The Praying Mantis

First, let me say that I have submitted this post to the Colorado Patent Authority because, after I define it, the phrase “Praying Mantis” will be the title line of at least three top 50 rap songs, and will be used in no fewer than four Judd Apatow comedies, and I intend to get rich.

Let me explain; the Praying Mantis is a phrase that I, with the help of some friends, defined this weekend during a lengthy conversation about one particular scene in the John Travolta film “Swordfish”. The scene goes as follows:

  1. Hugh Jackman walks into what I assume is the VIP room of a nightclub
  2. John Travolta asks Hugh how good of a hacker he is (Hugh’s character is a hacker)
  3. Before Hugh answers, he is told to hack into the DOD in 60 seconds or less
  5. AT GUN POINT!!!
  6. Hugh does; orgasming (it seems) just as he hits the enter key on his final hacker operation, thus averting death, qualifying himself for a lucrative job with a crime syndicate, and earning Travolta’s respect.

Here’s the image:

Aside from this image, a couple of hilarious things about this scene: 1. Mid-way through the allotted minute, John Travolta, sensing Hugh’s struggle to stay focused, commiserates by saying, “oh, she’s good, isn’t she?” Wait, I thought you said you met Helga in College? Bro? 2. Hugh refuses Helga’s attempted post-BJ kiss. 3. Just imagine if they actually had killed Hugh. What would that have looked like? Brains everywhere, Hugh’s lifeless body slumped forward, Helga with a mouth full of dead man’s penis, trapped between his lap and torso, screaming in shock and fear, a drunk nightclub patron accidentally stumbling in looking for the bathroom. I mean, was a nightclub really the best place for this whole thing, Mr. Travolta? JUST SHUT UP, HUGO, GODDAMNIT. Clean this shit up!

Anyway, this scene is the archetype of what became the broader category of the Praying Mantis, which is named for the female Praying Mantis’ habit of eating its partner after mating. So, a Praying Mantis is any sexual act that is intended to help bring about the destruction of one of the participants. A Praying Mantis consists of a Widow, who initiates the sex act, an executioner, who does – or threatens to do – the actual killing, and a John, who walks into the situation unknowingly.

In the Swordfish example, the widow is a conspiring third party (whose name is Helga), and the executioner (John Travolta’s henchman) watches and waits. The mantis, in this case, will prove lethal if it prevents Hugh (the “John”) from completing his task in the allotted time (which, for the record, was 60 seconds). It is important to note that, although it is not true in this example, the widow and the executioner can be one in the same.

In Goldeneye, the assassin, Xenia, suffocates a Canadian admiral (Canada has a Navy?) with her legs, mid-coitus. Here, the widow doubles as executioner and sex is the diversion she uses to lull the “John” into a false sense of security. In this example, one might ask, since the captain is already a frail old guy, why bother with the sex and not just kill him straight up? The answer is simple: The Mantis is an alluring erotic proposition that will leave the audience with a lasting impression, and a lot of guys wanting to be strangled by their girlfriends.

If you can think of your own examples of a movie (or real life) Mantis, leave them in the comments section!

Happy Mantissing!

2 Responses to “The Praying Mantis”
  1. jdiggaz says:

    Well I guess the movie Species is an homage to the term “praying mantis”

  2. Murphy says:

    Basic Instinct

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