March 17, 2010

Would Hollywood ever make "He's Out of My League?"

We think not.

I loved Fredrika Thelandersson’s post at Ms. Blog on She’s Out of My League, the latest male comedy/fantasy flick. No, I haven’t seen it. Along with so many other films, this one will have to go straight into my Netflix que. That’s mommyhood, people.  Mommyhood=Netflix.

But, honestly, I don’t think viewing it is a prerequisite to this particuar post.

To start off on a positive note, Thelandersson blogs about the film’s surprising exploration of contemporary masculinity despite the “standard guyfest” advertising. I love that. According to Thelandersson’s post, the film explores male insecurity, male friendship and a gender change-up that has the female hottie earning more money, holding more power and, obviously, being more attractive than her goofy male love interest.  Good enough.

But, its the last part of this post that interests me:

Reading the narrative in these ways turns the movie into a rather refreshing piece of pop culture, carrying the message that strong women can continue to be strong rather than weakening themselves to fit traditional gender roles. On the other hand, have we not seen enough big-screen male losers being desired by perfect women by now? The chances for the roles to be reversed–the “loser” being a woman who nabs the successful guy–are slim to none (unless, of course, she’s a prostitute!).

It’s precisely this male fantasy of the geeky, awkward, less attractive male pursuing and snagging the hot, possibly successful, female hottie without losing said geek status and awkwardness. This is a perfect example about the feminist complaint and critique of representations of men and women in the mass media: the double-standard. We see it all the time. It was one of many reasons I couldn’t stand 2005’s Hitch. I mean, really, Kevin James and Amber Valletta? That pissed me off. You’re telling me you can be short, stout, overweight and missing a neck and still hook up with a friggin’ supermodel based on charm and wit alone? Well, in the real world that might happen if you’re carrying a thick wallet and/or have an impressive stock portfolio.

But, in films or real life, the reverse scenario would never happen nor would it be considered as the basis for a film, even a comedy. If some variation is offered, the woman always transforms into a more culturally pleasing version of her former self. You know the drill: the glasses come off, the hair comes down and her wardrobe shrinks from overalls to teeny skirts and tops. Said transformation is not a requirement for the male geek, even those missing a neck.

Girls and women have to be hot to land the hot guy. End of story. We’re constantly bombarded with endless images and messages reminding us that without flawless skin, toned abs, thighs, legs and butts, and large breasts that stay perky no matter their size or age, we are not going to land the hot guy. Shoot, we probably won’t land the no-neck, awkward geek. The ultimate message remains that we must embody the culture’s beauty standard or we will lose value and eventually become invisible (and we’ll definitely remain single).

So, yeah, I dig the exploration of contemporary masculinity. It’s important. It truly is. But I’d like to see Hollywood tackle the “beauty and the geek” scenario honestly and accurately without turning the awkward, “unattractive” female character into a caricature. Will we get that story? Hmmm. I doubt that it will happen any time soon and that sucks.

shes_out_of_my_league