“Killing isn’t like smoking. You can quit.”
And other unambiguous life lessons from Basic Instinct
Basic Instinct is one of the few movies I would deem absolutely perfect. The whole enchilada. The motion picture equivalent of a naked Chris Evans asking me to sit on his face. *Everything.* In fact, every third Tuesday when I watch it, I am overwhelmed by the timeless wisdom that permeates the film’s dialogue. Therefore, I thought I’d take this moment to put my college film degree (and years of Sunday school) to use, and generously offer you all a lesson in modern morality via a ’90s classic.
Catherine: “What are you gonna do? Charge me with smoking?”
For those of you who have had your head in the sand since 1992 and have no idea the context in which this is said, let me bring you into the in-crowd. The police are questioning Catherine Tramell as a potential suspect in the murder of a man post-orgasmically stabbed thirty-one times with an ice-pick. Great stuff. Anyway, as Miss Tramell is sitting panty-less in the interrogation room, she lights a cigarette, prompting the internal affairs agent to inform her that there is no smoking in the building. At which point she says, “What are you gonna do? Charge me with smoking?” This is a great lesson in the power of relativity. If you’re ever on the rails for potential homicide, take the glass half-full approach and use the perceived heinousness of your alleged past behavior to get out of all accountability for your actual bad behavior. This is also a lesson taught in the Bible. You know, that part in the desert where that Gentile is about to stomp on that Jew, but stops himself — sandaled foot suspended midair — and looks towards Jesus questioningly. And Jesus looks at him and says, “No, carry on, that thing you did yesterday was way worse.” I’m pretty sure that happened. So don’t give me and the movie all the credit. Really, it wouldn’t be right.
Catherine: “You know I don’t like to wear any underwear, don’t you Nick?”
I love to ask questions I already know the answer to. In fact, this is the only type of question I ask. People who ask questions to get new information are confused as to why we ask questions. I see no benefit to admitting you don’t know something. Take the OJ Simpson trial. You know how the prosecutors asked OJ to try on the glove before they knew that it would fit, and, turns out, it didn’t? Don’t be the guy that let OJ walk because he asked a question and learned something new. Much better to be like Catherine and use questions and calculated nudity to manipulate those around you.
I feel awesome about that example and believe I need nothing more to rest my case, Your Honor. However, while we are all still thinking about going commando, I would like the jury to consider the possibility that underwear is a societal construct pushed by the consumption-driven apparel industry to find a profitable purpose for leftover bits of fabric from blouses, dresses, and wedding veils. Underwear is neither medically nor ethically necessary. So contemplate going without. It would be very Karl Marx of you.
Gus: “Well she got that Magna Cum Laude pussy on her that done fried up your brain!”
As a proud owner of my own magna cum laude pussy, I would like to say that I get only pleasure from the film’s recognition of the illustrious power that comes with such possession. That a hardened, intelligent detective like Nick can go from being so convinced — on instinct alone — that Catherine is a murderer, to being one step away from making Team-Tramell merchandise, all because of one smart pussy, is officially my favorite part of this film. If ever there was a great motivator to study hard and get good grades, this is it.
Nick: “I’m in love with you already, but I’ll nail you anyway.”
What does true love really matter, when it is keeping you from your career goals? To keep you warm at night? I was unaware that we are all suddenly Russian peasants for whom avoiding the cold is a legitimate reason to do things. And other than that weak, and frankly short-sighted, argument, I am drawing a complete blank as to why Nick would possibly choose Catherine’s affection over putting Catherine in the slammer if the evidence presented itself. Sure, one gets him cuddles, but the other gives him the far greater satisfaction of being right. So, well done Nick. Your brain may be fried like an egg, but you clearly have someone loyal and discreet whispering good one-liners in your ear.
Catherine: “What do we do now, Nick?”
Nick: “Fuck like minks, raise rugrats and live happily ever after.”
Catherine: “Hate rugrats.”
Nick: “Fuck like minks, forget the rugrats, and live happily ever after.”
If you haven’t seen the movie, stop and go to the next section. Do not read this. Don’t make me “that” woman who ruined Basic Instinct’s ending for you.
If you have seen it, you will know that in the final scene Catherine and Nick are laying in bed. In the eyes of the law she has been cleared of murder charges. Yet, do we buy that? From the way I white-knuckle my wine every time her hand goes somewhere in this scene that I can’t see (i.e. over the side of the bed, under a sheet, etc.), I’m going to go with, no, I have never bought that. Anyway, they are canoodling, and Catherine asks Nick WTF they are going to do with their lives. In Nick’s defense, he starts really strong with “fuck like minks.” Animalistic sex proposals are always a good lead. But then he has a mini-stroke and suggests bringing kids into Eden. Which is the bedroom equivalent of saying “I got you a dope-ass Piñata for your birthday, but every time you hit it you are going to shit your pants.” So, Nick says “rugrats,” at which point Catherine reaches over the bed slowly and feels around as if this is going to be a repeat of the film’s opening murder scene, and I’m like, you go girl, just go ahead and kill him now, he deserves it. Luckily for him, Nick regains his footing by saying screw children (paraphrasing) and thus provides a lesson for us all: if you ever need someone to reconsider stabbing you, just take procreation out of the equation.
Catherine: “Killing isn’t like smoking. You can quit.”
I think a lot of people hold back from embracing their homicidal tendencies for fear of it “sticking” and irreparably defining them. I’m here to tell you: once a murderer, not necessarily always a murderer. I believe that there are plenty of people that society would benefit by giving a second chance to. Valerie, if you are reading this and remember that time you told our second-grade teacher I had the class gerbil in my pencil pouch, I want you to know that this does not apply to you. You deserve all the horrible things that are coming to you. However, other than Val, I believe people can change. In my experience, they usually change for the worse. Yet, introspection is a powerful thing and given enough alone time in a small enough room, I think we are all capable of accessing a certain level of self-awareness. It worked for me. In my tweens I was a regular Bugsy Siegel.* But look at me now. Aged like a fine wine.
*This is a joke, of course. And I would like to remind the authorities that I would have to be pretty stupid to write an article joking about crimes I’ve actually committed.