoffrey, at this point is like, okay, I believe you. You don’t seem like someone who would make this up. I will take a look around. I am the landlord, after all. And she’s saying Harper again to her credit, is like, don’t go outside. If something’s happening, there’s no reason that you also won’t be hurt you know what I mean? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: But Geoffrey turns to her and says, you have all the qualities of a military, a failed military man. And Harper says, what? And he says yeah, my father said that to me when I was seven. Anyways, time to prove him wrong. And Geoffrey marches outside. Harper trails him with a knife. He goes from the side yard, he goes to the lawn. There’s nobody there. And he says, if anyone’s here, I don’t know what you’re playing it, but you better get the fuck out of here, okay? The outdoor lights flicker on and off, and standing there, it’s not Geoffrey anymore Alison. It’s the green man.


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And he has even more leaves coming out of all the wounds on his body. 


Alison Leiby: He’s been out in the woods, so he’s jamming leaves into his head. 


Halle Kiefer: You know what? It seems like he’s got a lot of other stuff going on. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, he does. 


Halle Kiefer: He blows dandelion seeds into Harper’s face, and she inhales and a tear run down runs down her face as one of the seeds goes in her mouth. She then sees herself screaming. And we see she sees the green man in the baptismal font, the Sheela na gig. And we see her running up against that bricked up tunnel in the woods. Luckily, Alison, in reality, she’s able to get back in the house and shut the door. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: But now the green man is watching her through the mail slot. 


Alison Leiby: See, we don’t need mail slots anymore. 


Halle Kiefer: Girl, I have a fucking mail slot. I hate it. It’s scary.


Alison Leiby: I hate that. It’s scary. 


Halle Kiefer: At this time. The green man puts his hand through. Harper, reaches for it, and he grabs her wrist and sort of starts to pull her towards the door. She brings her knife down into his arm and then drags it towards her and splits his hand in two. So essentially his two fingers on one side and three on the other. His hand is a lobster hand. It’s it’s bifurcated now, all the way up to his forearm. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Okay. Okay. Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: This motherfucker doesn’t even scream. Alison. 


Alison Leiby: What? 


Halle Kiefer: She doesn’t have time to deal with this. There’s some, she hears a sound in the kitchen. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: We see it’s the little boy, Samuel. His arm is also now torn. So everyone we see from now on, the Rory Kinnear’s of the world, their arms are now torn in half. And I think it’s suppose to be evocative of her husband’s hand being skewered on the on the fence. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: Samuel is playing with the dead crow. 


Alison Leiby: Oh good. 


Halle Kiefer: And he’s put the the the blond lady’s mask on the crow. And it’s sort of moving it back and forth. I don’t know if we’re supposed to think like it’s like as if not like he’s fucking it, but, like, moving in this, like, rhythmic way. I don’t know what we were getting at there, and from you on out, I feel like everything that happens, I’m like, okay, I guess I understand. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And he tells her, you really hurt me. You’re so mean. You wouldn’t even play a game of hide and seek. But I think you will now. And Harper says, I will fucking cut you because she still has a butcher knife. He says, I don’t think you will, but you should, because this will probably be your last chance. So how about you count to ten and hide? So she starts, but of course. Then another Rory Kinnear busts in, the pub guy from earlier busts in the front door like he’s Kramer, and she runs into the master bathroom. She shuts the door. Alison, another Rory Kinnear comes in. 


Alison Leiby: Oh God. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s the vicar. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And he quotes, and I think this is the most context we’re going to get right? 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: He starts quoting from the poem Leda and The Swan by W.B. Yeats, and the section he quotes is “a shudder in the loins in genders there, the broken wall, the burning roof and tower and Agamemnon dead.: The story, if you’ll remember, is Leda and The Swan. It was. Oh God. Which one was it? I want to say it’s not Odin who’s the king of the gods. 


Alison Leiby: Zeus? 


Halle Kiefer: Zeus. So Zeus turned into a swan. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And to impregnate Leda right. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And then she eventually bears his children. He either seduces her or rapes her, depending on—


Alison Leiby: How you would like to read what, yeah.


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. I think we’re to think that this is rape. Right. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And he tells her this. And of course, Harper doesn’t want to hear this at all. 


Alison Leiby: No, no one does. 


Halle Kiefer: And she finally asked him. 


[clip of Jessie Buckley]: What the fuck are you? 


[clip of Rory Kinnear]: A swan. 


Halle Kiefer: So keep that. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: He then says to her at what age— 


Alison Leiby: The vicar said that to her?


Halle Kiefer: The vicar says this yes. At what age did you lose your virginity? I have pictured you legs open, vagina open, mouth open. I’ve decided you’re an expert in carnality. These things now exist in my mind. This is your power. This is the control that you exert, right? As a lesbian, I have a lot of thoughts about this. We will return to at the end. 


Alison Leiby: Oh yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But this is very and this is very traditional religion. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: A woman’s desirability, a woman’s beauty, a woman’s attractiveness. It’s it’s a weapon. It’s wicked. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s something to be used to get like the idea of the man’s desire as something to control him exists specifically under patriarchy. Because without patriarchy, that don’t make no damn sense. Like, what the fuck are we talking about? 


Alison Leiby: Nope. 


Halle Kiefer: So then he quotes from Ulysses and the Siren by the poet Samuel Daniel, Sam Dam [laughter] and he says, I must be one that cannot win yet lost were I not one for beauty hath created been to undo or be undone. So basically what he’s saying, the siren is luring Ulysses again, like the woman, the temptress. And he’s basically saying, he says to her, you’re singing to me. You want to dash me upon these rocks? And he falls to his knees and is like speaking to her pussy and says, what is this cave? What is this slit? And she takes her butcher sign and puts it in his neck. And she says. 


Alison Leiby: Okay, good. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s right. It’s the tip of the blade. And he reaches up and he grabs Harper by the throat with his split hand and shoves her against the sink and starts to try to kiss her. And she stabs the knife into his ribs and kicks him against the bathtub and runs out. She gets to the car. Okay, we get. She gets all the way to the fucking car. 


Alison Leiby: Thank fucking God. 


Halle Kiefer: We see her. We also see her at the same time in the house collapsing. So I’m like, Is the car escape real? Are we to think? But anyways, she’s driving down the road. Geoffrey steps into the road. She slams into Geoffrey. 


Alison Leiby: Great.


Halle Kiefer: Throws him over and she stops. You never stop when you hit one of the avatars of potentially the the sexually violent avatar of nature. Don’t stop your car for that guy. 


Alison Leiby: No, definitely don’t keep on trucking. 


Halle Kiefer: And he, she stops. He pulls over the door, says, Miss. Marlowe. I’m kidding. Mrs. Marlowe. And he hauls her out to the ground. And then he steals the car and drives away. 


Alison Leiby: Of course, I don’t know what she thought was going to happen. 


Halle Kiefer: And she gets a minute where she’s looking at the Milky Way and does it kind of look like a big cosmic vagina? Sort of just. 


Alison Leiby: I guess. 


Halle Kiefer:  She doesn’t have time to consider it? Geoffrey starts, turns the car around and then starts running her down and she’s sprinting back to the house because the house is surrounded by a low stone wall. She runs past the gate and he slams into the garden fence, stopping the car and in the headlights on the front lawn under the apple tree, Harper collapses, crying. Alison. All right, here’s the final. This is like, we’re just going to get into it. I’m just going to describe what’s happening. I’m not even gonna pine about it. 


Alison Leiby: We’ll see. [laughs]


Halle Kiefer: We see instead of Geoffrey stepping into the headlights. On the lawn is the green man. His head is now completely greened out. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: His head is made of leaves. And it looks like the image of the Green Man we’ve seen on the baptismal font at the church. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: He steps forward and his ankle snaps in the exact same way as James’s did. Alison, the green man rears backwards and we see he’s massively pregnant. 


Alison Leiby: What?


Halle Kiefer: And we see his hairless vagina open. I’m sorry. Like, okay, the green man is getting a Brazilian? Grow up.


Alison Leiby: Yeah, getting waxed?


Halle Kiefer: Because he does have pubes—


Alison Leiby: Going into town.


Halle Kiefer: He has pubes when he has a dick. And I did. I was like—


Alison Leiby: Yeah see that’s confusing.


Halle Kiefer: —vagina and you but and that’s a whole other thing. The gynophobia of it all. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But his vagina opens and a little wet baby man is born and he starts crawling towards Harper. It’s the child. 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: Samuel. Alison. 


Alison Leiby: Okay. 


Halle Kiefer: He’s crawling as she backs up his pregnant belly, grows large, and then his vagina opens and a baby emerges. He’s given birth to the vicar. Alison, do you know where she’s going? Alison, Harper’s, Alison, it’s you now. You’re going inside. The vicar’s crawling inside after her because his ankle’s broken. He can’t even stand up. Alison you’re not gonna believe this. But the vicar also grows pregnant and gives birth to Geoffrey. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And he has his ankle broken, his arms split at this point I’m like okay. All right. 


Alison Leiby: I guess. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, like, I guess also Harper has stopped reacting. So I’m not reacting. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I’m like, she’s not scared. She’s not screaming. What the fuck am I supposed to be like? She’s like, okay, yeah, you already did this four times, you know, and you’re not gonna believe this. Geoffrey gives birth and but out of his mouth, but feet first he births has an oral birth of Harper’s husband, James, and he comes out feet first, first nude, and Harper goes to pick up the ax out of the fireplace, and James stands up. But instead of attacking her or giving birth, he kind of just falls onto the couch, which I thought was a funny choice. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, that’s fun. 


Halle Kiefer: And she sits down next to him and says, Harper, look at me. I died. My arm is run through, my ankle snapped, my internal organs, crushed. This is what you did. And she says, James, what do you want from me? And he says, your love. And she says, yeah. Title card, Men. In the morning, we see Riley arrive. The car is crushed. There is blood all over the lawn. So the stuff that we saw ostensibly did happen? 


Alison Leiby: Yes, something happened. 


Halle Kiefer: And she finds Harper covered in blood, sitting in the back on these stone steps. And we see Riley is pregnant, and Harper looks up, and she’s holding a little leaf, and she smiles at Riley. The end. 


Alison Leiby: What? 


Halle Kiefer: Alison, what is this movie about? 


Alison Leiby: I don’t know. I thought for a minute I was like, okay. And it like, nope, not even remotely down that path, I guess. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Like, I like I it feels like they are making a point that like. You know, weirdly, as I said at the beginning, like and also the way that it was cast that like all men are the same or like conspiratorially connected, but like, I don’t really get it. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. I think and again, to to bring up the fact that James is a Black man. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I think that it is that is just his his not understanding that to insert a person of color into a Black man, into a story about men and to not address that is you’re just fumbling it like—


Alison Leiby: Because like it doesn’t seem like that was. Some. There was no commentary. There was no purpose aside from. We cast this guy. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Like they weren’t making a statement. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t think so unless—


Alison Leiby: So we shouldn’t like, read into it that there was more than he’s just another guy in this. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s what I think. 


Alison Leiby: But that’s weird. 


Halle Kiefer: I agree. And so just a bizarre choice. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I think what we’re supposed to I think this is sort of like because he also did Ex Machina, which I did like, but I kind of had the same thing where, like, I am not saying by any stretch of the imagination that a man cannot make a movie about women’s experiences. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, but. 


Halle Kiefer: But for example, the one I always use is. Oh, God. What is his fucking name? Bo Burnham, Eighth Grade, I think like for the example like that is an incredible work that is like of, like sympathy and empathy and like, understanding. This is trying to—


Alison Leiby: This ain’t it. 


Halle Kiefer: —understand women’s experience. And what I took it to mean is that, like the Green Man is like the part of men’s nature that and I don’t know if we’re saying like we’re always going to rape, like they’re always going to rape like, which is what the vicar was saying, like, I’m a Swan, like men as like, driven by this like— 


Alison Leiby: Female attraction and. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, but I think the thing about that is that only I mean, I’m not saying that their biology isn’t real, but I think more and more, you know, as a queer person, as a feminist, as someone who is in any way engaged with these concepts of like transness or like non-binaryness, is that like all a lot of our ideas of better women are reinforced by the patriarchy and more broadly, all these systems. So then to be like, well, it’s hey ladies, what are you going to do? You know what I mean? It kind of was like, oh, you don’t even understand making this that you as a man, it’s not like it’s like oh, well, men are like this. Women are like this. I think we as again, as women. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I don’t. 


Halle Kiefer: As women, I think we are forced to be like, no, I’m not just like that. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Because from birth as women, we are supposed to be such like we have such a narrow definition. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Of what we’re supposed to be as cis women. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And I think that this is it’s almost like exploring these things, but not questioning if they’re actually just assuming that these biological realities are real, when if they were just real, we would not have to have these systems to tightly control it. You wouldn’t have to have right wing people to be like, oh, men aren’t men anymore. 


Alison Leiby: Right yeah yeah yeah. For sure. 


Halle Kiefer: Men are being feminized buy my like dick pills or whatever. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And then you when on the other side, there be like these fucking hairy, like feminists. They hate men. These fucking like, you know. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: These fucking bitches. They don’t want to like, who says breeding stock and like. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Household servants. Like, if we, if, if men and women were just like this, naturally, whatever that means. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: We wouldn’t have to have these systems. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And I think what’s frustrating watching this is like it’s like he can’t question what’s underneath it. It’s just like presented and then I just was like—


Alison Leiby: As like biological fact. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. And then to have like all the men give birth to one another, I was like. 


Alison Leiby: That really. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t know what we’re saying with that. I’m also like, there are men that give birth, there are trans men and transmasculine people.


Alison Leiby: Of course. Nonbinary.


Halle Kiefer: Now.


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I mean, there probably always have been. But I mean like. It just seems so late in the game to be like—


Alison Leiby: Making that the thing. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it’s fine to use these things but then to not I, I don’t know. It was like oh here are the terrifying things about the patriarchy, which I think it’s like, we know about those things. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah you don’t have to teach me in a movie about like, what’s scary about the patriarchy and the systems that uphold it, and what the experience of being a woman living under it. Like that’s not something I need. Like this weird lesson in that that is confusing. Like if they had morphed into each other instead of giving birth to each other. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I would have it would have made more sense. 


Halle Kiefer: And then to give birth to her husband at the end. And it was like no explanation of like. Like why was he so abusive? And like, we only really see, like, a little bit. I don’t know. And then, like, you know. 


Alison Leiby: And her friend being pregnant. After seeing all these men give birth to it like what—


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: I’m confused. 


Halle Kiefer: It felt. It felt half baked. It felt like a first draft. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: I’ll be honest. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah, I can see that. 


Halle Kiefer: You know and there are certain elements that really it was. It was beautifully shot. It’s very scary. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And at a certain point. She stops being scared. So then, like, what is our scariness? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: After you see that first birth? You don’t have to do it [both speaking] four more times. 


Alison Leiby: I guess this is train we’re on. I don’t know. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. So, anyways, the reason I want to do this for Pride Month is I really think. And I, I, you know, there’s not any surprise, but I do think that the reason there all this trans that anti-trans stuff is happening is because people are fundamentally questioning like, well, what is a man and what is a woman. 


Alison Leiby: Totally. 


Halle Kiefer: And I think that’s actually a good thing. 


Alison Leiby: 100%. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s like we all will benefit from unless you are someone who can only retain power by reifying these ideas, a.k.a. the religious right. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. And keeping what is objectively a hierarchy. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. 


Alison Leiby: Among the genders and among people that is not natural and doesn’t really exist and is completely for the power of a few. 


Halle Kiefer: And and like I don’t want to seem like, again, insipid or like, optimistic, but I really do think this where it’s like if someone was tweeting and they said like, you know, the only way we’re going to end white supremacy is for white people to realize that it’s killing them, too. And I do feel like that’s that’s also the conversation. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: We should be having. 


Halle Kiefer: This is like patriarchy will change when men realize it’s killing them, too. I feel like the men I know and granted, like, you know, we we live in bubbles, whatever we’re woke or whatever. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. Yeah.


Halle Kiefer: But like, I feel like our friends having children and having to raise sons and daughters, like, you know, are themselves being like, what is my own gender? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: It is asking that question. And that’s why the right has to panic is like it’s actually a really good question to ask. 


Alison Leiby: 100%. 


Halle Kiefer: It’s your gender? You’re allowed to question it. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And then then it does necessarily require a question of like, okay, well, all the stuff, I thought, is that true of me? Do I have to abide by that? 


Alison Leiby: Exactly, right. 


Halle Kiefer: And for a lot of people, the answer is no, and I don’t have to do it. So. 


Alison Leiby: No, no. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, so that’s why I wanted to do this for Pride Month, because I feel like Pride is about celebrating queerness, but it is also about investigating straightness. And especially right now, like all the Target stuff. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Where it’s like there is a level of panic around trans people specifically because the patriarchy and gender roles sit under so much and it’s not like they’re quote unquote “more important” than, say, white supremacy is that like the whole system is a white cis, hetero patriarchy. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And unfortunately, like unless we genuinely move past those things. 


Alison Leiby: And dismantle it, like it will continue to dictate how an especially vocal small group. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Gets to wield power over everyone else. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes, exactly. And force us back into these roles which, you know, again, as women, as as, as a queer person, as feminists, as anyone, anyone who has has had to step outside of it and not just be like, yes, I am a man, I am an engine of rape and violence, or like I am a woman. I am designed to be victimized and I am a vessel to be filled by God’s semen or whatever. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: Like fuck that for everybody fuck that for anybody. You know, we have to move past that in order to do anything at this point. I mean, we can’t even have bathing suits in Target as trans people. So we got to, we got to figure something out, you know? So okay, so you guys work on that. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: We’ll work on that and then we’ll be back here next month. Next week. Sorry.


Alison Leiby: Yeah, we’ll, all work on that next week. It’ll be solved.


Halle Kiefer: And what, did we do fatal mistakes? Yet, no? Okay. So what were some fatal mistakes? 


Alison Leiby: No. 


Halle Kiefer: If you could pinpoint one that you think someone specifically Harper may have made in this movie. 


[voice over]: Fatal mistakes. 


Alison Leiby: Going to a place by yourself inherently should not be something that ultimately ends in danger. But to go and to not tell people what’s going on. Why did it? Why did it take like two days to give your friend your location. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: Over the phone like that you should’ve been like, here’s where I’m going to be. If if things go south, like, come here, like to not leave and to take kind of every man’s word as no, this is fine. You can be here. This is not, like the cops being like, no, we don’t think he’s actually that dangerous. And, you know, to not tell the Airbnb owner that, like, this guy’s out and around, like it’s just the not saying something is always the most—


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely and to and she just kept doing it and she just there was no moment of like. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: And like I was saying it kind of gets boring at the end, like even she’s not scared. 


Alison Leiby: And she never, ever was uncomfortable. 


Halle Kiefer: No. 


Alison Leiby: Enough to change her behaviors. And it’s like, well, then, okay. 


Halle Kiefer: And also, I guess she was right, too, because nothing really bad happened to her. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. I mean, like she left the. I assume she went back to where she lived and kept doing whatever she does. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, her car was totaled, but she wasn’t, like, killed by any of these guys. 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: So I guess actually there were still mistakes because it all kind of worked out on her vacation. 


Alison Leiby: She’s alive, yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: But yeah, okay. 


Alison Leiby: I guess. 


Halle Kiefer: Good for her. And then where would you put Men on the spooky scale, Alison? 


[voice over]: A spooky scale. 


Alison Leiby: I think so much of it, obviously, I can tell. It’s really beautiful. I think like once you start clocking that, it’s all the same actor. There is like an eeriness to it, but the confusion does bring it down. So I think it’s like a four and a half for me. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, I’m going to give this because again, beautifully shot when you see the first man, ostensibly the green man running down the tunnel. It’s fucking terrifying. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: When you like. Those early things are so promising that the let down by the end. And honestly, I think you could have done kind of the same movie. We need a body count. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: We need fucking murder. And it can’t be of the avatars or like the different versions. 


Alison Leiby: No it needs to be—


Halle Kiefer: Because we know that it’s not real.


Alison Leiby: Real and visceral and like something that you actually react to like. 


Halle Kiefer: Threat. We need that threat. If she’s being threatened we need for—


Alison Leiby: Threats. 


Halle Kiefer: —some reason that threat to heighten. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And giving birth to each other baby that’s—


Alison Leiby: Just ain’t it.


Halle Kiefer: —not gonna cut it. I’m going to give this a two. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And God when this trailer came out, I’m like, yes. And then—


Alison Leiby: Yeah I remember we were so excited to do it as a live show and then you saw it and were like, we can’t do this as a live show because I have things to say. So I’m glad we finally did it now. And. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Alison Leiby: It fits in the context of like the kind of themes and things we’re talking about in the horrifying nature of what’s happening in this country and how we treat people. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Alison Leiby: But yeah, definitely a letdown. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, but listen, again, we’re not we haven’t made a horror movie yet, so who are we to criticize? 


Alison Leiby: Right. 


Halle Kiefer: But thank you everyone for listening. And again, go to To donate and find out more about how you can support specifically queer and trans youth and their family. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. I realize I should have done this in the last episode too. If you were in the DC area in June, I will be at the Kennedy Center for a week doing my show about—


Halle Kiefer: I didn’t know that. 


Alison Leiby: —abortion. 


Halle Kiefer: That’s great. 


Alison Leiby: The 20th to the 25th. It’s like a Tuesday to a Saturday. There’s lots of shows. It’s the Kennedy Center. 


Halle Kiefer: I mean. 


Alison Leiby: So if you have any interest in seeing the show and seeing me like, please, please come and you can find those details, I guess, on the Kennedy Center website. And, you know, I’m sharing it quite a bit, but one of those shows will be the anniversary. Timing wise, it worked out the anniversary of the passing of Dobbs and the rollback of abortion rights in this country. So it’ll be kind of powerful. We’re hoping maybe some very cool DC folks come out. So if you are in that area or want to travel there, please come. 


Halle Kiefer: And maybe, maybe Anna Wintour will stop by. 


Alison Leiby: We’ll see if she’s in town. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, until then, that’s very exciting. I, I wish I could go, but please go in my stead. 


Alison Leiby: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And until next week. We love you very much. 


Alison Leiby: We love you. 


Halle Kiefer: And please, keep it spooky. 


Alison Leiby: Keep it spooky. 


Halle Kiefer: Hey, everyone. We have an exciting development. [laughs]


Alison Leiby: Thank you. 


Halle Kiefer: And that is, we’re having a guest on the pod, which we have done in the past, kind of infrequently, he’s a very special guest for Pride Month. And that, of course, is my my ex fiancée, Dave Schilling, if you’re a longtime listener of the pod. He was Boyfriend of the Pod, Fiancée of the Pod, Ex, Ex-Boyfriend of the Pod, and now Bi Friend of the Pod, the role he was always meant to play. Dave thank you for joining me. 


Dave Schilling: That is that’s great. Yeah, that’s a perfect intro. Thank you. This is I’ve been on the show before. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: And I’ve been reminded of that recently and it’s nice to be back under a completely different circumstance. 


Halle Kiefer: Truly. Yeah. And if you listen, if you’re a listener who was listening for years, you are familiar with Dave both as a character in the Ruined universe and from being on the show himself. And if you’re new, yeah, Dave and I dated for three years. We lived together in beautiful Los Angeles, California. We actually moved in together right before the pandemic and spent a lot of time indoors watching horror movies. It was kind of our main, and drinking, I would say our main two events. 


Dave Schilling: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: And yeah, we we I came out last June, so literally a year ago this, this month. And we broke up and since then have been sort of the journey of our next stage. Oh, I’m gonna cry of our relationship, but it’s really great. But we wanted to talk about this at the end of Men because Men was one of the last movies we saw together, and we both agreed two thumbs down. 


Dave Schilling: Two big stinky thumbs up my butt. 


Halle Kiefer: Now do you remember the movie at all? Like, what were your thoughts, what were your thoughts about Men then and how do you think about it now? 


Dave Schilling: Well, you know, I’m glad you brought up the connection between our relationship in the movie. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: Because I think it probably colored some of my feelings about it. You were already starting to kind of pull away. For the record, everybody should understand, like Halle like got engaged on her birthday in May. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: We were broken up in June. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: It was a one month, like almost a 30 day to the to the day period between us getting engaged and us breaking up. And so in that mix we saw, we still saw movies because that was what we’d like to do and we still like to do that together. And one of those movies we saw was Men, because Halle and I both love Annihilation, Ex Machina, obviously a great film. I love Dredd, which Alex Garland wrote, and I was super psyched for this movie. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes me too. 


Dave Schilling: And I was completely disappointed, completely disappointed. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s one of those because it was one of those trailers that when it came out, everyone’s like, all right, like this. It felt new. It felt like, okay, we don’t know why is this one performer playing all these three characters? It felt novel in a way that a horror watcher, you’re constantly searching endlessly for something, something unique. And then to see it. What a bust. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah, and it was it came at a time when we were all thinking about gender. Not again. We’re always thinking about gender, but especially, you know, in that time, in 2022, we’re thinking about it and we’re wondering, like, how are we going to move past the Trump era and all of that stuff? And of course, Halle was thinking about it [laughs] unbeknownst to me, because she was realizing that she was a lesbian. 


Halle Kiefer: You know, it’s interesting because I’ll just give some listeners and I’ve mentioned this concept before, but please Google comphet, compulsory heterosexuality. [laughs] I just could start this, but, you know, because I we got engaged and then I was really physically going through it, like I was like I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating. And I knew that it was like, well, that’s really not a good sign for our engagement. But I wasn’t sure what was going on. And also, I’ve been traveling a lot from work and I had horrible sleep. I was sort of like dealing with stuff from travel. So I was already not doing so well. So I went to therapy pretty much as soon as I went to therapy, I you know, it had I think it was like second, second session, my therapist was like, have you heard of the concept of compulsory heterosexuality? And I was like, well, unfortunately I have, because when I was on TikTok, I would say 50% of the videos I got were was a slightly older woman being like, Here’s how I figured out I was a queer person and I was like, yes queen, go off, and had n, just did not internalize it whatsoever. Yeah. And then so I sort of realized I think it was like the first week of June last year. And then I spent two weeks trying for it to not be true. And I was like, well, if I just wait. I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t know why I thought I was like, I got to hold the fucking door closed on my foot or whatever. So two of the worst weeks of my life. And then eventually I told Dave, and during those times you saw both Crimes of the Future with me [laughter] I was also like, vibrating, you know? And then, Men. 


Dave Schilling: We should see two movies that are about how men are terrible and the body is a prison. 


Halle Kiefer: Oh, my God. 


Dave Schilling: Life if we could just come up with two better movies. It’d be impossible.


Halle Kiefer: Right yeah no, no, it’s not like we saw like, Jurassic World or something. [laughter] You know, what I mean, like.


Dave Schilling: Not we did not. 


Halle Kiefer: The Super Mario movie. But yeah, I think watching this movie again for the podcast, I think, you know, another element of it that we’ve talked about is to to cast a Black man whose sole role in the film is, to one, be the only Black person and then two be a monster. We are not giving any other part of their relationship. There’s no it’s just starting monstrosity. And then to see that Black man be horribly or die horribly after physically assaulting a white woman for us as a couple, I was like, no thanks. Like, this is like, what are we saying? And we actually talked about this recently with another friend of the pod, Naomi Ekperigin, a wonderful comedian and then her husband, Andy Beckerman. We kind of talked about this movie and how much it stinks. And part of it was like, why so why cast the villainous husband with the only Black person in the movie? I wanted to see your thoughts on that Dave. 


Dave Schilling: We talked about this contemporaneously to seeing the movie at the time, and I think I still believe that there’s often a thought of, well, we can’t cast people of color in the leads because we can’t sell this overseas or, you know, domestically. It won’t do as well in the case of the UK or whatever, whatever their like prejudice racist idea is that prevents Black people. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: And Latino people and Asian people from being the leads in movies. We can cast a Black person or, you know, a person of color in general in one of the supporting parts. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: That way we have some diversity, but we’re not ruining the earning potential, the box office potential of the film. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: And I think that was the case here, because as you as you talked about earlier in the episode, there is no concern or interest in race in this movie. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. 


Dave Schilling: Which is weird because Rory Kinnear plays every man in this town and every man in this town is white and there’s only one Black person in the movie. And he is also an abusive person like every man is an abuser in this movie. 


Halle Kiefer: Right. 


Dave Schilling: Obviously, that’s the point of the film, is that every man carries the stain of toxic masculinity and it continues to recycle itself across time. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: But race is important. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: In the world. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. 


Dave Schilling: It’s it was important in our relationship. And how we responded to each other. 


Halle Kiefer: And and I think, you know, being a, you know, a white woman dating a Black man, it’s like I not that I want to be clear, not that I was saying racist stuff all the time, but we certainly had conversations where you were like, hey, what are you doing? You know, or like, have you thought about this? And I do think it’s like, this is this movie is the perfect example of like whiteness is invisible to white people. 


Dave Schilling: Yes. 


Halle Kiefer: So the director was like, oh, we need to have somebody of color. Because that’s sort of like the morally right thing to do. You know, and also what I think is and I think this is we’ve talked about this too, is like I think another part of it is I think maybe he just cast a person of color as a visual contrast to the fact that everyone else, every other man, was played by the same white man. Which is even dumber to than not address race as if you’re using it as a stylistic choice. But I think, yeah, it’s like it also feels very British to me, like the way that race is not engaged with, like at least America people would be up in arms in a way that we’re like, people would have this conversation and it’s like, didn’t know what say to Alex Garland. Like what? What is this supposed to be like? What are you trying to say? Why do this if you’re not going to talk about race? 


Dave Schilling: He’s horribly maimed and disfigured. 


Halle Kiefer: And we see his body brutally like it is. It is a brutal scene and it’s meant to evoke it in us and in the character. Like it’s horrible when you see his body and it’s very realistically horrible. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah. And it you can’t help but think about images of of mutilated Black bodies in the segregated South. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: You immediately think about that in the UK, maybe not so much because they didn’t have segregation. The racism was more just kind of like a fact of life and legally mandated [laughs] if you know what I mean. And I want to I want to say like I want to name the actor whose name is Paapa Essiedu, and he he was in I May Destroy you. I hopefully I didn’t butcher his name. He’s a very accomplished Shakespearean actor. 


Halle Kiefer: And he’s great in it. I mean, he’s great. 


Dave Schilling: He does his best—


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. 


Dave Schilling: But but, you know, he’s marginalized. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: And abused and and eviscerated by this movie. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: And it’s all for shock value. And it doesn’t have any intellectual relationship to the fact that they cast a Black person. And so beyond the movie, maybe not clicking because it just kind of ambles from scene to scene and it all builds up to the silliest climax of all time with the multiple births. [laughs] This this part is just infuriating to me outside of the craft of the movie, because I think it’s important to separate the craft of a film.


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: From the the messages that it is portraying, because those are different things. I don’t want to say like, oh, it’s a bad movie because I didn’t—


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Dave Schilling: —appreciate how it portrayed Black characters. Instead, I want to separate that and say like, this is important to talk about. But it was also kind of a bad movie, too. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. And I think that those things that you’re right, that they’re different, but they also reinforce each other, because I think we’ve talked a lot about like I we’re taking a moratorium on the podcast about having horror movies with children in them. Now, you could have a well done horror movie with a child in it. A lot of people can’t make that movie. So the inability of the the filmmaker does make violence, for example, against children or committed by children, it, the crafts does affect how it comes across and then does affect your competence and your ability to to sort of use those kinds of extremely graphic and upsetting images in this case of a dead Black man’s body. I do think there is a horror movie in which you can see those images, but then to not have the competence, to understand that, you have to, like, fully address that and make it part of the movie. It’s almost like it is it is a incompetence of filmmaking to not to ignore race or to ignore gender. Like at this point in the game, like we’ve seen people effectively do it in horror and the diseases are like, have you not seen enough horror movies? Like do you not understand what you’re depicting and how it’s going to end? And I guess he didn’t. 


Dave Schilling: It’s not even horror at seeing horror movies. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: It’s seeing history and understanding history and understanding what it is that you are portraying. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: You’re the the Black man is mentally ill, which there’s nothing wrong with being mentally ill or, you know, I want to stress that people need to deal with it with their mental health problems. But it’s it’s portraying him not as someone who is sick and is seeking help, but someone who is an abuser more than, you know, mental, mental. Illness. It’s his abuse, his violence, his his cruelty and his gaslighting. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: Which is already part of the stereotype around Black men. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: Is that they’re violent and they’re uncontrollable. And then the way that he is dispatched. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: It’s repulsive. It’s terrible. It’s just a lack of it’s a lack of context. And it’s intellectually lazy. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Yeah, exactly. Like you feel as the audience like, well, I’m capable of having a more nuanced conversation myself about this. Why is the movie not doing that? And I think also that it does set up, which I you know, and the other aspect, of course, is for this film is gender, where it is a man trying to understand women’s experience of, you know, the this the threat of men in the world. And I have a very specific feeling about that, both as a queer person, as a woman, which is to ascribe it, we actually have a difference about what you think the movie says about this. To me the movie is, to, says men are innately violent. And as a white woman, you are you are simply a victim. You’re going to walk through the world, a victim. And this, you know, the men’s violence will propagate itself on you or whatever. And that, to me, is also a very intellectually lazy way to look at it. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah, not even on her through her. That’s the thing is like there is constant images of pregnancy or fertility, like the two pagan creatures. 


Halle Kiefer: Right the Sheela na gig and the Green Man. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah, those are fertility symbols. And at the end her friend is pregnant when she comes to visit her in the house. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: There’s constantly images of fertility in this movie, and that, to me, says, like, oh, this. This is about how women are physically and biologically complicit in toxic masculinity. Kind of. Which is weird to say. 


Halle Kiefer: I agree, because it’s the idea that, like, this is an inescapable women’s victimization is inescapable. So we’re sort of not even actors in the reproduction reproductive project. It’s just, you know, because literally it’s men giving birth to men and it’s sort of like completely ignoring the ways both that like that that women facilitate and are a part of patriarchal structures. And also just the idea and again, I guess we’re always talking about sort of the anti trans mania in America and in the UK too, the idea that biological sex, then it’s like, well, men are just going to do this. And like as a woman, like, what are you going to do? Which ignores both the fact that that’s not true. And men’s violence is created and reinforced by the patriarchy, but then women also are complicit in it and also reinforce it. We are not just victims. And and I think right now, for example, like where people sort of like talk about transwomen in women’s spaces, that conversation relies on the idea of especially white cis women’s victimhood in a way that implies like, well, of course they’re going to come in and whatever are raping people. Like, it’s this like incredibly violent rhetoric that is just I think there’s this idea that, like men and women, they’re just biological realities. And what we’re finding out is if they were that we wouldn’t have to have these intense structures to maintain the concept of a man and a woman and masculinity and and femininity. And maybe as a feminist, I just feel so like, yeah, nature is fine, but it doesn’t mean we have to do everything as if, like, somehow we’re just animals, you know? 


Dave Schilling: Well, I mean, the idea of nature is fine is an interesting one to unpack because the movie has all this nature imagery and pagan fertility symbols. And nature is like a really important aspect of this folk horror kind of pastiche. Nature is something that maybe we don’t need to adhere to so much. We have agency. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: Human beings have agency, and they have the ability to live the life that they want to live. Or at least they should. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: You know, when we think about all of the highfalutin language in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights in the Declaration of Independence, that is ostensibly what the country is founded on. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: But let’s remember, this movie was not made in America. This is a British movie. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: And the anti-trans rhetoric really started mostly in the UK or with British media figures. 


Halle Kiefer: And boy, they’re really going for it over there. Yeah, like they’re going nuts. 


Dave Schilling: J.K. Rowling. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Dave Schilling: Graham Linehan who created IT Crowd. These are two of the loudest voices and have been for years. Graham Linehan lost his career, but J.K. Rowling still gets to collect royalty checks every day from Harry Potter toys. But those people like the the turf movement, seems like it’s really focused on the U.K. or the U.K. is where it kind of flowered at the beginning, at least in my understanding, and awareness of the intellectual movement around anti-trans attitudes. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: And I don’t know if that’s partially what’s going on with this movie, that it’s so focused on the gender binary and the way men and women relate to each other and how they fit into the natural balance of things. 


Halle Kiefer: And the inevitability of it. 


Dave Schilling: Mm hmm. 


Halle Kiefer: Like the inescapable inevitability of it, which is like as a queer person, as a feminist, as an American. I’m like, the only thing we have is to constantly revisit these these ideas and these systems, because at least in America and I do think, you know, we’ve said this on the pod before, but it’s like that the anti trans anti LGBTQ stuff is tied to the religious right and tied to conservatives. So I think more people who have like that makes things a little more clear what we’re talking about, because here in America they want to is like it’s, for example, to tied to anti-abortion rights. Well, women it’s women should not, it’s unnatural to get an abortion. It’s unnatural for women to be able to, women and people who could be pregnant to control their pregnancies. Like it’s unnatural. Now. It’s unnatural to be queer, it’s unnatural to be trans. Like the idea of being compelled towards nature. Watching this, it’s like, okay, but you know that like people are constantly working to not have to do with this movie seems to think is an inevitability, which is victimization of men by women or femininity, feminine people by masculine people like we’re all there’s a lot of people who spend a lot of time being like, we don’t have to live this way. And then at least in America, it is the religious or religious concerned people were like, no, it’s the natural order. This, we—


Dave Schilling: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And it’s like, you shouldn’t have to fight the natural order it’s natural. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah. I mean, I want to circle back to our particular situation because I think it’s it’s instructive or hopefully useful for people who are struggling with this stuff is, you know, you you obviously for 37 years of your life, weren’t able to be queer, weren’t able to be the person that you wanted to be or that you were supposed to be that you are because of the way that things are ordered, and the way people say, you have to do this or you have to do that, but you had to put labels and names on things all the time. And it was really heartbreaking to go through our breakup because I thought, you know, originally something was wrong with me or, you know, that I had made some sort of mistake or I chosen poorly, whatever it was. A lot of I put a lot of emotional baggage on myself. And eventually, you know, through therapy and talking to you and spending time getting to know you better than I even knew you before I understood that it was not it had nothing to do with me. It was about you and that you had never had the opportunity to imagine a different kind of life for yourself. You couldn’t imagine being your true, authentic self because that was not allowed. And I kind of feel that way, too. You know, we you, you sort of pressured not pressured me. That’s unfair. But you you gently prodded me. 


Halle Kiefer: Enthusiastically encouraged. 


Dave Schilling: You enthusiastically encouraged me to come out as bisexual. And I got to say, it really helps. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm, yeah. 


Dave Schilling: Just to be yourself and to not think that like, well, I have to be one way or the other or these these like, these thoughts are strange or different or need to be kept to myself. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: Like we had always talked about, like my interest in same sex attraction when we were together, when we were in a relationship. And I never wanted to say it publicly or like talk about it or put a name on it. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: Because I didn’t think that that was an acceptable expression. 


Halle Kiefer: Absolutely. And I think, first of all, I do feel like it’s like that was one of the seeds of my queerness where I’m like, great, that seems good. A thumbs up. Well, of course you’re attractive to men. What’s wrong with that? But yeah, I think for me and I think hearing you say that I think a lot this is true of all of us and I think people more broadly where I think we’re a lot of people are just told especially queer people and trans people, where it’s like your internal life doesn’t matter like your entire life and it is related to sex like that. That is inherently perverse or it’s inherently like objectifying or gross or something. And so I think for me, from a young age, being raised in the Catholic Church particularly, but I guess as a woman in general, like the message you get is like, well, your eternal life is like, first of all, shut up if you have any problems about it. And then if you if you are queer, you kind of just like, have to monitor that as, like, something different and wrong and strange versus heterosexuality, which is of course, the right way to be. Meanwhile, every heterosexual person in the world has had gay thoughts, but they’re supposed to punish themselves for it. You know, and queerness allows for people to be like, I don’t I don’t have to do any of that. And I will say as a queer person that people are queer people some queer people are still down on bisexuals. And I reject that out of hand because that’s insane. And I didn’t become like I didn’t come out to then police other people’s sexuality or gender expression, first of all. But second of all, the idea of straightness versus queerness is itself a fallacy. Like the idea that, like, we have like we have to think about ourselves and label ourselves ignores the fact that, like, human sexuality is just this fluid living thing and that’s what it should be. But of course, we don’t live in that society in large part because of religion. And, you know, my case was Catholicism. The idea that like we are like we are only supposed to be having procreative heterosexual sex. And if you are attracted to someone who is, you know, of a of the same gender, or if you don’t want to have that kind of sex and whatever that looks like, then that is I wouldn’t want to see it abomination. But like it is like [laughter] it is something I mean in a religious—


Dave Schilling: Hold on, hold one. 


Halle Kiefer: I don’t think that, you know, but it’s like the idea that it’s somehow so outside the realm of reality where it’s like, no, no, this is reality. Right? And I think for me from a young age, for a lot of different reasons, but certainly religious ones, my internal life didn’t mean anything. And I think everyone walks around and in their own way in and whatever it’s like, whether it’s how you know, your relationship or your career or like race, is it, you know, like class, like we are supposed to quietly be miserable. And then that’s just kind of how it is, at least as a Catholic. That’s sort of how it is. And I think to me, queerness was like the only reason I realized I was queer. I was like, well, what if what if there is nothing wrong with me? What if what if there’s nothing wrong with this? I’m gonna cry. And if so, then what does that mean? You know what I mean? 


Dave Schilling: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: And, you know, obviously we are very fortunate and like we’re both 40 and live in L.A. 


Dave Schilling: I’m 38. 


Halle Kiefer: So sorry. I’m 39. But [laughter] then you see, like teenagers in Florida or Texas, and it’s like that’s what they should be able to have but what perhaps we couldn’t have had, which is, yeah, I’m I’m queer and I’m a teenager I’m trans, I’m a teenager. And because we realize that people realize that that is when you sort of start figuring that out, they have to push back even harder, you know? And we grew up during the nineties, which was deeply homophobic, I mean, like insanely transphobic. And then we’ve made this progress and in backlash to real progress, they have to double down and go crazy. Right? And so, I don’t know, watching this movie even a year later, it feels like these are such retrograde ideas, which are fine. But then you also have to have the level of craft to like, do something with them rather like, what are you going to do? Yeah, you know. 


Dave Schilling: It’s what it says to a man, a boy watching this movie, let’s say a 15 year old boy who’s like, ooh, I want to see this movie. It’s called Men. I think it’s going to be edgy and like, fun, whatever. It’s not fun, but it is edgy. You put it in and you put it in. There’s no DVDs anymore. I’m such an old bastard. And I’m like, oh, you put your disc inside the slot and then you press play, you know, you go on— 


Halle Kiefer: And we also keep getting DVDs now because everything’s been taken off streaming. So we should be getting Blu-rays. 


Dave Schilling: Absolutely buy Blu-rays of the movies and TV shows that you love. But the point I wanted to make is a boy watches this or a woman watches this, whoever. It doesn’t matter. Your gender expression, your sexuality, you put this in and the movie says, men and women are different. They’re just different. And it’s been that way since the beginning of time. And look at all this mystical shit. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: In the world that says we’re different. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: And men are all the same and they’re horrible. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes, they’re the worst. Yeah.


Dave Schilling: They’re garbage. 


Halle Kiefer: They’re monstrous is what it is. 


Dave Schilling: Imagine watching that as a as an impressionable child and saying, well, there’s something inherently wrong with me. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: There’s something wrong with me. And what I want to say to people listening to this show is there is nothing wrong with you. You are the product of your environment and you can change. But these movies movie says, no, you can’t because that’s what British culture says to their children all the time. [laughter] They have a caste caste system where you are upper class, lower class, you know, middle class doesn’t exist. You’re either here or you’re up or you’re down. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: And of course there’s a binary when it comes to gender in the UK where they can’t understand the subtleties of gender, the subtleties of sexuality, or the fact that trans people are trans women are women, like they can’t understand that. And so this movie is bullshit because of that. And don’t feel bad about yourself if you’re listening to this and you do feel bad about yourself or you think there’s something wrong with you, there’s something wrong with all of us. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: Because we are we’ve lived in this horrible society [laughter] for for our entire lives that tells us we’re not allowed to be happy. And the only thing that will make us happy is buying things. 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah. 


Dave Schilling: Don’t do that to yourself people, go to therapy. 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. 


Dave Schilling: Like exercise. Love whoever you want to love. And don’t, don’t hurt yourself. Because this movie says that if there’s something wrong with you and you should hurt yourself. 


Halle Kiefer: I also think like the movie again, to misunderstand, like casting a Black person, it’s like at least in America where it’s like if you’re Black, you have to figure out a way to love yourself like you like, because society is set up in a way to drive you insane. You know what I mean? Like white like white supremacy. I mean, again, much like we see all the anti trans, you know, sort of panic what these Christian white nationalists like. That’s not a coincidence that they’re Christian and white nationalists, you know, at least not in America. And to then cast a Black person, you know, I don’t know what it’s like over in the UK. I you know, we’ve certainly seen images of the UK in the seventies. We know they have their own history of like white supremacy. But again, to cast it, I’d be like, I’m not interested in exploring any of this or like what a Black person would have had to think about with regards to his own masculinity or his own manhood. I’m not going to get into it. I’m just going to have a bunch of guys give words to each other. I mean, even if it had been like 20 mins, if it had been it been like a Twilight Zone episode, maybe this would have been okay. But a whole movie, it’s like, baby, you don’t got enough here. I’m sorry. 


Dave Schilling: No, no. But it did hopefully get us closer to where we are now. You and I didn’t. 


Halle Kiefer: It didn’t hurt. 


Dave Schilling: Thank you, Alex Garland, for making this movie that sucked. [laughter] 


Halle Kiefer: Yeah, it helped us and thank you to our couples, counselor Seth, shout out to Seth. We went to couples counseling for two months after we broke up, and it was great. And I’m always telling people to go to couples counseling. Go. Go with whoever. Go with a sibling, go with a family member. Go as soon as you start dating someone. As far as I’m concerned. 


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Because it was great. It was great to have more language like a space to talk about, you know, our break up in and then our both of us, you know, our queerness. And I think our queerness is why we still have a relationship. You know, Seth was great, but like, you know, I think having room, we all need more room. And our queerness was room for us for our relationship to change and look like it is now, which I’m extremely proud of, I’m gonna cry and—


Alison Leiby: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: —extremely grateful that we that we still, you know, are in each other’s lives. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah. I mean, I think this is coming out during Pride month and I think it’s important to to look at queerness as an opportunity to see the full possibilities of the universe. And it is possible to be close to someone that you’ve broken up with, that it’s possible to have relationships that can be platonic, they can be sexual, they can be whatever they need to be, because the person is is the thing that matters. 


Halle Kiefer: Mm hmm. 


Dave Schilling: Not the circumstance or the the, you know, the transference of physical intimacy. It’s about intimacy as a holistic idea. And so Halle and I are still very intimate as far as really, really good friends. And I tell her things I wouldn’t tell anybody else, but that only is possible because I, I allowed it to be possible and she allowed it to be possible. So anything you want can come true if you are able to imagine it. 


Halle Kiefer: And that is the lesson of Pride, maybe. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah. 


Halle Kiefer: Happy Pride month Dave. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah. Can I plug? 


Halle Kiefer: Yes. Oh, yes. Plugs. Plugs. 


Dave Schilling: Okay, I got to plug. I got to plug. You can still follow me on Twitter @dave_schilling. And for those of you who want more musings and and witticisms about gender and sexuality, I’m starting a Substack. It’s called How Not to Be a Man. It’s about my journey to better understand my own idea of masculinity and advice for men who don’t necessarily want to just read about how to groom your pubes. 


Halle Kiefer: You also have that there too. 


Dave Schilling: Yes, I will absolutely have pube grooming [laughter] on there at some point. Maybe that’ll be the first piece that you all read is how to trim those those gnarly ball hairs. 


Halle Kiefer: Those bad boys. 


Dave Schilling: Yeah. So you can find that at I hope you read it. Thank you. 


Halle Kiefer: Well, Dave thank you for coming on. I love you very much. 


Dave Schilling: I love you, too, Halle. 


Halle Kiefer: Do you want to say the our site, our slogan, our motto with me as a sign off. 


Dave Schilling: Sure. 


Halle Kiefer: Okay, everybody, thank you so much for listening. Happy Pride Month. We’ll be back at it again next week. And in the meantime, please. 


Dave Schilling: Keep it spooky. 


Halle Kiefer: Thank you, Dave. [music plays]


Alison Leiby: Don’t forget to follow us at Ruined podcasts and Crooked Media for show updates. And if you’re as opinionated as we are, consider dropping us a review. Ruined is a Radio Point and Crooked Media production, we’re your writers and hosts Halle Kiefer and Alison Leiby. The show is executive produced by Alex Bach, Sabrina Fonfeder and Houston Snyder, and recorded and edited by Kat Iossa. From Crooked Media our executive producer is Kendra James with production and promotional support from Ari Schwartz, Kyle Seglin, Julia Beach, Caroline Dunphy, and Ewa Okulate.