I stated yesterday that Jamie Dack‘s Palm Trees and Power Lines, a Sundance Dramatic Competition entry that premieres on Monday, 1.24, is among the festival’s three best films.

Based on Dack’s same-titled 2018 short, it’s about a hugely creepy relationship between a fatherless 17 year-old (Lily McInerney) and a 34 year-old opportunist and latent scumbag (Jonathan Tucker).

It’s the kind of lopsided relationship that would make any decent person gag, and so I was struck by Indiewire‘s Jude Dry describing this transitional coupling as a “power imbalance” thing. That’s putting it way too mildly, but then “power imbalance” is a trending term in #MeToo circles.

The term indicates abuse, of course, by the more powerful partner, and most of the time we’re talking about abusing dudes.

The dogma is that if a guy has more power and authority than his prospective female partner or, if you will, victim (especially in a school or workplace, in some organizational or administrative capacity), he is probably using her, callously or maliciously, for his own agenda.

The basic idea or guiding principle is that couples shouldn’t go out unless the prospective partners have the same or similar amounts of power. If the woman is older, wealthier or has more power, nobody objects. But if the guy has more power there’s a concern that he might be some kind of beast (as James Franco‘s accusers have claimed) and perhaps even worse.

It follows, of course, that heterosexual couplings over the centuries have been fueled by tens of millions of “power imbalance” relationships, in this country and all around the world. I’m just guessing or spitballing, but I’ll bet that right now 80% to 85% of the relationships out there involve somewhat older, more gainfully employed guys with younger, less powerful women.

Does anyone remember the relationship described in “Don’t You Want Me, Baby“?

It seems as if the potential exists for a lot of trouble down the road, given the general #MeToo belief that older, wealthier, more economically stable guys are potential abusers, given the power-imbalance factor.

I’m not saying that multitudes of potential male abusers aren’t out there (obviously they’ve been a plague upon vulnerable women for centuries) and looking to take advantage, but power-imbalance relationships seem almost built into our species in terms of mating behavior.